N is for Nur


NUR/Nurian: Name of a nation and people native to the Eastern Canopy, and a once powerful empire which flourished a thousand years before the events in ‘Tymon’s Flight’.

Tymon only grunted in answer, mesmerized by the blue line on the horizon. The infamous Gap, the airspace between the Central and Eastern Canopies, was both a natural barrier and a great cultural divide. The atlases he remembered from the seminary showed the vast expanse beyond it split into a multitude of vassal states, coloured green on the map to indicate that they were Argosian colonies. But the empire that had stretched across the length and breadth of the Eastern Canopy in days gone by was millennia old before the first monk set foot in Argos city. The Kingdom of Nur, light of the ancient world! Half the parables in the novices’ readers had mentioned it. Until today, Tymon had not directly associated these narratives with everyday people and places in the Tree. The humdrum eastern colonies with their tithes and pilgrims had borne no relation in his mind to the Nur of the old stories. Now, the tales hovered against a backdrop of sudden reality. The East was just beyond the horizon. The blue line grew into a long jagged smudge under his dreaming gaze; he stood in silence by the prow until the Captain emerged onto the forecastle, roaring in fury at the crew’s idleness. 

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Under the hood…

The Nurian language incorporates some words from an existing language: Persian (Farsi.) Places names, given names and anything involving the First Tongue (Grafter rituals, the names of the Leaf Letters and so on) all draw on that language for inspiration. ‘Nur’ for example means ‘light’. When the empire of Nur is called ‘the Kingdom of Light’, this is a direct translation from the Persian. There is actually a city and a county in modern-day Iran called Noor, in the Mazandaran province, on the Caspian coast.

Why Persian? Simply because it was a language I was passably familiar with, and the music of it has been in my ears since infancy. There aren’t many fantasy languages drawing on Middle Eastern tongues for inspiration and Tolkien had already nabbed Finnish. 🙂

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3 Responses to N is for Nur

  1. Bahiyyih says:

    Just for the record, Iranian is not a language. It is the name of a people. The word for Persian in Persian is “Farsi” which some people incorrectly employ to refer to the language in English. But that is about as pretentious as saying “I don’t speak francais very well…” So Persian it is.

    • MaryV says:

      *bows to your wisdom and experience* Mind you, I have trouble thinking of what the Teherangelis characters in LAX are speaking as ‘Persian’. ‘Persian’ has connotations of ancient culture, history, literature. That language we speak when we’re complaining about nail polish is most definitely ‘farsi’.

  2. anon says:

    as in “Far See” for the particularly myopic.

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