Terminology

From: Mikael Raaterova (michael.raaterova.7033@student.uu.se)
Date: Wed 25 Feb 1998 - 17:05:04 EET


WARNING: I suppose most of you, after reading the whole thing, will regret
that you didn't Page Down instead...

JOERG, he say:

>Mikael (?) Raaterova...

What do you mean with "(?)"? That i lack a nickname? Or that i
inconsistenly spell my first name with either <k> or <ch>?

>...reminds us of his differentiation between
>"orlanthi" and "orlanthings". This is a definition I appreciate and
>use. It is just that some of the Kethaelan humans share much of their
>culture or religious practises with the orlanthings without sharing that
>belief, and I need a term to include them as well.

In distinction to what? To the Lunars? How about "southern barbarians"?

I don't think there's any good term that can describe such a diversity of
cultures. I even doubt that such a concept could be useful. If two
Kethaelan cultures don't have much in common except that they both have
imported most (though not necessarily the same or even contemporary)
orlanthing customs, there's not much use for a cultural term that includes
both those cultures, is there? A regional term would be more suitable,
methinks. Otherwise "theyalan" could do the job if you want it to.

If you really want a term to describe all cultures that have orlanthing
traits, but doesn't worship Orlanth as King of the Gods, why not call them
"orlanthing-influenced" or "non-Orlanth-worshipping orlanthing" cultures?
Or were you looking for a more picturesque term?

Note that Orlanth goes by many names. If a culture is defined and bounded
by its worship of Bob, the supreme god, who is reminiscent of Orlanth, then
it's an orlanthing culture to me, though the Bobbies and the Orlanthi would
no doubt object to that description.

>>[orlanthings] regard Orlanth as the king of the gods and ruler of
>>the universe.
>
>Do you tie this with the Orlanth Rex cult and its form of government, or
>is this sufficiently general to allow pre-Alakoring tribes in as well?

I include all cultures that acknowledge Orlanth as chief of the comsos (but
look below). The above just means that people in the culture know that
Orlanth is the Big Boss and (mostly) act accordingly.

>The northern Sartarites with Yelmalian leaders (including even Harvar
>Ironfist) use the Orlanth Rex rites for kingship, probably remaining as
>silent as possible about "Orlanth" in the proceedings.

The culture of Far Point under Harvar Ironfist is a good example of how all
descriptive terminology breaks down. The culture is mostly orlanthing in
all respects, except that Yelmalio is the chief god. Is it orlanthing or
yelmalite or neither or both?

In Far Point under Harvar, Yelmalio is the chief god. But do people believe
that Yelmalio *is* Orlanth or do people believe that Yelmalio and Orlanth
are separate gods, and if the latter is the more common belief, what is
their relationship? Is Orlanth a "false god" that should be erased from Far
Point myhthology? Is Orlanth a loyal (or rebellious) servant (or even the
son) of Yelmalio? Is Orlanth a "deus otiosus" who is formally acknowledged
as chief of the cosmos, but it is Yelmalio that in practice runs the show
and is the de facto Big Boss? And what does these things imply for the
*cults* of Yelmalio and Orlanth? Far Point could actually include all of
these alternatives since it's unlikely that all people within the culture
believe the same thing. I'm curious about the relative distribution of
those beliefs though.

These questions are relevant for most orlanthing cultures and tribes: The
dinacoli are predominantly solar and yet orlanthing in practice. How do
they perceive Orlanth in their mythology? How do the orlanthings in
Heortland, Ralios or Esrolia perceive Orlanth. How is Orlanth generally
perceived in Heortland, Ralios or Esrolia?

The cultural terms we use to perceive Glorantha are imperfect, to put it
mildly. Different cultures might be similar, but only when compared to a
more dissimilar culture. Also, a culture is never a coherent and consistent
unity. There can be more differences *within* cultures than *between*
cultures; it's just a matter of what one perceives as relevant, either as
observer or participant. The trouble is that we need these generalisations
about Glorantha to be able to make any sense of it at all.

There are major problems associated with using "orlanthing" as description
of a specific culture since it is far too vague. If you can't even decide
whether the culture of Far Point is orlanthing or not, the concept is
largely useless in that respect.

The main point of my distinction between orlanthi and orlanthings is to
differentiate Orlanth-initiates from non-initiates of the same culture, to
avoid being confused by possible statements like "all orlanthi of Prax hate
the lunars" since one can't know if Ernalda-initiates should be included or
not. Distinguishing between initiates and members of the culture makes the
statement less confusing. Of course, the statement also implies that beast
rider initiates of Orlanth hate the lunars, which may or may not have been
intended. If that wasn't the intention then the statement should read "all
orlanthing orlanthi in Prax hate the lunars".

>>Not that i believe that orlanthings name themselves 'orlanthings',
>though.
>
>A very good point. Terms people use among themselves rarely are
>consistent or defined. I for one can't tell the difference between
>"krauts" and "huns" when applied to WW2 descriptions of Germans. Does
>one or the other hold any more Nazi contempt than the other? When
>Germans talk about "the English", they may well mean Welsh, Scot or
>Northern Ireland people...

Exactly. It's a matter of perspection (a neologism coined by a friend). At
some concept-levels "english" is useful and unproblematic, but at other
levels it is necessary to split the concept of "english" into more useful
components. Do sartarites call themselves sartarites? Maybe when some
leader has united the warring tribes against a common enemy, but hardly at
other times.

>This almost tempts to develop a scientific vocablulary with well-defined
>terms to use, making Glorantha Lore a fully formalised science... ;-)

A truly horrible thought. Wasn't that what the God Learners tried to do?
Fortunately, it's impossible: there's no such thing as "well-defined
terms". Or, rather, a term can be well-defined but there probably won't be
any consensus about its proper use, meaning or implications or even that
the term is in fact well-defined.

I'll stop now.

Michael Raaterova

<.sig omitted on legal advice>

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