February 14, 2004

out of the silent planet.

when reading out of the silent planet this summer i kept forgetting the word's meanings till i came across this.

i have been meaning to post this for some time and just got around to it when i picked up the third book in the space trilogy.

instead of flipping back and forth in the book, i found this to be very helpful. if you haven't read the books, i highly recommend them. i can't say they are my favorites cause i couldn't choose which of lewis's books are my favorite. it is like picking out your favorite sunset.


There was originally one common speech for all rational creatures of the planetary system except earth, where it was lost because of the fall.This speech is known as Hlab-Eribol-ef-Cordi.Now there is no human language in the world descended from it.But it is the language of the hrossa (Hressa-Hlab), of Perelandra, and of Numinor.It was known in fragments by old magicians of the Atlantean Circle, who repeated it to initiates.

The words of Old Solar are polysyllabic and sound as if they are not “words at all but present operations of God, the planets, and the Pendragon.”For this is the language spoken before the Fall.The meanings were not given to the syllables by chance, skill, or tradition but “truly inherent in them…This was Language herself.”Thus the names Lewis uses for the planets, except Thulcandra, are said to be their real names.

Lewis says there is no obvious connection between phonetic elements of Old Solar and actual language.However, he was familiar with Anglo-Saxon, Norse, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.Lewis also felt fantasy names should be beautiful, suggestive, and strange.“Spelling counts” as much as sound.He also admitted that he liked to play with syllables and fit them together by ear to see if he could come up with pleasing new words with emotional, not intellectual, suggestiveness.


Lewis noted that use of the words “har” (mountains) and “sorn/seroni,” which declined like “hoken” in Arabic, and “handramit” which resembles “handhramaut” in Arabic, are accidental and show how hard it is to invent something that does not already exist.

All three Malacandrian hnau speak the same language--the speech of the hrossa, but also speak their own, less ancient tongues at home.


Very similar to Old Norse with its initial h; h disappears after c.Has suffixes and prefixes.

Has no words for forgive, shame, fault.Speech cannot be translated into English.

Hrossa have “furry” names.

Ahihraexclamation (proclaimed when Jupiter rises)

Bent - evil

Cordi - field

Crahlast - part of a poem

Ef - of

Eribol arbol (variation)

Handraland - earth (element)

Handramitlow - ground, watered country, gorge, canyon

Harandrahigh - ground

Hlab - language

Hieri - Hyoi’s wife

Hlunthelinecrave - something wrongly

Hman/hmana - man

Hnakra/hneraki - aquatic sea monster

Hnau/naurational - beings with spirit

Hnohra - gray-muzzled, venerable hross who teaches Ransom Old Solar

Hnoo - hross who dips Weston’s head in water

Honodraskud - edible pink weed on handramit

Hressa - Hlab hrossan language

Hrikkishe - hross (cub) who talks to an eldil

Hrinha - hross in charge of ferry to Meldilorn

Hross/hrossa(feminine form hressni) - one of three intelligent races on Malacandra

Hru - blood (Arbol hru: gold)

Hyahi - Hyoi’s brother

Hyoi - first hross to meet Ransom; murdered by Weston and Devine

Pfifltriggi - one of three intelligent races on Malacandra
Punt - kill
Punti - slayers
Sorn/seroni - one of three intelligent races on Malacandra

Thulc - silent

Unrendi - Maleldil a blessing

Whin - hross who hunts hnakra with Hyoi and Ransom

Wondelone - to long for something such as joy; Sehnsucht


Pfifiltriggian language is reminiscent of Turkish or Eastern.Myths of Australian aborigines give similar names, such as Kilpuruna, Purukupali, and Wuriupranala.Pfifltriggi speak mainly through their art.Their names are as follows:

Firikitelkilain charge of cisterns at Meldilorn
Kanakaberalkacarves Ransom’s picture in stone



Surnibur is a relatively modern speech, developed probably within our Cambrian period.It is “big sounding,” can be translated, and has a different vocabulary than hrossan.Typical names are:

Augray sorn who takes Ransom to Meldilorn

*from A Far-Off Country

Sammons, Martha C.A Far-Off Country.Maryland: University Press of America, 2000

from http://campus.kcc.edu/faculty/cstarr/sPACE%20tRILOGY%20website/oldsolar/oldsolar.htm

Posted by hill at February 14, 2004 02:53 PM
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