Common Topic

Elements of the Periodic Table (na Peris Kelem nar Lemmas Paj)

Keywords: chemistry, physics, science, AXZ, technical

The elements of the Periodic Table in modern High Common are essentially a reinvention of the system or lack thereof from earlier Common. During the early modern period, na Akkatemi na Xafen Zisse (Common Language Academy, AXZ) undertook efforts to coin massive amounts of technical vocabulary for Common as part of the Uxáfen movement (see related article linked below). The Periodic Table was in scope of this project. Common was in a real sense recreated during the early modern period. The names of the elements provide an interesting window and microcosm into how the AXZ dealt with the challenges, contradictions and necessary decisions in executing such a large and complicated project.

With the caveat that I am not a scientist, just to set the stage, an element is a pure chemical substance composed of atoms of a single type that cannot be broken down by ordinary chemical means into more basic substances. They are the building blocks of chemistry. An atom of an element has a certain, exact number of protons in its nucleus - that number of protons is the definition of the element. The protons determine the electric charge of the nucleus and ultimately the atom's chemical behaviour. The number of neutrons can vary, and these neutron number variants are what we call 'isotopes' of the element.

In chemistry, each element has a universal symbol that's the same no matter what language you speak and a name that can vary from language to language. The universal symbols for the elements are one or two letter codes, the first letter capitalised, like O for oxygen or Fe for iron. Those codes are all rooted in one of the element's names in some language or other, sometimes Latin names, sometimes even Latin names that have otherwise fallen by the wayside in modern languages, which is where we get Hg for Mercury, from the otherwise totally abandoned Latin 'Hydrargyrum'.

In Common, the Periodic Table of the Elements is called na Peris Kelem nar Lemmas Paj, approximately 'the cyclic table of the elementary substances'. Common doesn't have a single word translation for the word 'element', at least not in formal scientific writing, but in more casual speech one might just say 'ny lemma'.The horizontal rows, i.e., the periods of the table are called 'nar peri', and the columns, i.e., the families, are referred to as 'nar zereu'. The form of the table itself is, from what I understand as a non-scientist, almost exactly the same as the version we use in Britain, which is turn has been unchanged for at least a hundred years. The table organises the elements by repeating patterns in their chemical properties caused by the quantum mechanical properties of the negatively charged electrons attracted by each particular positively charged nucleus.

The names of elements in Common are all grammatical 'terms', and primarily used only in a noun context. In a verbal context, except in rare cases otherwise noted in the individual lexicon entries, they are intransitive pali verbs meaning to be composed of that substance. Derived as modifiers, they also usually have the sense of being composed of that substance. In scientific contexts they strictly have these narrow meanings, but some may have additional meanings in casual speech.

Pre-NWO Names in Common

Prior to the founding of the NWO and the AXZ, people speaking or writing in Common did find ways to refer to the names of the elements when they needed to, and it's probable that every single element had been used in a sentence in Common by someone sometime, at least in writing. The approach taken was ad hoc and inconsistent, however. There do also exist a small handful of 'native' element names that go back to Old Common which were used to refer to the element in question. Generally, writers would just pull in English words verbatim if a native word didn't exist, and speakers would just do their best, often using the English word if they knew it, and with varying degrees of adaption to the phonology of Common.


When you look at the state of internationalisation in the field of chemistry prior to the rise of the New World Order, you had some universals, like the letter-based symbols used for the elements, but the actual names of the elements vary from language to language. When you look at the names of the elements comprehensively, you see that different languages may broadly agree on the source used to name a particular element, or in some cases there is divergence, with languages generally falling into broad categories around these choices. A minority of languages ignored this imperative of broad recognisability and went entirely in their own direction in naming many of the elements. For any element, though, there was usually a most recognisable 'majority' naming source, which was generally aligned with the choice of letters for the elementary symbol.

There are also a few elements which have been known for hundreds of years and which have deep linguistic roots in natural languages, like iron and gold. Languages tended to use their native names for these elements even when they were quite different than the source for the element's symbol. Iron is an excellent example, where English-speaking chemists always referred to the element using the ancient native word 'iron', but the symbol Fe comes from Latin Ferrum.

The AXZ had a number of different directions they could have gone in to fully complete the Periodic Table. Two sensible and coherent approaches they could have taken would have been to codify and clean up current use but keep it continuous and stable, or to give everything a sensible etymology in Common and nativise everything. The AXZ opted for neither. The following basic principles were applied to create the modern Periodic Table:

  1. All chemical element symbols to be kept. This was actually a serious debate, because letters that aren't a part of the standard Common alphabet (i.e., b, d, g, q and v) are used in chemical symbols. However, these letters, while deprecated and more difficult to type, are still used in the official spellings of some words. The debate within the AXZ fell on the side of maintaining continuity with the symbols.
  2. The names of the elements must align with their symbols, meaning that non-standard letters would be used, but only to the extent necessary. This will inform the choice of source for each element name.
  3. The element name will be a root, and not have any intelligible etymology from the perspective of Common.
  4. The names will be based on existing names but aside from the point about keeping non-standard letters to align with the symbols, will be changed arbitrarily as necessary to align well with Common phonology and phonotactics.
  5. The existing name chosen as an inspiration will align with English, the former default language of international science, if possible, otherwise, will prioritise preserving a modicum of recognisability..
  6. Generally try and shorten words and remove 'unnecessary' grammatical endings from the source languages, since these are deemed not to convey important information. Some people really liked the -ium ending associated with elements and wanted the new Common element names to consistently contain a suffix identifying them as elements, but the choice to make all element names roots caused these proposals to generally lose out. .
  7. If an -ium or -um ending is kept, prefer to refactor it as -o.
  8. Don't shorten too much. Where these are roots but, ironically, are not very fundamental or useful roots linguistically, they should not take up the most valuable monosyllabic phonological real estate and should avoid collisions with existing Common words or words that the AXZ might want to use for a different purpose in the Uxáfen project.
  9. Preservation of spelling is more important than preservation of pronunciation, once the above is taken into account, but there can be exceptions (e.g., 'na posfor' for Phosphorus, the first P to align with the rule that the chemical symbol must be reflected in the element name, but the F because apparently 'na pospor' was a bridge too far.
  10. Naming in honour of people, places, etc. will be disregarded and not prioritised for preservation.
  11. Stress should wholly follow the conventions of Common. Although Common allows for irregular phonemic stress, which is often seen with loanwords, it is not to be applied in this instance. The exception made was the halogens - Fylór, Cylór and Byróm wound up with second syllable stress and ending in consonants following the rules, so someone decided to extend the pattern to Iót, Astát and Tennés, apparently as an aesthetic choice.

Native Element Names

Old Common had a handful of native names for chemical elements, such as 'na enlin', 'gold'. In a normal language's approach to naming the elements, these names would simply be used in scientific contexts to refer to the element, but for Common, that would go against the principle that the element names would align with their symbols and the symbols are untouchable. So what the AXZ decided to do was pretend that these words didn't exist and define new synonyms that would be the official name of the element in a scientific context.

The native word would be encouraged to be interpreted to inhere to something made from the element or with a quality similar to the element in order fill out semantic space a little more. This is generally what has happened, where the AXZ-coined element names generally dominating today, and the older native words existing alongside them with significant overlap but generally applying more to something derived from the substance.

Names of the Elements

This table goes up to Element 118, Oganesson, which has been the highest atomic number element discovered for the last hundred years. Grammatically, all the Common names are terms. The articles are omitted in this table to save space but would normally be mandatory.. Although the standard way of Commonising a foreign borrowing with an illegal consonant cluster is and was to insert a y (schwa), in the periodic table, the designers sometimes went with metathesis to fix such clusters instead with little rhyme or reason, possibly based on someone's aesthetic judgement.

Nar Lemmas Paj na Peris Kelem e na Xafen - Element of the Periodic Table in Common
# Symbol English Common Pronunciation Comment
1 H Hydrogen Hytro 'hə  
2 He Helium Helion '  
3 Li Lithium Lito '  
4 Be Beryllium Beryl 'pe.rəl  
5 B Boron Boro '  
6 C Carbon Carpo 't͡ʃ  
7 N Nitrogen Nitro '  
8 O Oxygen Okso 'og.zo  
9 F Fluorine Fylór fə'lor  
10 Ne Neon Neon 'ne.on  
11 Na Sodium Natro ' From Natrium
12 Mg Magnesium Magneso '  
13 Al Aluminium Alumo '  
14 Si Silicon Siliko '  
15 P Phosphorus Posfor 'pos.for P had to be preserved
16 S Sulphur Sulfur 'sul.vur  
17 Cl Chlorine Cylór t͡ʃə'lor  
18 Ar Argon Arkon 'ar.gon  
19 K Potassium Kalo 'ka.lo  
20 Ca Calcium Calso 't͡ʃal.zo  
21 Sc Scandium Sycáno sə'd͡ʒ Sc required extra butchering to work
22 Ti Titanium Titan 'ti.dan  
23 V Vanadium Vanato '  
24 Cr Chromium Cyróm t͡ʃə'rom  
25 Mn Manganese Mankan 'maŋ.gan  
26 Fe Iron Fero ' From Ferrum
27 Co Cobalt Copal t͡ʃo.bal  
28 Ni Nickel Nikkel 'nik.kel  
29 Cu Copper Cupro 't͡ʃ  
30 Zn Zinc Zinko 'θiŋ.go  
31 Ga Gallium Gallo 'kal.lo  
32 Ge Germanium German '  
33 As Arsenic Arsen 'ar.zen  
34 Se Selenium Seleno '  
35 Br Bromine Byróm pə'rom  
36 Kr Krypton Kyrýpton kə'rəb.don  
37 Rb Rubidium Rubito ru'  
38 Sr Strontium Styrónto stə'  
39 Y Yttrium Yttir 'ət.tir  
40 Zr Zirconium Zirko 'θir.go  
41 Nb Niobium Niobo '  
42 Mo Molybdenum Molypto 'mo.lə  
43 Tc Technetium Teceno 'te.d͡ʒ  
44 Ru Ruthenium Ruteno '  
45 Rh Rhodium Rohot 'ro.xot  
46 Pd Palladium Pallato '  
47 Ag Silver Argento '  
48 Cd Cadmium Cadmo 't͡ʃ  
49 In Indium Into 'in'do  
50 Sn Tin Stano ' From Stannum
51 Sb Antimony Stibo ' From Stibium
52 Te Tellurium Tellur '  
53 I Iodine Iót i'ot  
54 Xe Xenon Xenon 'ʃe.non  
55 Cs Caesium Ceso 't͡ʃe.zo  
56 Ba Barium Baro '  
57 La Lanthanum Lantan 'lan.dan  
58 Ce Cerium Cero 't͡ʃ  
59 Pr Praseodymium Parseto ' Metathesis and simplification
60 Nd Neodymium Neodo '  
61 Pm Promethium Pormeto ' Metathesis resolves illegal Pr
62 Sm Samarium Samaro '  
63 Eu Europium Euro '  
64 Gd Gadolinium Gadolo '  
65 Tb Terbium Terbo '  
66 Dy Dysprosium Dyspor 'təs.por Metathesis again
67 Ho Holmium Holmo '  
68 Er Erbium Erpo '  
69 Tm Thulium Tulum 'tu.lum  
70 Yb Ytterbium Ytterbo 'ə  
71 Lu Lutetium Luteto '  
72 Hf Hafnium Hafno '  
73 Ta Tantalum Tantalo 'tan.da.lo  
74 W Tungsten Wolfo 'wol.vo Based loosely on Wolfram
75 Re Rhenium Renio '  
76 Os Osmium Osmo '  
77 Ir Iridium Irito '  
78 Pt Platinum Palatin ' Irregular, reason unclear
79 Au Gold Awrum 'aw.rum  
80 Hg Mercury Hygyro 'hə.gə.ro From Hydrargyrum
81 Tl Thallium Tallo 'tal.lo  
82 Pb Lead Pylúmbo pə'  
83 Bi Bismuth Bismut 'piz.mut  
84 Po Polonium Polono '  
85 At Astatine Astát as'tat  
86 Rn Radon Raton 'ra.don  
87 Fr Francium Fyránco fə.rán.d͡ʒo  
88 Ra Radium Ratio 'ra.di.o Kept -i- to further differentiate from Radon
89 Ac Actinium Actin 'ad͡ʒ.din  
90 Th Thorium Toro '  
91 Pa Protactinium Portakto ' Metathesis
92 U Uranium Urano '  
93 Np Neptunium Nepto '  
94 Pu Plutonium Pulto ' Metathesis
95 Am Americium Amero '  
96 Cm Curium Curum 't͡ʃu.rum  
97 Bk Berkelium Berkelo '  
98 Cf Californium Califo 't͡ʃ  
99 Es Einsteinium Enisto '  
100 Fm Fermium Fermo '  
101 Md Mendelevium Mendel 'men.del  
102 No Nobelium Nopelo '  
103 Lr Lawrencium Larenco '͡ʒo  
104 Rf Rutherfordium Rutforo '  
105 Db Dubnium Dubno '  
106 Sg Seaborgium Seporgo 'se.bor.go  
107 Bh Bohrium Bohor 'po.xor Rearranged to increase difference from Boron 
108 Hs Hassium Hasso '  
109 Mt Meitnerium Metnero 'med.ner.o  
110 Ds Darmstadtium Darsato '  
111 Rg Roentgenium Rongeno 'roŋ  
112 Cn Copernicium Coperno t͡ʃ  
113 Nh Nihonium Nihono 'ni.ç  
114 Fl Flerovium Fyléro fə'  
115 Mc Moscovium Moscofo 'mos.t͡ʃo.vo  
116 Lv Livermorium Livermo '  
117 Ts Tennessine Tennés ten'nes  
118 Og Oganesson Oganon '  



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