As most of you are no doubt aware, Reddit recently banned the incredibly shitty FatPeopleHate subreddit for harassment. Naturally, members of Reddit’s many other incredibly shitty subreddits — including KotakuInAction, the main GamerGate hangout on Reddit, and of course the Men’s Rights subreddit — are afraid they’ll be next!
“The new age of reddit has begun,” wrote one worried Men’s Rightser. “Admins ban /r/FatPeopleHate (and 4 other subreddits that the admins fail to disclose) for “harassment”. It is only a matter of time before this subreddit gets banned too.”
Meanwhile, in KotakuInAction, a “megathread” about the bans has garnered more than 1100 upvotes and inspired nearly 500 comments.
In that thread, one KiAer has helpfully provided a list of the subreddits Reddit has shut down in recent days. As you can see, most were variants on FatPeopleHate, hastily created in an attempt to get around the ban of the original FatPeopleHate (or just to annoy the site admins); others were offensive in other predictable ways. I’ve highlighted some of the more, er, interesting of the bunch.
My point here?
If you look at a list like the one above and think “oh, no, my favorite subreddit will be next,” then maybe, just maybe, there is something terribly wrong with your favorite subreddit, and probably with you as well.
Men’s Rights: the only self-proclaimed “civil rights” movement outside of literal Nazis that puts itself in the same category as “/r/fatn*ggerhate” and “/r/transf*ggots.”
NOTE TO READERS: My strep throat is better but not gone, and I also have other non-blog things I need to tend to this week, so posting will probably continue to be a bit light.
@Pandapool, that’s really cool! I mean the symbol-based language you’re making up. As a fellow writer and grammar nerd, here’s lots of respect. I’ve never made up a universe where I had to do world-building at that level and what you’ve explained/showed so far looks awesome – especially the invented punctuation. Wish I had that kind of imagination.
I recommend looking at this book about fictional languages, if you can find it at a library (not buy it, because holy shit they’re selling it for $120 and when I bought it (in person) for my brother I paid $75, but anyway): http://www.amazon.ca/Encyclopedia-Fictional-Fantastic-Languages-Conley/dp/031333188X
The Amazon reviewer complains that they talk about obscure works where imaginary languages are described but not really shown, but personally I find that a strength. At least the obscurity part. If they just talked about fairly mainstream works like the ones in the cover image, it wouldn’t be as interesting.
The question is how many languages are on par with Tolkienesque quality? Klingon, maybe? Most other fictional languages just symbols that correspond to letters or simple cyphers, but are still English or whatever underneath, and definitely aren’t complete and are used just to make a setting more “fantastical” or “alien”.
You know what would make a really cool alien language? Something based on DNA. Four different bases should make lots of different combinations for letters and symbols. There’s at least 45 different combinations, I think, using 1-4 letters, which can be used for phonetic sounds and substitutions for often used words, like “a”, “the”, “and”, etc. It can be written right to left, down to up.
That’s awesome. Languages where each symbol represents a whole word (logograms) traditionally suck at communication but work very well for ritualised use; they also permit astonishingly beautiful calligraphy. As such it’s probably a good call for a magical language.
If you’re into conlanging (constructing languages), may I share a favourite resource?
This is Mark Rosenfelder’s Language Construction Kit. The web design is classic late ’90s, but the content is as good as ever. It gives you a crash course in phonetics as well as touching on lots of aspects of linguistics.
I’m trying really hard not to linguistics-geek about this but I am *very excited* to see how it turns out. Magical conlangs? Yes please.
Let me know if you would welcome a teal dear. I can teal dear for ages on this.
Oh, you can teal dear all you want. I love languages. I used to try to make my own as a kid and made several different cyphers, from straight this means “a”, this mean “b” to symbols that mean words.
(Also, you do know several modern Asian languages are logograms, right? Like Mandarin?)
Indeed! A language that isn’t spoken but rather secreted or “printed” in chainlike script, like a string of pearls. The pearls would be like nucleic acid bases and the recipient would read them by feeling their shape, one by one, rather than looking at them. That’s basically how nucleic acids are read in biochemistry. Then the script would be broken down and the pearls re-used.
You could have different types of script analogous to how DNA is used for long-term information storage and RNA is used for messaging.
Encoding information into viruses is a fairly common, if rather expensive, way of secure data transfer in certain circles.
Try to smuggle a memory stick into North Korea and you’ll be in bother. Just having a bit of a snuffle though isn’t necessarily suspicious.
The following is language nerding. It is words written on water: feel free to take what you like and discard the rest. I’m trying to come up with as many cool ideas as possible here, not to take over your project.
You also probably know much of this since you’re also a language geek. In which case, please forgive me for the simplicity of some of it; I want to make sure non-language geeks can follow.
* * *
Logographic scripts have difficulty adapting as language drifts and new ideas develop which need words to write them. In most cases, these scripts tend to develop other scripts to handle this drift: for example Japanese originally took the kanji system from Chinese, then developed hiragana to spell out those words for which there are no kanji, then added katakana to handle loanwords from other languages. Korean went a step further by discarding the logographs altogether.
Individual logographs might also have more than one use, and you’d rely on context to know which one it meant. This is another way that logographic scripts get around their inability to respond easily to linguistic drift.
Ancient Egyptian had a weird halfway house system: each symbol could be used either for its logographic meaning or for its phonetic value as part of the alphabet. I don’t know how they clarified which of the two should be read: context again, possibly.
As such, what you might see for magic is something like Vietnamese: There’s a formalised, archaic logographic script (Chu Nom, in Vietnamese) and then a much more flexible alphabetic system based on Latin letters which is used to write those things for which a formal logograph does not exist. Vietnamese is gradually losing its Chu Nom system and relying more and more on the alphabet, but they still have uses anywhere that calligraphy or eye-catching graphic design is more important than quick legibility.
* * *
In any language, there is a certain amount of wiggle room. For example, many Americans would pronounce the word “worker” as a pair of rhyming syllables; British people generally would not. Both are acceptable and the two people could communicate without misunderstanding one another. This is a good thing: a language needs to be understandable when spoken through clenched teeth, or shouted over the sound of machinery, or whispered into the ear of a half-sleeping loved one. If every little distinction of pronounciation was vital then any slight difficulty would make it impossible to speak properly.
On the other hand, every language has distinctions that matter. For example Mandarin does not distinguish between “l” and “r” sounds. However, English does differentiate between “r” and “l” sounds. Asking a clerk to “put the records in the file” and “put the records in the fire” is an important distinction.
There are some distinctions that English doesn’t make. For example, Vietnamese is tonal: a word can have different meanings depending on which tone the speaker uses, and it’s possible to construct entire sentences which would change their meaning depending on the tone they’re spoken in. Vietnamese jokes often use this feature, giving things elaborate double meanings and smutty implications.
Quechua, the Incan language, only distinguishes between three vowels. This doesn’t mean they can’t pronounce the full range of 24 possible vowel sounds, but they regard most of them as being variant pronounciations rather than separate sounds. (English has 10-12 vowels depending on dialect and accent.)
Afrikaans distinguishes between long and short vowels. If you mispronounce “mirror” you may find yourself saying the verb “to play.”
Deciding where the wiggle room is and where the distinctions are is one of the most fun bits of inventing a language. As a general principle, the more distinctions you have, the more compact you can be in other places. A language which doesn’t make many distinctions might need very long words while a language which makes many of them can afford to keep its words shorter, or have shorter sentences.
* * *
We know at least one word from the magical language: Anmah. I would pronounce that something like [æn mɒ:] with the “h” unpronounced, but that might be my accent. (You might pronounce it as [an mɒ] or [æn mə].( This tells us something about the language.
* * *
Most languages have quite strict rules about how its syllables are formed, and those rules go a long way towards giving the language its distinct sound. For example Japanese requires that the consonant go before the vowel unless the consonant is an n, and allows syllables with no consonants, whereas German allows consonants either before or after the vowel. German generally doesn’t allow syllables without consonants but Japanese does; on the other hand Japanese doesn’t allow more than one consonant per syllable (except for the trailing ‘n’) which German does.
From this, we can tell that Ernst is a German name, while Eiichiro is a Japanese one. Each of the vowel sounds in Eiichiro is its own syllable, whereas Ernst is just one long syllable in which each consonant leads into the next without vowels separating them. The two languages sound very different even when both written with the Latin script.
When Tolkien defined the Elven languages, he decided that Quenya would have the consonant be before the vowel, always; while Sindarin would have the consonant after the vowel. This allowed both to be written with the same Tengwar script whilst sounding very different.
From the word Anmah, we can see that the magical language allows consonants either before or after the vowel. Maybe it doesn’t allow both? That would be pretty cool, and would give the language a very characteristic sound. The consonant structure would then be:
C + V or V + C
Maybe the language distinguishes between the two rather than just allowing either? It could be a way to add emphasis. For example, “An” might be the emphasised form of “Na”, or vice versa. Alternatively it could be a way to indicate that it’s a noun rather than a verb, or to indicate that this is a person deserving of respect, or any of a dozen things. This gives your language more fun ways to distinguish between words.
Alternatively, the language might allow a syllable to have two consonants one after the other. “Anm” might be a legal syllable, and “Ah” might be the second one. This gives us a very different structure:
V (+ C) (+ C)
This would give the language a very rhythmic sound when spoken, like a Southern Italian accent. It would also allow train-wrecks of consonants in the same way that Magyar or German does, which are fun to pronounce once you get used to them.
* * *
Anmah is a term used for sentient magicks. Terms for people tend to be either given by themselves (for example, “Deutsche”) or given by others (for example “German”). In this case, the word Anmah is probably our word for them rather than their word for themselves. As they don’t come from this universe, their word for themselves is probably something we’ll never know, if they even have one.
“The Anmah” could be derived from various meanings. Here are some ideas:
Those From The Magic World, where “Anm” means “the magic world” and “-Ah” is a suffix that turns it into a noun. (This would mean that “people from Paris” would become “Parisah.”) Alternatively, “Mah” might mean “the Magic world” and “An-” is a prefix that turns it into a noun. (This would mean that “people from Paris” would become “Anparis.”)
Those Who Do Not Die, where “Mah” means “death” and “An-” is a prefix which negates it. Alternatively, “Anm” might mean “death” and “-Ah” is a suffix which negates it.
Those Who Have Been Summoned, where “Mah” means “to be summoned” and “An-” is a prefix which turns it into a noun. This could also be used for “Those Who Have Crossed Over” or something similar.
Those Who Are Not Like Us, where “Anm” means “people” and “-Ah” is a suffix which negates it.
Those Who Are Very Knowledgeable, where “Mah” means “knowledge” and “An-” is a prefix which indicates “very”.
Those Who Are Spells, where “Mah” means “spell” and “An-” is a prefix which indicates an anthropomorphism.
Simple one-syllable words like “Mah” and “Anm” would probably be used for very simple and very old ideas that the language has had to deal with for a long time. Death, the magic world, summoning (or travel generally), human beings and knowledge might all be such ideas for magicians.
HOLY SHIT THAT’S AWESOME CITATION NEEDED
I am enjoying the linguistic nerdery. A while ago, I happened across an article criticizing Esperanto from a modern linguistics perspective; it was quite entertaining. At one point, he referred to it looking like a “wind-up toy Italian-Czech pidgin”.
Yes, Anmah is a name that humans gave to them and, no, they don’t have a name themselves. “Anmah” was given to them a very long time ago when some humans used to worship them. It’s pronounced “ahn-maah” /a:n ma:/ (I hope to fuck I did that right). It’s the “a” sound in “maw”, “paw” and “palm”. Round and soft with clear difference between syllables. It now means “immortal” in Armenian. It’s used in Germanic, Aramaic and Indo-Aryan languages, albeit with slightly different pronunciations.
Anmah don’t actually speak, as they know what’s up when another Anmah allows them and happens to be close, so they don’t have an actual spoken language. They developed their written language to record things, to tell whichever Anmah discovers the writing what has happened and what will happen, so it has only past and future tense.
They develop new symbols for new words by defining them on walls. For instance “wheel” would be “round” “and” “move” “is” and then adding a new symbol. Sometimes for a more complex concept, they leave a bit of magic behind to tell what the symbol means, although they must be careful since they need every bit of magic to stay sapient.
There aren’t many Anmah, so while there’s duplicate symbols for the same thing, there may be two or three at most for the same concept.
For names, they may just use descriptions like “smelly” “beard” “robes” would be Rasputin or “Us [Anmah]” “dark” “feather” “black” would be a Nox Anmah named Corvus. If they write the name often enough, they make a new symbol for it, just as they do with concepts.
They learn human languages to communicate with them. Because they’re immortal and magic, they can just hang around to watch and learn for years on end. They can mimic voices and accent well once they know humans enough. The Ignis Anmah Kumiho really loved to demonstrate the ability to mimic voices.
Also, thank you for all the cool stuff. I didn’t know about the consonant/vowel thing. o3o
Hey, remember when we all said it was hilarious that Donald Trump is running for president?
For anyone who’s interested, Project Dogmat released an update video that shows off some of the animations.
It’s in Russian so I have no idea what they’re saying, but it’s looking pretty good.
I still think it is ridiculous that r/beatingtrannies continues to exist.
Clearly mocking misogyny isn’t the same as fat hate – I just meant that that fat haters probably think it is in that they probably tell themselves fat is bad (presumably because it isn’t boner-pleasing but am sure they have a stupid justification for why it’s about good/bad and that fat acceptance is bad for society or whatever). Once you have a cause for hate, telling people they shouldn’t say it won’t change their views, merely their method for expressing it. I guess I just know people have different judgements on what is ok, and rather than wanting to make hateful views invisible I feel more that cruelty and shitty attitudes are always going to exist – I can’t make everyone kind, or agree with my right/wrong so let them have their hate and at least it can be argued with. I can only control how much the hate affects me by learning to not care for the opinions of idiots, or campaigning for laws that make it harder for that hate to directly disadvantage someone (eg discrimination laws). The presence of hateful views just doesn’t worry me too much – I know they exist and seeing it written down doesn’t make it any worse.
Aside from incitement, I just don’t get why the evidence of shitty people being shitty is that big a deal or why you’d care to want it to disappear. People are cruel – bullying is shit but the hate isn’t going to go away if you silence it. They still hate you for whatever reason – I’m not trying to be holier than thou, I don’t get is why you care that shitty people on the internet are mean to you. Death threats, doxxing – that’s different as physical harm isn’t subjective. Emotional harm is, and the presence of horrible views only harms you if you somehow value the opinion of the person being gross and let it make you feel shit. I know it’s unpleasant but why do you need the acceptance of idiots or care enough to want to never have to witness their hate? That’s why I feel so ambivalent about the horrid reddit threads – we all know they are mean but wanting them gone is giving a shit about what shitty people think which gives them more power than they deserve which should be zero.
Caveat – hurling abuse at specific people and telling them to kill themselves is clearly fucked up – I’m not saying it isn’t – and the presence of forums probably normalises and encourages these views which is terrible – but for me it still comes down to why assholes being assholes should be shocking or of concern to non-assholes. Feel and show contempt, maybe even engage to try to change people’s minds, but give no shits that shit people hate you.
I realise I’m being a dick – rich white girl who has never been told she’s worthless for something out of her control telling other people to just chill and stop being so emotional. Dick move. It’s not intended to be preachy – I genuinely am just ignorant about how shit affects other people so WHTM has helped me understand why my blind spots are blind, which is what I’m hoping for here!
“They can’t hurt you unless you let them” is bullshit. Tell it to the parents of kids who are bullied to death.
I’m happy you’re learning. I’m glad you walked it back. Victim blaming isn’t OK
Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely respect, admire and agree with your desire to become a better human being and stop being ignorant. It took me a long time to break from my own rich white upbringing too, and I still frequently make fuckups which tell me how far I still have to go. You have my absolute support and empathy.
That said, I want to pick you up on this:
There’s three reasons why we want the evidence of shitty people being shitty to disappear.
Firstly, speech isn’t thought. Speech is action, because it affects people. We are not sociopaths: we all care what people say about us. If Lea congratulates me on my new job or I congratulate her on her new hair colour, we hopefully both feel better about it. Likewise, if she calls me a teal-dearing boring narcissistic asshole or I call her a rabid mouth-frother who alienates potential allies, then we feel worse.
To quote Randall Munroe, fellow humans’ feelings are literally all that matters in this cold, cruel world.
You’re right that it’s subjective, but then all harm is. For example, I basically spend my life sitting down, so having my legs broken wouldn’t be that big an issue for me. For someone whose preferred jobs involve walking around and who loves running, having their legs broken would be a huge loss as it impacts their quality of life far more.
Shitty speech is bad because it hurts people, and telling them not to be hurt is not a real thing.
Secondly, because other people’s speech hurts us, we tend to avoid places where we know painful speech exists. This means that large tracts of the internet can essentially become off-limits for leisure reading for many people. For example, if you’re reading comedy and every tenth joke really hurts you, then you’ll either leave the site or emotionally hunker down in preparation for that tenth joke, which means you don’t laugh as much at the other nine.
This is why safe spaces exist and are so valuable. It’s also why we make a point of calling people out when they misbehave: seeing that the rest of the people on a given website don’t tolerate this sort of stuff either can go a very long way towards helping you relax, know that people have your back, and enjoy the nine out of ten jokes which you can find funny.
Shitty speech is bad because it prevents us from enjoying the nice things it’s mixed in with.
Thirdly, people tend to take their social cues from those around them, and over long periods tend to reshape themselves to fit into social spaces. This goes back to the “humans aren’t sociopaths” thing. For example, I hang around with feminists a lot, and so even though I’m male I’ve begun to wince whenever I hear a rape joke and to pick up on the treatment of female characters in fiction. Similarly, I hang around with scientists a lot and so will yield to expertise far more readily than I might have beforehand. Humans are reshaped by their environment. It’s the way we are.
If I hung around with rapists, I might become more favourable to rape. If I hung around with ethnic cleansing racial supremacists, I might naturally find those arguments beginning to make sense to me. Again, this is the way humans are.
Humans aren’t telepathic, however. If every person around me was fiercely hateful but never talked about it, I’d be influenced far less. A good example of this is the Less Wrong internet community, which is often accused of being a borderline cult and of cultivating an intense groupthink. They have a ban on discussing politics, which means that while new people being drawn into the cult are rapidly influenced to desire to be brain-uploaded and to worship hypothetical future AIs, they tend to retain their previous political affiliations and thus the site’s population has a wide range of political views.
Shitty speech is bad because it influences other people to become shittier people.
To sum up:
1) If we ban shitty speech, fewer people get hurt.
2) If we ban shitty speech, more people can enjoy the internet.
3) If we ban shitty speech, fewer people become shitty.