Gorean Language and Terms

The "Language" is the common tongue of Gor, with several related dialects or sublanguages. It helps to hold together Gor's many diverse parts. If you cannot speak it, you are commonly considered a barbarian. Gorean is considered a strong language but that can also be supple and beautiful. Those of Ar are said to have a gentle, liquid accent. There is also an accent that differentiates the High and Low Castes, though some of the higher artisan castes speak with an accent close to the High Caste. There is also an archaic form used mainly by the Initiates called Old Gorean. Physicians also keep their records in Old Gorean. Other languages also exist on Gor including those of the red hunters, the red savages and the natives of the southern jungles. The Priest Kings and Kurii also possess their own languages.

In Gorean script, the first line is commonly written left to right and the second line from right to left. This continues in an alternating manner. Thus, you must read and write even numbered lines backwards. It is said to be read and written "as the ox plows." Gorean may be printed or written in cursive script. Each city usually has a recognizable style of writing. Certain letters though have been generally standardized for legal and commericial purposes. There is also a shorthand form of script. Goreans capitalize more nouns than we would in English. Context usually denotes when a Gorean noun will be capitalized. In the Tahari region, though they speak Gorean, they use a different system of writing called Taharic.

The Gorean alphabet has twenty-eight letters including:
  • al-ka ("a")
  • ba-ta ("b")
  • delka ("d" shaped like a triangle)
  • eta ("e")
  • homan ("h")
  • ina ("i")
  • kef ("k")
  • mu ("m")
  • nu ("n")
  • omnion ("o")
  • kwah ("q")
  • ar ("r")
  • shu ("s")
  • tau ("t")
  • sidge
  • tun
  • val
  • altron

The last four letters are not explained in the books so it is only guesswork as to what they may represent.

  • Sidge, likely derived from cuneiform, may represent "c."
  • Val could represent "v."

Altron may represent an "l" sound. There are nine vowels in Gorean, four of which have been identified. There are two "l" sounds and one of them is rolled. "W" exists only in words of Earth origin. Many letters have a variety of pronunciations depending on their linguistic context. Unfortunately, a complete alphabet is not listed in the novels.

Illiteracy is common on Gor, especially for those of the Low Castes. Literacy usually follows caste lines, the High Castes tending to be literate. But, some Warriors are illiterate or pretend to be as they do not feel warriors should be so. Other warriors are very proud of their literacy. But, illiteracy is not taken as a mark of stupidity. Many Goreans also possess remarkable powers of memory. As children, they learn a variety of mnemonic devices to train their memory retention skills. Many poets and singers remember their works and never put them down on paper. Music is never written down either, it is simply memorized and passed down from teacher to student. In addition, many Goreans play Kaissa without the use of a board, relying on memory alone.

The following are some selected Gorean words and their meanings. The meaning of some of these words was never explicitly stated so guesses have been made in a couple areas. This list is not comprehensive and just includes a number of useful or interesting words.
  • 1. "Ai, Aii, Aiii"==variously spelled, this is a word of exclamation that at times means "yes" and at other times may be an exclamation of surprise, fright or acknowledgement. But, this is not a word in the Gorean language. It is simply English slang. This is verified by consulting Norman's three books of the Telnarian Histories. Those novels do not deal with Gor but they do use the word "Ai" in the exact same way as it is used in the Gor novels.
  • 2. "Aria"==a word of possession for Ar; may be translated as "Ar's" or "of Ar"; For example, the phrase "Viktel Aria" can be translated as "Ar's Triumph" or the "Triumph of Ar."
  • 3. "Aulus"==flute
  • 4. "Ax"==this word is the same in Gorean as in English.
  • 5. "Bana"==beads of great value like gems or a string of pearls; a slave would rarely wear these
  • 6. "Bara"=belly
  • 7. "Bina"==slave beads; cheap beads of little value, usually on a necklace
  • 8. "Canjellne"==a challenge
  • 9. "Civitatis"==of the city of; "Civitatis Trevis"==of the city of Treve
  • 10. "Con"==from
  • 11. "Da"==here
  • 12. "Dar"==holy, priest
  • 13. "Delka"==delta of a river
  • 14. "En"==first
  • 15. "Fora"==chain. plural==fori
  • 16. "Gor"==Home Stone; It means the same thing in all the languages on the planet.
  • 17. "Har-ta"==Faster
  • 18. "Ho"=common prefix indicating a lineage. The word "Ho" is also used almost as a form of greeting or attention getting in the books. But, in that context, it is not an actual word in the Gorean language. It is simply English slang. This is verified by consulting Norman's three books of the Telnarian Histories. Those novels do not deal with Gor but they do use the word "Ho" in the exact same way as it is used in the Gor novels.
  • 19. "Hrimgar"==barrier
  • 20. "Kaissa"==this is a generic term for a game, but often refers to Gorean chess
  • 21. "Kajira"==female slave, plural=kajirae
  • 22. "Kajirus"==male slave, plural=kajiri (This plural also refers to a group of mixed-sex slaves
  • 23. "Kan-lara"==slave brand; "Kan-lara Dina"==dina slave brand
  • 24. "Kara"==turning
  • 25. "Ki"==indicates a negation; the word is usually translated as "not"; this is not the general word in Gorean for "no."
  • 26. "Ko-lar"==collar (Some claim this is not truly a Gorean word. There is a single passage concerning this word in Slave Girl of Gor. The Gorean word is not pronounced the same as the Earth word "collar." It is pronounced the way "ko-lar" is spelled. The words "kajira" and "kan-lara" seem to indicate a preference for the "k" sound in such words. This would lend some support to the acceptance of "ko-lar" as a valid Gorean word.)
  • 27. "Kosis"==disease
  • 28. "La"==Multiple meanings depending on the context. May mean "Who are you?" "You are?" "I am" This is the feminine version.
  • 29. "Lar"==central
  • 30. "Lar-Torvis"==The Central Fire, the Sun
  • 31. "Lesha"==leash
  • 32. "Lo"==Masculine version of "la"
  • 33. "Mira"==my
  • 34. "Nadu"==kneel
  • 35. "Nykus"==victory (This is derived from the Greek word "nike" which has the same meaning)
  • 36. "Or"==Ten
  • 37. "Oralu"==Thousand
  • 38. "Orlu"==Hundred
  • 39. "Pagar"==Pleasure
  • 40. "Rarius"==warrior; Rarii=plural
  • 41. "Sa"==daughter.
  • 42. "Sa-Fora"==Chain Daughter, a slave.
  • 43. "Sa-Tarna"==Life-Daughter, the staple yellow grain.
  • 44. "Sa-Tassna"==Life-Mother, meat; Also refers to food in general
  • 45. "San"==one; feminine is sana
  • 46. "Sa'ng"==without
  • 47. "Sa'ng-Fori"==Without chains: freedom or liberty.
  • 48. "Sar"==king
  • 49. "Sardar"==Priest-King
  • 50. "Se"==second
  • 51. "Ship"=this word is the same in Gorean as in English.
  • 52. "Sula"==may mean either "back" or "prone"
  • 53. "Ta"==to
  • 54. "Ta-Sardar-Gor"==To the Priest Kings of Gor; a toast (This is sometimes seen online as "Tar-Sardar-Gor, but "Ta" not "Tar" is correct)
  • 55. "Ta-teera"==slave rag
  • 56. "Tasta"==the founding, the start or beginning
  • 57. "Tor"==light
  • 58. "Tor-tu-Gor"==Light upon the Home Stone: the Sun; most common phrase for the sun
  • 59. "Torvis"==fire
  • 60. "Tu"==two meanings: First, you are; Second, upon.
  • 61. "Urth"==This is not a Gorean word. It was never used in the books. There is no known Gorean term for "Earth." Simply use the term "Earth."
  • 62. "Var"==This has three meanings. First, a resting in months. Second, a turning in directions. Third, "what is."
  • 63. "Veck"==possibly means "stand" or "awaken" (This is never clearly defined in the novels but from its context either of these two might be the definition)
  • 64. "Verus"==true
  • 65. "Viktel"==triumph

Common Phrases, Word Concepts and Gestures:
  • 1. The Gorean word for "stranger" is the same as enemy.
  • 2. The Gorean word for "mountain" refers to a mountain of soil, stone or ice. There is no difference to Goreans as to the makeup of a mountain as to call it something different. An iceberg is simply a mountain of ice.
  • 3. The term "we" refers to only a group of free persons. A single free person, with many slaves, would not refer to his group as "we."
  • 4. "Hail (followed by a name)" is a form of greeting reserved for experts and champions at some activity. A Master Player, Tarn Racing Champion, Master Swordsman or Ubar would be greeted in this manner.
  • 5. "Tal" is the most common greeting and is usually accompanied with the right hand raised to shoulder level, palm inward, facing the body. This signifies that the person being greeted is not considered an enemy. The gesture shows that the hand is devoid of any weapon. As slaves are not permitted weapons, then this salute would be ludicrous. As slaves must also respect all free persons, they cannot consider any to be their enemy. Thus the salute might even be considered an insult to a free person. Thus a slave may use the word "Tal" as a greeting but they would not accompany it with the hand gesture. The gesture would be for free persons only.
  • 6. "I wish you well" is a phrase of farewell.
  • 7. "I ask your favor" is a phrase equivalent to "please."
  • 8. "Tonight let us drink wine" is a fatalistic maxim in which the events of the future are cast into the hands of the Priest-Kings.
  • 9. Gorean applause: Most people would do this by a quick, repeated striking of the left shoulder with palm of the right hand. Warriors, if they had their weapons, would instead strike their spear blades on their shields.
  • 10. Gestures for silence: Either, holding a finger across the lips, or you can do it by touching the fingers twice lightly to the lips.
  • 11. Universal gesture for trading: gesturing as if taking something from a buyer and giving something in return.
  • 12. To blow a kiss in the Gorean fashion, you brush it upward with your fingers.
  • 13. "Share our kettle" is an invitation to a dinner, usually a Low Caste dinner.


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Last modified: December 22, 2010