there is no end to that language

We call the foam on waves sukien: that word is made from two words of the Old Speech, suk, feather, and inien, the sea. Feather of the sea, is foam. But you cannot charm the foam calling it sukien; you must use its own true name in the Old Speech, which is essa. Any witch knows a few of these words in the Old Speech, and a mage knows many. But there are many more, and some have been lost over the ages, and some have been hidden, and some are known only to dragons and to the Old Powers of Earth, and some are known to no living creature; and no man could learn them all. For there is no end to that language.

Here is the reason. The sea’s name is inien, well and good. But what we call the Inmost Sea has its own name also in the Old Speech. Since no thing can have two true names, inien can mean only ‘all the sea except the Inmost Sea’. And of course it does not mean even that, for there are seas and bays and straits beyond counting that bear names of their own. So if some Mage-Seamaster were mad enough to try to lay a spell of storm or calm over all the ocean, his spell must say not only that word inien, but the name of every stretch and bit and part of the sea through all the Archipelago and all the Outer Reaches and beyond to where names cease. Thus, that which gives us the power to work magic, sets the limits of that power. A mage can control only what is near him, what he can name exactly and wholly. And this is well. If it were not so, the wickedness of the powerful or the folly of the wise would long ago have sought to change what cannot be changed, and Equilibrium would fail. The unbalanced sea would overwhelm the islands where we perilously dwell, and in the old silence all voices and all names would be lost.

Ursula Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

 

A la espuma de las olas la llamamos sukien: esta palabra está hecha con dos palabras del Habla Antigua, suk, pluma, e inien, el mar. Pluma del mar, eso es la espuma. Mas no es llamándola sukien como hechizaréis a la espuma; tendréis que usar el nombre verdadero en el Habla Antigua, essa. Cualquier bruja conoce algunas de estas palabras del Habla Antigua, y un mago conoce muchas. Pero hay muchísimas más, y algunas se han perdido con el correr de las edades, o han permanecido secretas; y otras sólo son conocidas por los dragones y los Poderes Antiguos y no las conoce nadie. Ningún hombre podría aprenderlas todas. Porque esa lengua es infinita. Pero lo que nosotros llamamos el Mar Interior también tiene su propio nombre en el Habla Antigua. Y como nada puede tener dos nombres verdaderos, inien significa pues toda la mar excepto el Mar Interior. Y desde luego, ni siquiera es eso lo que significa, porque hay mares y bahías y estrechos incontables y cada uno tiene un nombre que le es propio. De modo que si un Mago Maestro de la Mar estuviese tan loco como para tratar de echar un sortilegio de tempestad o calma sobre todo el océano, el ensalmo tendría que contener no sólo esa palabra, inien, sino el nombre de cada tramo y trecho y parcela de mar a través de todo el Archipiélago y hasta los Confines Lejanos, y aún más allá, donde ya no hay nombres. Así pues, lo que nos da el poder de la magia, limita a la vez ese poder. Un mago sólo puede dominar lo que está cerca, lo que puede nombrar con la palabra exacta. Y es bueno que sea así. Si no fuera así, la maldad de los poderosos o la locura de los sabios habría intentado tiempo atrás cambiar lo que no puede cambiarse, y el Equilibrio se habría roto.

Ursula Le Guin, Un mago de Terramar
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the only language named after this (or any other) continent

Ek is ’n Afrikaanse skrywer. Ek skryf in ’n taal wat soos Nederlands is, maar ook nie, inheems aan Afrika, maar ook nie — al is dit die enigste taal vernoem na hierdie (of enige ander) kontinent. Ek skryf in ’n taal wat min uit te waai het met tulpe, windmeulens of simpel sneeumanne met wortelneuse. ’n Taal geslyp om Afrika se skoonheid én sy ongenaakbaarheid te verwoord. “Aardvark”, “veld” en “wildebeest” — hierdie is die woorde wat Afrikaans aan die wêreld gegee het. Ook “trek”, natuurlik. Om te roer, om aan die beweeg te kom, om te swig voor die koors van die horison.

Ek skryf in Afrikaans, ’n taal van swerwers en trekkers wat getrek het eerder as om hulle by Britse heerskappy te berus; wat weer getrek het toe die Britte ook Natal geannekseer het; wat hardkoppig aanhou trek het, maar moes sien hoe die Vrystaat en Transvaal en elke ander droom voor die aanslag van die Empire sneuwel.

En uiteindelik, net toe die rook begin opklaar, net toe dit begin lyk of dinge uiteindelik beter kan gaan, toe pak hierdie swerwers, hierdie godvresende manne en vroue wat “boer” en “spoor” en “commando” en “puff-adder” aan die wêreld gegee het, hul laaste en mees ambisieuse tog aan. Gewapen met die woord “apartheid”, trek hulle weg van hul sinne en van die werklikheid self.

En hierdie ding, hierdie groot “A”, hierdie verskrikking wat hakiesdraad gespan het tussen ons en die enigste land wat ons ooit lief gehad het, sou swerwers van ons almal maak.

Hoe kan ons vergeet van die vryheidsvegters, gedryf tot ballingskap of daardie ander ballingskap vanwaar niemand ooit terugkeer nie? Hoe kan ons vergeet van die vlugtelinge en die aktiviste, gejag deur die Veiligheidspolisie (wie se taktieke natuurlik altyd besonder interessant was)? En wat van die skrywers wat als moes prysgee om van vervolging of teëspoed te ontsnap? Of enige sweem van verwantskap aan hierdie bliksems wat besig was om die land in’n parodie van alles waarin hulle altyd geglo het, te omskep?

En laat ons nie vergeet van die stille meerderheid nie. Hulle wat moes agterbly in’n land wat by die dag meer soos’n vreemde land geword het. Die trekarbeiders met hul passe wat hulle as dwalers in die land van hul herkoms geklassifiseer het. Die haweloses en ontheemdes, maar ook dié wat in ’n soort innerlike ballingskap teruggetrek het; ’n morele stuipe waar die lug nog so blou was soos op televisie, waar duiwe net in koeplette gekoer het, sonder enige verwysings na plakkershutte of barrikades of die obsene gewoer van rubberkoeëls.

En laat ons nie vergeet van die Engelse nie: Oopkop genoeg om hul beleid naamloos te laat bly, en nou verskeurd tussen die hersenskim van Home en hierdie nuwe republiek wat hulle net so entoesiasties onderskryf het as enigiemand anders wat in daardie dae hul kruisies kon trek — alhoewel dit natuurlik deesdae ’n ongewilde feit geword. ’n Soort onaanvaarbare waarheid; iets wat hopelik sal weggaan as niemand dit ooit weer noem nie.

En altyd was daar die Afrikaners, die onverkwiklike, verdwaalde Afrikaners. Hierdie manne en vroue wat met name soos “meerkat” en “boomslang” en “berg” vorendag kon kom (al het hulle die land liewer as woorde gehad) en dit tóg kon regkry om dit in’n vreemdeling te omskep.

Thomas Dreyer, Not Our Leguaan

 
Wordle: Afrikaans

I am an Afrikaans writer. I write in a language that is Dutch but not Dutch, European but not European, African but not African — even though it is the only language named after this (or any other) continent. I write in a language that has little to do with tulips, windmills, or silly snowmen with carrot noses, a language honed to denote Africa in all its harshness, cruelty, and beauty. “Aardvark”, “veld”, and “wildebeest” — these are the words that Afrikaans has given to the world. As is “trek”, of course: to migrate, to get going, to yield to the fever of the horizon. Yes, in the language of the Enterprise, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

I write in Afrikaans, a language of wanderers and migrants, of “trekkers”, who trekked rather than submit to British rule, who trekked again when the British occupied Natal in turn, who kept on doggedly trekking as the Free State and Transvaal and all the other dreams fell to the juggernaut of Empire.

And finally, just when the smoke of war was clearing, just when it seemed that things were finally looking up, just when it seemed that there would be no need of further trekking, these migrants, these god-fearing people who had given the world “Boer” and “spoor” and “commando” and “puff-adder”, embarked on their final and most ambitious journey. Inventing the word “apartheid”, they proceeded to trek away from sanity and even from reality itself.

And this thing, this big A, this abomination that strung barbed wire between us and the only country we ever knew or loved, has made migrants of us all.

How can we forget the freedom fighters, forced into exile or into that other kind of exile from which there can be no return? How can we forget the men and women who had to flee to fight another day, or the activists, harried by the security police (whose tactics were of course always extremely interesting)? And how could we forget the writers who had to abandon everything to escape persecution or hardship or any hint of kinship with these bastards who were turning the country into a parody of all they had ever dreamed of or believed?

But we shouldn’t forget the silent majority either, those who stayed behind, those who suffered in a country that was becoming more and more like a foreign country every day. They were the migrant workers with their passes designating them as temporary sojourners in the country of their birth. They were the vagrants and the dispossessed, but also those who retreated into a kind of inner exile, a moral stupor where the sky was still as blue as it was on TV, where the doves sang exclusively in verse, never mentioning the shacks and the barricades or the obscene whirring of rubber bullets.

There were the English too, lest we forget, who had had the savvy not to give their policies a name and were now torn between memories of Home and this strange new republic which they supported as eagerly as anyone else who was allowed to draw their crosses — though this has become an inconvenient truth of late, a kind of non-fact, something that will hopefully go away if no one mentions it again.

And always there were the cruel and haunted Afrikaners, the beautiful, deluded Afrikaners, these men and women who came up with names like “meerkat” and “boomslang” and “berg”, but loved this country more than words could express and still managed to turn it into a stranger.

Thomas Dreyer, Not Our Leguaan

תוֹהוּ וָבוֹהוּ

Wordle: tohu-vavohu

In the beginning, the Lord created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was tohu vavohu. What is tohu vavohu? This matter is much debated among the sages. There are those who say: formless. There are those who say: void. There are those who say: astonishingly empty, as though they had stood alongside the Almighty in the time before time, and had been astonished at the emptiness, had, perhaps, remarked upon it.

And there are those who say: chaotic. This interpretation seems to allow the words, which are all that we have of the beginning, their voice. Tohu vavohu. Higgledy-piggledy. Upside-down. Inside-out. Hither and thither. The Creator wanted to show us the first contraction of all-that-is. All modes of expression were open to Him, every human sense. He chose words — tohu vavohu. Tumble-jumble.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was bingle-mingle.

Naomi Alderman, Disobedience