Polite Conversation in Kythus

The following excerpt is a response to a prompt about conversational etiquette from the r/WorldChallenges subreddit. The conversation is in-character; Nölna is speaking in his first language Kythusave. The literal translation into English is for my non-Kythan readers.

With thanks to reddit user u/thequeeninyellow94 Who provided the prompt and an engaging conversation partner.


Nölna: “Źa. Mana paplö Nölna.”

Hi. I named Nölna.

  • In Kythus a polite greeting and introduction is a good start.

TQIY: “Hello Nölna, I’m a non euclydian extraterrestrial being. How are you? A weird summer we got isn’t it?”

Nölna: “Mana zamaty kyägrä mana. Molëŧëv zumaty ŧalödwe tya źelëŧëv. Këxö ka pety kypälömeb kal ökäd?

I am healthy me. This-summer is-being wetter compared past-summer. How a being does not-full a room?

  • Asking about health and small talk about the weather is typically acceptable – even if it is obvious to everyone.

  • A direct question about a strangers oddness is not considered rude in Kythus.

TQIY: “Does not-full a room? Because it’s a pretty large room? Actually, I think I don’t get your question… could you explain what you mean?”

Nölna: ” Mana foŧömy wö. Mo mëp ŧalämastmü tya pryđ nuk muz ökäd, kylë ko pamagë. Këxö zaty muz odevy?”
I will-give reason. You have more-parts compared seen in the room, but all be-here. How is that possible?

  • Nölna is politely using the genderless pronoun ‘mo’ to refer to his conversational partner, as he does not know it, and assuming is an insult, but using the neuter/unknown is not rude, even if gender is potentially obvious to an observer.

  • The term non-Euclidean means nothing to a Kythan, as they do not know of Euclid, or his mathematical theorems.

  • A non-Euclidean being might be perceived as a demon.

  • Conversing politely with a demon is a grave sin according to the dominant religion of Kythus, best to figure that out quickly.

TQIY: “Fear not, a demon I’m not. I’m fully in the room physically as I’m one, as long as you don’t think too much about my continuity through time and space. I’m some kind of goddess if you want. Conversing with divine beings is fine right?”

(Is there some kind of pronoun to politely address people?)

Nölna: “Mana źalyplu. Mu hyëgrepmü tëfnaŧadytëfva zyhymanaty plo zacü. Zaflëd źëk mu balëma zaty ytwë đalug pegëxö. Ëmamova zaty kylud Pëolüva ud Rylava, mutëfvü hy mana hyöda. Kewö Ëmamova folekwy mana. Mana zaty mefë kal yten pënoköna.”

I unworried. The ways-of gods-and-goddesses never-mine-be for understanding. Speaking with the divine is usually less-direct praying. You are neither Peoluva or Rylava, the goddesses of my people. Why you would-be-shown me? I am only a simple farmer.

  • The extremely formal pronoun ‘Ëmamova’ [divine-2P-fem] is used as soon as you stated your preferred gender.

  • Every pronoun can be preceded by an appropriate adword to adjust the formality or politic of the speakers intent.

  • Nölna is also getting more verbose as the conversation continues. This is a subtle cue that he wishes to keep talking. Fewer and shorter sentences would be a way of indicating a lack of desire for extended conversation.

TQIY: “That’s the point; I’m actually looking for a perfectly normal conversation and there is nobody more qualified to talk about weather than a farmer. Beside, is there any reason I shouldn’t reveal myself to you?”

Nölna: “Mana źacü. Mana falüwam kywö. Ëmamutëfva përävü źulekwy Jödena Pelan, ka tëkapëpäho. Kyŧus hydrut odevy cesku ufomü nuk ka häje. Bleŧmü veflëd mamö zamëp ka zalakym drutyŧydük, kylë mamö xü voklëz vykru acëmü, ad prän usö kyëtömü. Ëmamova hydrutyŧydük zaty lëyp mana hydrutyŧydük?”

I understand. I suppose nowhy. The goddess herselves appeared to Jodena Pelan [Kythan spelling] – a tëkaherd. Kythan weather can change many times in a day. people say we have a blessed climate, but we also will-get savage storms, and deep winter snows. Your climate be similar-to my climate?

  • Responding to inquiries with a similar reciprocal inquiry is polite, and somewhat expected amongst Kythans.

TQIY: “Change many time in a day? Like changing a lot? Like going from clear to harsh storm? Because in that case, my climate isn’t like that at all, it change way slower.

And what is a tëkaherd?”

Nölna: “Mu baspëdë vacesku xö önëd ëgrepmü. Ödypelotok zaty balytwë ypuh kylë ejy ukrä. Ka tëkapëpäho zaty ka pëzapäho hy tëkamü, ka ytwë nokökwybe mamü zaŧüđ äsoc ypryc, öcy, ad wrütü. Ëmamova mëp ka nokökwybemü in ëmamova hylođuđüŧydük?”

It frequently changes by little ways. Rainfall is normally brief it, but much amount. A tëkaherd is a herder of tëka(s), a common farm-animal we grow for wool, milk, and meat. You have any farm-animals in your hearth-region?

  • Clarifying remarks are made without prejudice when the query comes from proper ignorance of the facts, as with foreign entities.

  • Had these questions come from a Kythan who should know better, the questions would either be ignored, or given a terse and dismissive response (depending on the relative status of the speaker to the listener).

TQIY: “Isn’t it problematic for managing your fields moisture (?) level?

We have animals which can produce both milk, meat and wool; they are called sheeps. How big are tëkaherd?”

Nölna: “Manü nokömü zamëp jynek pepalupäźy.” -he laughs- “Ödü tëkapëpäho fapakwotü aga mëtermü, kylë gry zaty ŧazö. Moge mu tëkamü mumü zapëpäho fapäkwotü bekrod aga mëter, ad fapakravy rä mëter. Kë zapaflät ka ‘shëps’?”

Our fields have good drainage. (Laughs) Some tëkaherds tall two meters, but most are more-short. Now the tëka they herd tall about divided two meter, and long one meter. (How) big a ‘sheeps’?

  • Answering a question literally (how big is a ‘tëkaherd’), when the intended meaning is apparent is a type of witty humour in Kythus.

  • A polite person will also answer the intended question (how big is a ‘tëka’).

TQIY: “Do you use all that water for something?

I’m not sure about the exact size of a sheep but they are slightly bigger than tëkas.”

Nölna:

(While not done intentionally, this is a error on the part of the writer.)

  • Nölna has been quite rude and left you hanging in conversation.

Nölna: “Lyu valüđäk vrepmü źoŧuđ. Ödü ejöfëmü vatöc lyu valënä ŧaflät oplumü ad vabrök ogëmü. Këlë ëmamova źođötru mana, mana źofräm mana hypezëv. Ëmamova äkë ëmamova hypejët.”

Water helps the crops grow. Some mills use water to-roll great wheels and grind grains. If you would-allow me, I must-return my labouring. You enjoy your visit.

This is a much more polite manner to disengage from a conversation.

  • Answer any last questions.

  • Politely suggest ending the conversation with a reason.

  • General wish for a positive departure.

TQIY: “I dismiss you mortal, go back to your mortal occupation. I’m kidding, thanks for your answers Nölna; may your fields flourish.”


Kyŧusave Phonetics

Vowels

Vowel

IPA

English Example

a

æ

“cat”

Open Front

ä

e

“case”

Close-mid Front

e

ɛ

“pet”

Open-mid Front

ë

i

“be

Close Front

o

ɑ

“pot”

Open Back

ö

o

“hole”

Close-mid Back Rounded

u

ʌ

up”

Open-mid Back

ü

u

“cue”

Close Back Rounded

y

y

by

Close Front Rounded

Consonants

Consonant

IPA

English Example

p

p

“sip

Labial Plosive

b

b

“tub

Labial Plosive

t

t

“cat

Alveolar Plosive

d

d

“did

Alveolar Plosive

k

k

kit”

Velar Plosive

g

g

goat”

Velar Plosive

m

ɱ

“hymn

Labiodental Nasal

n

n

“pen

Alveolar Nasal

r

r

“door

Alveolar,Trilled

f

f

for”

Labiodental Fricative

v

v

“cave”

Labiodental Fricative

ŧ

Ɵ

this”

Dental Fricative

đ

đ

then”

Dental Fricative

c

s

“lace”

Alveolar Fricative

z

z

“raze”

Alveolar Fricative

s

ʃ

“hiss

Postalveolar Fricative

x

ɣ

“exit”

Velar Fricative

h

h

hug”

Glottal Fricative

w

ʋ

woo

Labiodental Approximate

j

j

yes

Palatal Approximate

l

l

“pill

Alveolar Lateral-Approximate

ź

“schwarzwald”

Labalized Alveolar Fricative

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