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Ghdar
Homeworld of the Gorn Confederation
 

• Anatomy • The Confederation • Childhood • Language • Government • Military • Race Relations •

Language

As mentioned in an earlier section, the Gorn have a highly developed sense of smell/taste as well as a natural ability to control the release of pheromones/Hormones. These natural traits have led to a fascinating language being developed.  

The Gorn language is actually two separate languages, a spoken language and a written language. The reason for this is that in the spoken language not only is sound and body language used, like in all other languages, but also scent. 

It is this element of scent that has worked to create some interesting aspects in Gorn society as well as their language and it explains early misunderstandings between the Gorn and Humans. In the case of first contact with the Gorn, the universal translator had trouble with the Gorn language and human linguists could not understand why. Words that seemed to have no meaning or a twisted meaning would pop up and throw the entire translation into a tailspin. This stemmed from a problem the Gorn had in the development of their language.

You see as the Gorn developed spoken language the use of scent was a natural thing for them, and so it was added without thought. However as progress began the Gorn sought ways to record their language for future generations. So a second language was born, new words where created to describe the scent element that was missing and this new language was used for written material. As technology marched on and transmitted information was more common the written language was further adopted to allow it to work for voice transmissions. It was the extra words that described the scent element that cause the confusion in early attempts to translate. 

However as any linguist can explain, language is core than a way to communicate, it can also define many aspects of a culture, and in the case of the Gorn it did lead to some interesting social conventions. The most well know is that Gorn do not lie. This is not a social or moral decision. With a language where the body chemistry of the speaker can be easily determined the ability to lie was greatly curtailed. Even with their excellent control over the scent release, a Gorn is unable to exercise total control and as such lies would be easily detected. So over the centuries the concept of deception, in the sense we understand, disappeared. To a Gorn a lie is the withholding of information. This particular attitude has led to some interesting situations when diplomatic relations where held with the Gorn.  

The lack of deception in their society also led to an attitude of handling things head on. When you do not like something you donít skirt it, you fix it. When something threatens you, you donít scare it off, you kill it. This is has lead to a great deal of confusion on the Gorn part, where human handling of race relations are concerned. The Gorn feel that a problem should be dealt with directly. The attitude of saber rattling or long diplomatic discussions seems a waste. Especially when they look at Human history and see that in most case the end result was not a solution at all and the problem eventually had to be dealt with anyway.  So we end up with a Gorn race that is extremely straightforward and totally truthful. However the Gorn can also be tight lipped. Their use of scent in their language has led to a great deal of interest in privacy. This extends not only to their personal lives, but to their society as well. Early encounters with alien races have not gone well. To date the Gorn have encountered four different species in their space explorations, wars have been fought with all of them. One race was even destroyed due to these wars. This has left the Gorn feeling threatened, when combined with their limited resource availability for their area of space. When added to their direct approach to life, the Gorn are extremely protective of what is theirs. (A good analogy is to compare the Gorn to 1980s Israel. Threatened on all sides and willing to do whatever it took to survive.) 

A final area that the Gorn language has made an interesting impact in is the area of entertainment. Most races gradually developed recorded and mass broadcast entertainment, the Gorn did not. They felt that by losing the scent element the entertainment was shallow and empty. As such the live arts thrive on Gorn worlds and starships. Every Gorn ship actually has a small amphitheatre built within it for entertainment. Gorn plays and concerts are major events, held regularly. The Gorn have nothing that equates with recorded music or movies. 

Note: This has actually begun to change over the last few months. Gorn technology has developed a holographic projection system that also includes scent within it as well as using force fields to make objects solid. Early forms of this are now being used on Gorn command vessels however; private industries are researching a way to make it more accessible to the general public.

 

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