Archive for February, 2010

Cthulhu fhtagn, Part II

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve been playing around with the Cthulhu invocation from H.P. Lovecraft:

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.
“In his house at R’leyh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”

Here is my personal interpretation of that phrase:

  1. Looking at Lovecraft’s translation, it appears to me that the sentence should be read “backwards” as in Fhtagn wgah’nagl R’lyeh, Cthulhu mglw’nafh ph’nglui. Stick a comma between R’lyeh and Cthulhu for good measure.
  2. fhtagn then becomes a participial construction meaning something like “waiting; lying in wait (as a predator)”
  3. wgah’nagl becomes “in (his) house/abode”
  4. R’lyeh, the proper name of the sunken city, modifies wgah’nagl, making the phrase R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn something like “Waiting in his R’lyeh abode”
  5. Cthulhu is, of course, Cthulhu, the agent of the sentence.
  6. Sticking to my idea of modifiers coming after their words, mglw’nafh should mean “dead”. But Cthulhu cannot actually die (at least in the human sense). Therefore, I’m making mglw’nafh mean something like “potentially active, physically inactive, dormant bodily manifestation”.
  7. ph’nglui on the other hand is translated by Lovecraft as “dreaming”. But we know that Cthulhu can influence humans with his mind. ph’nglui I am translating then as “active mental state” in contrast to mglw’nafh, “a dormant physical state”, but the word in some verbal state.
  8. Furthermore, take the words ph’nglui and wgah’nagl. Note the same consonant root in both nglui and nagl (n-g-l). Using this similarity, I’m saying that nagl refers to something “inside or within”, and nglui is an “interior mental state”. By this reasoning then, wgah’ should mean “house, abode”.

Using this reasoning then, we get:

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.
“dreaming” active mental state (verb) “dead” dormant physical state (participle) (agent) (proper name) “in (his) abode” waiting (participle)



Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Glyph of the word 'huna'.


  • (v.) to be silent
  • (adj.) silent
  • (n.) silence
  • (nm.) a boy or girl’s given name

A hea ia ie huyaya tou—e huyaya poe tomi’u ti emi ti “huna”?
“Can you hear the screaming—the screaming that men call ‘silence’?”

Notes: Ha, ha! That’s a line from a Werner Herzog movie. That dude is one in a billion.

Looks pretty good, I think. This iku is kind of built off the iku for motu “face”, but, then again, kind of not… It’s like an upside-down version of motu combined with the “bad” line determinative. In other words, a bad mouth is a silent mouth. Perhaps not always, but in general.

For more information about the name Huna, you can check out its name entry here.

Cthulhu fhtagn!

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Cthulhu drawn by the Conlanging Librarian

Cthulhu, as envisioned by the Conlanging Librarian

I don’t know how I did it, but I’ve gone several decades without reading the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Don’t ask me how or why, but I just recently “discovered” his writings and now I’m hooked…especially his stories of the Elder Gods, Great Cthulhu, the Great Race of Yith, Yog-Sothoth and his kids Wilbur and the “horror”, etc. Very cool stuff!

“But why bring him up in a conlanging blog” you may ask. The only “extensive” piece of conlanging (used in the broadest possible sense) by Lovecraft is the invocation of Cthulhu: Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn which Lovecraft translated in “The Call of Cthulhu” as In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming. There are also snippets of this language in “The Dunwich Horror” and other stories. I’m not saying that Lovecraft was a conlanger. Far from it. These phrases were purposefully put together to appear as alien and unhuman as possible. Lovecraft also talks about the Great Race of Yith’s language as a “consisting of a kind of clicking and scraping” of their “huge nippers” (“The Shadow out of Time”).

It strikes me that Lovecraft is a huge untapped inspirational field for conlangers. In searching the Internet, I did find one site with a sizable dictionary and some grammar here. Even with this work, who’s to say this is the “right” one. I’ve been toying with the Cthulhu invocation and some other snippets and having an enjoyable time trying to puzzle out some sensible syntax.
Lovecraft’s prose provides tantalizing glimpses and interesting snippets from which to formulate some naming languages or simple dialogue. If you’re a conlanger looking for a fertile field to toil in…jump right in…if you dare. Cthulhu fhtagn!!


Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'pinia'.


  • (n.) bird of paradise
  • (nm.) a girl’s given name

Kau i pinia po pale li’i oi malimali o ei.
“There were birds of paradise outside my house during my childhood.”

Notes: And indeed, there were. Until I was five, I lived in San Pedro, a city by the sea. In the second house I lived in, there were birds of paradise planted just outside the front door. I always liked them because they were big and tough. In this way, they were unlike other flowers, that tend to be smaller and more frail. I’ve always associated them with pride and strength.

For more information about the name Pinia, you can check out its name entry here.


Friday, February 19th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'i'elealea'.


  • (n.) a headache one gets after crying to the point of dehydration

Fuyaule i’elealea i’i.
“My headache pains me.

Notes: This was a new word I coined shortly after Okeo died. He died of apparent congenital liver failure early morning Monday, February 8th. We took him to the animal emergency room, and they tried their best to save him, but their attempts were in vain. Due to the nature of his condition, the vet told me he wasn’t lucid at the end, and felt no pain or fear.

I haven’t had an easy life, by any means, but I really don’t believe I ever cried so much that I was dehydrated. My wife was the one who told me that such a thing could happen, and that it could bring on a headache, which it did. It took awhile, but I eventually came back, and am feeling mostly better now.

On the 11th I wrote a post saying that this blog would be going on hiatus. That was written the day before what would have been my next cat post, and I just couldn’t bear to write a new one, or to write something different, so that’s why I left off. Now that I’m feeling a little better, I’ve decided to continue the blog, though this will be my last cat post for awhile.

Okeo lived a very short life (even for a cat: just seven months), but his time with us was happy. And if it’s true that his condition was congenital, and that his liver was eventually going to fail no matter where he was, I’m glad we got to bring a little joy into his life before his passing.

Like a true Kamakawi warrior, Okeo was cremated, and his ashes were spread out over the sea. I couldn’t ask for anything better for myself. He was a splendid cat all the way to the end, and we’ll miss him forever, but he’ll always be our little gentleman.

My little Okeo with his tie.
Okeo (2009-2010)

Learn Na’vi

Friday, February 19th, 2010
It's been a while since Avatar came out; it's even steadily falling down the charts. I personally loved the movie, and the Na'vi conlang only heightened my suspension of disbelief.

There are bits about Na'vi leaking out slowly but steadily. For example they have a base 8 system, which makes sense because they have 4 fingers. And it seems fairly regular if you don't have a problem speaking in 8s instead of 10s.

I'm still waiting for a Na'vi language book. They made the field guide, so why not?


Thursday, February 18th, 2010
Prepositions are something that gets me in languages I don't know well. Every language seems to use them differently, and there's rarely a hard and fast rule for exactly when each preposition is used. Sometimes many can be used, but only one sounds right. You get the idea. I have made some prepositions in Reisu, and I plan to flesh them out more when I start translating more things. For now I have English equivalents for this the best I can.

With (using)Ja
During/Among/In (not inside)Pa
Apart/Away fromBi
At (a specific place/time)Le
By (passive voice)Ba

Going to Notacon

Monday, February 15th, 2010
My conlanging talk & meditation workshop got accepted to Notacon.

So I'll be in Cleveland mid-April.


Going to Notacon

Monday, February 15th, 2010
My conlanging talk & meditation workshop got accepted to Notacon.

So I'll be in Cleveland mid-April.



Monday, February 15th, 2010
So, in a a lot of my example texts there are questions, and you might have already figured out how to make questions, but here's where I'm actually going to explain it. Reisu has a SVO word order. This does not change when we have a question. The question word is still the object, so it still goes at the end.

Any sentence can be made into a question by adding nei, but there are other question words that get more specific. Like most things in Reisu there's a pretty simple pattern to it.

What, WhoKei
How much, How manyJei
What kindVei
Which, Which oneZei
Question particleNei

O hola mei?
     Translation: How do you feel?
     Transliteration: You feel how?
Kata neina zei?
     Translation: What time is it?
     Transliteration: Time says when?
Fagevo geri jei?
     Translation: How much for the blanket?
     Transliteration: Blanket(that) costs how much?