Archive for April, 2013

twilight is ilumarä

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
ilumarä = twilight (noun) (some things Google found for "ilumara": a rare term; user names; name of a gaming character on EVE online; according to a 19th century document ilumara means died in an Australian aboriginal language)

Word derivation for "twilight" :
Basque = ilunabar, Finnish = hämärä
Miresua = ilumarä

This is a new word. By the way, it doesn't occur in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Other compound words for twilight in Finnish are iltahämärä (ilta means evening) and aamuhämärä (aamu means morning). Another word for twilight in Basque is ilunsenti (ilun means dark).

Perzo Vūjita

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Of course the million dollar question is: Just what does that participial phrase agree with…?

“Kissed By Fire”, written by my old compatriot Bryan Cogman, was low on action (outside the first scene), but high on drama. There were some outstanding scenes, and nearly every major character made an appearance (no Bran, no Samwell, no Theon, no Joffrey, no Melisandre, but everyone else). We haven’t gotten to see that very often of late! This week’s episode featured not one, but two scenes where Tyrion is demolished by an elder—first by Lady Olenna, and then by my all-time favorite Ice and Fire character: Tywin Lannister. And though usually an episode will end with a twist or a bit of high drama, I liked that we close with Cersei, of all people, finally getting the dressing down she deserves from someone (namely [who else?] Tywin). The man is a beast!

As a happily married man, I will refrain from commenting on any redheads that did or did not appear in this episode.

On a different note, though, I wonder how many people thought what I did when watching this scene:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

So that’s Robb there staring over a large map with, well, what appear to be large Cyvasse pieces representing the various armies. Now, it’s no wonder that Robb would have a map. Maps are important. Cartographer is a noble calling even today, but especially back in the days before flight. Every lord worth his salt probably has dozens of maps, and has them updated routinely. Those figurines, though… They’re quite specific, no? He has figures for his house, for the Lannisters, and apparently for each of his bannermen. Just where do you think he gets them from? Did each bannerman bring his own…figurines? And does he have Frey figurines for the next part of his plan? If so, where does he store them? Does he go to his horse’s saddlebags and pull out the baggy of Frey figurines and put them in place on the map? And if he doesn’t have them, does he have someone carve them for him—one of his knights, perhaps? And is there any kind of quality control there? After all, these are not crudely made. They appear to be carved, shaped, sanded and finished. Quite a bit of work went into carving each and every one of those figurines—and transporting them. Even if he didn’t inherit them from Ned or some other bannerman, that had to be a conversation at some point—something along the lines of, “Okay, I have a big map. In order to discuss the movement of forces, I’m going to need about a dozen figurines—maybe more—with groups representing the various armies in play. I’ll need your finest craftsmen to get on this right away!” Not to say that they don’t look cool (they do) or that I don’t want some (I very much do), it just seems like this is the kind of detail we’re not meant to think about. And yet here I am…

Anyway, let us speak of language. Some major highlights and an oddity in this one. The scene across the Narrow Sea featured Barristan Selmy not so subtly disinviting Jorah Mormont to the Queen Daenerys party along with Daenerys having a discussion with the leaders of her new army.

First, a word. I have three versions of the translation I did, and three .pdf versions of this scene. Not one of them matches what eventually appeared on screen. Instead, there’s a mix of lines from the original translation I did and the revised translation I did—as well as a bit of a subtitle remix. I think I got everything, though, so I’ll do my best (though the same note applies regarding long vowels. I’ll try my best to get them all, but I may miss some; I’ll eventually get them all in). First, Dany addresses the group:

  • Keso glaesot iderēptot daor.
  • “You did not choose this life.”
  • Yn dāeri vali sīr issi. Se dāeri vali pōntalo syt gaomoti iderēbzi.
  • “But you are free men now. And free men make their own choices.”

Then comes a line whose subtitle changed, but I don’t think I was ever asked to retranslate (I could’ve; would’ve been relatively painless). I had this:

  • Jenti jevi jemēle iderēbilātās, qogrondo jevo hēdrȳ.
  • “You will select your own leader, from amongst your own ranks.”

But I believe the subtitle has her asking a question: “Have you chosen a leader from amongst your own ranks?”

Then comes a truly perplexing moment.

As one of the Unsullied approaches, Dany asks him to remove his helmet. I distinctly remember being asked to translate this line. In fact, I have the words “remove” and “helmet” in there that I specifically translated for this line. It should have been something like Geltī aōhe nādīnās. What she says sounds like derēpti, which means…nothing. (If it had a different ending, it’d be some irrelevant form of the verb “to gather, collect”.) I’ve scoured my e-mail, and I can’t find any record of the request, or of my sending off the translation. I also can’t seem to find the translation in my files. And yet I did not create the words for “remove” and “helmet” just because. I created them specifically because I was asked for the translation of “remove your helmet” for this season. I’m absolutely mystified by the entire situation, and am chalking it up to gremlins. And so I’m going to leave it at that.

UPDATE: Okay, I’ve scoured my records, and I have found the answer. At 3:24 p.m. PST on Friday, February 8th, 2013 I was asked to translate “Remove your helmet” into High Valyrian (so this was for postproduction). I e-mailed back asking how quick they’d need it, but actually started recording then just for the heck of it. By the time I got a response back (they wouldn’t need it until Monday the 11th), I was done, and I sent off the translation and .mp3 that same day at 4:01 p.m. PST. The translation was:

  • Aōhi geltī nādīnās.
  • “Remove your helmet.”

Which, of course, was incorrect (it should have been aōhe), but I was working quickly. I received a response at 4:10 p.m. PST, and that was the last I had to do with. For whatever reason, it never made it to the screen.

Now I’m sure it wasn’t the messenger’s fault (the person I was e-mailing with); I’m sure they passed on the .mp3 and translation like they’d always done in the past. No, I think I know who’s behind it—and if it is, this is a person that’s run afoul of me before. And if, indeed, it was that person, they should know that my memory is long. Very long.

Back to the post…

Then things start cooking. One Unsullied steps forward and says:

  • Bezy eza ji rigle.
  • “This one has the honor.”

Dany asks him:

  • Skoroso jemēle brōza?
  • “What is your name?”

He responds:

  • Torgo Nudho.
  • “Grey Worm.”

Dany turns to Missandei who explains that the Unsullied take vile names to remind them of how low they are. She doesn’t explain how they get a new name every single day (they draw them out of a bowl, or something). That’s kind of a neat little factoid that’s probably way too specific for TV, but I liked it, so I thought I’d mention it here. The well-meaning Daenerys, after learning this, tells the Unsullied:

  • Hēzīr, brōza jevi jemēle iderēbilātās. Mentyri idañe jevi ivestrilātās keskydoso gaomagon.
  • “From this day forward, you will choose your own names. You will tell all your fellow soldiers to do the same.”

When Dany continues, she uses an Astapori Valyrian word for “slave name”:

  • Gadbag aōhe qrīdrughās. Muñar aōt teptas lue brōzi, iā mirre tolie iderēbās. Avy hoskas lue brōzi.
  • “Throw away your slave name. Choose the name your parents gave you, or any other. A name that gives you pride.”

Then…this. Man alive! Who the hell is Jacob Anderson?! And I mean that in the best possible way. I mean, he may have messed up one vowel somewhere in this long, long speech, but if he did, I didn’t hear it. Jacob Anderson is now and forever afterwards my hero. If you didn’t get a chance to see this scene, watch it—by any means necessary. Seriously. This performance? Un. Be. LIEVABLE. I want to bake this guy a cake—or wash his car—whatever! I’ll drive him to the airport for the rest of his life for this performance. If I could, I’d have him do recordings for me, because I think he’s better than me. He may as well have created this language. I want him to teach me how to speak this language. I want to make this speech my ringtone—in fact, I’m tempted to record the audio straight off HBO GO and upload it here… But, no. I’ll be good.

Here’s his line:

  • “Torgo Nudho” hokas bezy. Sa me broji beri. Ji broji ez bezo sene stas qimbroto. Kuny iles ji broji meles esko mazedhas derari va buzdar. Y Torgo Nudho sa ji broji ez bezy eji tovi Daenerys Jelmazmo ji teptas ji derve.
  • “‘Grey Worm’ gives this one pride. It is a lucky name. The name this one was born with was cursed. That was the name he had when he was taken as a slave. But Grey Worm is the name this one had the day Daenerys Stormborn set him free.”

And that sound you just heard? That’s Jacob Anderson dropping the mic. IT’S DONE! Bar just got raised. This is the new standard—for everything. To everyone in the future: You must be at least this cool to ride. This man’s got serious skills—and he’s like ten years younger than me! Where does he get the nerve to be that good?! How can he do that?! My mind boggles…

Next week my post may be a day or two late, as I’ll be in Austin, Texas for the Fifth Language Creation Conference. If you live nearby, please come and visit! It’ll be a great event with a host of incredible conlangers both presenting and in attendance. Loads of fun.

So, until Monday or Tuesday of next week, geros ilas!

Update: And just in case you didn’t see it, here he is: Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm. My hero.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Conlangery SHORTS #08: A Pahran grammaticalization idea

Monday, April 29th, 2013
George shares an idea he is pursuing in the historical development of Pahran. LCC5

Conlangery SHORTS #08: A Pahran grammaticalization idea

Monday, April 29th, 2013
George shares an idea he is pursuing in the historical development of Pahran. LCC5

Conlangery SHORTS #08: A Pahran grammaticalization idea

Monday, April 29th, 2013
George shares an idea he is pursuing in the historical development of Pahran. LCC5

autumn is udaksy (revisited)

Sunday, April 28th, 2013
udaksy = autumn (season) (noun) (some things Google found for "udaksy": a very rare term; user name; appears on gobbledygook webpages; similar Udak is a rare last name)

Word derivation for "autumn" :
Basque = udazken, Finnish = syksy
Miresua = syskun

This is another revision. My previous word for autumn was syskun. I decided to redo this word, again, because in Basque three out of the four words for seasons begin with u, specifically uda, which means summer. Before this change, none of my Miresua seasons began with the letter u.

Note on pronunciation, the y (as in Finnish) is pronounced like ü, or like u in the French word tu.

hour is ontu (revisited)

Saturday, April 27th, 2013
ontu = hour (noun) (some things Google found for "ontu": an uncommon term; user names; a rare first name which can be from South Asia; a rare last name; Ontu Medikal in Istanbul, Turkey; ontu means nose in Na'vi from the movie Avatar; Gara Ontu is the name of a place in Ethiopia)

Word derivation for "hour" :
Basque = ordu, Finnish = tunti
Miresua = ontu

My previous Miresua conlang word for hour was tidu. My new word has a consonant combination, as do the Basque and Finnish words.

Conlanging with LaTeX, Part One

Friday, April 26th, 2013
One common set of questions in conlanging forums is about how to organize the material, the grammar, the dictionary, lessons, etc.  While there are some dedicated language tools out there, most of them are fairly complex or expensive.  So most people just use word processors for their grammars and sometimes spreadsheets for their dictionaries, assuming they use computers at all.

At this point, I'm prepared to say there are no good tools for writing a dictionary.  There are tools out there, but they tend to be very tricky to use well, assuming the hobbyist conlanger can even afford the cash or the time to invest in such tools.  And for tools to let people collaborate on a lexicon?  Forget it.

So, I just write my dictionaries as text.  Here's an example lemma for Kahtsaai,
No spreadsheet is going to produce anything that looks like this without a great deal of programming.  It might be nice to have a nifty tool to manage a dictionary entry like this, but a general tool to do that would be so complex that I'm not sure it would be worth the effort.

Because I want my grammars and dictionaries to look good, I had to pick something nicer than a plain text file or even HTML.  I went with LaTeX, a very sophisticated typesetting system that started out in the world of mathematics and the sciences, but which humanities folks are starting to learn to appreciate.  Unlike a word processor, which is WYSIWYG, "what you see is what you get," LaTeX takes a different approach.  You type up your document in a special typesetting language, and then you feed that to a LaTeX program which spits out your document after making all the typesetting decisions and formatting for you.  Paraphrasing, you tell LaTeX what you intend, and it produces the nicest possible output matching your intent.

In LaTeX simple things are simple.  You could typeset a printed letter in it, and except for some messing about at the start of the file, what you had to type wouldn't look much different from an email (though the output would be far nicer).  But, LaTeX is programmable, and is thus capable of very sophisticated things.  Here, for example, is a semantic map which was described entirely in TikZ, a graphics language that exists for LaTeX,
It is this ability to do sophisticated things when you need to that makes LaTeX such a powerful tool.

Due to an early encounter with old Latin grammars, I prefer to typeset my grammars with bold face for text in the language, italics for translations, and just the normal font for English explanations.  But, rather than tell LaTeX to bold everything in my conlang, I write a macro which I enclose all my conlang in.  That way, if one day I decide to format everything differently, I just have to change the macro, run the LaTeX program again, and voilà! out comes a new version of my grammar with everything changed to the new way.  I wrote a set of macros to typeset my dictionary entries in the way I prefer.

Reasons a conlanger might want to use LaTeX:

  • It's programmable, and thus easy to make sweeping formatting changes with minimal effort.
  • Modern versions speak UNICODE natively, so it's good for fun character sets and accents galore.
  • Modern versions can also use almost any font you want.
  • The output is gorgeous.
  • Conlangers love tables, and LaTeX has very powerful table capabilities.
  • Cross-references are useful in grammars, and LaTeX has a powerful reference system, which can produce clickable citations in a PDF.
In the next few blog posts, I am going to explain some features of LaTeX that would be most useful for conlangers.  I cannot do a full tutorial on LaTeX.   One good tutorial is Learn to use LaTeX, but there are many on the internet easily found by search.  I recommend you practice with a few quick and simple documents before reading the other posts.

LaTeX is free software, and there are several different distributions out there.  I strongly recommend TeX Live.  It's sort of large, but it will have all the extra linguistics packages you want to use, and it includes XeTeX, the most powerful modern LaTeX engine, which speaks UNICODE natively and has far, far nicer font management tools.  It's the best choice for conlangers.  I will assume XeTeX for all my posts on LaTeX.

In my next post, I will go a bit more into detail about the things you'll want in your LaTeX preamble to make XeTeX pick the best fonts for multilingual work.  And maybe start in on tables.

Conlanging with LaTeX, Part One

Friday, April 26th, 2013
One common set of questions in conlanging forums is about how to organize the material, the grammar, the dictionary, lessons, etc.  While there are some dedicated language tools out there, most of them are fairly complex or expensive.  So most people just use word processors for their grammars and sometimes spreadsheets for their dictionaries, assuming they use computers at all.

At this point, I'm prepared to say there are no good tools for writing a dictionary.  There are tools out there, but they tend to be very tricky to use well, assuming the hobbyist conlanger can even afford the cash or the time to invest in such tools.  And for tools to let people collaborate on a lexicon?  Forget it.

So, I just write my dictionaries as text.  Here's an example lemma for Kahtsaai,
No spreadsheet is going to produce anything that looks like this without a great deal of programming.  It might be nice to have a nifty tool to manage a dictionary entry like this, but a general tool to do that would be so complex that I'm not sure it would be worth the effort.

Because I want my grammars and dictionaries to look good, I had to pick something nicer than a plain text file or even HTML.  I went with LaTeX, a very sophisticated typesetting system that started out in the world of mathematics and the sciences, but which humanities folks are starting to learn to appreciate.  Unlike a word processor, which is WYSIWYG, "what you see is what you get," LaTeX takes a different approach.  You type up your document in a special typesetting language, and then you feed that to a LaTeX program which spits out your document after making all the typesetting decisions and formatting for you.  Paraphrasing, you tell LaTeX what you intend, and it produces the nicest possible output matching your intent.

In LaTeX simple things are simple.  You could typeset a printed letter in it, and except for some messing about at the start of the file, what you had to type wouldn't look much different from an email (though the output would be far nicer).  But, LaTeX is programmable, and is thus capable of very sophisticated things.  Here, for example, is a semantic map which was described entirely in TikZ, a graphics language that exists for LaTeX,
It is this ability to do sophisticated things when you need to that makes LaTeX such a powerful tool.

Due to an early encounter with old Latin grammars, I prefer to typeset my grammars with bold face for text in the language, italics for translations, and just the normal font for English explanations.  But, rather than tell LaTeX to bold everything in my conlang, I write a macro which I enclose all my conlang in.  That way, if one day I decide to format everything differently, I just have to change the macro, run the LaTeX program again, and voilà! out comes a new version of my grammar with everything changed to the new way.  I wrote a set of macros to typeset my dictionary entries in the way I prefer.

Reasons a conlanger might want to use LaTeX:

  • It's programmable, and thus easy to make sweeping formatting changes with minimal effort.
  • Modern versions speak UNICODE natively, so it's good for fun character sets and accents galore.
  • Modern versions can also use almost any font you want.
  • The output is gorgeous.
  • Conlangers love tables, and LaTeX has very powerful table capabilities.
  • Cross-references are useful in grammars, and LaTeX has a powerful reference system, which can produce clickable citations in a PDF.
In the next few blog posts, I am going to explain some features of LaTeX that would be most useful for conlangers.  I cannot do a full tutorial on LaTeX.   One good tutorial is Learn to use LaTeX, but there are many on the internet easily found by search.  I recommend you practice with a few quick and simple documents before reading the other posts.

LaTeX is free software, and there are several different distributions out there.  I strongly recommend TeX Live.  It's sort of large, but it will have all the extra linguistics packages you want to use, and it includes XeTeX, the most powerful modern LaTeX engine, which speaks UNICODE natively and has far, far nicer font management tools.  It's the best choice for conlangers.  I will assume XeTeX for all my posts on LaTeX.

In my next post, I will go a bit more into detail about the things you'll want in your LaTeX preamble to make XeTeX pick the best fonts for multilingual work.  And maybe start in on tables.

morning is amiz (revisited)

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
amiz = morning (noun) (some things Google found for "amiz": an uncommon to common term; AMIZ Technologies is a software development and IT outsourcing company of India; AMIZ stands for Academia Militarizada Ignacio Zaragoza of Mexico; user names; AMIZ is an acronym for Association of Microfinance Institutions of Zambia; AMIZ is a musical band of India; Amiz aromatherapy ltd of Hong Kong; a rare to unusual first name; a rare last name; similar Amiza is a place in Nigeria)

Word derivation for "morning" :
Basque = goiz, Finnish = aamu
Miresua = amiz

My previous Miresua conlang word for morning was moga, which was a bit of a letter scramble. I'm revising it because I'd rather not end the word in A. I like that the new word for morning begins with AM.