The previous column of Snert discussed the fact that the Talossan vocabulary contains words with a great many diverse origins. The fact that Talossan words derive from Latin, from later Romance languages, from Germanic languages, and many other languages from around the world has made it so that Talossan has a number of synonyms – different words that mean the same thing.

There are also some Talossan words whose origins are, shall we say, uniquely Talossan. Many of these words were, of course, coined by our nation’s founder, King Ben, and reflect his opinions, sense of humour, or other peculiarities of character, or even serve as commentary on the Talossan culture and personalities of the time. Random leafing through the Treisour can be entertaining, historically educating, and/or perplexing in that it can turn up any number of words like this.

The Talossan verb lorentzarh was coined in honour of one of the most prominent Talossans of all time, Danihel Lorentz. Dan’s reputation with his fellow citizens is reflected by the fact that this verb means “to rant and rave”.

Ben’s penchant for coining off-beat words was not limited to Talossan politics either. The Talossan version of the personal name Hillary is Larxhas. For any who do not know, xh is pronounced like an English letter j.

For as many words like these that exist in our language--words whose unconventional roots can be teased out with some knowledge of history and of the coiner of the word --, there are a great many more whose origins are currently lost to the ages; these pose intriguing mysteries for the Talossan etymologist. Some strange hypotheses are often developed, their accuracy being completely unknown. Take ricelama, for example, which is the Talossan term for a television commercial. Search all the Romance languages with which Talossan shares a heritage and you won’t find anything close. The same is true for the Germanic languages, Celtic languages, and any other language that Talossan may have drawn from. One is left to conclude that King Ben coined ricelama out of whole cloth, leaving the question how he came to choose that particular word. Staring at the word’s spelling for a bit, one soon realizes that it is a perfect anagram for amercial, which (of course) is the way the English pronunciation commercial might be spelled in Talossan. Does that mean that this is the origin of ricelama? Who can tell? It seems too coincidental not to be, but no true evidence exists to substantiate such a theory.

Another word that puzzles is arfarh, a verb that means "to cook popcorn". Does this word originate from an onomatopoeia? Does the sound of popcorn cooking sound like "arf" to you?

And how about svenirh, which is an extended form of the verb irh, now meaning "to change location -- that is, to come or to go". Svenirh means "to drop by", and one theory as to the origin of this word postulates that perhaps the youthful King Ben had a friend or neighbour named Sven who may have been known for visiting unexpectedly! [Of course, another, perhaps more reasonable, theory, is that (ignoring the letter s) svenirh could have formed an amalgam of a conjugation of viénarh (such as veneva = 'he/she/it came') with the infinitive form irh, the two verbs that originally had the distinct meanings "to come" and "to go".]

Little mysteries like these are scattered here and there throughout our vocabulary, just waiting for someone to do some digging and thinking, and then to document at least a possibility for how these words came to us. Take a look through the Treisour and play amateur etymologist sometime. It’s very fun!


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