Their names seem complex at first, but once I had lived there a few days, I had begun to understand.

To take an example: the name of one of their magnificos, Princess Sysamil on:kori.

The name is like a series of empty boxes, stacked one within the other, holding elements of Her Highness’ identity.

Her family name is Kori: this is the great clan to which she belongs.

There are several branches of the Kori clan. She belongs to the founding house, the family originally granted the privilege of the status of a noble clan: hence, she is “on:kori” – “on” meaning “one”, or “the first”. If she belonged to a branch of the clan, which itself achieved status as an independent noble clan, she might be known, say, as Princess Sysamil dai:kori, or Princess Sysamil ig:kori. “Dai” is “two”, and “ig” is “seven” – so, in that case, she would be Princess Sysamil of the second, or of the seventh, branch of the Kori clan.

Her Highness’ ancestral name is Sysamil. Her intimate name – which only members of her family or those close to her would ever dare to call her – is Sy. This is like the living person, this “Sy”, in the armour of the ancestral and clan name – the warm, breathing individual at the heart of the armour of Rank and blood. The ancestral name is in three parts, thus: Sy-sa-mil. The “sa” indicates gender: it means, “daughter of”. “Mil” is her dominant parent’s name. By dominant, I mean the parent with the greatest prestige. So, “Mil” might be Sy’s mother, or her father. At this point, it grows harder for a foreigner like me to follow the map of the name, for I don’t know whether “Mil” is a masculine or feminine name. Even more confusing, these Sharians sometimes use the same names for men and for women. Their sophistication is perplexing! It is a way, perhaps, they keep outsiders outside, and insiders inside. Perhaps all cultures work this way?

In any case, “Sysamil” thus breaks down, “Sy-sa-mil” — Sy, the daugher of Mil.

Her Highness, Princess Princess Sysamil on:kori is thus, Princess Sy, daughter of Mil, of the founding branch of the Kori clan.

It is not so difficult, once the system is grasped…

 — Excerpt from a memoir by an anonymous merchant from Dozu, during the rapprochement of the Era of the Extended Hand, the last time visitors from the Eastern Lands were permitted footsteps in the Land of O.

 

 

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