Language of the Shan Takhu – Legacy of Pandora


The first time this information shows up in Legacy of Pandora is Chapter 31. It really starts to become something of an element in the story in Chapter 32 and beyond. If you are not there yet, YOU WILL BE SPOILING A FAIRLY IMPORTANT PLOT POINT IN THE NOVEL.

I really debated whether or not this was an essential addition to the Special Features section of the website at all, but after talking it over with my beta readers and my editor, I decided to go ahead and include it here as a reference.

Keep in mind you do not NEED this information to understand and enjoy the story, but does help to make it EASIER to follow things going on toward the end of the novel. I was very careful to make sure there were enough context clues in the dialog to understand what is being said (and feeling the confusion, and then triumph, as the characters figure things out is an important part of the ride).

Refer to it if you need to, but to me it should be more of a clarification of what you already figured out.

Once again… MAJOR SPOILERS ahead.


    There are many words implied throughout book one that are not actually used in dialog, so I am not including them in this vocabulary list. The usage of the vocabulary is something that the characters struggle with, and interpretations of words with multiple meanings is a process that requires them to have a degree of experience with the language.

    Ian Whitewind uses the language fluently but he does attempt to "dumb down" what he is saying so that the others can figure out what he means (the reason for this becomes obvious as the story progresses). EMC

    General Vocabulary:

    • Ahn -- Equals. Most common word used in the language of the Un Shan Takhu. It is often used to indicate connection to, or in the location of, an object (i.e. Ian ahn Hector = Ian is in the Hector, or Ian belongs to the Hector). Also commonly used as, "to make into the same as." In this usage it does not clearly act as a verb but might be loosely interpreted as implying action (Oola ahn wath is, "make the outside the same as the inside" or “open the door.”). Can also mean understand when used as a standalone word.
    • Che -- Child. Younger. Smaller. It can also be used as “less than” in the middle connective position of a sentence structure.
    • Cata -- Under. Beneath.
    • Da -- Absolute negative modifier. Not.
    • Ekahta -- Gravity.
    • Nu -- You.
    • Oola -- Outside.
    • Shada -- Message. Words. May also mean to talk or  speak. (although this violates a basic aspect of the grammar of the Un Shan Takhu language as it appears to be a verb word form).
    • Shan -- Star.
    • Tacra -- Archive. May also be used to indicate the Archivist.
    • Takhu -- The name of the star of old ones. (used as "Shan Takhu")
    • Tarah -- The name of Earth's star. (used as "Shan Tarah")
    • Trana -- Not like, is dissimilar. (Apparently different than the concept of polar opposite as meant by da-ahn)
    • Un -- Before. Greater than. Bigger. Higher. Older. When capitalized, is also used as shorthand for "old ones."
    • Wath -- Inside


    • Dra -- One.
    • Oka -- Two.
    • Para -- Three.
    • Lor -- Four.
    • El -- Five.
    • Et -- Zero. (Not used in this novel but mentioned here for the sake of being thorough. EMC)

      The Un Shan Takhu numbering system is base six.

    Common Compound Words:

    • Tacra Un -- Archive of the Un.
    • Un Shan Takhu -- Old Ones of the Star Takhu. (The name of the race that built the Tacra Un) also commonly used as used as simply Shan Takhu.
    • Oolawath -- Door.
    • Da-ahn -- Not equal.
    • Da-nu -- Not you. Me.

    Syntax and Structure

    These notes are based on what a reader needs to know to understand the very basic levels of the language of the Un Shan Takhu as it is presented in Legacy of Pandora.  EMC

    No Verb Forms:

    The language of the Un Shan Takhu is based on a syntax structure that is relational in nature, rather than transitional in structure (like most human languages). Where our normal thinking in speech is based on the idea that, "A, does something to, B," the Shan Takhu thought process is, "A, with respect to, B."

    In this regard the essence of Shan Takhu thought appears to be more akin to mathematical equations.

    There are words in the language that do seem to have some temporal aspect (in certain usage). This might be implied as action, but these usages are generally rare and subjective. For example, in the sentence, "Oola ahn wath" the word "ahn" can be implied to mean "make this event happen." In this case "ahn" would function loosely as a verb form modification to the word Oola.

    Strictly, in that sentence, the words mean, "outside ... is EQUAL to ... inside," but in thought it functions to mean, "MAKE, the outside ... equal to ... the inside ... or "Open the Door." Thus there is the implication of an action.

    Structural Triplets:

    In common use, Un Shan Takhu words generally form as groups of three (structural triplets), although much more complex thought can be formed through the addition of modifiers.

    For example, it is possible to construct a correct Un Shan Takhu thought as, "Un Shan Takhu da-ahn nu-che." This translates as, "The old ones of the Star Takhu ... are not like ... you children." (This aspect of A ... is not equal to ... this smaller form of B.)

    Additionally structural triplets may be fused together, through relational linkages to additional object or concept words, and thereby create groups of five words or more. (i.e. this word  … is like … this word  … but not … this word, etc.)

    Focus via Emphasis:

    A word will sometimes be used as a standalone word, in a following sentence, to indicate the focus of the previous thought.

    This form used to direct where the emphasis of attention on the previous sentence is to be. "Joe ... is greater than ... Steve. Steve." means "think about how Steve perceives Joe as greater" and not, "Joe thinks he is greater than Steve." This is often a subtle difference in perception that is hard to nuance out of the structure, but it is essential to controlling interpretation of Un Shan Takhu thought.

    Interpretive Translation Versus Literal Translation:

    The Shan Takhu Language, while deceptively simple in vocabulary, is challenging to understand without applying a high level of interpretation. Because all words in the language have multiple meanings, some understanding of relationship is necessary to understand usage (position in a sentence also affects word meaning).

    Initially, this is extremely challenging for those who are learning the language, but it is not uncommon in human languages so with experience it does become easier. However, in the case of the Un Shan Takhu it appears this assumptive knowledge of intent is more fundamental to understanding how to translate the sentence structures.

    Thus there is an intuitive aspect to speaking and understanding the language that is essential to becoming fluent.



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