Bête is a term with a confused definition. It has been used to mean "all the Changing Breeds other than the Mokolé", "all the Changing Breeds other than the Garou", and "all the Changing Breeds in general".

Overview[edit | edit source]

Bête, from the French, "beast"

The confusion traces back to 1993, when the word was first used. "Bête" was initially defined as "other shapeshifters" under the heading of "Mokolé Lexicon", and so obviously was intended to mean all the Changing Breeds besides the dragon breed itself, and to be used fairly exclusively by them.[1]

However, the term spoke to a need for a comparable word for the Garou themselves to use; however, rather than making a new word for the purpose, authors simply appropriated "Bête". This is clear after 1998 when the term is used frequently, clearly indicating the breeds other than the werewolves - or, perhaps, to the Changing Breeds in general.[2] This latter use of Bête would be particularly nonsensical, as there were already a number of synonyms that are used right in those same pages - "Changing Breeds", "shapeshifters", "Changers" and "werecreatures". There would be no reason to confuse a word originally intended for another purpose when there are already suitable words. A year later, in 1999, White Wolf released new material where "Bête" was once again defined as "shapeshifters other than Mokolé".[3] Clearly, authors for Gaia's Memory refused to let their right to the term go.

In the following year, the Werewolf: The Apocalypse Revised Edition provided a suitable replacement through the word Fera, defined as "shapeshifters other than werewolves".[4] Use of Bête in non-Mokole contexts became unnecessary then, and became a rather rare mistake thereafter. That said, the same sort of confusion and misunderstanding that corrupted Bête would afflict the word Fera as well, as it was sometimes used as (or even defined as) a synonym for "Changing Breeds",[5] and as suggested by the title for the book dedicated to the shapeshifters other than the Garou in Revised Edition.[6]

Other shapeshifters often have similar words. The Bastet have "Killi", as "fellow shapeshifters",[7] and presumably doesn't include the Bastet themselves, although use of the word on later pages of the same book seems to suggest it too may be used as a synonym for "shapeshifters".[8] The Ananasi use the word Ovid to refer to the other Changing Breeds, and there seems to be less room for including themselves in the term, as "most of whom are not considered significant in the grander scheme of things" is the rest of the definition.[9] Similarly, the Nagah are noted as having the term "Khurah" to refer to those shifters other than themselves, and again is clearly distinct in having a connotation of 'our charges' or 'our wards'.[10]

References[edit | edit source]

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