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Meaningless Names - Pt. 2

Posted by Tolkien , in Matoran Language, Long Entries, linguistics, Bionicle Apr 11 2013 · 610 views

This entry, we’ll take a detour into the etymological origins of Bohrok (and associated designations):
Bohrok, n.cmpd. “awaiting-commands, vigilant-for-commands; also vigilantly awaiting/following words”
boh, stm. “vigilance, watchfulness; awaiting, on-standby, ready-to-respond”
oro, n. “word”
-ak, p. “intensive particle”
orok, n. “order, command; lit. intensive-word” [from oro-ak, oro “word” and -ak “intensive particle”]
The deciphering of Bohrok is somewhat difficult, as it was not originally a Matoran innovation, being found instead as an inscription (albeit a legibly Matoran inscription) boh-oro-ak on the entrances of Bohrok nests. The origin of the term has been commonly attributed to the Great Beings themselves.
There are two possible translations of Bohrok: The first involves the element boh combining straightforwardly with the elements oro and -ak to yield the meaning “vigilantly-awaiting/following-words”. The second involves the combination of boh with the elsewhere-attested compound oro-ak “order, command” (modern form orok) to yield the meaning “awaiting/vigilant for commands”. Both of these etymologies are equally plausible, but they present subtly different semantic interpretations.
As an aside, some scholars have noted a similarity between the composition of the original boh-oro-ak compound and the composition of the original form of the term matoran: mat-oro-ān “user(s) of words”. The reason for this similarity in pattern (if it is non-coincidental) thus far remains a mystery, although some folk-etymologies persist based on the (somewhat superstitious) belief that Bohrok are revenant-Matoran (having gone from being living “users of words” to non-living “followers of words”) and that the Bohrok nests are, in fact, ancient graves.
Bohrok Swarm-designations:
When the Bohrok were first discovered in nests beneath Metru Nui, scholars and archivists rushed to classify them according to known species of Rahi. After close examination, however, it was discovered that the Bohrok were actually fully mechanical--the first fully mechanical constructs encountered by Matoran. A profusion of technical terms soon arose for “non-biomechs”:
hi-vo and vo-hi, n. “powered-thing(s)” [from the elements “thing, place” and voi “elemental electricity”, with reference to the dormant artificial power-sources of the Bohrok units]
hi-no, n. “protodermic-things(s)” [from the elements “thing, place” and noi “elemental protodermis”, referencing the non-organic makeup of Bohrok units]
hi-olo, n. “thing-with-a-door/hatch” [from “thing, place” and ol(o) “door, gate, etc.”; a slightly whimsical term referencing the face-plate or “hatch” of the Bohrok shell]
hi-oro, n. “word-thing” [from “thing, place” and or(o) “word”; a loosely-applied label referencing the ancient designations (“words”) written throughout the Bohrok nests; this term was patterned on the composition of the original form of the term Bohrok: boh-oro-ak (see above)]
These terms were all variously incorporated into the official labels applied to the different types of Bohrok swarm-designations. As such, the labels were not so much independent words as they were technical classifications. They generally made use of the same pattern as the original term for Bohrok, boh-oro-ak, replacing boh with the elemental designation of each Bohrok nest and oro with one of the non-biomech terms listed above:
Tahnok, n.cmpd. “fire-designation Bohrok” [variant forms tah’nok, tahnak; tahrok/tahlok/tahvok; Original compound ta-hino-ak, with eventual reduction: ta-hino-ak > tah’noak > tah’nok, tahnok]
Gahlok, n.cmpd. “water-designation Bohrok” [variant forms gah’lok, gahlak; gahrok/gahnok/gahvok; Original compound ga-hiolo-ak, with eventual reduction: ga-hiolo-ak > gah’loak > gah’lok, gahlok]
Lehvak, n.cmpd. “air-designation Bohrok” [variant forms leh’vak, lehvok; lehrok/lehnok/lehvok; Original compound le-hivo-ak, with eventual reduction: la-hivo-ak > leh’voak > leh’vak, lehvak]
Nuhvok, n.cmpd. “earth-designation Bohrok” [variant forms onuhvok, nuh’vok, nuhvak; nuhrok/nuhnok/nuhlok; Original compound (o)nu-hivo-ak, with eventual reduction: (o)nu-hivo-ak > nuh’voak > nuh’vok, nuhvok]
Pahrak, n.cmpd. “stone-designation Bohrok” [variant forms pah’rak, pahrok; pahlok/pahnok/pahvok; Original compound pao-hioro-ak (pao-, a variant of po-), with eventual reduction: pa-hioro-ak > pah’roak > pah’rak, pahrak]
Kohrak, n.cmpd. “ice-designation Bohrok” [variant forms koh’rak, kohrok; kohlok/kohnok/kohvok; Original compound ko-hioro-ak, with eventual reduction: ko-hioro-ak > koh’roak > koh’rak, kohrak]
Moving along, what entry on the Bohrok would be complete without mention of the Bohrok Queens?
Bahrag, n.cmpd. “lit. elder-of-the-followers; vigilant/waiting-elders”  [variants bahraga, bohrag, bohraga]
boh- stm. “boh, stm. “vigilance, watchfulness; awaiting, on-standby, ready-to-respond”
rag(a), stm. “tame one, wise one; elder” [reduction of a very ancient compound rā-gae “lit. (the) wild-at-peace, the wild settled”]
The modern name of the Bahrag twins was also found as an inscription in even the earliest Bohrok nests: boh-rāgae. It exhibits the same ancient element boh as the name of the Bohrok, but combines it with a different (though equally ancient) compound rā-gae. This compound is itself derived from a combination of the stem “wild, untamed” and the elemental stem gae “water”, in this case with reference to the stem’s itinerant connotations of “peace, calm, serenity”. The compound rāgae thus originally denoted a concept of “being tame; settling one’s wildness”, ultimately leading to the more modern meanings of rag(a) “tame one, wise one; elder”. The compound boh-rāgae thus encapsulates the symbolism of the Bahrag’s role: elders or “queens” of the Bohrok Swarms, the leaders of those who await or follow.
And what entry that includes the Bohrok and the Bahrag would be complete without mention of the Bohrok-Kal? I mean really.
(Bohrok-)Kal, n.cmpd. “seeker-of-power; lit. detecting/finding/sensing-power”* [variant forms kāl, kel]
, stm. “power, energy”
el, stm. “finding, seeking, sensing; detection, sense”
The stem combines straightforwardly with the stem el to yield the compound ka-el “power-seeking; seeker/finder of power”, modern form kal.
*...Find the Power?**
**(Live the Legend)
And a couple more (related) Kanohi-etymologies to finish things off:
Kanohi Elda, n.cmpd. “Mask of Detection; allows the wearer to sense and find hidden things, as well as detect the location of the Kanohi Ignika” [variant forms elzata, elza]
el, stm. “finding, seeking/searching, sensing; detection, sense”
zata, stm. “authority, order; leader” [common modern (affixal) forms: za, da, zda]
The element zata derives from an older compound of za (“strategy/strategic”) and the elemental stem ta (rough meaning of “leader(ship)”). The combination of zata and el yields a compound el-zata “leader-of-the-search; lit. (an) authority on detection”, with eventual reduction el-zata > elzda > elda.
Kanohi Felnas, n.cmpd. “Mask of Disruption; allows the wearer to disrupt another being’s control of their natural powers, causing said power to go out of control”
fa(n), stm. “limit, restriction, range, field; also roof, ceiling, sky” [probably derived from the elemental prefix fa “magnetism; magnetic (field)”; spelling variant pha(n)]
el, stm. “finding, seeking/searching, sensing; detection, sense”
nas, stm. “scattering, dispersing, disrupting” [etymology uncertain; see below for some discussion]
The elements fa(n) and el combine to yield a compound fa(n)-el “sense-of-limits; limit-sense” (roughly the ability to measure and control one’s actions/potential). This compound is then combined with the stem nas to form a further compound fa-el-nas “scattering/disrupting (one’s) limit-sense”, modern form felnas. This compound encapsulates the concept whereby a Felnas-user can disrupt or scatter another being’s ability to control (i.e. sense the limits of) their powers.
The etymology of the stem nas itself is uncertain. It is most likely derived from or related to the same root that yielded terms such as  aso “sand” (see entries <aso>, <aswe>). Whatever its exact origins, it is clear that this element is very ancient, possibly coeval with the elemental stems themselves. One plausible etymology for nas is a combination of (o)nu “earth” and the stem-form ās (also found as sā; these stem-forms yield modern aso, aswe, etc.), with a rough meaning of “shifting/dispersing earth/sand”. Words deriving from ās/sā seem to carry an original connotation of “shifting” or “instability”, consistent with the “sand” concept.
[Post-Melding insertion by Spheru-Magnan scribes: Recent linguistic analysis of Spheru-Magnan languages provides some support for the proposed etymology above. Evidence from Modern Agoric terms such as scar-āba “shifting-sand, quicksand”, scarus “treachery”, and scaral “treacherous one; Skrall” (Northern Agoric scrāl) points toward an Old Agoric stem sakar-, with attested variants skār-, sār-, and asar-. Old Agoric is believed to be (one of) the languages used by the Great Beings in constructing the earliest forms of the Matoran Language, and the almost pre-Matoran nature of the Matoran stem-forms ās and sā lends credence to the idea that these stems may, in fact, have been (indirect) modified borrowings from Old Agoric itself. This also accords with surviving accounts of Matoran prehistory, whereby the earliest Avo-Matoran tribes first emerged from Karda-Nui, traditionally characterized as a primordial desert or wasteland with a variant-name Asa-Nui, the Great Sand.]

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