kaigou: (1 olivia is not impressed)
[personal profile] kaigou
For those unfamiliar, the culture I've been writing about is one with five genders. The first four are male or female gender-types; the fifth gender is neither all-male nor all-female. The neutral pronoun is used for agender, all-gender, and children until puberty. The awkwardness rests in the fact that I'm contrasting one language -- that lacks a neutral -- with another language that has a neutral... and all of it's written in English, which (duh) lacks an official/widespread neutral. Ugh. Not sure how it reads.

"Afakh wants to end the consort-alliance," Tsiu said, in quiet Nasoyunukona-yen, layered with a Ujira accent. "Afakh's talked this over plenty with Afakh's Second Brother. That's Ozolekh," Tsiu added. Nakayari wondered if Tsiu intended to make it harder for Ozolekh to understand; the man's head was up, eyes sharp, the look of a man who understood at least some of what was being said. "Afakh is third-soul, and wants to enter the temple." Before Nakayari or Kini could reply, Tsiu straightened up and switched to Heichunha. "Thoughts?"

Sindhu brought her hands to her waist, then dropped them to her lap again. "We can't, Tsiu-jhayu," she murmured. "The consort agreement has been sealed---" The rest of what she said got lost, too many unfamiliar words. Tsiu flicked the end of his fan, glancing Nakayari's way. Sindhu nodded, turned to Nakayari, and held out her hand. With a too-ticklish fingertip, she sketched the words she'd just spoken on Nakayari's palm.

"It's a breach of contract," Nakayari told Kini.

"You'll need to translate better than that," Kini retorted, under her breath.

He explained the phrase, acutely aware the rest of the conversation was waiting on them. Kini put up a hand once she'd grasped the meaning, then twisted herself on the rug to face Tsiu. "Tsiu, I thought everyone knew by, uh, fourteen or fifteen."

Amusement glimmered in the twist of Tsiu's mouth. "Kini, Afakh is only fifteen."

"Oh. Well, I still don't get it," she said, switching back to Nasoyunukona-yen. "Isn't the important part that you can't have a consort who's same as you? He's not an outside man, so what's the problem?"

"That person is a third-soul, and that person wishes to enter the temple."

Kini frowned. "So you're trying to figure out how to send him there, without breaking--"

"Not him, Kini. That person. Or Afakh." Tsiu's tone took on a distinct coolness.

"Uh, alright. So about Afakh, now that he's said he's third-soul--"

"Not he," Tsiu said, flicking his fan open and shut abruptly. "Nor his, nor him. Call that person Afakh, call that person that person, but Afakh is not he anymore than Afakh is she." Tsiu lowered his fan with a sigh. "Or use Heichunha and say, now that sa's declared saself third-soul--"

"That's too awkward," Kini complained. "That makes me feel like I'm--"

"What you feel is of no importance here," Tsiu snapped. He pointed his fan directly at Kini. "To speak of a third-soul as something they are not is as much an insult as it would be if someone called you an it, Kini! The only insult greater would be to take away a person's name. Do not give further offense. Speak properly or not at all."

"I didn't mean--" Kini shut her mouth, jaw clenched. There was just the slightest crack in her voice. Nakayari was embarrassed on her behalf, a feeling at war with his own relief that it hadn't been him making that mistake. Kini twisted back to face Afakh, placed her hands on the mat, and bent forward until her nose almost touched her hands. "I humbly apologize for any offense I have given," she said.

She spoke in Nasoyunukona-yen; Afakh bowed in return, murmuring his acceptance in Heichunha.

"Kini," Tsiu said, gentler, "I know this is all new to you, but the words you've always used just aren't enough anymore. Respect requires using the correct words."

"I understand," Kini said, tears clogging her words. She took a shuddering breath, then asked in an almost-normal tone, "I just, I was just wondering-- I don't see how we could be the ones breaking the contract, when it's, uh, Afakh, who didn't say who, uh, sa? Really is."
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kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

October 2016

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