Archive for April, 2013

week is asko (revisited)

Monday, April 22nd, 2013
asko = week (noun) (some things Google found for "asko": a very common term; Asko Cylinda (Asko Appliances AB) is a Swedish company producing major household appliances; Asko Group of Washington state paints, plates and reconditions metal parts; an unusual to uncommon masculine first name that can be Finnish; Asko Ensemble is a Dutch chamber orchestra; a rare last name; similar Askø is a Danish island; name of places in Sweden)

Word derivation for "week" :
Basque = aste, Finnish = viikko
Miresua = asko

My previous Miresua conlang word for week was oska. I changed it because I'm trying to reduce the number of words ending in A, and especially when the Basque and the Finnish words don't end in A.

Sesīr Urnēbion Zȳhon Keliton Issa

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Grow strong.

It’s hard to compare episodes when you haven’t seen them in a while, but I think “And Now His Watch Is Ended” was easily one of the best of the series—certainly the best of the season. Some comments before getting to the language bits.

The story with Varys was an invention (him finding that sorcerer), but I liked it. As my wife said, it’s been evident in the show that he’s really good at getting information and managing tense social situations, but he’s never felt as threatening as he feels in the book—always a little bit softer. This is tangible evidence of his potential for malice.

And, good lord, my Tywin Lannister! I honestly can’t decide which I like best: Tywin from the books, or Tywin on the show. They’re appreciably different, and equally incredible. And this time his top highlight was a single word: Contribute. The thing I love about Tywin as a character is how intractable he is. Everyone manages to manipulate everyone else, and everybody makes mistakes, but no matter what he does, it was always the right decision—and it’s always everybody else that screws up. It would be monstrous to have him as a father—or really to have any dealings with him whatsoever—and I think that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable to watch him be so tyrannical—especially with those who get away with murder elsewhere in the series.

The dust up at Craster’s had both me and my wife running to the web, because neither of us remembered Jeor Mormont getting stabbed. And yet, there it was, just as in the books. The bits north of the wall almost remind me of a horror movie—where the Night’s Watch start out taking every precaution as they venture northward, and tiny almost insignificant mistakes end up seeing these guys drop dead one by one.

Oh, and Jack Gleeson had me cackling the whole time, with his awkward excitement at Margaery’s patronizing him. And looking like he’s never waved before! What an actor that guy is!

But anyway, there was quite a bit of Valyrian this episode, including our first High Valyrian of the series (outside of valar morghūlis and drakarys). It begins with a long speech by Kraznys that kind of gets cut up a bit as Missandei translates; I don’t know if you hear a lot of it. After the short exchange, Dany passes off Drogon and asks if it’s done. Missandei relays this:

  • Pindas lu sa sir tida.
  • “She asks if it is now done.”

Then Kraznys tells her that it is:

  • Sa tida. Pelos ji qlony. J’aspo eza zya azantyr.
  • “It is done. She holds the whip. The bitch has her army.”

And then thinks get messy.

So when I was originally reading the books, I kind of foresaw what happens next. First, I always imagined that the dragons would be bigger, and so shortly after she agrees to the deal, I thought, “You can give someone a dragon the way you can give them a lion.” Seriously, what’s he going to do? And it’s not like anyone alive has ever seen a dragon except those directly connected to Dany—and certainly no one other than her has ever managed to tame one. Just how did he think he was going to “own” it?

And then the Unsullied! I mean, sure, I guess he might think that she would honor their agreement, but if she has an 8,000 person trained army that’s 100% loyal to her and no one else has anything but guards…? It doesn’t take a military genius to calculate the possibilities here.

Anyway, even though I kind of saw that coming when I was reading the books, by now, I, of course, have read all the books, so I actually know what’s coming; it’s just a matter of how it will look on screen. There are a large number of folks that haven’t read the books and only know the story from the show—and I’ve been following their chatter on Twitter. A lot of people were upset with how callous and insulting Kraznys is—especially when he’s insulting the Dothraki. I’d love to know what it was like to watch this episode if you really didn’t know what was coming. That experience must’ve been incredible.

As it was, the scene was outstanding. I was delighted by Emilia Clarke’s performance. She really does speak High Valyrian like a natural. She missed a word or two here or there, but such will happen. Overall, I’m extraordinarily pleased. I’m going to try to go through all the lines, but it’s going to take me a bit (Final Draft doesn’t allow characters with macrons, so there are no long vowels in the script. I’ll have to do a bit of back and forth to get it right). Anyway, Dany gives the following orders to her new army:

  • Dovaogēdys! Naejot memēbātās! Kelītīs!
  • “Unsullied! Forward march! Halt!”

Of note here is that High Valyrian distinguishes between singular and plural commands. The commands here are plural, as Dovaogēdys is plural, rather than collective.

Then we have a little more Astapori Valyrian from Kraznys, who evidently hasn’t been paying much attention (#distractedbydragon):

  • Ivetra j’aspo zya dyni do majis.
  • “Tell the bitch her beast won’t come.”

And then Dany’s comeback:

  • Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor.
  • “A dragon is not a slave.”

Of note here: the word for dragon, zaldrīzes. Also, buzdari is stressed on the second syllable even though the a is not long because this isn’t actually a High Valyrian word: It’s an Astapori word that Dany is using on purpose. The High Valyrian word for slave is dohaeriros (whose root you may recognize), but the word they use in Astapor is buzdar, which has its roots in Ghiscari. Dany uses his own word so he’ll know that she knows. (And, by the way, since it’s a borrowing, it goes into the borrowed declension class, which means its accusative ends in -i.) And, indeed, Kraznys now gets it:

  • Ydra ji Valyre?
  • “You speak Valyrian?”

And then we get, perhaps, my favorite Daenerys line:

  • Nyke Daenerys Jelmāzmo hen Targārio Lentrot, hen Valyrio Uēpo ānogār iksan. Valyrio muño ēngos ñuhys issa.
  • “I am Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, of the blood of Old Valyria. Valyrian is my mother tongue.”

(Note: Those who were participating in a previous discussion may want to look at the precise spelling of Daenerys. I guess it has been decided! Forgot about that.)

Then comes quite a long bit of High Valyrian for Dany:

  • Dovaogēdys! Āeksia ossēnātās, menti ossēnātās, qilōni pilos lue vale tolvie ossēnātās, yn riñe dōre ōdrikātās. Urnet luo buzdaro tolvio belma pryjātās!
  • “Unsullied! Slay the masters, slay the soldiers, slay every man who holds a whip, but harm no child. Strike the chains off every slave you see!”

And then we get Kraznys’ last lines of the show:

  • Nyk skan jiva aeske! Zer sena! Zer sena!
  • “I am your master! Kill her! Kill her!”

And then Dany says one of the High Valyrian words we already knew, and then comes the sweet, sweet carnage.

From IGN

Hit “Escape” to pause.

What a scene… My hat is off to Dave and Dan. They’ve done great work, and continue to raise the bar.

At the end, Dany says most of the following:

  • Jevo glaesoti rȳ buzdari istiat. Kesy tubi jemot dāervi tepan.
  • “You have been slaves all your life. Today I give you freedom.”


  • Henujagon jaelza lua vala mirre henujagon kostas, se daorys ziry ōdrikilza. Jemot kivio ñuhe tepan.
  • “Any man who wishes to leave may leave, and no one will harm him. I give you my word.”


  • Yne sytivīlībilāt? Hae dāero valoti?
  • “Will you fight for me? As free men?”

I don’t think I missed any long vowels above, but I may have (and if so, I’m sure we’ll get them sorted eventually).

I hope you enjoyed the episode as much as I did. It was an absolute joy to work on High Valyrian, and now that I’ve heard Emilia speak it, I can say that I’m really pleased with the results. I’m also greatly appreciative of the talents of Dan Hildebrand: the latest fallen soldier from Game of Thrones. When I was imagining Kraznys, I was imagining a coarse, revolting, unmannered oaf of a slave master. Dan did the exact opposite of this. His Kraznys is well-cultivated, and speaks with an easy almost callous casualness. It makes his insulting behavior that much more shocking, in my opinion. He seems like a guy who would do well in mixed company, so the fact that he can be so horribly insulting to someone standing right in front of him gives you a totally different picture of what it means to be a slave master in Astapor. He’s so powerful that he simply doesn’t need to care what anyone thinks of him, and it probably never occurs to him that anything he does could be wrong. You did a remarkable job, Dan, and I couldn’t be happier with the way you tackled Astapori Valyrian. Kirimvose!

So now there’s a good batch of High Valyrian (and Astapori Valyrian) material there to work with. When looking at High Valyrian—especially the sentences with relative clauses—bear in mind that, in most important respects, High Valyrian is head-final. Relative clauses are a bit tough—or backwards—for anyone speaking a Western language.

Four down and six to go! Plenty of Valyrian yet to come. Thanks for reading!

Conlangery #89: Polysynthesis

Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Today, we take a little time to talk about the topic of polysynthesis Top of Show Greeting: Gothic (translated by Roman Rausch) Links and Resources: Nootkan/Southern Wakashan grammar (featured on episode 41) ZBB thread on polysynthesis Nice Inuit article Iñupiatun Eskimo dictionary Ancient Egyptian (Amazon link) Feedback: Hello, I’ve posted in the comments as Panglott a […]

Konstantin’s Gifts, by Kathryn Anthony: The Rusalka

Sunday, April 21st, 2013
Rusalka by Ivan Bilibin, 1934
From Wikipedia (see entry for public domain data)
       I recently reviewed Kathryn Anthony's novel Konstantin's Gifts on Amazon and Goodreads.  I wanted to elaborate a bit here and discuss the entity from Slavic folklore called the rusalka, which Kat Anthony adapted for her story.  We see lots of werewolves and vampires in current popular writing, but the rusalka is much rarer.  Fel Wetzig in a post on her folklore-oriented blog recently mentioned the rusalka: "In Slavic folklore, the rusalka dwells in waterways–part fish, and part women. At night the left the water to dance in the meadows, seducing handsome, young men and luring them to the river to die." 
       Wikipedia describes the rusalka thus:
       "In most versions, the rusalka is an unquiet dead being, associated with the 'unclean force.' According to Zelenin, people who die violently and before their time, such as young women who commit suicide because they have been jilted by their lovers, or unmarried women who are pregnant, must live out their designated time on earth as a spirit.
       "The ghostly version is the soul of a young woman who had died in or near a river or a lake and came back to haunt that waterway. This undead rusalka is not invariably malevolent, and will be allowed to die in peace if her death is avenged.  ...  While her primary dwelling place was the body of water in which she died, the rusalka could come out of the water at night, climb a tree, and sit there singing songs, sit on a dock and comb her hair, or join other rusalki in circle dances (Polish: korowody) in the field.  ...  Rusalki like to have men and children join in their games. They can do so by enticing men with their singing and then drowning them, while the children were often lured with baskets of fruit. Men seduced by a rusalka could die in her arms, and in some versions hearing her laugh could also cause death. Alternatively, they would attract men, mainly bachelors, and tickle them to death."  (Rather amusing!)
        Wikipedia goes on to list a number of literary adaptations of the rusalka legend:  novels by C. J. Cherryh and Poul Anderson, operas by Dvorak and Dargomyzhsky, short pieces by Gogol, Turgenev, and Pushkin, and several others.
       Kat Anthony's novel concerns a fire rusalka, which is not mentioned in Wikipedia.  When I Googled "fire rusalka," I came up with a post by the author herself in which she discusses what title to give her novel:
       "So what about: “Fire Rusalka“? This is closer. Vasilisa, my main character, is a unique hybrid–she has the strength of the lycanthrope, without any of its negative side effects. And, she has the charisma of the rusalka–a kind of nymph in Russian mythology whose voice and face create a kind of compulsive fascination that they use to draw unwitting mortals to their watery graves. I made up the idea of a rusalka associated with the element of fire, so this is a different take that might intrigue those who are familiar with the mythology. So, for the tiny subset of the population who are fond of the rusalka myth, this might be an intriguing title."
       So we see that the fire rusalka is an invention or adaptation of the author's.  It makes some sense to do this; since the rusalka is an elemental spirit, it could easily take different forms.  As for the title, I'm glad Anthony settled on Konstantin's Gifts, since I think it captures the irony of the book -- what the mad scientist inflicts on his victims are hardly gifts in the positive sense, and yet they are gifts in that they enable the victims to rise about their victimhood, both as serfs/slaves and as powerful deviants.
       The novel could be stronger; see my review.  I would have preferred to see more done with uncommon concept of the rusalka and perhaps even to have omitted the vampires and werewolves altogether.  It might have been possible to emphasize the relationship between Konstantin and Vasya and develop the Prince's character, making him more complex.   I had originally intended to discuss here a few more aspects of the book that could be improved, but I think I'll leave the topic alone.  As readers of this blog know (see my post "Analysis: Katabasis, by Kathryn Anthony"), I think Kat is a very good writer with lots of potential to write ever improving fiction.  You can try Konstantin's Gifts for yourself, and I would recommend that you do so.  It's available at Amazon.

Starting a New Translation

Friday, April 19th, 2013
I've started translating Cinderella. In the first paragraph I'll get to use the 3rd person pronoun, the 3.5th person, AND the 3.5.5th person.

Starting a New Translation

Friday, April 19th, 2013
I've started translating Cinderella. In the first paragraph I'll get to use the 3rd person pronoun, the 3.5th person, AND the 3.5.5th person.

Starting a New Translation

Friday, April 19th, 2013
I've started translating Cinderella. In the first paragraph I'll get to use the 3rd person pronoun, the 3.5th person, AND the 3.5.5th person.

minute is minitu

Thursday, April 18th, 2013
minitu = minute (noun) (some things Google found for "minitu": an uncommon term; user names; misspellings of minute some perhaps deliberate; "mini tu" means "mini you" in Spanish; name of a World of Warcraft gaming character; Minitu Ceramics Limited of India)

Word derivation for "minute" :
Basque = minutu, Finnish = minuutti
Miresua = minitu

There was not much to work with here. The word minute occurs many times later on in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I noticed it often in the phrase "a minute or two."

Xam ba ame ba jjum maui – Prayer of White Bison Woman (White Buffalo woman)

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
I've come across this in both the book of fables that I've had since a little kid, and now in the internet.  I figure the universe was trying to tell me something!

I find it sad that this is meant to be a song in English, but the way that it's translated makes it very unsingable. I've fixed this for Sandic, and sung it for you below!  Here, then, is "Prayer of White Bison Woman" (also called "Prayer of White Buffalo (calf) Woman".

Sandic doesn't distinguish between "I walk" and "I am walking", which made this all the easier for me to translate.

Order of texts: English -- Sandic -- Smooth English of Sandic

With visible breath I am walking.
A voice I am sending as I walk.
In a sacred manner I am walking.
With visible tracks I am walking.
In a sacred manner I walk.

Skee uraugi yktreeka
Miib ytora meer treekaa
Wwee daeyuui ytreekaa
iirabin uraugin yktreekaa
Wwee daeyuui yktreekaa 

With visible breath I am walking
I give a call out as I am walking
In a sacred manner I am walking
With visible footprints I am walking
In a sacred manner I am walking.

Conlangery SHORTS #07: When do you insert your infix?

Monday, April 15th, 2013
George uses an example from Tagalog to highlight one of the decisions conlangers might need to make if they use infixing.