I have language notes everywhere on Dravánin… in old files, notebooks, archived web pages from long-dead websites. Possibly it’s time to start to put that together into something coherent. And as it’s gone through many rounds of development, that neccessitates a lot of brush-clearing and clarification. I started working on it years before I did any serious reading on the subject of linguistics or constructed languages and some of the terms in the lexicon, including many proper names, are “legacy” names that I built the whole thing around. Some of these I am determined to retain, but others will change. And I am probably (probably) better at building a conlang now than back in the olden days.
I’ve just revisited and revised the phonology of Draványa. And unsurprisingly, there were changes, intended to give Draványa a more distinct character which also easing word generation without falling back on some pretty seriously overused word endings. Part of that did include chopping some phonemes, which means that many names need to be changed to include them… but also that certain sounds that originally did _not_ appear in the language need to be properly introduced. The sound represented by the letter y, for example, didn’t appear in Draványa, forcing me into the kludge of making the name Ytherra from a language other than the one at the center of the setting. Akward.
One of the core terms in the language is Arál Draván, the name of the ancient empire around which much of the world of Ytherra was erected. Oddly enough, perhaps becuase it was named so early, the only etymology I have for it says that it means “empire of Dravá,” which is really pretty unsatisfactory. So as an exercise let’s take that apart and put it back together.
Dravá is the name of a city, the capital of the empire and analogous to Rome or Byzantium at their heights. Its history stretches back almost five thousand years. But how was the city named?
We’ll stipulate that it comes from a pre-Draványa root terave, meaning a center, a space in the middle, a gathering place in the midst of all. A hub or locus. Naturally, then, since I have long established that Draványa is an inflected language, a genitive or locative form of this noun might well be Draván.
OK, that works! So what about Arál? We can certainly translate it as “empire’ but its meaning should be deeper. We can say that it’s a cognate of a related word, garada, meaning “a part of”, “one with” or “unseparated from.” Is it a noun or an adjective… or is it a preposition? As a bonus, prepositions are uninflected, so we can just use the straight definition of a preposition meaning, inside, within, unified with, or wholly a part of.
Now this is a more interesting etymology, and one that reflects my current thinking about Arál Draván and the reasons for its longevity beyond mere political inertia. The very word, the name of the state, means a unity with Dravá, the city and by extension its head, the Emperor.
This might trickle down to other names and cultural aspects… the emperor’s seat has been called the Traitor’s Throne, forged of the unrusting blades of the soldiers of the usurper Lazhám. (I may have beaten George R. R. Martin to this idea, but I won’t swear to that.) Perhaps a better name, then, reflecting the new etymology of Arál Draván, is the One Throne, that seat above all others from which the embodiment of unity in the empire governs.