The alphabet, language, and culture of the stsho species, in the Merchanter Compact, as depicted in the Chanur novels in the science fiction universe created by C. J. Cherryh.
The stsho may appear to have the familiar bipedal sapient model, but there the similarity ends. Their biology and psychology are quite alien. Like humans, they require tranquilizing drugs to sleep in jump. They are tall, white, and mostly hairless, with bulbous heads, stubby features, moonstone eyes, and long fingers. They do eat meat, but avoid confrontation and violence. They have a herd-like instinct. A stsho is neither he, she, nor it, but gtst. They have three sexes and are hermaphroditic. A triad of three individuals are necessary to bear offspring. The child-bearer in one triad may serve another role in another triad. Gtst has other variants, depending on what stage of life and personality one is in. Their personalities are fragile. When stressed too much, they can Phase. This also happens at different times of life. It is impolite to notice the change, even if one suspects an individual is the same as one in a previous Phase. Stsho are fond of ceremony and methodicalness. Their writing and formal writing is florid calligraphy filled with additional meanings and long phrases. Forms of poetry are prized. Stsho prefer subtle colors and variations on white. They can see ultraviolet, and black-light or fluorescent effects, as well as pearly or iridescent effects are highly prized. They wear subtle body paint, tattoos, feathers, and the like. They are sharp but generally fair traders. They can be passive-aggressive. They hire kif for station security, strangely. Stsho are technically advanced, with one of the longest spacefaring histories in the Compact. Stsho communicate with the tc’a, a methane-breathing species. Stsho are conscious of grace and subtlety and favors. Their negotiations use much face-saving prose. They have a vaguely Asian sentiment in this regard. They do make adaptations and allowances for other species’ aesthetics and customs. Stsho architecture uses odd angles, panels, grilles, cabinets, and nooks, and subtle but odd accent lighting effects.