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Old August 29 2008, 06:38 AM   #1
Nerys Ghemor
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Location: Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--Background Thread

After consulting via PM with RevdKathy to determine where this material should go, I'm opening this single thread for all of the background development I'm doing for the Star Trek: Sigils and Unions continuity.

The majority of the material will be background into the Cardassian Union--its culture, geography (of Cardăsa Terăm...that is, Cardassia Prime), history, language, and so on...since there was so much about Cardassian culture beyond the Orwellian surface that was left for speculation.



Tonight, I'll begin with the Cardassian Guard's rank system as I envision it. Though some parts of it match the system you see in the Terok Nor novels, I have made significant modifications based on two things: a differing interpretation of the rank of "glinn," and the need to use terms in some cases that were more fitting to what I imagine of Cardăsda (the official language of the Cardassian Union).

(Information about the proper pronunciation of these and other Cardăsda words, and the differences between Ilojan and Federation Standard transliterations will come later--some FS transliterations are approximate only!)

Here are the ranks, their Ilojan transliterations, rough Starfleet equivalents, and etymologies. If you're familiar with the structure of Semitic languages like Hebrew and Arabic, you'll notice some similarities in the roots from which words form. In Cardăsda, however, roots may contain consonant clusters, and some may be biconsonantal rather than consisting of three consonants (or consonant groups).

Legate (Thăkliv) Admiral (th-kl-v: to shape/mould)

Gul (Gul) Captain/Fleet Captain (g-l: to command)
Glinn (Glin) Lieutenant Commander/Commander (gl-n: to stand)
Dalin (Dalin) Lieutenant (d-l-n: to channel)
Riyak (Riyăk) Lieutenant (j.g.) (r-y-k: to specialize)

Ragosh (Ragoç) Ensign/Chief (r-g-ç: to link)

Gorr (Gor) Petty Officer (g-r: to support)
Garresh (Garheç) Crewman (g-rh-ç: to obey)

Please note that the Starfleet rank equivalencies are very rough: Cardassian ranks are best understood on their own terms. The key for those not in a position to actually observe a Cardassian Guard crew at work is to envision the meanings behind the ranks as illustrated by their roots. The chart above also gives something of an idea; as you will see, there are fewer ranks in general than Starfleet, as within ranks, age seniority plays a greater (although uncodified) role than it would in Starfleet, and there are four general categories of ranks, with two (Legate and Ragosh) standing by themselves.

The rank of Thăkliv, commonly translated into Federation Standard as “Legate” (due to difficulties in pronouncing the sound represented by ‘th’ in Ilojan transliteration) is one who shapes Central Command policy. Younger legates tend to continue operating in the field, though not on the front lines: they are often seen commanding an Order, all forces on Cardassia’s larger colony worlds, for example. An older legate, such as the late Tekeny Ghemor, takes greater part in the policy-making aspects.

A Gul is one who commands a significantly-sized unit: for example, a Gălor-class warship, a large planetary troop garrison (of several hundred men), or holds certain influential administrative positions.

A Glin, commonly transliterated as “glinn,” is one who stands by his or her gul, figuratively speaking. In almost all cases, two glinns report to a gul: on a warship, the glinns hold the positions of XO and chief engineer—one to maintain the infrastructure and function of the ship itself, one to help the gul in managing that ship’s personnel and interactions with the galaxy. Though both glinns hold the same rank, it is acknowledged that the XO is the senior of the two and while the engineer usually defers to the XO, it is the gul who breaks impasses between the two.

(This is a rank that I have chosen to break from the Terok Nor novel system on as evidence suggests that glinns tend to have wider-ranging duties than one would expect of a junior officer—Damar’s function under Dukat’s command in particular points in this direction. I did also like the Terok Nor rank of “dalin,” but I have placed it directly under glinn. You might now question why Gul Macet brought both of his glinns aboard the Enterprise—why would all three of the Trager’s senior officers go onto the vessel of a borderline-enemy? I have decided Macet was deliberately sending a message to Picard even though he did not always show it with his words, that he was going well out of his way to work together with him, including that act of trust. This may be a reason Picard took Macet’s intent to keep the peace seriously even though he knew Central Command was re-arming.)

A Dalin is one who channels inputs from varying specialties to develop comprehensive scenarios and reports that gul and glinns will use to decide their ship’s course of action. Operations and tactical officers are notable examples on the bridge crew of a typical Gălor, as well as several positions in engineering, medical, and other fields. While a dalin tends to have particular strength in a certain field, he or she typically has cross-trained in other areas with relations to his or her own field to understand how they impact one another.

A Riyak is one who specializes in a particular field, supervising others in that same specialty. In civilian society, this would typically represent skilled professions and trades—shipboard, this might include such positions as navigator, security chief, head of linguistics, a fighter pilot, and similar positions. This is the lowest rank that can be directly equated to the Federation’s idea of an “officer.” Highly-skilled professionals, when conscripted, enter at this rank: lawyers, doctors, engineers, and so on.

A Ragoç, commonly transliterated into Federation Standard as “ragosh,” links the ships’ officer contingent to the lower decks. Ragosh is a rank with similarities to both a Starfleet Ensign and Chief—one could easily imagine Chief O’Brien holding the rank of ragosh were he serving in the Cardassian Guard. There are two ways to earn this rank: to enter the Guard as an officer—typically an individual with a university or advanced trade school education, or to earn the rank by working one’s way up through the “conscriptee” ranks. This leads to some very interesting dynamics between certain ra’agouç since the rank holds a combination of “green” young people and seasoned veterans and there is an interplay between age and position that determines seniority within this rank.

(What follows are Terok Norranks again.)

A Gor, commonly transliterated as “gorr,” supports the ragosh and officer staff and does supervise younger conscriptees, but is generally part of carrying out policy rather than playing any role in shaping it. (Consider the role of an assistant manager or shift supervisor in many Terran retail settings.)

A Garheç, commonly transliterated as “garresh,” obeys the orders of superiors in the carrying-out of his or her day-to-day work. This is the equivalent of “crewman” in Starfleet ranks—typically just out of preparatory school (the Cardassian equivalent of high school) and while very often a conscriptee, is sometimes a person coming from an economically-disadvantaged background who has entered the military for career experience and a ticket to trade-school education upon separation.
Are you a Cardassian fan, citizen? Prove your loyalty--check out my fanfic universe, Star Trek: Sigils and Unions. Or keep the faith on my AU Cardassia, Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius!
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