Greetings, noble friends!
I am Rahad al Raegar ad Azaran, of the proud nation of Skerabia. I fear my titles would be somewhat lost on you, save for the fact that my author – in her infinite wisdom – saw fit to mark me as a “minor character” in that trilogy that she so enjoys muttering about when she’s looking for something to throw at a wall.
“Minor character”, bah. If it weren’t for me, the first book would have ended very differently, and there would be no trilogy whatsoever. And yet she repays me simply by allotting me a cameo in the final book? The ingrate!
Ah, apologies, I seem to have deviated. Forgive me, it is not often I get a chance to speak to such an esteemed audience without having something thrown at me by the band of intoxicated nincompoops that I live alongside. Their manners are best described as being on par with those of monkeys, though I would not repeat that for fear of insulting the monkeys. And as for their language . . . I hope you can envisage me shuddering.
Manners, as I am sure you are all aware, are absolutely crucial in marking out from whence and from what lineage one issues. Which, by some act of serendipity, brings me on to my allotted topic for this post.
Due to my expertise in the area, my authoress has requested that I draw from my vast stores of experience and give you a few choice tips on mannerisms, and what they can mean for a given individual. Fictional individuals, that is. I regrettably have no experience with any others.
I shall begin with the most obvious thing one can mark about a person upon meeting them: their accent.
Place two denizens of the same nation together, and listen to the way they speak. The variations in their pronunciation of words, and their usage thereof, can not only tell you from what part of the country they come from – which is very helpful if the region you are dealing with is large – but may also reveal something of their social background. I tested this experiment on two of the denizens of my own tale; the mercenary, Rin Takarsson, he whose hair impersonates a tangerine, and the infinitely pleasant, if somewhat stony-faced, southern lord Petrolien of Aven.
The difference between them is impossible to miss – Rin’s thick northern accent and use of shorter words betrays his area of origin, his rustic upbringing, and his lack of education. The way the man abuses syntax is unbelievable.
Lord Petrolien, meanwhile, is softer spoken, and has a larger vocabulary – as befitting a man of his rank. He also speaks with an inflection of the voice that is very particular to the upper class . . . meaning he talks through his nose, but don’t tell him I said that.
There are, of course, innumerable other things one can watch out for, including these:
1 - Use of certain colloquial phrases (I once said “as confused as a camel in a sandstorm”, and only my compatriots understood me. Everyone else asked what on earth a camel was).
2 - The way one carries oneself (I have never seen anyone swagger half as much as minor gentry do)
3 - Local superstition creeping into practice (the traders who visit my home city always spit over their shoulders when talking about unfavourable weather conditions, while diplomats always shake your right hand - your weapon-wielding hand - first, as a sign of friendship)
Sometimes even small actions that accompany an individual's conversation can be enlightening, though its study may be more helpful for marking out liars, or those with secrets. Unless, you, for some unfathomable reason, are living in a city consisting entirely of thieves, in which case I wonder what sort of map you were using to end up there.
I could go on but, I fear, I am lingering. It has been my pleasure to make your acquaintance, and I do hope I shall have the chance to reconvene with you in the future.
Until then, may the Almighty smile upon you.
~ Rahad al Raegar ad Azaran