🎨 Creative Cultural Customs, The Second

SlideAway

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310) Every citizen must serve an obligatory 3 year stint running the machines under the great city. While there you won't see the sun at all. Most people prefer to get it over with when they are young, and then never speak of it.

311) The warlike people of the Vargarian steppes believe that purity equals success on the battlefield. They send the young girls to spoil the dead after battles because only they could remain untainted by greed. The surviving soldiers and families of the dead then receive a fair portion of the spoils.

312) People of Leska always wear masks in public. It would be mortifying for any but your family members to see your face. Families are especially tight-knit and insular. A certain sense of anonymity in public naturally correlates with underhanded business practices and crime. Competition between families is fierce. Alliances with families is important, but also constantly shifting. Crime is a problem, and justice tends to be immediate and harsh.

313) In neighboring Gara one always wears a mask in private. It is donned/removed a safe distance from residence in a changing booth or tunnel, along with any recognizable clothing (styles tend to be uniform and drab anyhow). The state is all-important. The family is a shameful necessity and ties are to be avoided, or are at least seen as a sign of weakness. Some people thrive in the secrecy world of domesticity, but it's an unpleasant truth best not spoken of. When one reaches adulthood at age 13 one casts off one's family/house identity and moves out (usually to a dormitory/boarding house). Before that age children are rarely seen outside, and educated within the home, or become wards of the state.

One never lets one's mask be seen when it is not on and doesn't share or ask for clues which could give away family connection. Masks have special markings which help people avoid joining and staying in a family of a sibling or overly close relative. Some large households have multiple generations. Some large households have confusing polygamous family structure. Length of stay in a household could range from a year to a lifetime, depending mostly on the preferences of the individual.
 

MoonHunter

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One of the best sources is color for a character and a setting is The Five Words. These are the five words that a person who is native in another language says in the common one. That way the player or GM can express the "other language"'s nature. Words like Yes and No, as well as some common ones are best candidates. Heck list the five words that your common language characters use that are different than English, just to remind them that their characters are not speaking English (or what ever). Now it could be more or less words, but it is a small number of words.
From the The Author Studio

They believe in more words than I do, but five words is more of a guideline than actual rules. However, this list will be a good starting points for words you need.

Inventing languages is a crucial—and fun—part of fantasy novel worldbuilding. Words unique to a country, region, people, or race give the world texture and depth that can’t come from ordinary words alone. But inventing a solid, believable, and rich fantasy language is about more than just throwing together weird-sounding combinations of words; when done properly, the language is creates conflict, reveals character, and even provides crucial solutions to the plote (can you say “Speak friend and enter”?)

Here are eleven words your fantasy language has to have.

Swear words
Swear words, curses, and oaths represent the immediate, impulsive instincts of your character, and so they often reveal lots about the psychology of the people who speak your language. Are the swear words religious in nature? Scatalogical? Do they reference societal taboos?

Insults
Similarly, insults are a necessary part of every language, and an excellent opportunity to weave in information about the societal mores of your speakers. What is the gravest insult a person could be called in your language?

Terms of Endearment
Ah, love. The flip side of insults are pet names and sweet nothings that people in your language’s society call each other. What do they value and prize? Consider how in English, we have not only a lot of sugar-related words (“honey,” “sweetie,” “sugar”) but value-related words (“dear” can also mean “expensive”—compare “mon cher” in French). In French, however, a parent or lover might refer to “mon petit chou”—my little cabbage! You can also creative diminutives—versions of words that imply smallness or youth (like “kitten” for “cat,” for example). Be creative and think about your society’s nearest and dearest things when crafting.

Honorifics
People who outrank your characters will need some term of address that conveys deference and honor—think “your Majesty” or the Japanese suffix “-san.” How will characters of lower rank speak to those of higher rank? Do the words have any literal meaning?

Greetings
How many levels of “hello” and “goodbye” does your language have? What do the words literally mean? Many languages use “peace” as a greeting (or valediction). Some are imperatives (like the Latin “ave”). Some are more extended, idiomatic phrases.

“Untranslatable” words
Language is a reflection of mindset, and your characters are from an unfamiliar society that you’re building. What concepts does their culture have that don’t translate neatly into English (or the primary language of your text)? Consider words like “tsundoku” (the act of letting reading materials pile up) in Japanese, or “saudade” (a feeling of longing or nostalgia) in Portuguese.

Kennings
A kenning is a term from Old English poetry that refers to a word construction out of two smaller words, whose meanings, when combined, take on a new, non-literal significance. For example, in modern English, a “passport” lets you pass through a port, i.e. a metaphorical door to another place. Combining two words of your language to create a new, deeper, or more abstract word adds depth.

Demonyms
Demonyms refer to the name for a person from a particular place—e.g. a Floridian, a Canadian, a Parisian, a Brit, a Scot. How do the names of cities, countries, and regions translate into demonyms? Don’t merely employ the form that we use in English; consider adding a prefix to modify your place names.

Foods
Of course, specific dishes need names, but also consider the differences between food in the field and food on a plate: in English, we have “pigs” in the barnyard, but “pork” on the dinner table. The reason for this difference is the Norman invasion in 1066 CE, when French-speaking invaders took over the nobility and referred to their cooked dishes by Norman French terms. The Anglo-Saxons in the farms, however, retained their native words. Consider how such a divide could reflect social stratification—or something else significant—in your fantasy world.

Poetry/Literature
All literate societies have common texts that speakers know of, if not know by heart. (For example, almost every English speaker will recognize “To be, or not to be.”) What phrases do your speakers know from their society’s written corpus, and what significance do they hold?

Sacred words
Similarly, any religious society (or a society with a strong moral code) will have prayers, blessings, and benedictions. What formulaic language do your characters use to ask for divine assistance?
 

MoonHunter

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314) The Mog'kwai are people who are not quite accepted in The Peoples. They have traits that are very different: their eye and mouth shapes including sharp canines, the coarse head and back hair, and shoulders nearly as broad as they are tall (which is four to five feet). Mogwai live in the Burning Lands, the Summer Islands, and the Leadward Islands. Mogwai tend to wear painted/ woven belts, loinclothes, and biflaps. The Biflap are their clan cloths showing their home village/ island and clan, and if they are bloodward or bloodtrailed (how close they are to clan head).

315) The Mog'kwai women who are about the same height and just a bit less broad in the shoulders have taken to wearing bandeau that would match their clan cloths. They learned this from the Seafolk. The more modern female Mogwais, those with a lot of People Contact, are wearing sarongs of clan cloths.
 
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MoonHunter

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316) People like to keep "magic" and "spirits" at arm's length (close of enough to be there when you need it but far enough away that it does not start effecting you). Thus because Kadali are called/ controlled by music (at least at the most simplistic level), to be a musician is to be a honored job, but not one that people want you around. Thus the magical hermit (living outside of the villages) or itinerant musicians have become the stereotype.

33) Flute Masters and the Kadali
 

MoonHunter

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317) Mog'kwai say, "Slow to anger, quick to charge." It holds the basic Mogwai principle of peaceful acceptance of just about everything, but if you need to be angry or defensive or have to attack for some reason... attack at full speed, without reservation, without hesitation, at full power.

318) Mog'kwai have a wrestling/ grabbing-throwing art, where a ritual ramming (belly bash) is the starting move. Most of the time it is just an "boop" and the fight continues normally, but sometimes it is like two sumos digging in and trying to push the other one around.

Ba'un te is found in the Martial Arts/ Kung Fu thread.
 
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MoonHunter

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319) Mog'kwai organize themselves in what translates into crews. Crews normally man the same boats or small group of boats to fish or voyage for trade. However, crews could be any work group (Achi's Crew collects coconuts and fruit, for example.) Crews can also be small neighborhoods (people who have homes/ work spaces that are close together).

320) A cook Crew often gets together for the crew to have a roasted meal. Since the local tubers need a lot of work and some long cooking, people cooking need to spend a lot of time together cooking. So a Crew (in terms of a neighborhood) will often get together for a small community meal many nights a week. It is a small honor to be invited to a given crew's meal, especially if you have not worked on the crew to prepare it.
 
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MoonHunter

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321) Each Crew will have a Captain. You follow the Captain while you are being part of that crew. For most work groups or dinner, this is very fluid. The closer the job is to The Deep Water, the more permanent the captaincy is. Ship captains are practically for life and nearly hereditary.
 

MoonHunter

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322) The Mog'kwai are all huggers. They get miffed when People don't. It is a mild insult.

Some Outsiders think all this hugging is odd since their fighting art is all about grappling; a friendly hug could turn into a deadly combat move. It is actually about Trust. You have trust in your friends and acquaintances. Heck, in the right social situations, you have trust in your enemies.
 

SlideAway

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323) In a state where law rules supreme, all new laws must undergo a trial period of 1 year to demonstrate superiority to similar previous laws.

The new laws then supersede the previous versions. Since everything must be subject to law, even a law must undergo a trial.

People who have run afoul of the law and been convicted will not be sentenced until the law itself has passed its trial. If the law is thrown out, the person may be re-tried according to the previous law, if applicable.

If it is clear that the law is working very poorly, it can be scrapped before a year has elapsed.

Very rarely a law with no precedents will go through a 1 year trial period. The process is similar, but a festival will be held (a sort of birthday party) if it is accepted into law permanently.
 

MoonHunter

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The Dales are a number of fiefdoms and dukedoms near the center of the Crownlands (Country).

The people of the Dales where clothing that seem to have an undo number of laces and ties. Their boots are tall and laced many times. The sleeves of tunic or outwerwar have puffs, slashes, and laces tying them in. Women tend to wear outer corsets, with lots of lacing - most of it for show. Even men wear partial leather corselets so they can have laces up their fronts..
 
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