Friday, June 03, 2005

Malacandrian Languages

'I cannot understand,' he said, 'how you and the sorns and the hrossa all come to speak the same speech. For your tongues and teeth and throats must be very different.'

'You are right,' said the creature. 'Once we all had different speeches and we still have at home. but everyone has learned the speech of the hrossa.'

'Why is that?' said Ransom, still thinking in terms of terrestrial history. 'Did the hrossa once rule the others?'

'I do not understand. They are our great speakers and singers. They have more words and better. No one learns the speech of my people, for what we have to say is said in stone and suns' blood and stars' milk and all can see them. No one learns the sorns' speech, for you can change their knowledge into any words and it is still the same. You cannot do that with the songs of the hrossa. Their tongues goes all over Malacandra. I speak it to you because you are a stranger. I would speak it to a sorn. But we have our old tongues at home. You can see it in the names. The sorns have big-sounding names like Augray and Arkal and Belmo and Falmay. The hrossa have furry names like Hnoh and Hnihi and Hyoi and Hlithnahi.'

'The best poetry, then, comes in the roughest speech?'

'Perhaps,' said the pfifltrigg. 'As the best pictures are made in the hardest stone. '
~C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, Chapter 17, (1938)


Interesting link of the day: World Soundscape Project Literature File (Sound References in Literature)

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