Poswob culture and sociolinguistics

From FrathWiki
(Redirected from Poswob culture)
Jump to: navigation, search


The Poswobs are a highly variable people united by culture rather than shared ancestry. Yet their origin in Paba is known to all, and from one end of the empire to the other one commonly finds Pabap-like body types.

Physical attributes

The Pabap people lived in the tropics but were poorly equipped for such an environment. Their delicate skin was prone to sunburn and injury, their fast metabolisms kept them tied to food sources and reduced their ability to run and do work, and they were prone to overheating even while not doing work. Thus they wore little clothing, even though this exposed their skin to the sun even more. These traits have all survived to the present day because the Pabaps have traditionally been endogamous, with children of mixed marriages joining the non-Pabap minorities.

The Poswob people split off from Paba in 5547 AD and acquired all of these same maladaptive traits. But as they moved north, they quickly encountered cold climates where their ancestral traits proved advantageous after all. They endured temperatures well below freezing along with cold rainstorms where the temperature was only slightly above freezing. As their population density was low, food was plentiful, and their metabolisms were no longer a great hindrance. The cloudier weather eliminated the threat of sunburn, and their light skin helped them absorb energy from the sun when it was out. However, the Poswobs began to mix with aboriginals, and in doing so they acquired a more diverse appearance that changed from place to place. Thus today some Poswobs have dark hair, moderate skin tones, and a larger body size than their ancestors. However, all have retained the rapid metabolism of their ancestors.

Relations with animals

See Teppalan wildlife.

Poswobs are the most interspecies people in the world, in the sense that they have the most different species of sentient animals living with them. The way they handle things is a bit different than Moonshines though.

Cohabitating animals

Humans on Teppala do not have true pets; intelligent animals are treated as equals of humans rather than subordinates.


Penguins live in a fairly restricted area of the land. However, this happens to be exactly the same areas that humans live in, so the species are in common contact. Penguins and humans communicate primarily through hand signals, with one sign for each letter. Penguins also have their own series of languages, which is even more diverse than the human series, and appears nothing like any of them. Few humans have learned these languages, but in grammar they are surprisingly similar to those of humans, so "immersion" is possible. Since humans have lips and penguins have beaks, their speech is very different in sound, but again, still possible, because the penguins' phonologies tend to have only a few consonants. Common consonant inventories are /p ḅ m s l/ or /p b m s w/.

Penguins are divided into flying and flightless groups, and both groups contain several species. The smallest penguins are the only kinds that can fly, and this power enables them to rule over the larger penguins on land. However, the smaller penguins are preyed upon by various other animals, both on land and at sea, whereas the larger penguins are free of predators in most of the land they have settled.

Penguins range in size from 0.2 humans to 13 humans. They have a much more meat-heavy diet than humans, but both eat primarily fish. This puts the two species in competition, but violent incidents are rare because both species are sparse enough that there is generally enough food for everybody. Humans have even introduced the penguins to cooked meat, and penguins often prefer this to fresh kills. And penguins are good at sharing food that they have caught, thus penguin + humans is the most lovable combination of species.


Dolphins range in size from 6 to 84 humans, and are present on every coastline. They have independent nations of their own, with distinct boundaries, and so they dont just simply roam throughout the entire ocean. The fact that a few dolphin nations have žž in their human names has led them to be called "the ŽŽ zone". Currently, the largest dolphin nation is in a military alliance formed with the Moonshines about 1350 years ago promising that each would defend the other. But since dolphins have nations of their own, they have wars of their own too, and humans cannot just tell the difference between a pro-Moonshine dolphin and a pro-Vatala intruder trying to destroy all the other nations. Dolphins communicate primarily through interpreters, but can learn human languages, so the interpreter just needs to repeat the sounds, not actually translate the language.

The world population of dolphins is about 3.6 million, just slightly lower than the human population.


The only species that is predominantly hostile, firebirds see humans as prey, but even they will occasionally cooperate with humans when their interests coincide. On the island of Lan, for example, humans are still 100% captive and have not yet been rescued from the firebirds' rock nests by other humans. But Lan is outside the territory of Moonshine. Within Moonshine, the two species mostly manage to coexist despite being at war, since neither exposes itself to harm often enough to make the kill worth the risk. i.e. a firebird could capture a human and then swoop away to safety, but this would result in a revenge attack of some sort, whereas they could choose instead to eat a fish, which has a lot more meat and muscle, and there will be no revenge attack from a colony of fish.

Like penguins and humans, firebirds are mostly found right near the water, but they prefer a warmer climate than the other two species because they have very little body fat. This is part of the reason why the temperate climates to the west of Nokʷ are almost entirely free of humans: this is the firebirds' main habitat. Firebirds range in size from 2 to 8 humans. They usually die around 70F so Poswobs have to deal with them less than Moonshines do. Note that there are tropical firebirds which are smaller but just as deadly.


A very violent species that is responsible for hundreds of thousands of human deaths. Rabbits do not eat humans, but humans sometimes wish they did. This is because rabbits, by being vegetarian, compete with humans for food sources and therefore start organized wars against humans rather than picking them off one by one as a typical predator might.

Parasites and vectors of disease

The most severe plagues are found in tropical climates, but Poswobs in temperate climates also deal with parasites and zoonotic diseases.


Bloodsucking fleas are common in the moist areas of Pusapom where most humans also live. The most dangerous species, tiplabwae, is also the Poswa word for fleas in general. This flea inflicts a painful bite, usually to the calves or thighs, but can be quickly brushed off by a human. It is not the bite but the viral disease carried by many tiplabwae fleas that is responsible for human fatalities. This disease is called sabebam pasa and is characterized by unstoppable bleeding and loss of teeth.

Parasitic worms

Poswobs have more to fear from worms than germs. The plabas is a hookworm that lives in moist soil and can enter the human body after reaching exposed skin. It is most commonly encountered in gardens where the soil has been recently disturbed.

Inside the body, the plabas worm migrates to the small intestine and feeds on blood and undigested nutrients from the host's diet. The worm lays eggs which adhere to the walls of the intestine and hatch into larvae called bamblambum. Shortly after birth, the bamblambum bite through the intestine and begin eating their way through the tissues of the body, growing in size as they digest the tissues and organs of the host body. After this journey they break through the skin, usually on the legs or feet of the host, and exit the body to begin the free-living stage of their life cycle.

Here, the plabas worms seek out growing vegetables, particularly those that grow mostly or entirely underground. During this stage of their life they feed on the vegetables, and after molting, they crawl up to the surface in order to seek out a new human host to invade.


The pwep is a triactinomyxon that lives in salt water and spends most of its lifecycle inside a bottom-dwelling predatory lamprey. Infected lampreys periodically expel tiny, free-floating pwep spores through their anus into the water. The pwep spores can infect humans who are swimming or walking in the water. The pwep has no sensory organs, and has no preferred host for this stage of their life cycle. Upon encountering exposed human skin, the pwep rapidly enters the body, causing extreme pain to the host. Once inside the body, the triactinomyxon reproduces asexually and the spores seek out muscle tissue on which to feed. The spores that grow inside the human are even smaller than the type that originally infected the human, but are capable of rapid growth. The spores feed on muscle tissue and expel their waste products into the human host's bloodstream.

The next step in the triactinomyxon's life stage occurs when the infected human host is bitten by a lamprey. For the parasite to infect the lamprey, the lamprey's bite must reach deep into muscle tissue containing the triactinomyxons' spores. Transmission of the parasite is therefore most likely if a lamprey bites a human who has been weakened by the disease and is too weak to fend off the bite of the lamprey.


Use of foreign languages

Foreign languages are rarely learned by the general population.

Womb Magic

Poswobs believe in "Womb Magic" (pubo), and have a parallel vocabulary of about 300 words that can only be used by women. Most of these are related to pregnancy and childbirth, but a few Womb Magic words exist for concepts that are only distantly related.

Maptavem and Waptena

Womb Magic involves the goddesses Maptavem and Waptena, which are also invoked in other religions.

Maptavem is associated with birth and motherhood, and Waptena is associated with abortion and infant mortality. The Poswobs believe that Waptena is capable of causing spontaneous abortion and birth defects and that Maptavem can protect a baby against Waptena's attacks. Women who practice Womb Magic are able to use the power of both goddesses simply by using words that belong to the vocabulary of Womb Magic.

Waptena is also known as Mumpuva and Baeno. The first name, in Poswa's phonotactics, has three syllables that begin with the same three consonants as does the name Maptavem, since Maptavem is syllabified as /'ma.pta.vem/.

Both goddesses have additional alternate shorter names. Maptavem is also known as Mapta, showing the reduction of the name to two syllables. Waptena's shorter name is Waba, because this name diverged from its longer form at a time when the longer name was Wabatena. Far back in the past, Waptena had been perceived as taking the form of a lizard, and people had believed that lizards were her children, but with the move to a colder climate this conception retreated and Waptena came to be depicted as an adult human female.

Use of spells

Womb Magic words are considered to be magic spells, since unlike a prayer, a woman using Womb Magic is believed to have taken on the goddesses' power for herself, rather than passively relying on their support from outside. Verbs are spoken in the first person, and in the present tense rather than the imperative or desiderative. Womb Magic vocabulary is extensive and contains many synonyms, so practitioners of Womb Magic are able to express themselves rather than memorizing precise vocabulary lists and formulas.

Womb Magic vocabulary

A pregnant woman and those with whom she interacts will replace their ordinary vocabulary with the Womb Magic vocabulary whenever referring to that woman or any of her possessions. For most conversations, there is no difference between the ordinary vocabulary and the Womb Magic vocabulary. However, the more closely the conversation relates to pregnancy and childbirth, the more words will need to be replaced.

Most Womb Magic terms relate to pregnancy and childbirth, but some terms are semantically distant. For example, the word pipi "sun" is replaced by tus; this is because the Poswobs believe that the Sun is a goddess who interacts differently with women depending on their life situation and will listen to those who refer to her as Tus more intently than the more common name Pipi. Similarly, buvae "moon" changes to aspam; the Moon is also a goddess.

Some Womb Magic terms have no single-word equivalents in the broader language: rul "to be pregnant with girls", tiri "to be pregnant with boys", wapwema "barren ovary", bažba "enlightened woman".

Use of Womb Magic to induce abortion

A sexually active woman seeking to avoid pregnancy will use Waptena's words. A pregnant woman seeking to induce her own abortion will use the same words. These two situations are considered equivalent in Poswob culture. Abortion is not a crime, and the very concept of outlawing abortion is alien to the Poswobs because the two Womb Magic goddesses are a higher authority than the law.

A woman seeking to induce abortion will use Waptena's words in the expectation that miscarriage will spontaneously occur within a few days. If this does not happen, women are encouraged to reconsider their abortion, but if they choose to proceed, they are told to ingest the sap of a plant known as saf,[1] which will cause pain to the woman but immediately trigger the miscarriage of the baby.

Use of Womb Magic outside pregnancy

A woman who has learned Womb Magic is free to make use of it outside pregnancy.

Men are unable to use Womb Magic because neither Maptavem nor Waptena listens to the words of men. However, a woman who is unable to speak or has poor speech ability may have her husband speak the words for her, and then indicate her approval in any manner she can. This is believed to have the same effect as the woman herself pronouncing the words of the spell.


Cultural limits on the use of language

Poswobs are famous for their blunt manner of speaking. There are no obscene words; the speech of a toddler, a sailor, and a lifelong scholar all belong to the same speech register and use the same vocabulary.

Poswobs as minorities


Poswobs have a few cities outside their empire. One is on the far east coast, the only east-coast city populated by Poswobs. It is difficult to reach, since one must cross 6000 foot glaciers to get there from the rest of the empire, but the east coast people around them are glad to have an outlet to the rest of the world through those glaciers. It is a rare example where Poswobs are the upper class, because all the other people are dependent on trade with the Poswob Empire and most are not willing to deal with -55F temperatures to get it.

Another is Baeba, on the far west coast. It is the only west coast city with a significant Poswob minority, although some cities in Goga are roughly 20% Poswob/Moonshine, where Poswobs and Moonshines have blended into one identity, with both speaking Moonshine. Poswobs in Baeba have no rights and are generally considered the lowest class. They mostly come from Lypelpyp, which is so poor that even being a slave in Baeba is better.

Both of thses cities can participate in the Poswob government and are considered part of the empire. Howeerver the Poswobs do not claim the territory in btewteen ars part of the empoire. And Baeba isnt claimed entirely, just the Poswobs that live in Baeba.


There are a few places in the Poswob Empire where Poswobs have become a minority themselves.


This is the old Pabap hiomeland, where most people who live there that callthemselves Posowbs are actually older tribes who assimilated because they were non-Pabap. the Poswob elite was doing this to try to win them over as allies, saying that they were aboriginals who were being oppressed by the Pabaps. The new "Poswobs" were thus free to move anywhere else, and some did move, but most stayed./ They have little cultural connection to the rest of the Poswobs/


Wawiabi is a state that secdede from the Moonshine Empire into the Poswob one. It is majortu Moonshine today, and is divided into two major districts. The Moonshine district is officially 100% Moon, although some Poswobs do live there even though MS doesnt officially allow any foreigners at all to visit. The other district is diverse, because Poswobs allow immigration. There are many Moonshines here, too, however, because it was historuically a Moonshine terrirotiry. Most Poswobs in West Wawiabi are descendents of people who were there before it secdeded, even though, as above, it was illegal even then for them to be there.


The south coast of Nama has been invaded by p[eople from the tropics and thus Pusapom has no free access to the south coast. Some Poswobs stayed here after the conqyuest, but they are the underclass.

The Moonshine Crown

THe Moon shine Crown is the name given to an alliance of fours states which do not allow Posowbs to visit, because they are 100% Moonshine. Even so, the Poswobs supply them with food and labor, and they do not have to pay taxes to Pusapom. Thus they are among the richest states of all,.


Note that Tarwas is not considered a minority-Poswob state. This is because, despite the fact that the inhabitants of Tarwas are predominantly tall and dark-skinned, and stand apart sharply from the many smaller, lighter, often blonde and blue eyed people around them, they have adopted Poswob culture and therefore do not consider themselves minorities. Thus, Poswobs moving into Tarwas are considered legally interchangeable with the natives of Tarwas, and therefore the typical light-skinned Poswobs do not consider themselves minorities when they move to Tarwas either.


  1. Probably wrong name.