See also: Discworld (world)
This article concerns the fictional geography of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, featured in the long running series of novels of the same name. The Discworld, as its name implies, is a flat disc on the backs of four elephants, who are in turn on the back of a giant turtle, Great A'Tuin.
Geography of the DiscworldEdit
The Disc itself is roughly 10,000 miles wide, giving it a surface area two fifths that of the Earth. Its principal geographic feature, other than its flatness, is the Cori Celesti, a great, 10-mile-high spire of rock that lies at its exact centre and is the point of origin for its standing magical field. The Cori Celesti is also the location of Dunmanifestin, the home of the Disc's many gods, a nod towards Mount Olympus. The area including the Cori Celesti is known as The Hub, a land of high, icebound mountains that serves as an analogue both to the Himalayas and to Earth's polar regions (since, although the Disc has no poles as such, it is as far as possible from the Disc's edge and thus the sun). The areas closer to the Rim are warmer and tropical, since the Disc's sun passes closer to them in its orbit. At the Rim, a great, encircling waterfall (the Rimfall) sends the Disc's oceans cascading into space. The Last Hero hints that the rocks jutting out from the Rimfall could be home to their own, as yet undiscovered cultures.
Directions within the Discworld are not given as North, South, East and West, but rather as directions relating to the disc itself: Hubward (towards the centre), Rimward (away from the centre) and to a lesser extent, turnwise and widdershins (relation to the direction of the disc's spin).
There are four main continents on the Disc, along with a number of geographical and political regions and islands. The majority of the Disc's landmass is composed of a single supercontinent comprising a large main region and a smaller Counterweight Continent, an island connected to an ice cap. The main region comprises the Unnamed Continent upon which most of the novels are set, and on the opposite side of the Circle Sea the Continent Klatch. The island continent of Fourecks is the smallest of the four.
The Circle SeaEdit
The Circle Sea is an almost landlocked body of water approximately halfway between the Hub and the Rim, opening at the Turnwise side into the Rim Ocean. The Circle Sea is analogous to the Mediterranean, in that it is bordered both by countries on the Sto Plains (Europe) and continent of Klatch (Middle East, North Africa). Its principal trading ports are Ankh-Morpork, on the Sto Plains coast, and Al Khali and Ephebe on the Rimwards side. Discworld civilization, which can broadly be defined as those countries that have invented the fork as well as the knife, is found around the Circle Sea's historic coasts. The countries around the Circle Sea are Ankh-Morpork, Ephebe, Djelibeybi, Klatch, Omnia and Tsort. The Circle Sea is the location of Leshp, an island that occasionally rises to the surface on a cushion of foul-smelling gas, before settling back to the seafloor once more. Leshp's last appearance sparked a near-war between Ankh-Morpork and Klatch in Jingo.
The most notable nation to lie on the Rim (it actually juts slightly over it) is Krull, an island kingdom whose economy is largely based on the capture and salvage of nautical wreckage as it heads towards the Rimfall. To aid in this, the Krullians constructed the Disc's largest manmade object; the Circumfence, a great net that extends across a third of the Disc's perimeter. Now in disrepair, it is still maintained by the occasional guardian, such as Tethys the sea troll.
Due to its unique position, Krull is one of the Disc's main centres of astronomical and astrological learning; indeed until recently, its high priest was also its chief astronomer. Krull possesses a magical University and, unlike the Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork, the Krullians have no problem educating female wizards. Krullians are noted for their habitual nervousness and fatalism, the product of spending their lives overlooking a bottomless black abyss of infinity. On the Disc, the phrase "being on edge" is a reference to the Krullians.
The Unnamed ContinentEdit
This is the unnamed continent on which most of the books are set. It is essentially the equivalent of Europe, and contains among other things the Sto Plains and Ramtops, as well as the more Eastern European lands around Überwald.
The Sto Plains are the rough analogue to Western Europe on the Discworld. They are a land of rich black loam, upon which rests a great squat forest of cabbages. The cabbage has an almost mythic status among the people of the Sto Plains, and is an emblem of its largest and dominant city, Ankh-Morpork. Most young people who leave the farming areas of the Plains for life in the big city would happily never see a cabbage again.
Although they have been an empire in the past, the Sto Plains currently exist as a loose collection of independent city-states, ruled over by a close-knit (and probably interrelated) ruling class. The Sto Plains could be thought of as being similar to Germany prior to the unification of the states into the German Empire, with no overall authority. According to Mort the area is to be united in the coming decades. As reality was given a retcon in the book, the Duke who united the Sto Plains was Mort, and he did it by diplomacy rather than conquest.
- Principal export: Cabbages
- Flora: Cabbages
- Fauna: Things that eat cabbages and do not mind not having any friends
The principal city of the Sto Plains is Ankh-Morpork, and while it doesn't exert any political power over its neighbors, its economic domination of the region (summed up by the phrase, "Attack us and we'll call in your mortgages") has meant that the smaller cities around it are essentially its satellites.
Pseudopolis (its name means "fictitious city") is the nearest major city to Ankh-Morpork, (approximately a half day's journey by horse) and is first mentioned in the first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic. That novel also refers to Psephopololis, which according to The Discworld Mapp is the same place. The city is not to be confused with Pseudopolis Yard, the headquarters of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch - which is a reference to Scotland Yard. Pseudopolis possesses a school of magic, Braseneck College, (a parody of Brasenose College, Oxford) which is apparently in competition for prestige with the larger, older Unseen University. Eric Thursley lives/lived at 13 Midden Lane (
Faust Eric). Charlie, a man with an extraordinary physical resemblance to Ankh-Morpork Patrician Havelock Vetinari, ran a clothes shop there (The Truth). Nobby Nobbs had an early career as an armourer in one of the Pseudopolis city militias. Curiously (and this may be no more than a coincidence, although given Nobby's penchant for nicking and flogging anything not nailed down there may be a connection) Pseudopolis always lost its wars at this period because of an unaccountable shortage of weapons. John Keel, a city watchman moved to Ankh-Morpork from Pseudopolis and was the mentor of the young Sam Vimes (Night Watch).
Quirm is the kind of place people retire to when they've had enough interesting things happen to them. Home of the Quirm College for Young Ladies. Quirm may be considered as similar to France, or possibly Belgium. Presumed birth place of Leonard of Quirm.
Sto Helit is a duchy within Sto Lat, which was given to Mort in Mort after he saved Queen Kelirehenna. After his death in Soul Music, his duchy apparently was passed to his daughter, Susan. She works as a teacher now but apparently, as of Thief of Time, she still is duchess of Sto Helit.
The Ramtops are the Discworld's principal mountain range. Across their vast extent, from the Hub to the Rim, they incorporate elements from virtually every noted mountain range on our world, from the Scottish Highlands (Lancre) to the Himalayas (the High Tops) to Appalachia (Slice). They are the Disc's main magical conduit, as they lie like a metal rod across the centre of the Disc's magical field (indeed, the source of the field, the Cori Celesti, is technically part of the Ramtops), and are thus alive with unreality. Portals to various otherworlds dot the range's hidden crevices; "gnarly ground" compresses vast areas of land into tiny patches, and witches, wizards, and godlike monks practice their arts in secluded communities. Due to a relative rarity of flat surfaces, kingdoms in the Ramtops tend to be small, isolated, and sparsely populated. Much of the economy is agrarian and communities largely consist of loosely affiliated groups of self-sufficient farms. The Ramtops are known for their harsh winters; snow drifts can rise up to fifteen feet during the worst storms. "Ramtoppers have 18 words for snow," Pratchett says, "none of them printable."
One of the biggest and best known of the myriad Ramtop kingdoms is Lancre. Regions in Lancre include:
- Lancre Town (capital)
- Bad Ass (Birthplace of Eskarina the female wizard in Equal Rites)
- Brass Neck (next valley over from Bad Ass, birthplace of Archchancellor Cutangle)
- Mad Stoat (Home village of Magrat Garlick, mentioned in Wyrd Sisters)
- Mad Wolf (mentioned in Wyrd Sisters)
- Ohulan Cutash (sometimes known as "Ohulan", 15 miles from Bad Ass)
The lands around the Hub, also called the High Tops, are icy, mountainous and cold. They are also the areas closest to the Cori Celesti, and so are crackling with magic. They are roughly equivalent to Earth's Himalayas, being home to Yeti and various Buddhist-style monastic orders, such as the History Monks, which give the area the nickname "Enlightenment Country". They are also the closest thing the Disc has to a pole, and so are home to its equivalent of polar bears and walruses, mentioned in The Last Hero.
Around the RamtopsEdit
The countries in the foothills of the Ramtops retain the rural, agrarian character of the mountains, but possess their own unique cultures.
Überwald is a country on the other side of the Ramtops from Lancre and Ankh-Morpork which bears some resemblance to the Hammer horror version of Transylvania. "Überwald" ("over -i.e. beyond- the forest") is the literal German translation of "Transylvania" from Latin. Pratchett himself has described it as "the mysterious vampire-ridden domain of Uberwald, whose fragmentation into smaller states after the breakup of the Evil Empire is occupying a lot of politicians' minds", which parallels the rise of independent states in Eastern Europe, including Romania, the modern-day state containing Transylvania, following the fall of the Soviet Union. Although it has a large human population, they play a secondary role in the region's history. It is ruled by its dwarfs, vampires and werewolves. Regions in Überwald include:
- Bad Blintz (famous for its Rat Piper; Blintz is a Russian pancake)
- Bad Schüschein ("Bad" is a common prefix in German town names, meaning bath)
- Bonk (pronounced "Bey-onk," featured in The Fifth Elephant)
- Bugs (a Diet was held here, in much the same fashion as the Diet of Worms)
- Escrow (a play on "in escrow"; featured in Carpe Jugulum)
- Kashnkari (a play on "cash and carry")
- Klotz (in the valley of the Ah River)
- Lipwig (pronounced with a V rather than a W. Known for breeding large and ferocious dogs-Lipwigzers; Birthplace of Moist von Lipwig)
- Scant Cullot (border village) (a play on "sans culottes")
- Slake (between Lancre & Überwald)
- Wilinus Pass (probably a play on Vilnius and "villainous".
Borogravia is located Rimwards of Überwald, on the Discworld's unnamed main continent. The capital city is PrinceMarmadukePiotreAlbertHansJosephBernhardtWilhelmsberg, possibly a parody of St. Petersburg. The recent history of Borogravia consists mainly of fighting wars with every other country in the area (most notably Zlobenia), for various ill-defined reasons. The current war with Zlobenia has gone on for so long that nobody can remember what it was about. Borogravia is a Duchy, and as such is ruled by a Duke or Duchess. The ruler at the time of Monstrous Regiment was Duchess Annagovia, who has achieved virtual godhood among the people. The Borogravians' principal god is (or rather was) Nuggan. Prayers to the Duchess generally ask for intercession with Nuggan. At some point (see Thief of Time) Borogravia was noted for its chocolate. However, since Nuggan disliked chocolate, this may no longer be the case. In Night Watch, it is mentioned in passing that Borogravia has invaded Mouldavia. Borogravian regions include:
- Kneck Keep
- Kneck River
- PrinceMarmadukePiotreAlbertHansJosephBernhardtWillhelmsberg (capital)
Zlobenia (name reminiscent of Slovenia) with its capital Rigour (probably a play on Riga) is a principality ruled by Prince Heinrich, who is described as tall, handsome, and smug. It has fought numerous wars with Borogravia, usually territorial disputes over the River Kneck, which forms the border between the two nations and frequently changes its course after flooding. Zlobenia's soldiers wear blue uniforms. Borogravians call Zlobenians 'swede eaters'. Heinrich has visions of making Zlobenia "the Ankh-Morpork of the mountains", much to the amusement of Samuel Vimes. Heinrich is also heir to the Borogravian throne after the death of the Duchess Annagovia. In Monstrous Regiment he declares war against Borogravia to assert his claim.
The Chalk is an area of rolling chalk downland near Lancre, bearing a great resemblance to Pratchett's native Wiltshire. The "soft" geology of the area is, according to some mountain witches, not conducive to the channelling of magic. In fact this is a misconception (the bones of the hills are flint), and powerful witches can and do reside there, although the local baron has outlawed witchcraft, meaning they do not identify themselves as such. Home of Tiffany Aching.
Llamedos is a land noted for its druids, its bards, and its rain. Rain is the chief export of Llamedos; it has rain mines. Holly is the one plant that can grow in the Llamedos's climate; everything else just rots. Llamedos is run by druids, who dot the land with stone circles used for computation. This is a lifetime job, since they frequently need upgrading. Llamedos is a fairly obvious parody of the British nation Wales. Its annual bardic competition, the Eisteddfod, is still held in Wales. The name is a reference to Dylan Thomas's radio play "Under Milk Wood", for which he created the fictitious Welsh town of Llareggub ("bugger all" spelled backwards). Llamedos, accordingly, is "Sod 'em all", spelled backwards. The inhabitants tend to speak with a doubled-L accent, i.e. "Llots of lluck!"
Octarine Grass CountryEdit
The Octarine Grass Country is an area of rich farmland which, thanks to its proximity to the Ramtops, also happens to be saturated with magic -- so much so, in fact, that it is possible to grow re-annual crops; crops that germinate and grow the spring before you plant them. This is the homeland of Mort.
Beyond the Sto PlainsEdit
Far beyond the Sto Plains and the Ramtops, yet still on the Unnamed Continent, lie a number of disparate cultures, most of which have only been mentioned briefly in the novels; the most notable is the small city of Genua, a Morporkian-speaking nation that bears some resemblance to New Orleans. Others include Brindisi, a very Italianate culture, and No Thingfjord, a Nordic culture of ice and interminable sagas.
The continent of KlatchEdit
The continent of Klatch consists of that part of the Discworld's super continent that is rimwards of the Circle Sea. Like the distinction between Europe and Asia, the difference between Klatch and the unnamed continent that Ankh-Morpork stands upon is arbitrary and cultural rather than geographically evident. The continent includes the Circle Sea states of Ephebe, Tsort, Djelibeybi, Omnia, and the more rimwards territories of Howondaland, Tezumen Empire, Betrek, Smale, Klatchistan, and Muntab. It can be thought of as roughly equivalent to Africa in our world.
In the words of Terry Pratchett: "Not loosely based on Africa at all. Honestly."
The Nation KlatchEdit
Klatch is also the name of the continent's largest nation; a multi-ethnic empire rimwards to turnwise of the Circle Sea. It resembles medieval Arabic states, and has a political system similar to the Ottoman Empire. Its capital is Al Khali (popularly known as 'the Gateway to the mysterious continent of Klatch'), and it includes outlying regions such as Hersheba and Syrrit. Regions within the country of Klatch part of the Klatchian Empire include:
- Al Khali (capital)
- Al-Ybi (Place where the number zero was invented; also the place people traditionally claim to have been while supposedly committing a crime)
- El-Ysa (The inhabitants were killed when their well was poisoned; Jingo)
- Eritor (coastal city)
- Gebra (heavily fortified harbour town)
- Tacticum (abandoned outpost of the former Ankh-Morpork Empire)
The Klatchian coastEdit
From the novels Small Gods and Pyramids the location of certain nations on the Klatchian coast can be determined; Djelibeybi separates Tsort and Ephebe, and Ephebe borders (an undetermined border in uninhabitable desert) Omnia.
Ephebe: An Ancient Greek-style city-state, known for its olives, its slaves and its philosophy. Described as a democracy, though more of a representative republic in the modern sense than an ancient Athenian-style democracy.
Djelibeybi: Once a sclerotic, decrepit, pyramid-infested land, now seeking a new identity as a free port. A parody of Ancient Egypt.
Tsort: A place known more in myth than reality (no books have yet been set there, with the possible exception of the events portrayed in Eric where a certain wizzard and Eric Thursley appear for a short stint), but historically the Disc's analogue to ancient Troy. Its enmity with Ephebe began with the famous Tsortean War, when King Mausoleum of Tsort kidnapped Queen Eleneor of Ephebe, leading to a siege that lasted for decades. To this day Tsort and Ephebe believe there is a place for giant wooden horses in combat. Tsort possesses a Great Pyramid, although pyramid-building has long been out of fashion and - no doubt because of the example of nearby Djelibeybi - modern Tsorteans scorn the things. Tradition claims Tsort was razed by the armies of Ephebe under Lavaeolus, and that it was home to the famed Tsortean Knot until the Knot was undone — sliced in half — by Carelinus. The people of Tsort worship all manner of gods, some of which seem to comprise all the bits the other gods had left over. The river Tsort bisects the desert rimwards of Al Khali.
Omnia is a desert theocracy ruled by the Cenobiarch, the head of the Omnian Church, from the Citadel in the capital city of Kom (a sort of cross between Jerusalem and the Vatican, though its name is probably derived from Qom). After writing a book called the Book of Om. A new Religion started called Omnianism. When Omnianism was an intolerant religion it was known for its empire building, as it conquered neighbouring countries in the name of the Great God Om (Perhaps an interpretation of the Crusades). After Brutha became the Cenobiarch, the country reversed directions, and became the home of a renowned theological college and library. These days it is known for the constant arguing amongst the clergy, as new interpretations of Brutha's teachings spring up every day. The currency of Omnia is the obol.
Howondaland is the Discworld's principal "jungle" region. It lies on the Klatchian continent, and is the Disc's rough analogue to Sub-Saharan Africa, although the Tezumen Empire connects it to Mesoamerica as well. Howondaland isn't so much a country as a blank patch on the map. Just as "darkest Africa" remained largely unexplored until the 19th century, "darkest Klatch" is largely unknown to most Discworlders. Exploration of the land has been hampered by the habit of explorers ending up nailed to trees. Its name is probably a play on Gondwanaland.
The Great Nef is a vast desert on the Klatchian continent, noted mainly for containing the Dehydrated Ocean, an ocean consisting of dehydrated water. Dehydrated water is a peculiar substance found only in areas of high magical concentration. It resembles fine sand, but can be reconstituted into normal water by adding water. The Dehydrated Ocean is home to its own, unique, kinds of fish. The name "Nef" is a reversal of fen, a type of wetland.
Only briefly mentioned in the books, Hersheba is a small desert kingdom rimwards of Klatchian empire, practically on the more-or-less vague boundary of Howondaland. The country is said to be ruled by a queen who lives forever (probably a reference to H. Rider Haggard's She). The nomadic tribes known as the D'regs occupy areas of Hersheba as well as Klatch. Depredations against Klatch by Hersheban D'regs, Hersheba by Klatchian D'regs and both sides by their own D'regs has led to the border being in a permanent state of war. The name is a play on Hershey bar and also resembles Israeli Beersheba; Pratchett initially suggested it as an alternative name for Djelibeybi, to aid Americans mystefied by the pun.
Very little is known about the Theocracy of Muntab. Its ruler is known as a Pash (Lu-Tze, the History Monk, once had to make sure one of them choked on a fishbone). It is often used as a generic third-world country, as in "Eat your dinner, there are starving children in Muntab who'd be glad to have that!" It is more or less on the border between the continent of Klatch and the Unnamed Continent, and is located more or less rimwards of Borogravia. Muntab is known to be eager to emerge as a dominant nation in the modern world, and is suspected to have ambitions to conquer the hubward nations, most notably Borogravia. As a result, it figures into the famous political problem, the Muntab Question - most often quoted as "Where's Muntab?", but in serious political discussion is more likely to concern which side the more developed nations would fall in a war between Muntab and Borogravia. Muntab is very likely one of the nations in the Alliance that Borogravia is fighting in Monstrous Regiment. Muntab's calendar counts down. No-one really knows why, but it's probably NOT a good reason to stay there to see for oneself.
The Tezumen Empire is a jungle civilisation in the darkest depths of Howondaland that resembles the Aztecs. They are renowned as the most pessimistic and angst-ridden culture on the Disc; their writing is engraved on giant slabs of stone rather than more conveniently written on paper, the better to beat yourself to death against when finished. Large discs of precisely-carved stone with holes in the middle are used for almost every imaginable purpose except making wheels, a technology which they have not yet discovered. Before the events in Eric, they worshiped the "feathered boa" Quezovercoatl, but have since tired of gods and killed all their priests.
The Counterweight ContinentEdit
The Counterweight Continent is situated on the opposite edge of the Discworld from the Unnamed Continent and Klatch. It is smaller than these other two landmasses but acts as a counterweight because its crust is made up largely of gold and octiron, both dense, heavy metals. It is (roughly) comma-esque in shape, and the tip of the comma extends all the way up to the ice cap at the Hub. Its closest point to the Unnamed Continent is about 15 miles away but, as the channel is under an ice cap, it is often referred to as an isthmus. The cultures of the Counterweight Continent are a play upon those of our world's Far East, or at least Western perceptions of it. In a pun on the Orient, it is also known as the Aurient, from the Latatian (Latin) word 'aurum' (gold), meaning 'the place where gold comes from'.
The Counterweight Continent is home to the large and extremely rich Agatean Empire, which more or less leaves the rest of the Disc alone. The Discworld Mapp claims its name to be Lauragatea, however it appears to be the name used by the only professional geologist wizard, Venter Borass. It is featured in Mort and is the location for much of Interesting Times.
- Agatean Empire (featured in Interesting Times)
EcksEcksEcksEcks or Fourecks (previously known as XXXX or Terror Incognita) is clearly influenced by Australian culture, as seen in The Last Continent. Both a country and a continent, it is a largely desert land which for some time remained unfinished. It was created some time after the rest of the Discworld by the old man who carries the universe in a sack. Lu-Tze and other sources tell us that on Fourecks time and space are very twisted up and there is a big time source right in the middle (probably the Red Rock, the Ecksian version of Uluru).
Both the flora and fauna of the continent is extremely dangerous, as Death's Library attests. The indigenous population are very similar to Indigenous Australians, with a strong mythology. There is also a population of Ankh-Morporkian settlers, from various shipwrecks. The capital of Fourecks is evidently Bugarup.
Other locations on the supercontinentEdit
- Ankh (river)
- be Trobi Islands
- Brown Islands
- Caderack Mountains
- Chimeria (home of Hrun the Barbarian, parody of Cimmeria)
- Chirm (city-state?) (Part of the Sto Plains Kingdom on the border between Ankh-Morpork and the Omnian Empire)
- Hergen - little is known about Hergen, except that the 'Seven Heroes of Hergen' come from there.
- Istanzia - little known, but large enough to feel the need to have an Ambassador in Ankh-Morpork. (Part of the Omnian Empire formerly during the Century Of the Fruit Bat.)
- Koom Valley (Thud!)
- Mouldavia (mentioned in Night Watch and Monstrous Regiment) - most likely a reference to Moldavia
- Rammerock Mountains
- Scrote (village)
- Skund (a forest between Ankh Morpork and Ohulan Cultash; the name means "Your finger, you fool" in the local language)
- Smarl River (longest river on the Discworld)
- Wyrmberg (inverted mountain, featured in The Colour of Magic)
- Zemphis (city on the Ankh river, featured in Equal Rites)
The Disc is home to a variety of languages, most based on those found in the real world. Alongside those of the non-human species (such as Dwarfs, Trolls and orangutans), the Disc's languages include:
Morporkian is the principal language of the novels, and sounds remarkably similar to modern English. It is spoken in Ankh-Morpork, Lancre, Sto Lat and other regions of the Sto Plains and the Ramtops. Morporkian colonies such as Genua and Fourecks also speak it.
The language of the small statelet of Quirm, which sounds remarkably like modern French. Is sometimes used in fancy restaurants. In Making Money the bank's dog chef, Aimsbury, speaks fluent 'Quirmian'(which is in fact French) when in a mania caused by hearing the word 'garlic'.
Spoken in the nation of Klatch, Klatchian sounds similar to Arabic. Like Arabic, it employs the "al-" article. When written in the text, it appears as English in a classical "Arabian Nights"-style font.
Pratchett describes it as "very bad doggy Latin." It is most often seen in the mottoes of the noble families, civic organisations and Guilds of Ankh-Morpork.
The classic example is the motto of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch; "Fabricati Diem, Pvnc". This is complete nonsense in Latin, but looks like it means "Make my Day, Punk" (see Dirty Harry), although Sergeant Colon insists it means "To Protect and Serve".
Latatian is also sometimes used by wizards when casting spells. It is also used by wizards and (a satire of the real world) doctors and lawyers to prevent laymen from knowing what they're saying, as in Albert's response to mysterious writing, "Sodomy non sapiens" ("I'm buggered if I know"), Rincewind's Stercus stercus stercus Moriturus Sum ("Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, I'm going to die") and the Morporkian legal principle "Acquiris Quodcumque Rapis" ("You Get What You Grab").
The motto of the Omnian Quisition seems Latatian in origin: Cuius testiculos habet, cardia et cerebellum habeat ("When you have their full attention in your grasp, you will have their hearts and minds also"). When translated to actual Latin, it means to have their testicles in your grasp, a move explaining the actions of Om on his avian assailant at the time of this phrase's mentioning.
Spoken in the Agatean Empire. Bears a remarkable resemblance to Chinese. It is written in complicated pictograms and strangely enough, an exclamation mark is a urinating dog. Only minor differences in pronunciation completely alter the meaning of a word (similar to the way words of tonal languages such as Chinese may sound identical to the untrained ear) and foreigners (and people from the seaport Bes Pelargic) often make mistakes. For example, the words for "pushcart sail", "immense rock" and "venerableness" seem to be pretty much the same. More examples can be found throughout "Interesting Times".