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May 12th, 2010
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Vocabulary from an alternate universe
Speaking of TTU - I'd love a few minutes of help from all you wordsmiths out there. Especially if you're interested in magic, or in gender issues.

(1)
I've been massaging together a system of magical schools for the Tomorrowlands Universe: dividing up mages by their fundamental approaches to powering and controlling spells. I think it's a solid system: intuitive and well-balanced. However, I'm less satisfied with the school names -- they seem unwieldy, and not really evocative. Any suggestions?

The one advantage of the current names is that they are thematically coherent. I don't know if that's enough to redeem it. Even after a few weeks I struggle to sort the groups out in my head, and I don't want school sorting to require a cheat sheet.

(n.b. I am totally a Volitionist.)

(2)
Every so often, I'll go through the TTU glossary and add words to the alternate-universe lexicon. It occured to me a few days ago that a world with shapeshifting would introduce a whole new level of complication to physical gender issues.

I need a word -- well, actually, we all need a word, for when the posthuman revolution arrives -- for:
(adj) Possessing multiple, distinct gender identities. (e.g., in TTU, a therianthrope whose human and theri forms are different sexes.)
There are a few nomenclature factors here. The ideal word would be (in no particular order): inclusive; accurate; clear; catchy; obviously distinct from words describing hermaphrodism or androgyny; nondescriptive of sexual preference; and nonjudgmental. Bonus points if it does not start with either L, G, B or T, so that it can be inserted into that (increasingly unwieldy) acronym unambiguously.

Also, what would some of the casual terms and/or pejoratives for such a word be? (e.g., the equivalent of "gay"/"faggot" for "homosexual")

In order to not prejudice your word-making centers, I've put my own brainstorm list in comments.

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From:lienne
Date:May 12th, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
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Well, for the second one, I tend to go with "gender-multivalent" when I'm not using "bigender". "Polygender" might also serve, and that one could go in the acronym.

I'll give the magical schools a think, too.
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From:baxil
Date:May 12th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
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Ooh, "polygender" is good. With the caveat that it abbreviates awkwardly; "poly" by itself already maps to "polyamory".

Of course, what I've been finding with #2 is that everything I've thought of so far has faults. :-p That's my dilemma. See my comment directly below.
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From:baxil
Date:May 12th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)

Terms for #2

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Some obvious words (and their benefits and faults) are:

"bisexual" - Already taken

"bigender" - Easy and unfortunate confusion with "bisexual"; fails if n > 2; ambiguous with H'ism
"digender", "ambigender": As above, plus more unwieldy

"multigender" - Accurate but unwieldy; ambiguous with H'ism
"multisexual" - ambiguous with H'ism; ambiguous with sexual pref.

"duogender"/"dualgender" - fails if n > 2

Here's my current favorite:
"shiftgender" - Accurately describes a multi-state individual; fairly catchy; works for n >= 2; "LGBTS" is a good extension to the acronym

The major disadvantage? It is almost homophonic to "cisgender". This is awkward because cisgender is a useful word with an entirely different meaning. Technically "cisgender" would not have substantially caught on by 1996/7 and so "shiftgender" might overtake it within TTU ... but as a practical note, people reading about TTU live in a world where cisgender is defined.

As for slang, I'm so far coming up short. Perhaps "gemini"? I could see that developing from code words used in e.g. dating classified ads.
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From:siege
Date:May 13th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)

Re: Terms for #2

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I'd suggest that "Are you shift?" would be a code for anyone who shifts/has shifted -- and quickly and easily lifted as denigrating slang. Shift-gender or body-shifters (just like body snatchers! don't sleep near them, they'll steal your soul!) or anything similar would easily be media fodder, especially if a popular reporter or commentator (no matter how trashy) used it on the air or in a widely read printed column/article.
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From:kuangning
Date:May 12th, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
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Gendersplit. I imagine that'd get whittled down to just 'split fairly quickly. I can't begin to think what nasty minds would come up with as a pejorative, though.
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From:baxil
Date:May 12th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
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Good suggestion. It seems awkward on its face to use a "gender*" construction rather than the more common "*gender", but it rolls off the tongue better.
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From:frameacloud
Date:May 12th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
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A lot of genderqueer terminology refers to personages from history and mythology who have similar gender identities or sexual orientations. For example, lesbian and Sapphist both refer to Sappho of Lesbos. What multiple-gendered individuals are in history or mythology?
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From:lienne
Date:May 12th, 2010 07:58 pm (UTC)
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Hermaphroditus is unpopular, but there's always Teiresias. He's more thematically appropriate anyway.
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From:kistaro
Date:May 13th, 2010 04:00 am (UTC)
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I don't have any good ideas for either the school naming or the "correct" terminology. That said, "floppy" sounds like a good mid-range pejorative; a derivative of the term "flip-flop" with a nice helping of impotence thrown in.
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From:baxil
Date:May 15th, 2010 03:21 am (UTC)
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I wasn't previously aware of the sexual meaning of flip-flop; however, it does seem to lend itself to further extension.

Floppy (flop? flopper?) sounds a bit odd to my ears as a pejorative, but that's never stopped language changes before.
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From:goldkin
Date:May 13th, 2010 04:46 am (UTC)
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Just for fun, I decided to do some armchair research into what Second Life was using for this these days. The term still in most common use appears to be "gender swapping".


Personally, I'd go with something more simple: alt (or simply, one's alternate). The etymology is obvious, yet it fits nicely without too much perceived bias.*

--
* Other than what that person's "main" might be. In the case of shifters, this is deliciously subversive.
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From:goldkin
Date:May 13th, 2010 05:07 am (UTC)
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Although, on further reflection, I find the term too generic. To call someone an alt implies factors that can extend to, but do not necessarily encompass, gender.

Thus, you'd need to combine the term with the trait for best results. Altgender (or altgendered), for instance.


My only complaint with this term: Google translates it to pr0n.
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From:eclective
Date:May 13th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC)
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The school names are good if you're trying to make them sound like philosophical disciplines. If you're trying to make them sound more like High Fantasy Structures, then they don't work so well - but honestly, I rather like the philosophical disciplines tack. If grand acts of visibly manifest magic were suddenly to appear in our world, I don't think we'd go around calling them by olde-worlde fantasy terminology; I think we'd make up quite practical names for them.

That said, I'm not sure which school I'd fit into. I believe that the continual will of magical energy sustains our being (volitionist); I also believe it doesn't come from within us entirely, but a greater force (externalist); I believe this force is an inherent part of the universe that we can tap into by becoming sufficiently evolved/aware/stuff (directivist), but I don't see it as a purely input/output thing; I think it's iving, and responds best to loving interaction rather than being treated like a machine.

I suppose I'd say the pragmatist model best fits my beliefs: it's clear there are many paths to the spiritual and they all seem to work, so I'd be more interested in learning what aspects of each have power than sticking rigidly within a specific school, although I can also see the benefits of commitment to a single, focused path of discipline - not because you believe it's the only one, but because focusing on one thing at a time can be a powerful tool to keep you progressing rather than getting distracted by each new shiny thing.

No opinions on the gender words, here: I think people have largely got that covered.
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From:eclective
Date:May 13th, 2010 12:20 pm (UTC)
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(Also, exploring a little further around that wiki, if you don't mind some random concrit: the hermeticists of the system here bristle a little at the idea that hermeticism is a purely scientific-equivalent craft and that practitioners of it "do not share the personalized relationship with magic that other traditions are known for" and treat it as a tool.

The hermeticists I know argue that those of their ranks who thought the scientific aspect of the discipline could be separated from the spiritual-awareness-and-connectivity part were responsible for the downfall of hermeticism: stripped of any faith, wonder and appreciation for the forces involved, alchemy becomes simple chemistry, utterly mundane.

Of course, you're certainly entitled to write whatever system you like with whatever background you like, in the world you created. Just that some of my headpeople are particularly picky about the fact that alchemy seems so often misrepresented as a purely investigative art with no nonphysical components - a misrepresentation that causes a lot of people to believe that alchemy has no modern magical currency, since it was simply a "protoscience" that's been overtaken by "real" scientific understanding - and so wanted to speak out about it. ;P)
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From:krinndnz
Date:June 15th, 2010 12:59 am (UTC)
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I wish I could just save this entire thread. Great food for thought. By your leave, I'm forwarding it to rax, who more or less does this sort of question for a living.
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From:baxil
Date:June 15th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
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Thanks! Though do note that rax and I have already engaged in the follow-up thread, which is also worth your reading.

I owe several people here a reply, and the TTU Theri Type page needs an overhaul based on all the excellent concrit; I've just been caught up in a lot of other things.
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