Written by: Stephania Vuckovic
Images by: Their respective owners
Years ago, when I first got started in SL Gor, slaves were taught by kennels and free people, that to be a slave, they were required to always speak in the third person, that only free people spoke in the first person as was their right. They told the slaves that this was because a slave was nothing but property, an object, owning nothing and therefore, must always refer to themselves in a way that objectified them.
As time went on, many people began to realize that this was not “as per the books.” When we read the books, we see slaves speaking in the first person all the time. So, kennels and free people began to omit that from their teachings in SL Gor. So, why do we still find slaves speaking in the third person? Is there a time when slaves should speak in third person? And where did this “online-ism” come from in the first place?
Well, let’s take these questions backwards. Before Second Life, Gor was mostly role-played on IRC text networks, there were no visuals, only text. In these communities, it became a standard for slaves to speak in third person to show they were slaves, to make it easier for those role-playing to see that this person was indeed a slave (as there were no visuals to aid them), and to provide a better means for a slave to feel his or her slavery (as there were no collars with nifty scripts in them that a free person could use to force a slave onto their knees). When Second Life came on the scene, many of those text-based role-players moved in and SL Gor was born. With them they brought what they knew and understood about Gor and rules (right or wrong) and those rules stuck.
There is actually a very specific instance in which a slave would speak in the third person, shown in the books. That was when a slave was in trouble. This could mean the slave knew they were in for it, and in an attempt to please their owner or the free about them, they began to objectify themselves by speaking in third person. Or, it could mean that the slave had already been found to be in trouble by the free and were being punished.
As for why slaves all over SL Gor still speak in third person … well there could be many reasons including “they didn’t get the memo,” their owner has commanded it for whatever reason, they are actually in trouble, or in the case of Lana from Assassins of Gor, because she thinks she is better than other slaves – but this form she uses her name instead of “I” or “me”.
“I wear the leash of Relius,” said Virginia. “I wear his bracelets!”
Lana looked at Relius. “Leash Lana,” she said. “Lana is Red Silk.” She extended her wrists provocatively to Relius. “Put your bracelets on Lana. She is Red Silk. She will serve you better than a silly little White Silker.” (Assassin of Gor, p238)
When reading the full text for the above quotes, the impression is given that Lana spoke this way because she felt better than other slaves, that she was special, unique, and wanted everyone to know it (not to say this was right, just that it was this particular slave).
Often we find that slaves in SL Gor are doing this because they don’t know any better. It’s either what they’d always done or they picked up from watching someone else, sometimes however, they may be portraying a character like Lana. While third person speech was dropped from the training curriculum for slaves, the education of how and when to use it was not necessarily added in. This is not to say anyone has done anything wrong, things like this are usually just a misunderstanding or oversight.
There is another instance in the books that is similar to this though, where a slave never referred to “I” or “me” but to her name. For example, “Who betrayed Ute” from Captive of Gor. Also done by Lana, from Assassins of Gor mentioned above. It was implied in the books that Ute did this because she wanted her name known.
I shook my head. Ute’s fists were excruciating in my hair.
“Who?” she demanded.
I could not speak, so terrified I was. She shook my head viciously.
“Who?” she demanded.
“I did,” I cried. “I did!”
“Speak as a slave!’ demanded Ute.
“El-in-or betrayed Ute!” I cried. “El-in-or betrayed Ute!”
I turned, as well as I could, and saw, to my dismay, Rask of Treve. I closed my eyes, sobbing.
(Captive of Gor, p307)
The above quote also shows a slave being commanded to speak as a slave in the situation of being in trouble.
Never the less, when you see a slave speaking in the third person, the best role-play tactic to take is to assume they are in trouble for something. This is how it was in the books, and if you do it constructively, it opens up the doors to help educate someone who may not know any better and would greatly welcome the input!
Reproduced with permission from Home Stone Magazine.
Past issues are available online here: Home Stone Magazine.