Dumnonian Expressions


Dana of Corin

Dumnonians have inherited many behaviors from their draconic ancestors. One of the most prevalent is the practice of baring one's throat to indicate that a point has been conceded in an argument. Therefore, if a Dragonrider is said to have "bared her throat" to someone, she has deferred to that person's judgment. The phrase should not be confused with the expression "to take someone's throat in your teeth," which is a euphemism for having sexual intercourse with someone.

Rain is rare in the desert, but when it falls, it does so with a violence unparalleled in any other region of Centuria. Folklore holds that the destructive storms that have created the wadis, which cut across the Dumnonian landscape, occur once every ten years. These storms can actually flood the desert several times in one year or several years in succession, then fail to return for up to a century or more. Perhaps the average interval is ten years, but records are uncertain on that point. The proverbial expression "like a tenth-year storm" suggests violence and destructive tendencies. So, upon being informed that someone "looks like a tenth-year storm," the wise traveler should avoid the designated individual until a more favorable report of their demeanor is received.

Songbirds are often spotted near oases. In ancient times such birds were supposedly kept in cages by Dumnonian rulers. Frequent visits to the ruler's tent by ever-hungry Hatchlings resulted in the disappearance of more than one of these birds. Modern monarchs have abandoned the practice of keeping birds rather than spend their valuable time tracking down and punishing the errant Hatchling. If someone is said to "look like he swallowed the ruler's favorite songbird," he is wearing a falsely innocent expression such as one sees on the faces of wayward children.

One of the greatest dangers of traveling in the open desert is becoming sunstruck. This condition is usually characterized by delirium often accompanied by hallucination caused by extended exposure to the sun. Fainting and heat prostration may also be present. Thirst may or may not be a factor. The condition is commonly brought on oneself by the failure to follow the most basic tenets of desert survival--such as neglecting to wear a keffiyeh or other covering to protect one's head from the midday sun. If someone is said to be "sunstruck," he or she is behaving in a foolish manner, with the implication that the person is perceiving a false reality as a result of his or her own stupidity. The term may be used either affectionately or as an insult. In the form of an insult, "sunstruck" is usually combined with the designation "she-lizard"-- an unfortunate arrangement of words that travelers should avoid.

Be exceptionally cautious when using the word "lizard" around a Dumnonian. While this term is an accepted slang for "Dragon" between Bronzes and between Riders and their Bond Partners, an outsider is likely to find his or her tongue cut out for insulting a Bronze or Dumnonian by using this term. It is likely that Dragons and lizards developed from a common reptilian ancestor, but to insinuate that lizards spawned the magnificent Bronzes--and, by extension, their Bond Partners--is an unforgivable blunder. A "she-lizard" may refer to a Female Bronze, but usually indicates a female lizard, one of the larger plateau-dwelling reptiles jokingly referred to as "desert fish" by caravaneers. "Son of a she-lizard" is a deprecating term that can be applied only to oneself without risk. To call someone a "sunstruck she- lizard" or a "son of a sunstruck she-lizard" is the greatest insult in Dumnonia. This expression simultaneously ridicules the dragonsense and ancestry of the person so designated. The Daethian equivalent "stupid bastard" only carries about half the impact of the affront given a Dumnonian by the use of "son of a sunstruck she-lizard." Foreigners are best advised to simply abstain from employing the word "lizard" and its combined variations.

Dragonriders do not have much of a sense of humor when it comes to others' opinions about their Bond Partners. "Pile of scales" is an offensive, slang term for a Dragon. Bronzes occasionally employ the phrase as a form of self-mockery, but an outsider or even a Dumnonian uttering these syllables should expect to become dragonfodder by sunrise.

Nits are either the offspring of lice or small, insignificant flying insects akin to gnats. The word as it is appears in Dumnonian slang probably derives from the latter meaning. To be a "nit" is to be foolish. The term is usually affectionate in usage and is often chosen as a pet name for a lover, close friend or child.

"Sands" is a mild, all-purpose oath that can be uttered with impunity when language otherwise fails to provide a suitable alternative. The word can express everything from fright to surprise to disgust to frustration. Non-Dumnonians need only beware of over usage, which may be seen as an attempt to present oneself as knowing more about the Dumnonian language than one truly does.

If someone says a person has "sand for brains," they regard the object of the comment as an idiot. The phrase is most commonly employed as a means of self-derision. As a general rule, if someone directs the expression to you, you are free to return the "compliment." Otherwise, anyone dealing with a Dumnonian or a Bronze would be wise to limit its application to describing oneself.

Sandhogs are desert boars renowned for their ferocity. Dragonless warriors have adopted the term as a preferred designation for people who have not yet earned or who have refused the right to Bond with a Dragon. Perhaps an insult at one time, many regard "sandhog" status as a badge of honor and proudly refer to themselves as "sandhogs" with more than a little false modesty.

Expressions from Other Cultures

Expression Meaning
a copper a dozen extremely cheap
eyes as wide as a bronze coin eyes opened wide in surprise

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