Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

7 June, 2012

Words, Words, Words: Cop-Out

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

Now, hopefully, this post won’t actually be a cop-out, because that seems excessively self-referential. After my last post on etymology, I’ve started paying a bit more attention to words and phrases in the hopes of mining them for content, and I’ve started to wonder about cop-out. What is being said here? Are cops widely known for phoning it in? And, slightly related, why is cop slang for police in the first place?

To the Internet!

I’m going to start with cop, clinging to the no doubt erroneous belief that the two terms are so closely related. The Online Etymology Dictionary is, as usual, my friend. The noun cop, in the meaning policeman, is attested in 1859, as an abbreviated form of the earlier copper, which is found from 1846. Copper ultimately comes from the verb cop (which incidentally means that the word went from cop to copper and back to cop again – language is fun!). The verb cop hails from the 18th century, where it began life in a dialect in northern England – which is, of course, the best kind of England – meaning “to seize, to catch”. The OE (which, for obvious reasons, foregoes the D) gives two possible further origins – it is either Romance, through French caper from Latin capere, “to take”; or Germanic, from Old Frisian capia, “to buy”, via the Dutch kapen.

Wiktionary also gives these two possible origins, but skips the northern dialect bit. Any explanation that includes northern England is obviously superior to any explanation that doesn’t, so I think I’ll trust the OE.

And now we get to cop-out, which also originates in the verb cop. Cop-out is American slang, attested from 1942. OE thinks that it comes from a variation of cop a plea, which again springs from the northern English verb cop.

So, it goes “catch” -> “take the lesser charge” -> “sneak off, escape” -> “inadequate performance or the poor excuse for it”. Cop goes “catch” -> “person who catches criminals”, which when put like that, doesn’t really seem like much. Still, though, now I know that the fact that I associate policemen with shoddy work is purely due to a linguistic coincidence.

4 June, 2012

Welcome to My World: From the Ashes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

For previous posts in this series, see here.

After the great earthquake of 205 BR, civilisation basically collapsed throughout the known world. Both of the great empires had fallen, and the damage caused by the quake eradicated most other realms as well. The towers of Iorotákher had crumbled to dust. The world entered a dark age, with almost no sources to reveal to the historian what happened next, so there is not much to say of this era.

A couple of centuries pass before we have solid documentation of life in the Arkhosian plains again. By this time, the plains had settled into a new status quo, divided into innumerable baronies and principalities, all competing for wealth and resources. The seven cities were still there, for the most part, but were greatly diminished, and did not hold the power over the surrounding plains they once did. The dragonborn were still the most populous race in the plains, but members of other races too managed to place themselves in ruling positions in some of the territories. What few dragons were left had retreated from civilisation, to brood in solitude.

The first step towards establishing the modern Arkhosia came with the founding of the Church of the Chosen One, which represents a new direction for the draconic cult of the plains. Few details have survived regarding everyday cult in the religion of the empire, but it is known that all the draconic deities were venerated – Bahamut, Tiamat, and dead Io. The Church of the Chosen Ones takes a different route – it is a henotheistic church, focusing only on Bahamut, and it vilifies Tiamat.

The church dates its founding to the year of the Revelation, and the event which also gives the current Arkhosian calendar its point of reference. One of the surviving dragons, a bronze dragon, received what he claimed was a revelation from Bahamut. The name of the dragon, for he surely had one, is forgotten now; he goes only by his title: Kuzhpéri – the Chosen One. He wrote down his revelation, emerged from his seclusion, and established himself in Stakhrokénzi, where he founded his church and began to spread his new teachings. Though the new teachings were often radical – the revelation banned blood sacrifice and the making of idols, key components of traditional cult – the church proved to be immensely popular in the chaotic situation in the plains. With its message of unification and vision of Arkhosia as the holy land, it provided a glue for the fractured societies in the plains. This proved to be a very powerful idea, as the church slowly spread its influence across the plains.

In the 281st year of Revelation, a dragonborn boy named Anhem was born in the northern plains, in a town a few miles south of the Barási river. In 309 YR, he succeeded his father as lord of that town. In 316 YR, he launched a campaign of conquest and unification, with no less of a goal than to recreate Arkhosia as a single realm.

Anhem was, by all accounts, a devout member of the Church of the Chosen One. Whether his reunification project came as a result of piety or simple hunger for power, has been hotly debated by scholars since the moment of his death. The plains had been a collection if independent states for nearly five centuries, and few among its noble rules were eager to submit themselves to a new king, but Anhem proved to be a gifted military strategist. After he had begun to gain momentum, he also received the full support of the Kuzhpéri and his church, which by this time had a great deal of influence in the plains. The reluctant nobles were forced, one by one, to submit to the new order.

In 323 YR, Anhem the Great was crowned king of Arkhosia by the Kuzhpéri, in Iorotákher, and the new Arkhosian state was formally born.

Arkhosia today, though it claims continuity, is a poor imitation of the old empire. The nobles of the plains eventually surrendered peacefully, and in so doing, managed to get some of their terms into the new order. Some of the most powerful lords of the realm agreed to elect Anhem as their king, but secured to right to also chose his successor. The church, in return for the support it gave Anhem, was given a great many privileges, including final approval of the ruler – the lords elector choose the next king, but he is only truly given power when crowned by the Kuzhpéri. Though the lords elector can in theory choose anyone to be king, the rulers of Arkhosia have in practice always been descendants of Anhem. The electors often try to choose the child they assume will be the weakest, allowing for a strong nobility under a weak crown. This policy has met with varying degrees of success. The current king, Anhem II, ascended to the throne in 477 YR at the tender young age of 10, but he has proved in later years to be a strong king who has severely curtailed the rights of the nobility. Even with his efforts, however, Arkhosia now remains a much more decentralised realm than the old empire.

Iorotakher remains the capital, but it has lost its status as greatest city to Stakhrokénzi – which has also accumulated a good deal of power as the seat of the Kuzhpéri. In terms of territory, the new Arkhosia consists of the full plains north of the Iorostákhi, up to the Barási, as well as territories along the coast as far south as Kepésknikh. Eastward, it contains Idád and parts of the Ezhvísi, but stops well short of reaching Akhír, a city that has proved very resistant to assimilation into the new realm. The great temple of Tiamat in that city still stands, and the inhabitants are sceptical of the Church of the Chosen One and resistant to its missionaries. The church has sent an epitrope to Akhír, but his flock is not large.

In truth, the situation in Arkhosia today is far from stable. The nobility, the crown and the church all battle each other for influence, while a new group of wealthy merchants has emerged in the cities and begun to demand its share of the power. The Church jockeys for further expansion, to begin re-establishing the empire of old, while the crown resists any aggressive expansion for fear of leaving its back open to the nobility. The church’s iconoclasm has driven other cults underground, and caused resentment among the non-draconic populace. Despite all the friction, there is also prosperity. The cities grow again, trade flourishes and the relative stability has allowed scholars to work in peace. As the 502nd year of Revelation draws to a close, no one can tell for sure what the future of Arkhosia will be.

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