A Linguist’s Guide to Magic (Lore-esque)

Chapter 1
Symbolism of Words: Entailment & Implication

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” - Patrick Rothfuss

What is meant by the symbolism? As symbolism is the main topic of this scholarly piece it is central that you know what this is. Etymology, at its core, is how the symbolism of words developed through out time. One example of this is the term “race”. Back in the year 2142 A.D. “race” was a term that was commonly looked at as a means of dividing individuals apart because of skin color within the human race. Now, in the year 328 P.E. (Peraditic Era), we as humans, after a millennium, have truly divided into different races, Elves, Orcs, Humans, and Dwarves. To say this we must presuppose as a result that we cannot interbreed with other races. Yet, seemingly, we can. We have half-orcs, half-elves, half-dwarves, and half-humans. This brings up the question of whether the existence of this division between races is truly a division is just a means of setting us apart. Of course this debate is beyond me as I am neither a scholar of sociology nor one of biology. My focus is not this debate either. Merely I wish to shed some light on how words, scripture specifically, developed into a catalyst of magic. The point ideally I hope for one to draw out of this is a basic understanding of what is meant by the symbolism of words is.

Let us talk now on the utilization of words as power. Magic is a phenomenal thing. It takes years of training, tuning, and meditating to realize its true source. One of our first lessons as mages is to not just think of the word but associate the word in the scripture with an image of what you wish to do. Essentially it relates to the old law that operates at a cosmological scale as magic. It goes most commonly in the following sequence of steps: 1) You ask the universe what you would like from it. 2) You visualize what you want. 3) You internalize what you want. When you internalize it you must feel it truly in your soul. 4) You receive.
As an example is one of the most basic ways of understanding something let us utilize one. For this example we are going to look at a very basic spell, Lift. This spell is useful for moving objects. At first one can only ever move a small pebble. With time and practice one can move things as large as boulders and living objects. We are going to look at Lift I. This is the basic one that allows you to move small pebbles or other tiny inanimate objects. It is a three word sequence: Grab, float, and move. Utilizing our first step in the old law we must ask the universe to grant us its power. Apprentice mages will often do this out loud. Then one must visualize what they want. At the start this is commonly done by eyeing the object imagining you grabbing it, then raising it up, and then move it in a desired direction. After this is done one must internalize their desire. In this case this can be constructed but imagining the texture of the object and associating it with perhaps a memory involving it. It is important to note that the stronger the emotion the more powerful the spell. At this point your will should have been exerted enough to receive what you asked for.

What does this have to do with symbolism of words as power? Quite simply it has everything to do with this. If we take the sequence of words utilized in the Lift I spell and analyze them as in terms of entailment and implication we can see that they carry with them more than a simple string of words. In fact they are all verbs. Verbs are words that denote actions or processes or states of being. Grab entails grasping. Float entails suspension. Similar to float is the verb drift. Drift represents the movement of floating on air, usually. Of course if drift is more commonly associated with air and float with other things why did we choose float? This is a matter of function. Float entails suspension; however, drift does not entail suspension. Drift implies floating but does not entail it. This distinction is important because magic is very much a volatile thing and changing what appears to be the most simple of words can drastically alter the spell. Thus choosing drift over float would have an affect most likely reducing the power and duration of the spell. The last word, move, is chosen as it entails the act of directing something into a specified direction. One does not move forward without force stepping ahead.

The point that should have been derived at this time is magic does not have an effect without words thus words are the source of magic.
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I got bored so this is what I came up with in explaining lore of magic. It's kind of a RP of me as my character. :'D Note: I am a third year linguistics major specializing in research and development. Language is kind of my thing.

Comments

  • A_Clever_LettuceA_Clever_Lettuce Member, Alpha 1 Stress Test alpha-stress-tester
    This is a little off-topic, but I'm not at all surprised that a linguist would be a fan of Patrick Rothfuss, too.

    On-topic, I like your post! Reminds me a lot of Rothfuss's description of sygaldry.
  • ErifusErifus Member
    I'm glad you like it. I do enjoy Patrick Rothfuss' writing. Also I love your quote from The Wise Man's Fear. It is officially one of my favorite.
  • ErifusErifus Member
    Chapter 2
    The Syntax of Magic

    "Words manifest in us something truly great. They are like the breath that we breath to our perception of what we can achieve." Modromi Atmer, 126 P.E.

    As one can understand words are our catalyst to magic. That is not to say that magic cannot be created through imagery. In fact, magic when it is most efficient rises from the utilization of all our senses including our ability to create images. It is to say yet that to date there is no individual notable whom can produce magic in such a manner that does not require the utilization of words. This is not our matter of discussion though. Before weaving our way into our focus, the syntax of magic, I shall first explain what is meant by "syntax". Syntax in our interest is the structuring of our magical phrases and clauses as a means of catalyzing or catalyzing furthermore the strength of our magic. For this we will look again to our "Lift" spell.

    If we wish to move from pebbles to small rocks we must lengthen the spell. At first this may seem easy. One may think, "That's no problem! I'll just add another verb, lift." Our new string thus becomes: Grab, float, move, and lift. As it has been mentioned, magic is volatile, much like oil is to a lasting flame in a straw and wood house; if the aflamed container tips the oil spreads and with it the flame. In referring to a container, I speak of an oil lamp as it serves a purpose just as much as magic. What happens? In adding the new verb in that position an apprentice mage has inadvertently disrupted the spell. The spell result does not: 1) allow the mage to lift a large object. 2) When the object is moved it will also lift itself. Within moments the object would be out of range leading to the release of "free mana" which would cause mana deficiency and the falling of the object. Even if the sequence was reorganized to read: Grab, float, lift, and move; we would have the same consequence with the difference that in-so-long as the object floats, it will lift. This laces us into our point-of-interest.

    If we want to take our Lift I spell to Lift II we must develop our phrases as to include the object. Looking a small rock a mage can move it rather than a pebble with the following utterance, "Grab what I see. Let it float. May it move." In producing these utterances we have introduced new phrases:

    [Grab][what I see]. [Let {it}float]. [May {it} move].

    The objects we introduced are [what I see], [it], and the second [it]. We have done two things in doing this. We have completed our utterances. We have also, importantly so, gave our object of focus a means of addressing it. In doing this we have brought our object closer to what we will address as the Modromi's Imagination of Our Reality (MIOR) as defined in Modromi Atmer's research, A Cognitive Insight of What Makes Magic, "When we take an object and address it in a way that applies a meaning of that object to our perceived reality we have applied a systematic function-assisting link between the object and this reality. This causes our brain to fire in a way to how it would if we were actually interacting with the object."
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    And writer's block... I'll have to finish this entry at another time.
  • ErifusErifus Member
    Chapter 2
    The Syntax of Magic

    "Words manifest in us something truly great. They are like the breath that we breath to our perception of what we can achieve." Modromi Atmer, 126 P.E.

    As one can understand words are our catalyst to magic. That is not to say that magic cannot be created through imagery. In fact, magic when it is most efficient rises from the utilization of all our senses including our ability to create images. It is to say yet that to date there is no individual notable whom can produce magic in such a manner that does not require the utilization of words. This is not our matter of discussion though. Before weaving our way into our focus, the syntax of magic, I shall first explain what is meant by "syntax". Syntax in our interest is the structuring of our magical phrases and clauses as a means of catalyzing or catalyzing furthermore the strength of our magic. For this we will look again to our "Lift" spell.

    If we wish to move from pebbles to small rocks we must lengthen the spell. At first this may seem easy. One may think, "That's no problem! I'll just add another verb, lift." Our new string thus becomes: Grab, float, move, and lift. As it has been mentioned, magic is volatile, much like oil is to a lasting flame in a straw and wood house; if the aflamed container tips the oil spreads and with it the flame. In referring to a container, I speak of an oil lamp as it serves a purpose just as much as magic. What happens? In adding the new verb in that position an apprentice mage has inadvertently disrupted the spell. The spell result does not: 1) allow the mage to lift a large object. 2) When the object is moved it will also lift itself. Within moments the object would be out of range leading to the release of "free mana" which would cause mana deficiency and the falling of the object. Even if the sequence was reorganized to read: Grab, float, lift, and move; we would have the same consequence with the difference that in-so-long as the object floats, it will lift. This laces us into our point-of-interest.

    If we want to take our Lift I spell to Lift II we must develop our phrases as to include the object. Looking a small rock a mage can move it rather than a pebble with the following utterance, "Grab what I see. Let it float. May it move." In producing these utterances we have introduced new phrases:

    [Grab][what I see]. [Let {it}float]. [May {it} move].

    The objects we introduced are [what I see], [it], and the second [it]. We have done two things in doing this. We have completed our utterances. We have also, importantly so, gave our object of focus a means of addressing it. In doing this we have brought our object closer to what we will address as the Modromi's Imagination of Our Reality (MIOR) as defined in Modromi Atmer's research, A Cognitive Insight of What Makes Magic, "When we take an object and address it in a way that applies a meaning of that object to our perceived reality we are have applied a systematic function-assisting link between the said object and this reality. This causes our brain to fire in a way similar to how it would if we were actually interacting with the object.
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    And writer's block... I'll finish another time.
  • MungoMungo Member
    Well written, but there are more than one school of thought when it comes to magic use. Your explanation reminds me of the Order of Hermes from Mage the Accession pnp RPG.

    Yet in that game there are something like 9 different schools of magic all with their different ways of working the same effects.
  • ErifusErifus Member
    [quote quote=19378]Well written, but there are more than one school of thought when it comes to magic use. Your explanation reminds me of the Order of Hermes from Mage the Accession pnp RPG.

    Yet in that game there are something like 9 different schools of magic all with their different ways of working the same effects.

    [/quote]

    I plan to actually get into the other categories of magic in later chapters. It should be noted that this isn't meant to be by no means definitive. It's just an analysis project from utilizing linguistics.
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