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Common Eastern

Common is the primary spoken language throughout the Eastern Lands. Below is a list of common terms and phrases use in Tortall.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

Commoner Cant (Corus and Port Caynn)

The following commoner colloquialisms were popular in the Lower City of Corus and in the city of Port Caynn, particularly in the 3rd Century HE.

Everyday Terms

  • afore - before
  • aught - anything
  • bailey - courtyard in a castle
  • bait - food and water for horses at a rest stop
  • barbican - fortified gateway
  • bardash - male homosexual
  • barrel trapper - kidnapper
  • beard - oppose boldly or impudently
  • Black God's Option - suicide
  • blessing - birth control device or charm
  • bogle - ghost
  • bolster - long, narrow, stiff pillow or cushion
  • bordel - house of prostitution
  • buckler - round, plate-like shield
  • budget - pouch or wallet
  • buffer - thief of cattle, sheep, goats, or horses
  • bugnob - person of little brain
  • by-blow - illegitimate child
  • canoodling - sexual activity
  • caudles - soothing drinks given to excited or crazy people
  • charcoal burners - people who make charcoal by cutting logs and building them into large, layered stacks that are set on fire and made to burn slowly, without consuming the wood
  • cipher - shorthand method used by Dogs, with symbols for entire common words
  • cityman - any respectable person who is not noble; knights use it to mean a peaceable, sheeplike person
  • Coffin - narrow cell with no windows or doors, only a long, will-like opening overhead; prisoners are often left in one and forgotten
  • cog - cheat
  • cole - false coin
  • colemonger - someone who makes or passes false coins; counterfeiter
  • colesmith - counterfeiter
  • coney - victim of a theft or any crime; sucker
  • corbie - raven
  • cot - small house or cottage
  • countinghouse - room or building where a business does its accounting; chiefly used here for buildings where shipping firms do business and keep track of what is bought, sold, and traded
  • cove - man
  • coyne - vagina
  • cozening - cajoling, wheedling
  • cracknob - madman
  • craven - coward; cowardly
  • cresset - metal wall fixture containing wood or oil to be burned for light
  • cuddy - slob
  • cutter - braggart
  • dance a set - fight
  • douse - murder
  • doxie - female prostitute
  • dozy - sluggish
  • ducknob - person of little intelligence
  • dust spinner - a being of air and spirit, a continuous whirlwind that gathers breezes, conversations, emotions, and other bits from its surroundings; small dust whirlwind, what our world calls a dust devil
  • elsewise - otherwise; or else
  • fambles - hands
  • fen-sucked - sucked out of a fen (swamp or marsh)
  • filcher - small-time criminal
  • flower sellers - women of that trade who are also prostitutes and thieves
  • foist - master pickpocket
  • folderol - nonsense, foolishness
  • fribbety - silly, frivolous
  • fussock - donkey; old mean woman
  • gab - speech
  • Galla pasties - turnovers with beef, cheese, pine nuts, currants, and spices
  • gauds - bright, costly things
  • get bit - be cheated
  • get in the way of - become; learn
  • gillyflowers - older name for carnations
  • gixie - girl
  • glims - eyes
  • gob - mouth
  • gods' fool - crazy person
  • gormless - gutless
  • ground cover - anything on the ground: grass, trees, bushes, gravel, stones, and crops
  • headman - leader of a tribe or the mayor of a small town
  • hedgecreeper - cheap prostitute
  • Heskaly's drum - instrument used by the trickster god of the hills to make people crazy
  • hoddy-dod - slang for snail; someone who is slow
  • honeylove - lesbian
  • hotblood wine - wine spiked with an amphetamine-like substance
  • hunkerbones - haunches
  • jabbernob - chatterbox
  • jack - tankard, often leather
  • jerkin - hip-length sleeveless jacket
  • jinglenob - empty-headed person
  • jumped-up - raised above one's station
  • liar's fanfare - overstuffed codpiece
  • lift - theft of a purse
  • looby - fool
  • loaner - mocking term for noble's sale of heirlooms they buy back when they get more money; also a scornful term for a noble
  • mains - main dishes for meals
  • mammering - wavering; hesitating
  • mayhap - perhaps
  • midden hen - chicken that lines in dung; someone completely crazy
  • minnow - very small-time criminal, not worth the trouble to arrest
  • moneystream - flow of money as it passes through the hands of buyers, sellers, and bankers
  • moonsong - idiocy
  • mot - woman, common-born
  • mumper - beggar
  • murrain - pestilence or plague, mainly affecting domestic animals
  • new Tom - overeager stranger; one who thinks he knows the game
  • nimmer - swindle
  • nob, noll - head
  • nuncle - pimp
  • orange girls - walking fruit sellers who are also prostitutes and thieves
  • pallet - narrow, straw-filled mattress
  • patten - hard, wooden shoe, keeps feet out of the mud
  • peck and cass - meat and cheese
  • piece - lowlife woman; dirty woman
  • pig's knuckle - barely competent worker; major insult
  • pigsticker - big knife
  • Players' jollity - professional performance, play, or musical entertainment
  • pluck a rat - do something really stupid, such as try to full feathers off a rat
  • puttock - low-level female prostitute
  • raston - bread loaf stuffed with buttery bread crumbs and light filling
  • randy - always have sex on his or her mind
  • raw one - corpse; body
  • river dodgers - hard men and women who work on and around the river, on boats, in shipping and trade (and smuggling)
  • rook - cheat
  • rushers - thugs
  • sarden - blasted; damned; detestable
  • scale - fence, or receiver of stolen goods
  • scummer - animal dung
  • scut - idiot
  • sheeplings - Player slang; those who are born to be shorn of their money
  • sing on - inform
  • slave broker - one who buys and sells slaves
  • slubbering - slobbering, licking, or lapping
  • slum stew - liquid garbage
  • sommat - something
  • spintry - male prostitute
  • stripes - marks of the whip
  • sutler - thief who takes goods from shops or vendors' stalls
  • swilled - drunk
  • swive - vulgar term for having sexual intercourse
  • take someone over Breakbone Falls - administer a very severe beating
  • tarse - piece of meat
  • ticklers - fingers
  • tightfisted - cheap
  • tosspot - drunkard
  • tread a measure - leave; take off
  • treats - bribes
  • trencher - "plate" cut from a stale load of bread, used to hold food
  • trollop - woman who is morally lax, usually sexually
  • trull - very low-class kind of woman; the dregs
  • turncoat - traitor
  • twilsey - refreshing drink made of raspberry or cider vinegar and water
  • wench - less-than-respectable woman

Provost's Guard

  • Birdie - informant
  • cages - holding cells for kennel prisoners
  • detail - assignment
  • Dog - member of the Provost's Guard
  • Ferrets - street nickname for Crown spies
  • gorget - mail plate cover for the neck, like a collar
  • Growl - sound made by a roomful of Dogs about to be released upon criminal prey
  • Happy Bag - the collection of weekly bribes for Provost's office - jewels, coins, art, magical objects - anything of value that can be sold for cash
  • hobble - tie up or arrest
  • hobbles - rawhide restraints used on prisoners
  • Hunt - criminal investigation; pursuit of criminals
  • hunter - hound specially trained to hunt escaped prisoners and slaves
  • kennel - Provost's watch house/ guardhouse; police station
  • loose Dog - crooked Dog; one who exceeds the normal allowance of bribery
  • lure - scent sample used to give Achoo the right scent to follow
  • nab - arrest
  • Puppy - trainee in the Provost's Guard
  • Rat - criminal; prey, captive (to Dogs), civilian
  • sap - lead-filled leather cylinder, six inches long, with a loop for the wrist, to be held in the hand; a knockout or bone-breaking weapon
  • seek, seekings - investigations; hunt down a criminal or missing person
  • sign - in a Hunt, some indication of the prey, such as a footprint or handprint; marks of urine, feces, or vomit; or pieces of clothing
  • silver/ gold kiss - bribe
  • swap __ for __ - move up a grade as a Dog; for example, "swap leather [1-to-5-year insignia] for bronze [5-to-10-year insignia]"

Military Terminology

The following words and phrases were used by knights and soldiers in the 5th Century HE.

Everyday Military

  • abatis - a wall-like defense of logs sharpened on one end and set in the earth with the points facing outward against attackers
  • blazebalm - a thick, sticky substance like paste, which burns very hot when lit (either manually or at a distance) by a mage or archer with fire arrows
  • convict soldiers - convicted criminals who are given the choice to fight in the army if there is a war on rather than go to prison; there may be a pardon at the end of their service if they survive; since they are poorly trained, and feared by normal citizens, they rarely survive; in the Eastern Lands, convict soldiers carry a silver mark on their forehead that cannot be removed or covered, to identify them as convicts
  • coromanel - a flat, crown-shaped piece fitted over the tip of a lance; it spreads the power of a lance's impact in several directions, to make the force less severe
  • cuirass - piece of armor protecting the chest and back
  • destrier - warhorse
  • grapples - large, three-pronged iron hooks that can be attached to a rope and tossed over a wall or cliff to be used as an anchor for a climber
  • halberd - a pole arm; a six-foot staff capped by an ax head or a pike (long spear) head
  • hand-and-a-half sword - a longsword with a longer-than-usual hilt, which may be wielded single-handed or with two hands
  • hostler - person who cares for horses; their feed, medicine, grooming, cleanliness, and saddling
  • ladyhorse - destrier bred smaller and lighter for lady knights
  • logistics - military study that involves the purchase, maintenance, and transport of supplies, equipment, and people
  • maul - heavy hammer with one wedge-shaped head
  • merlon - one of the solid stone pieces between the crenels (notches) of a crenelated wall
  • mess (hall) - the building in which military meals are eaten; sometimes cooks work in the same building
  • pauldron - a piece of armor that protects the shoulder
  • pole arm - any weapon consisting of a long wooden staff or pole capped by a sharp blade of some kind, including spears, glaives, and pikes
  • poleyn - a curved piece of armor that protects the knee
  • quintain - a dummy with a shield mounted on a post; one outstretched "arm" is weighted with a sandbag, while the other is covered by the shield; the object is tilting at a quintain is to strike the shield precisely, causing the dummy to pivot 180 degrees; the jouster can then ride by safely; striking the dummy anywhere but the target circle on the shield causes the dummy to swing 360 degrees, so the sandbag wallops the passing rider
  • regular army - foot soldiers, cavalrymen, catapult operators, quartermasters, scouts, and their officers; uniformed troops
  • remount - a rider's second horse, to ride when the primary horse gets tired; in the case of knights and the King's Own, remounts are often warhorses, heavier mounts trained to fight
  • rowel - a star-shaped revolving piece on a spur, which cuts into a horse to get it to pick up its speed
  • squad - ten soldiers commanded by a sergeant and two corporals
  • standard-bearer - young man or boy who carries the company flag
  • stockade - wall made of whole logs, the upper ends cut into rough points
  • strategy - planning for a battle or war from a distance, working out the movements of armies and setting goals for them
  • string - a group or train of horses on a lead rein
  • tack - harness for a horse, including bridle and saddle
  • tactics - planning for a battle at short range, as it happens
  • warhorse - a larger horse or greathorse, trained for combat - the mount of an armored knight


  • boot - metal boot placed on a victim's foot; wedges are hammered into the inside of the boot, pressing on the lower leg until they break bones; metal boots can also be heated to burn the victim's leg
  • Drink - form of torture in which water is poured down the victim's throat and nose to simulate drowning
  • rack - torture device on which the victim is placed with arms and legs spread; turns of the handle and grips stretch the victim until his or her joints dislocate, then separate; muscles are also stretched to a point at which they no longer contract; some racks also have a spiked roller that can do bloody damage when the victim is placed facedown
  • thumbscrew - vise that crushes the victim's fingers or toes

Magic Terminology

The following terms describe types of magic and its uses.

  • Gift, the - human, academic magic, the use of which must be taught
  • healer - health-care professional with varying degrees of education, magic, and skill
  • hedgewitch - small-time mage serving lower-class clients, usually deals in healing humans and animals, fertility charms/ potions, small battle/ annoyance spells; not powerful enough to be called a mage, with little formal education
  • mage - wizard, male or female
  • mage mark - a silvery circle on the forehead, used to identify a convict soldier
  • scry - to look into the present, future, or past using magic, and sometimes a bowl of water, a mirror, fire, crystal, or some other device to look through
  • shape-shifter - someone who can take the shape of an animal or another human
  • Sight, the - aspect of the magical Gift that gives its holders certain advantages in matters of vision; it can be erratic, showing holders only lies, illness, magic, or future importance; in its fullest form, it can allow the holder to see clearly over distance, to see tiny things in sharp detail, and to detect illness, lies, godhood, magic, death, and other aspect of life
  • wander mage - mage who travels, picking up work here and there
  • wildmage - a mage who deals in wild magic, the kind of magic that is part of nature; Daine Sarrasri is often called the Wildmage, for her ability to communicate with animals, heal them, and shapeshift
  • wild magic - the magic that is part of the natural world; unlike the human Gift, it cannot be drained or done away with; it is always present

Other Terminology

  • B.H.E. (Before Human Era) - name given to the years before H.E., the Human Era. B.H.E. means the time when humans and immortals lived together, before increasing strife between them drove a group of mages to assemble in Carthak in order to create a working of magic that would exile the immortals to the Divine Realms (supposedly their original home). Common belief is that they succeeded in 852 B.H.E. and began in 836 B.H.E., though some are of the opinion that the spell covered only the Eastern Lands and the Southern Lands to the Roof of the World, the Yamani Islands, the Cooper Isles, and perhaps the easternmost parts of the islands and countries west of there. It is even thought there are both very small and very large and powerful immortals tucked away in the lands supposed to be covered by the spell, which, in any case, has lasted a long time without renewal. It was destroyed when it was worked, and only partial copies remain
  • copper noble - coin equivalent to ten coppers
  • gold bit - coin equivalent to one-quarter gold noble or two and half silver nobles
  • gold noble - coin equivalent to ten silver nobles, four gold bits, or 100 copper nobles
  • his realm's spies - network of a kingdom's agents, charged with gathering intelligence at home and abroad; spies in service to a particular country
  • indenture - contract of service under which a buyer pays a certain amount and in return is granted a person's service for a set length of time, usually seven years; during that time the buyer must provide basics: food, clothing, shelter, education (in Tortall) in return for the servant's work
  • longhouse - a long, barn-like structure that provides housing for several families or for an extended family and their animals (in winter); a typical Scanran home, it can also be found in both northern Tortall and Galla
  • Master - Mr.; mister; old title of honor for a mage
  • Mistress - Mrs.; ma'am
  • network - group of spies or other persons who exchange information among themselves
  • noble - large coin in copper or silver
  • pavilion - an outdoor structure that can be open on its sides, walled halfway up its sides, or fully walled in
  • royal ladies - fifteen or so young, active women of noble birth who can ride and use a bow as well as dance and converse with all manner of people; Queen Thayet takes them on visits to small, isolated fiefs or meetings where there is a possibility that they will be needed to help her with danger or handle emergencies that may arise
  • Sign - the Sign against evil; an X intersected by a vertical line forming a star on the chest
  • silver noble - coin equivalent to ten copper nobles


Carthakis speak a variety of regional and national languages, including Old Thak (ancient language), Thak (contemporary language), Common Eastern (spoken throughout the Eastern and Southern Lands), and Ergwae (regional language). Below is a list of terms commonly used in Carthak. Non-Common Eastern terms are emphasized with an asterisk.[10]

Common Slang

Palace Slang

  • belowstairs - palace slang for high-security cells under the oldest part of the palace, some particularly magicked to hold the strongest of mages

Street Slang

  • broken seal - street slang for losing one's virginity, as in "she broke her seal" or "he broke his seal"; from breaking the seal on a document
  • cackleheads - slang for feces-brained

Sexual Terms

  • canoodling - sexual experimentation or having sex
  • member - penis
  • pizzle - male animal's sexual organ
  • pounded, being - having sex
  • ragze* - long-term homosexual partner in Carthak
  • ragzewi* - homosexual in Carthak, any individual who is homosexual
  • zoeg* - Thak term for a homosexual relationship

University Terminology

  • instructor - teachers in the Lower Academy who are juniors and seniors in good standing in the Upper Academy and who teach classes in exchange for wages, dormitory housing, and library access
  • Lower Academy - junior school for the Carthaki School for Mages, usually for students ages ten to fifteen
  • Upper Academy - senior school for the Carthaki School for Mages, usually for students sixteen and up
  • walk out - form of dating; couples went walking

Military Terminology

The following words and phrases were used by sailors and soldiers in the 5th Century HE.

  • beak head - hole in the point at the front of a ship used as a privy by sailors
  • commandeer - command, seize for use (usually military)
  • detail - soldier's slang for duty or work
  • leatherfoot - soldier slang for a long-term soldier whose boots and feet have reached the same level of hardness

Magic Terminology

The following terms describe types of magic, its means, and its uses.

Medical Terms

  • insensate - without senses, unobservant
  • lozenge - pill
  • rue - hardy evergreen plant with a nasty odor and bitter, nauseating taste; for health and for clearing the mind and house

General Magic

  • cantrip - academic word for a spell
  • sigil - sign or figure
  • stillroom - room in houses or small facilities in which herbs are dried and kept and medicines are made and stored
  • wandermage - mage who travels and does not answer to any one employer
  • ward - protect, particularly with magical spells
  • widdershins - counterclockwise, preferred direction for magic working
  • working - alternate term for spell-work

Other Terminology

  • Apalite - citizen of the Carthaki district of Apal, formerly a nation-state to the far south and east of Carthak district (home of the capital), sister district/ nation-state to Amar.
  • cross juggling - pattern in which the right hand throws the balls to the left hand and the left hand to the right hand, so they cross in the space between hands
  • Ergwae - people of Carthak's deep mountain valleys and western deserts, known for ornately woven and braided white turbans and embroidered scarves worn by men and women alike
  • gumat* - city street toughs, Carthak
  • Hag-curst - reference to the patron goddess of Carthak, the Graveyard Hag
  • Harvest - August 1; the celebration before the hardest work of the harvest begins. The first fruits of the harvest are offered to the gods, and feasts are held
  • Jinda - person from the distant western realm of Jindazhen
  • kaygow* - rude term among Hulak's people for a scavenger animal
  • Kyprish - adjective for the people of the Copper Isles; from the name of their national god, Kyprioth
  • Matasarab* - Thak for festival of the spring equinox
  • mead - Northern-style honey-wine
  • nit* - copper Carthaki coin
  • Old Thak - original language for early Kingdom of Carthak; now mage language taught throughout the Eastern and Southern Lands and Scanra
  • orris - another term for iris, a scent sacred to Hekaja and to healrrs, as well as myrrh, myrtle, and poppy
  • soppish - soppy, sentimental, milksop, weak
  • spinster - woman who spins thread from fiber: wool, flax, or cotton; usually a young, unmarried woman of the lower or slave classes
  • stain(s) - bum stain, scoundrel
  • sunbird - dull in color; the size of a heron as adults; able to control their size in the Mortal Realms; in the Divine Realms they fly straight up during the day, spinning, wings outstretched, flashing brilliant colors in salute to Mithros
  • sunwise - from right to left
  • Thak - contemporary common language of Carthaki Empire
  • thaka* - gold Carthaki coin
  • thaki* - silver Carthaki coin


Yamani is the primary spoken language in the Yamani Islands. Below is a list of known Yamani terms.[6]

  • glaive (naginata) - a pole arm including a four- or five-foot staff capped with a long metal blade
  • hoshi - star
  • kimono - Yamani robe dress that wraps around the body and is secured in front by a stiff sash called an obi; the sleeves are long and rectangular and can serve as pockets; usually Yamanis wear at least two or three kimonos, the bottom one of very light cloth
  • obi - a wide, stiff sash or band that secures a kimono around the waist; Yamanis wear ornaments on obis and tuck items such as fans into them
  • shukusen - Yamani "lady fan"; silk of steel ribs that are often engraved or pierced with a design; the outer ends of the rids are very sharp, acting as a thrusting weapon when the fan is closed and as a slashing weapon when it is opened; traditionally carried by Yamani ladies when they don't wish to be seen with a weapon


Kyprish is the primary spoken language in the Copper Isles. Below is a list of known Kyprish terms.[8][9]

  • arak - distilled palm-sap liquor
  • duan - raka word for old man, boss
  • duani - raka word for old lady, boss
  • gigit - a copper coin, smallest coin of the Copper Isles
  • kudarung - raka term for winged horses
  • lan - largest money coin in the Isles, one gold lan equals ten silver lans; one silver lan equals five copper lans, and one copper lan equals five silver gigits, or 50 copper gigits
  • luarin - raka term for the white-skinned invaders from the Eastern Lands, now used in the Isles to indicated anyone with white skin
  • matcher - a slavebroker who deals in matching experienced slaves with owners who will pay top price for them; some owners insist that matchers only sell slaves to buyers who will treat them well; many are also talent spotters, operating schools at which they groom slaves for particular tasks before they are sold at a higher rate than a slave would have gotten originally; some matchers have magical Gifts that help them to spot talent, both magical and non-magical
  • raka - copper/ brown-skinned natives of the Copper Isles, under the lordship of the luarin arrivals from the Eastern Lands for nearly 300 years
  • sarong - for women, a dress-like wrap-around garment that extends from under the arms to the calves; for men, a skirt-like wrap-around garment that can be kilted in the middle to make rough breeches

Notes and References

  1. Terrier, Glossary
  2. Bloodhound, Glossary
  3. Mastiff, Glossary
  4. First Test, Glossary
  5. Page, Glossary
  6. 6.0 6.1 Squire, Glossary
  7. Lady Knight, Glossary
  8. 8.0 8.1 Trickster's Choice, Glossary
  9. 9.0 9.1 Trickster's Queen, Glossary
  10. 10.0 10.1 Tempests and Slaughter, Glossary
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