18 June 2012

Why the word Z'eph?

Okay, I know this isn't exactly erotic but…

Some have wondered about the word Z’eph, where it comes from and why I don’t just use the normal English translation, lesbian.

Firstly, since I’ve been curious about the word for a while as well, I did some digging.

Northern Realm usage seems to trace back to the Astemerian word “Ze’phaere”, a contraction of the words for One “Zel” and Soul “Phaere”. It was an adjective used to describe any two people that were madly in love and inseparable. First usage in Northern (circa 3100 AQ) was Zepha, with a similar meaning but with the connotation that both people were of the same sex. Likely this was due to Astemeria’s historical reputation for sexual openness and experimentation. By 3300 it was not just used to describe couples, but also any one person that was sexually interested in members of the same sex. Around this time the word was also shortened to a single syllable and written as Z’eph.

With the reign of Queen Emperor Ysabel (3741-3765), commonly known as The Z’eph Queen, the definition shifted to only indicate a women who was sexually interested in other women.

Now, why don't I just use the word lesbian? Mainly because when you hear the word Z'eph spoken in the Northern Realms it has overtones that the English word doesn’t. There is an air of mysticism and people speak it with a hint of awe in their voice. I suspect that much of this traces back to Ysabel, The Z’eph Queen; she is almost universally remembered, not only as a Saint, but almost a Goddess in human guise. I think the fact that she was also Z’eph has left most people with the sense that all Z’eph women carry with them at least a hint of her magic.

And beyond all that, I just like the way Z'eph rolls off my tongue :)