Day 10

A word about names amongst the people of Arrakesh. 

From what I understand, first names have meanings, but from an old language no longer used or understood in any depth by the people. In the same way that stories are passed down from generation to generation, so are the names and their meanings, though there seems no tradition of passing names from father to son, mother to daughter or even from grandparent to grandchild. When the language itself was lost, I have not been able to discover, but the Arrakeshi speak Carlikan now, albeit with a strong lilt. Some words are entirely their own.  I will write more on this at a later date.

Kattan’s name, he tells me, means “Bear’s gift” – ‘kat’(bear) and ‘tan’ (gift). Jakan’s name is harder to translate, as the Arrakeshi  have many words for things that we do not, but it refers to the light that comes through the trees in the early morning. Not the light itself, but the way it breaks to filter through through the trunks, something that cannot really be understood in Carlika where there are few trees at all.

 Megda’s name also comes from a concept not named in Carlika – the moment a leaf, falling from a tree, touches the earth. These people have such a reverence for nature that even such an event has a name. 

The forest Arrakesh itself has a meaning in the old language – “arr” means forest, “kesh” means “soul” or “spirit”. The “a” as far as I can tell is simply there for ease of pronunciation.

Other names I have been able to have translated -
Grifad (m) = grif (boulder) ad (man)
Padmak (m) = pad (oak) mak (shade)
Felka (f) = fel (pebble) ka (shine)
Hagshu (f) = hag (great) shu (water)
Family names are passed through the father’s side. So Kattanbek comes from the family of ‘Bek’, Jakanash comes from the family of ‘Ash’. Females, when referred to in the formal way, put the name of their family first. When she marries, she takes the name of her husband’s family. So Megda, when she is referred to formally, is Bekmegda.  No one seems to have an explanation for this difference in naming between genders. It is simply something they have always done. It certainly does not seem to imply male dominance, as women are just as likely to be elders or even Treespeakers. 

Tomorrow there will a ‘dedication’ ceremony, a welcoming of a new baby into the tribe. I look forward to observing this ritual.

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