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Giving Directions
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You're probably not prepared.
This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 10 Feb 2020, 05:32.

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The angels that speak Lamallu navigate their world with precision. Instead of describing location in terms of "to the left" or "in front of", they use cardinal directions. On the ground, this means that an angel would say that one is north of another, or that they are west of the building. Instead of telling someone to "turn left at the fork" they would tell them to turn east at the fork (assuming the left fork went east). This relies on an inherent sense of magnetic north that allows angels to know their direction no matter where in the world they are.


Additionally, they recognize 7 major points of distinction between each compass point. These points are not conveyed through compound words such as "northeast" or "southsouthwest", but through the usage of a different musical chord on the vowel of the direction. Only the Major chord for each note is used. The notes move in clockwise order that ascends and descends through the scale. From North to East the points of distinction move from A Major at North to G Major at East. From East to South they move from G Major at East to A Major at South, and so on around the compass rose.

north-northeast 1east-southeast 1
north-northeast 2east-southeast 2
east-northeast 1south-southeast 1
east-northeast 2south-southeast 2

Directionality in Three Dimensions
Now, cardinal directions are good for 2D location and direction of travel. These are not the only direction words that Lamallu uses. There are four more terms which are used to pinpoint an angel's location on the 3D plane.


This is where things start getting complicated. Angels interpret the world in a functionally different way from humans. They need to be able to coordinate acts such as flying in formation, clocking air currents, or avoiding obstacles. Humans see the world from the ground, and so our understanding of space is usually limited by the ground beneath our feet. Angels, however, see the world like this:

(A stick-figure angel in a diagram of a sphere.)

This means that angels have an awareness of extended space not only above and around them, but below them as well. From whence comes the question: how do you give a bird directions? When you have the option to move up and down and out as well as forward and back, side to side, how do you explain both where you are and where you are going, or where something else is that you might need to look out for?

Humans accomplish this by using relative directional terms such as "over here" or "up there", or demonstratives like "this/that", and pointing. However, this system can be imperfect, as another person generally needs to be looking from the same angle and level that you are to see precisely what you are pointing at, especially if the object is far away.

(A stick-figure comic where one human points to the distance, saying "Over there." Another human on a lower level asks, "Huh? Where?" The human from before gets on the same level as the first person. The first clarifies, "There." The second understands now, saying "Ooh.")

This has the potential to be a major problem for angels, who have even greater directions and distances to scan for obstacles or points of interest. Additionally, sound that carries across a large space may distort or echo, and make it hard to tell where your words are coming from. If an angel doesn't know where to look, they have to make a general scan of their surroundings and may not even focus on the right object within that territory.

(A comic where a human calls to an angel "Look out up there!" because an anvil is about to fall on their head. Alas, the angel has too many different places to look, and does not see it.)

The solution within Lamallu to this problem is to be unnervingly precise about distance, degree of elevation, and degree of rotation right or left from your position. In a human language, this might be a problem because we lack the ability to convey the same amount of information in a concise manner. In Lamallu, with access to 3 pitches, 7 notes, 4 chord types, and the ability to double and intensify chords, complex information can be conveyed instantly within the simple single-syllable direction words. But exactly what information do we need?

Breaking It Down
First, the angel must have a way of explaining their direction of travel or 2D reference location. This was explained beforehand, using the cardinal directions of the compass.

(An angel and their compass.)

Next, we need a way of explaining how far up or down you have to look, and how far you have to turn your head left or right to see where something is.

(A "compass" diagram with an angel in the center and an angle diagram.)

This is where the second set of direction words comes into play. In the table, I translated the direction words as "up/down", "left/right", but the more accurate terms would be pitch and yaw. These refer to rotation around a horizontal and vertical axis, respectively. Lamallu recognizes 7 points of distinction on each pitch or yaw, each point roughly corresponding to an angle increase of 15°. Again, only the Major musical chords are used, and they follow an ascending order from A to G on each direction from 0 to 90°.

pitch (up, 0°)
pitch (up, 45°)
yaw (right, 0°)
yaw (right, 45°)

(An owl-headed angel yaws its head 90° left to stare you dead in the eye. It would also be about to make a G major chord screech.)

So now we can explain our location in both sets of basic directions, but we're still dealing with at best a curved surface. To add points of depth, we need to be able to explain how far or close something is. Lamallu recognizes 3 points of distinction for proximity/distance: close, middle, and far.

(An angel looks into the distance. Far away is the sun, in the middle distance is a cloud, and close by there is a butterfly.)

Fortunately, Lamallu comes equipped with three musical pitches that it uses for this express purpose. The pitches are applied to the pitch word only.

[B˚ ]Far away and 15° above you
[C˚ ]Middling distance and 30° above you
[G˚ ]Very close and directly above you

Now, another angel would be able to give our poor angel from earlier a quick heads-up. In literal translation to English, this would seem very clunky.

(An angel calls to a friend, "Close-right-above!" and they instantly know to dodge an anvil falling from directly above them.)

Combining Directions
The technicalities are out of the way, and you are free to give directions to your local angel. However, all of the information you're giving them might sound a little weird in English...

(An angel calls to a friend, "I am flying south 45° above you if you turn your head 30° to the right, though I am quite far away." The other angel says, "Can you repeat that?") let's translate that back to Lamallu.

(The angel calls instead, "Pé mō tān," a simple call that conveys distance, height, location, and direction of travel.)

[D˚ ]Far away and 45° above you
[C˚ ]30° yaw to the right
tān [A˚ ]My direction of travel is due south
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