Category Archives: Eharthen (en)

Bika & lete: A matter of sides

English, as well as most other languages, make use of six basic directions in relation to oneself. Some arise quite naturally, down is the direction Earth’s gravity pulls us toward, up is the opposite. Forward and backwards are also easily defined (towards the front and towards the back, respectively). The other two, the right and the left, however, are somewhat more complicated as a result of human beings’ lateral simerty. For instance, how many 5-year old children recognize the other directions perfectly and nonetheless fail to identify which is the right side and which is the left? Furthermore, there is a condition among adults called left-right confusion which makes it very difficult for those people to tell which is the right and which is the left.

It seems that right and left aren’t such natural, instinctive concepts after all; so it wouldn’t be so strange for a conlang not to use them (or, for the matter, use them differently). Actually, such languages do exist in the real world, with Guugu Yimithirr, an aboriginal Australian language, being one of the most widely known examples. This language doesn’t employ any of those relative directions, relying on cardinal directions (such as North or South-East) instead. Other languages indicate directions in relation to geographic characteristics, for example distinguishing between sea-wards and towards inland. Needless to say that there must be at least a dozen conlangs which such ‘alternative’ directions-system.

Thus, the concepts of bika and lete (also ‘rete‘) wouldn’t be neither very innovative nor as radical as Guugu Yimithirr. These words, which are used in Eharthen as well as other related conlangs, are used where left or right would be used in English.

  • Comparison between English and Eharthen’s lateral directions.

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