Re-reading the Dune novels, and I remembered an old question:

What is the source of the term "Siaynoq" as found in God Emperor of Dune?

Most of the non-english terms in the Dune universe come from languages like old Hebrew, Farsi, Arabic, Latin, etc. But i can't seem to nail down this one term.

I'm not looking for the in-universe definition.


sihanouk means Jaws of the Lion in Sanskrit......

  • you're welcome. I don't know that's what he used, I know zero Arabic, and my husband figured this out, not me, but I figured I'd share. He says, "or the Jaws of the Worm?" – Cat Rennolds Feb 9 '13 at 23:47
  • Herbert used a lot of languages in the books, I think it's reasonable that he cribbed from Sanscrit considering the religious nature of the rite. – SteveED Feb 10 '13 at 17:07
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    For what it's worth, "sihanouk" ‌does not mean anything in Sanskrit. (Well, the closest is perhaps "siṃha" which means "lion", and "hanu"‌ which means "jaw", so perhaps "siṃhahanu" could mean "lion-jaw", but "sihanouk" is not a Sanskrit term.) – ShreevatsaR Mar 17 '13 at 9:25

There is this one interesting post found here that says the following:

It says the ritual goes back to the earliest Zensunni, and stems from event called "Siayla" meaning "the Light of truth" they gathered and discussed the progress toward the religious goals of the year.

Considering that the Zensunni are a mixture between zen buddhism and sunni islam, siayla sounds more arabic to me. Also, on the Wikipedia page for the Dune religions, there is this part:

Terminology of the Imperium also defines several Zensunni terms:

AULIYA: In the Zensunni Wanderers' religion, the female at the left hand of God; God's handmaiden.(...)

These concepts are all more or less identifiable with Islamic concepts: Auliya (Arabic: أولياء) is the Arabic word for saints

Auliya sounds very much like Siayla to me so I guess it's very likely to be an arabic term.

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    This is the in-universe explanation, and I'm looking for the out-of-universe linguistic source. – SteveED Oct 8 '12 at 21:38

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