"Librarian" in as many geek languages as possible?
June 17, 2018 6:39 AM   Subscribe

For a project I'm working on, I'd like to gather as many translations of the word "Librarian" as possible in sci-fi/fantasy languages...think Quenya and Klingon, Dothraki and Dark Speech.

Also fair game, anything vaguely related...I can understand, for instance, that Klingon might not have a word for "librarian" exactly, but "Book Warrior" would be good enough. You get the idea. Bonus points for images where the language doesn't render well in standard fonts. :-)
posted by griffey to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The only one I know is

"Ook." - Orangutan, from Discworld.
posted by jb at 7:26 AM on June 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

I don't know if the name is ever stated to have a particular meaning, but in the Dragonlance world Astinus of Palanthas is an immortal librarian and scribe who writes down the history of the world as it happens.
posted by XMLicious at 9:10 AM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just found this... translator
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:16 AM on June 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Old Tongue from the Wheel of Time has "sa’blagh" as "library" - a quick skim of the dictionary suggests "person of the library" would be something like "sa'blaghei" (and the plural would perhaps be "sa'blagh'drin") although the grammar is deliberately not straightforward, so this is purely conjecture.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:32 AM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Green Eyed Monster: yeah, there are a number of those, and nearly none include the word for Librarian, or even Library or anything of the sort. I was hoping the geek/librarian conflux on MeFi might do better. :-)
posted by griffey at 9:56 AM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

All right, let me dig out my old Klingon dictionary...

No word for "librarian" or "library," but "book" is paq.

When I think of a librarian, I don't think of a warrior or a guard so much as a caretaker, so let's go with that. The verb meaning "care for, take care of" is Qorgh.

The verb suffix meaning "one who is, one who does" is -wI' so the translation for "caretaker" is QorghwI'.

Now, back to the books. A librarian doesn't just care for one book, so we need the noun suffix for "plural (general)": -mey. Hence, paqmey.

We now have two nouns, QorghwI' (caretaker) and paqmey (books), so let's put them together, following the rules for possessives and compound nouns. Turns out it's pretty simple, and we don't need to add any more particles. We just have to put them in the order of possessor/possessed: "the books' caretaker," or paqmey QorghwI'.

batlh tIlop paqmey QorghwI'pu'ma': Celebrate our librarians in an honorable fashion!
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:38 AM on June 17, 2018 [13 favorites]

Yeah, it kind of depends on what you think the proper role of the librarian is (or what you think the Klingons would think the proper role of the librarian is). Besides Faint of Butt's paqmey QorghwI' (caretaker of multiple books), you could also have paqmey 'avwI' (guard of multiple books) or the slightly-altered, jessamyn-friendly paqmey nojwI' for lender of multiple books.*


* I can't figure out how the other translation of "Libraries are for everyone" on that page (Hoch be'nI''a'wI, Datu') breaks down: Hoch is "everyone, all, everything" and Dat is "everywhere," but be'nI''a'wI' looks something like "my big/important/powerful sister" (be'nI sister + -'a' augmentative suffix + -wI' "my," or "one who") to me, and lacks any specific connection to books or libraries. Probably I'm missing something.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 11:14 AM on June 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

In Lang Belta, the language spoken by the Belters in The Expanse, it would be dókiwala. ("doki" = document, text; "-wala" = person who is involved in, associated with, or expert in; accent on the "o" to indicate which syllable is stressed because normally stress falls on the penultimate syllable)
posted by Lexica at 11:44 AM on June 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

According to this site, the Drow word for librarian is "zmenkha."
posted by rikschell at 2:09 PM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

How about "bibliochelloveck" (literally "library person")? Closest I can get in Nadsat talk.

"Biblioveck" would probably work as an abbreviated form but I really like the rhythm of the full word."
posted by dlugoczaj at 4:50 PM on June 17, 2018

Not strictly scifi/fantasy but might as well be, thematically... librarian in Esperento appears to be bibliotekisto/ bibliotekistino (male/ female).
posted by porpoise at 5:21 PM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

David J. Peterson, who created the Dothraki language for Game of Thrones and Trigedasleng for The 100, answers questions on his Tumblr if you want to ask him directly.
posted by Lexica at 5:38 PM on June 17, 2018

"Parmaromandar" is my best guess for Quenya. "Books-keeper."

The "mandar" part is a little speculative: "mando" means "safe-keeping," and Quenya can denote agency, among several other (mostly gendered) ways, by adding an "r" in the same way that English does (for example, "Rómestar," east-helper, from "Rómen," east, and "stamo," help; "Morinehtar," darkness-slayer, from "mor," dark, and "nahta," slay; "ista," know, and "istar" wizard--more literally, knower).

"Parmaron" is genitive plural for "parma," which means "book."

So you get "parmaronmandar," which elides into "parmaromandar," because Quenya has no "nm" letter, I think, and the n is weak in Quenya.

Books + safe-keeper. Sounds like a librarian to me!
posted by Oxydude at 7:25 PM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Láadan, Suzette Hadin Elgin's conlang by-and-for women's perceptions, uses "wéehoth" for library [wéedan=to read + hoth=place]; a librarian would be wéehothá.

The accents are high-tone vowels, not emphasis; at some point, she acknowledged this was not the best choice for a conlang intended for native English speakers.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:26 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

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