Salvian Hieroglyphs

Being a compendium and explanation of those Marvellous Symbols in use among the heathen Sorcerers.


Salvyatrakan (compound form Salvyatraki-) is the most common name in Salvian for their rich and complex system of hieroglyphics. Derived from cuneiform texts impressed onto clay tablets high in the mountains thousands of years ago (after all, clay is precious), originally the symbols were primitive representations of the animals, plants, or actions they were linked to. The cuneiform glyphs were not much better, complicated assortments of lines and triangles. Only when the medium became more flexible–the long leaves of the jungle plants–did the glyphs themselves contort and become simpler. Of course, there were simpler systems that were developed, but the Classical Salvians as a whole were a conservative people, and kept to the older methods. These would become cemented under the Five when they united the Peninsula under their rule, some 1,600 years ago.

Each individual glyph represents not a specific phoneme or even a complete phonetic representation of a word, but a base from which other words may be derived. Above, the glyphs for Salvyanōstī, the name of the language (otherwise rendered Classical Salvian), comprises three parts. The first (everything up to the line) represents the word salvi-: the base SaL “magic”, and the added circle denoting an -un ending (which has the compound form -vi), thus salun, salvi– “magical symbol”. The line represents a neuter ending, in this case used to represent a concept in the abstract, thus salvya, salvya– “the construct of magical symbols” (and the source of the name of the country Salvi). The third glyph represents the word nōstī: the base glyph NuST “to speak, language” (the six-shape plus the first leg), the added double loop for the suffix (used among other things to denote speech acts), and the caron to indicate an infixed -a- (forming essive verbs and derivation thereof), thus creating the word nōstī, nōstī– “formal language, tongue”.

Glyphs comprise four parts:

  1. The base, which provides the root word.
  2. The onset, which provides the derivational prefix.
  3. The superset, which provides the derivational infix.
  4. The coda, which provides the necessary nominal, verbal, or adjectival suffix. This is often extended to two, three, or even four individual glyphs.

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