What is Pravic?

Pravic is a language from the science fiction novel The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. The language is spoken by the human inhabitants of the Moon Anarres, which forms a twin planet system with the planet Urras. A twin planet system happens where two worlds of roughly equal size orbit each other, and the scientific definition of a twin planet system is that the centre of orbit lies outside the masses of both bodies. The Earth and Moon do not form a twin planet system because the centre of orbit is about 1,000 km below the surface of the Earth; but Pluto and Charon do form a twin-body system, although neither are large enough to qualify as planets under the International Astronomical Union diktat of 2006.

Pravic is spoken universally across the planet/moon Anarres. It is a created language, formalised by an early settler, Farigv (all Annaresti names are single, short words of two or three syllables, allocated by a computer at birth; the early settlers all adopted two-syllable Anarresti names). Le Guin’s description of Pravic indicates that, while there is no effort to regulate the language, it remains largely true to Farigv's vision. This is mainly because of a common belief on Anarres that Pravic reflects an anarchistic way of seeing the Universe, and it therefore makes its speakers think differently about the Universe. In Le Guin’s books, several original scientific principles and novel solutions come from Anarres (including the Ansible, a device for instant communication over interstellar distances).

Because Pravic has developed for six generations with little or no outside influence, it is a distinctive language in many ways. Le Guin does not list these differences in detail; but she does emphasise the difficulty of asserting ownership in Pravic, the absence of possessive pronouns, and the lack of transactional language. While Pravic is, like all languages, a tool for negotiation to meaning, Le Guin does not intend that it lends itself easily to contractual forms of negotiation.

For more on the culture of Anarres and the language Pravic, read The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin. It was first published in 1974, and was recently re-released in 2015 in a Harper Perennial Olive Edition. It is a science fiction classic; but, more than that, it is a classic exploration of human nature which richly deserves much wider recognition.

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Goweprus vaGogeksy Tyre aPag

stoCoprepag Goserify

Speech is sharing - a cooperative art.

You're not sharing,

merely egoizing.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Speech is for-sharing, for-everyone.

The-known-thing is-for not-sharing,

the-known-thing is-for only the-speaker.

Fesh Pone gruBoth, gruthaTRuv.

aTRum gruPone miBoth,

aTRum gruPone STeku aKSotrekv.