Cousin Thothy

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Cousin Thothy (Vodholk: Totésesek [ðo'ðizizek], Achiyitqan igúnSotí [ɪgúnsotí] or [ɪgúnθoθí]) is a fictional character spoken of in Achiyitqan and Vodholk culture. Cousin Thothy is depicted as a vodholk or votef, typically of unusually large stature, and often wearing a woolen sweater with bright geometric designs. Thothy is typically considered genderless.

Anyone can invoke "(my) Cousin Thothy" in an informal conversation, most often when speaking of vodholk or votef-related issues ("think of Cousin Thothy!"). Thothy is also commonly mentioned as an openly fraudulent excuse to engage in unpolite behaviours (e.g. answering a phone call from "Cousin Thothy" to end a conversation), or a method of saying "mind your own business" (e.g. "What am I doing this weekend? Visiting Cousin Thothy.") A time-honoured excuse to miss an event is to visit "Poor Cousin Thothy" in hospital.

Thothy, sometimes without the "cousin," and sometimes specified as Unfortunate Thothy (Toté pekelut / suytúosSotí) is also used as a substitute name for victims or survivors of crimes or other misfortune when their true identity cannot be exposed, or the speaker wishes not to identify them. In informal usage this is also a common way to refer to unidentified cadavers. An Unfortunate Thothy can be a human.

Etymology

toté /θoθe/ probably comes from Vodholk tossó /θos'so/, "people," possibly mutated by children or foreign speakers, meaning roughly "somebody." An alternative etymology posits that /θoθe:/ is a purely Achiyitqan conception as an attempt to come up with a stereotypically Vodholk-sounding name.

Origins

Thothy's main source of inspiration is a Vodholk folkloric character, Koyo (Vodholk koio ([ŋojo]), also commonly called Koyo the Fool. Koyo appears in many parables as a well-intentioned but witless protagonist who commits many blunders that even young children can see to be idiotic. Other characters may be annoyed with Koyo's mistakes, but eventually see that Koyo is well-meaning and kindly, and help em to achieve eir goals. In some stories, Koyo only succeeds through sheer luck.

Achiyitqan humans adopted Koyo into their own folklore around the 1500s, primarily as a minor foil to more intelligent protagonists, or as a source of comic relief. The character then developed into a vehicle for various cultural stereotypes about vodholk, primarily about education, intelligence, and hygiene. By the 1720s this usage began to fall out of favour.

In the 1800s a trend emerged in Achiyitqan storytelling to adapt foreign stories by replacing various culturally irrelevant characters with one's own friends and family. Therefore a great deal of stories featured igúnip ('my cousin'). This trend was copied partially by Vodholk, who began claiming various folkloric characters as sesékket ('my sibling/cousin').

The exact emergence of the name Cousin Thothy is unknown, but it appeared in print in Achiyitqan by the 1860s, often replacing Koyo in stories which were now deemed culturally insensitive, as well as a variety of other minor and even major characters. From there it expanded to more generic usage.