The language of magick is called sehimu Tinara or, written in Roman characters, Sehimu Thinara. The name means hidden knowledge.
This document gives a very brief introduction to the language. It doesn’t explain everything you need to know to speak or write Sehimu Thinara; for that, see the Language of ST – Advanced. Or you may want the complete alphabet and mathematical notation.
Sehimu Thinara is optimized for spell casting; the simplest sentence is thus an imperative addressed to the laws of magick.
Any simple root forms a command, which is why it can be used as a spell. For instance, the word ketig ketig means ‘be on fire; burn’. As a spell, it means ‘put this thing on fire!’
If no object is supplied, it’s taken as the thing the Magi is concentrating on. Or you can specify the object or victim of the spell, by placing it before the verb.
There’s no word for the. If it’s not obvious what is the object, use a description, as in these examples:
To prevent a spell from being cast, use the particle kas. For instance, kas ketig kas ketig is a basic protection against fire.
If another Magi has begun casting a spell, you can use wo-b wo:b ‘uncast’ to counter it.
If they’ve already cast the spell, you must recognize what it is, and explicitly end it—
or dispel it:
Most of the words you’ll use in spellcasting belong to a particular sphere. Each sphere has four sounds that belong to it, and the words in that sphere will use those sounds:
The word ketig ‘fire’ belongs to the Forces sphere; shifra ‘dog’ belongs to the Bio sphere.
The basic roots of Sehimu Thinara are usually verbs. These can be turned into nouns by adding –a, or –ra after a vowel:
|thina know||thinara knowledge|
|ketig be on fire||ketiga fire|
And they can be turned into adjectives by adding –i, or –li after a vowel:
|ketig be on fire||ketigi fiery|
|fekhar woman||fekhari female|
You may notice some other regular patterns on the cards.
• ya forms a causative: me-sa ‘see’, ya’me-sa ‘show’
• Replacing vowels with i creates a diminutive, referring to something smaller or less powerful: gitik ‘frost’, kitig ‘small fire, flame’
• ur commands the absence or lack of something: vedaz ‘air’, ur’vedaz ‘asphyxiate’.
One thing you won’t see is plurals. Sehimu Thinara words don’t have plurals. If you need to indicate a quantity, you can use numbers, or a quantifier like saukh ‘all’.
Very often reversing the sounds of the word produces an opposite or complementary meaning:
|ketig fire||gitek ice|
|fekhar woman||rakhef man|
|sauhu war||uhuas peace|
|inith create||thini destroy|
|thep below||peth above|
A related word may be formed by adding a syllable within the word, a process known as infixing. The added syllables belong to a particular sphere, which provides a clue to the meaning.
|Bio||r r biological||vedaz air||vredaz oxygen|
|Forces||ke ke force||usam touch||ukesam shock|
|to to object||na:th weave||na:toth loom|
|Matter||da da object||shoir heal||shodair medicine|
|du du substance||taug star||taudug hydrogen|
|Mind||so so speech||sehme rage||sesohme scream|
|hu hu emotion||thelna good||thehulna happy|
|Quantum||bo bo place||ketig fire||kebotig hell|
|Soul||na na person||shakher gestate||shanakher mother|
A root in Sehimu Thinara often covers a wide range of words in English. Sometimes this is due to the tendency of English to borrow indiscriminately— e.g. we have ‘solitary’ and ‘alone’, both of which can be expressed by masu; or ‘sickness, illness, disease’, all of which are expressed as rafash.
But often it’s because Sehimu Thinara is not designed for humans, and thus doesn’t have separate roots for distinctions that humans find important. E.g. shifra, which we’ve seen for ‘dog’, really means any canine animal, including wolves, foxes, jackals, and coyotes.
If you need to be more specific, there are often conventional adjectives— e.g. dogs as opposed to other canines are ur’sha:ri shifra, literally un-wild canines. (If you’re casting a spell, this would only matter if for some reason you’re surrounded by both dogs and other canines and need to distinguish them.)
Declarative sentences are a little more complex than spells. Here’s a very simple sentence, about as simple as a declarative sentence can get:
Compare the spell:
The prefix u’ on the verb is very important— it tells the laws of magick that we’re describing an event, not casting a spell!
U also gives the tense. The basic tenses are these:
Use meh’ before a consonant, me’ before a vowel.
The prefix is’ replaces me(h)‘ if the event was in progress, or never completed. Contrast:
This distinction isn’t made in the present or future— Sehimu Thinara doesn’t distinguish between The dog sleeps and The dog is sleeping.
The use of the apostrophe (called the Aza in ST) identifies the use of these prefixes. This can be important when looking at words like Mehusam (Awaken / Become Enlightened) and a prefix + word combo like Meh’usam (touched, past perfective).
If the event is uncertain or hypothetical, different prefixes are used:
|yau’||present or future|
In a declarative sentence, using these prefixes means you’re not sure if the event happened or not:
Another case of uncertainty is if you want to ask a question. Use the uncertainty prefixes, and append haisum at the end of the sentence:
The answer is hais ‘yes, true’ or umi ‘no, false’. Think of haisum as meaning ‘true or false?’
Wh-questions use these special interrogatives:
|tuda what (object)?|
The prefix ur’ negates a verb.
Subjects and objects
Transitive sentences have both a subject and object. The general formula is:
subject an’object verb
The prefix an’ separates the subject and object. Don’t forget it; without it, the two words afkher shifra would be interpreted as a compound— ‘a dwarf dog’.
The general word for ‘be’ is abu. For instance:
Note the use of an’ to separate shifra and shafar.
Most the subjects and objects we’ve seen so far have been single words. Of course, either can be more complex. The formula for a noun phrase is
demonstrative | quantifier | adjective(s) | noun
Sehimu Thinara has three levels of demonstratives:
|nis||this/these (near the Magi)|
|nes||that/those (close by)|
|naut||that/those (farther away)|
Quantifiers specify how many things to operate on:
The numbers from zero to ten are specialized quantifiers:
Some adjectives are simple roots (like gi ‘small’ or ge-k ‘cold’); others are formed using the suffix –(l)i (like ketigi ‘fiery’ or shifrali ‘doglike’).
Here are some examples of noun phrases:
You can also use a pronoun. Well, there isn’t really a pronoun for ‘I, me’. To refer to yourself, you use the word bonaw ‘the Magi’, or ezhow ‘the self’.
For second person ‘you’, use esa.
For third person, where we use ‘he, she, it, they’, you use one of these six pronouns:
|el||Soul (including people)|
You choose the pronoun according to the sphere the object belongs to. For instance, shifra ‘dog’ is biological, so its pronoun is er. Humans and other sentient beings all use el.
The aspect particle bab may be used, in various forms, to specify the duration and precise timing of a spell or other action:
|ba||start the action and don’t stop|
|ab||stop the action|
|baba||repeat the action at intervals|
Thus ba ketig means Start a fire on this thing. (That’s the Magi’s intention, at least… whether you actually have the magickal power to keep the fire going is another question.)
Ab ketig means Stop the fire; as noted above this is useful in countering spells.
The duration can be affected by changing the vowel:
|bib||shorter than usual|
|ba:b||longer than usual|
|baub||quite a bit longer than usual|
The prefix shen’ indicates possession:
Rather than say shen’esa ‘your’, you can use the abbreviated form shes’:
There is special form net’ for ‘my’:
Spells are a sort of imperative addressed to the laws of magick. However, you can give commands to humans, too. To do this, include the person addressed, with the prefix sum’:
If the person commanded is esa ‘you’, you can leave them out and add sum’ directly to the verb: