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The Great Storyteller (Web Novel) - Chapter 105 – The Language

Chapter 105 – The Language

This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog

Translated by: ShawnSuh

Edited by: SootyOwl

Juho walked on the sidewalk surrounded. Cars zoomed past on one side while people walked busily on the other. There were hardly any trees. Walking on the streets like that resulted in all sorts of encounters. Pieces of gum, saliva, dog stools, trash, dead insects, leaves and, sometimes, even pieces of raw meat. Of course, those weren’t the only things found on the streets. From time to time, there was a ring or money that pedestrians had dropped. Juho had come out to find those very things.

He had come out to think of a gift for the protagonist of his new novel. Though he had said that he didn’t want anything in particular, giving gifts was up to the giver. Juho thought about what the protagonist might like and remembered that, in their last encounter, they came to learn that they had a lot in common. Though the protagonist took offense to being compared to Juho, he too was sensitive to language. There were enormous plateaus and high mountains in the world he came from. Every region was divided by a clear boundary, and they had different cultures and languages.

Language. As a gift for him, Juho wanted to create a world where there was diversity of language.

Now, he was out on a walk in search for clues and ideas for those languages. Sounds of wind, cars, and people. Keeping his ears open, Juho kept walking.

“Careful. Easy.”

“Move, please.”

“Ugh, this thing’s heavy!”

A group of people moving a heavy object came into Juho’s view. A large moving truck. Boxes. Wrapped up furniture. It was apparent that somebody was moving. A large wardrobe stood with its mouth wide open. The mother-of-pearl inlays showed their age. Juho was impressed by its appearance, which was both detailed and beautiful. Sadly, it was being thrown out.

“What are you doin’?”

With a cigarette in her mouth, a woman wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt was looking in Juho’s direction. Judging from the way she was dressed, she seemed to be from the neighborhood. Perhaps, she was a neighbor of the family who was moving out. Her appearance had a striking resemblance to the mother in ‘The Sound of Wailing.’ Because the novel wasn’t all that far from the reality, there had to be people who looked similar.

Juho answered her question honestly, “I’m watching.”

“What is there to watch?”

“A bunch of things. People moving things, or the wardrobe right there.”

“You’re a weird one. Well, whatever floats your boat,” said the woman, taking a deep drag off her cigarette. Juho redirected his attention to the furniture that was being thrown out. Smaller things were consolidated into a box. Toys, bowls, a vase, screws, bells, and an arrow. Juho picked up the arrow. Though it was covered in rust, it still looked like an arrow. ‘Why did they have an arrow? What do these people do?’ Juho wondered. The pile of trash was proving to be much more fun than it looked.

“An arrow?” said the woman. She must have been bored smoking on her own. Because he didn’t mind the company, Juho willingly answered, “Yep. That’s an arrow.”

The arrow looked like it would snap in half at any given opportunity. It was clear that it hadn’t been taken good care of. Juho examined it and wondered, ‘What kind of language would a race who used arrows regularly speak?’ It would be a language that resembled a sharp, pointy arrow.

“Why do you think those people had an arrow?”

“Maybe they wanted to go hunting,” said the woman half-heartedly, taking another drag of her cigarette. Juho played along.

“On horseback?”

“Probably? With a dog too, maybe.”

“They might have worn clothes made of leather.”

“Maybe they’re from somewhere cold.”

They each shared their respective image of what a hunter looked like. Though she may have been killing time idly, Juho was in the middle of a creative process.

“What kind of language do you think those people would speak?”

“Language? What kind of question is that?” she asked, her forehead scrunching into a scowl. She seemed to be having trouble understanding him. Despite the look on her face however, she gave an answer, “Probably not too different from the one we speak.”

“Why is that?” Juho asked.

A race who carried arrows for hunting, rode on horses, wore leather clothing and…

“Well, whether it’s hunting or any other job out there, it’s all done by humans. Languages are essentially the same at the end of the day.”

“There are hundreds of different languages around the world.”

“Is that so?”

“What about letters that look like arrows?” Juho took the opportunity to ask.

Breathing out a cloud of smoke, she tilted her head, “I guess it’d look fine.”

Again, a half-hearted answer. Her demeanor made it apparent that she had lost interest. Juho smiled at her blunt attitude.

“I’ll go with that then.”

“Are you working on something? Like writing?” Though having asked herself, she gave no time for Juho to answer and said, “Well, break a leg kid.”

She asked no further questions and smoked her cigarette in silence. The furniture was moving from one place to another. Once she finished smoking, she tossed the cigarette butt on the ground and put it out. With that, she walked away.

“Take care,” Juho said. With her hands in her pocket, she looked back briefly and went on her way. After picking up her cigarette butt from the ground and tossing it into a trashcan, Juho brushed his hand against the wardrobe once and went on his way.

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“Number 18, read the text out loud for us.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Number 18 stumbled her way through the text. Her pronunciation made it apparent that she didn’t speak the language regularly. Juho lowered his head and looked at his textbook. The alphabet was written down – a western set of letters. Staring at it intently, he listed the languages he had learned up to that point. Greek, Medieval English, Old English, Latin, Old Scandinavian, Gothic, Medieval Welsh, Finnish, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, Lombardic, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hu, Japanese, etc.

Listening to number 18, Juho moved his hand busily. He had had an idea for what the characters in the novel should look like. He had found a clue during his encounter with the woman smoking her cigarette.

Text had its origin in paintings. Ancient humans left records of their cultures in paintings. Painting had always been visual. Like an arrow, it always had a target. Baron often sketched the club members. Paintings had limits when it came to describing what was being seen. The world grew more and more complex from its inception, and inevitably, the number of things that couldn’t be explained with paintings grew. Humans learned to speak in different ways. Indirectly, sarcastically, exaggeratedly, and many more. The desire of wanting to express unseen emotions has lead to the evolution of the written language.

The language Juho was about to create for his novel would be the same way. It had changed over time, just as any language had. For the time being, he divided languages into two separate categories: one western and the other eastern. He thought about the hieroglyphs commonly seen in artifacts of various ancient civilizations. Made after shapes of their subject, Chinese characters were one of the more typical hieroglyph. Straight lines, curved, dots, and again, straight lines again. It was still closer to being a drawing than a letter.

The shape of a character evolved over time to make it easier to write and closer to its sound rather than meaning. In order to replicate that, Juho felt the need to remove the preexisting nature of a language. A bow snapped in half while an arrow was left with only its head.

The language in Juho’s mind began to take more shape, becoming gradually sharper. Over time, it evolved into shapes that could be easily written with a writing tool as basic as a tree branch. In some sense, the characters resembled spears, swords, and bows. Taking those letters, Juho divided them and distributed them to various races. Spear-like characters for the race that used spears as its primary choice of weapon, sword-like characters for those who used swords, bow-like characters for those who used bows, etc. Weapons became worn out over time and throughout their use. In a similar manner, a language developed or devolved depending on culture and lifestyle. A weapon was not necessary for those who weren’t hunters. The only time it would be used in a way that was remotely close its intended purpose was in the kitchen. That wasn’t bad. It was a natural change that came with the choices made.

As time passed, hieroglyphs began to fade into history while phonograms came into existence. Juho sped up the evolution of language in his world. The characters took on shapes that were even simpler and spread throughout the world by mouth. Certain languages became more widely used than others. The empty space in the textbook filled up with a language no one had ever seen before.

He focused on the eastern languages. Of course, the first example that came to mind was Chinese. Despite being hieroglyphic in nature, it had survived the test of time. While every other civilization adopted a new language that focused on sound, the Chinese were standing strong against that worldwide evolution, and it was one of the most widely spoken languages to that very day.

“There was a sound of wave breaking in the distance.”

Number 18 read from her textbook out loud. A language that remained unchanged throughout the course of time. That was what Juho wanted to make for the protagonist and his world.

Juho began to draw his ideas on his textbook. Straight lines, curves, and dots. There was something special about that language. The characters were bunched up tightly, making it difficult to snap in half like a bow. Juho contemplated on how he could go about making it distinguishable. It was difficult to write, and the characters left very little room for simplification. He found himself having two choices. Either the race had to endure the inconvenience of writing or create another written language that was based on the preexisting characters. Regions under the influence of the eastern language would choose to take either directions, leading to the birth of various other languages. Unfortunately, those languages tended to be exceedingly complex and were often outlasted by other simpler languages. Though beautiful and delicate, they eventually became lost and forgotten.

Taking those characteristics, Juho decided to make the language nearly impossible to interpret.

The role of arranging and translating that language would belong to the protagonist.

Because a language had its time in history, another one had to be used. Using a language from another region would be incredibly undignifying. The ruler commanded his people to create a language of their own. This would be the beginning of the story.

Having run out of space, Juho turned the page of his textbook and continued scribbling. A new language. West and East. Flipping words and their shapes back and forth, he came up with languages to be spoken by the people in various regions. Those who lived in between regions would often learn both languages. Certain languages would be praised whereas others would be neglected and looked down on.

Having rolled the idea around in his head, Juho tried to bring the languages into his mouth in order to think of the pronunciation of their words. Savoring it in his mouth slowly, he thought of phonetics that were both fluid and difficult to understand. He jotted them down next to the characters he had created on the textbook. Some sounding thin and sharp, some thick and dull.

As the language began to take shape, the lifestyle of the people also began to take shape. From the way they dressed, and what they ate, Juho began to understand their culture. It was exhilarating.

While examining the language he had created, he remembered the being he had been forgetting about. God. There was a God who had hid himself in the high mountains. He wanted to create a separate language for Him.

Searching for elements that would make up the language spoken by God, Juho revisited the memory of his recent walk on the street. Gum, stools, pieces of meat, ring, money, wall, people, cars, noise, leaves, furniture. Nothing was useful. Juho began to move his pen subconsciously, writing ‘God, God, God,’ in Hangul.

‘God? It’s a word. A character. Phonogram.’

Various smaller elements came together, becoming one. Juho recognized the Creator immediately. He had learned to write Hangul before any other language, and he had been well-acquainted of its beauty and magnificence. Filling his textbook in black ink, he gathered all the source materials he would need to create the ideal world for his novel.

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