Archive for July, 2013

Conlangery #92: The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

Monday, July 29th, 2013
We go over the basic premise of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and it’s (limited) usefulness to naturalistic conlanging, with a couple of tangents here and there. Top of Show Greeting: Danish (translated by Samuel Kilsholm) Links and Resources: Wikipedia entry on linguistic relativity Linguistic determinism Experimental languages Verb framing Eskimo snow word myth NPR story on study […]

Béno ankoan — Power of Animals

Sunday, July 28th, 2013
Found this cute but not-rhyming song in English randomly on the internet today.  No idea who created it or why (the only copy I found seems to exist here), but I translated it into Sandic anyway.

Incidentally, this is my first song in Sandic ever done with an actual accompanying instrument (excluding hand-patting like has been done in the past).  I used the drum I've had sitting in my closet for a while.  Maybe I should make this a more regular thing and try to learn to play actual music with my songs?

I love chants, what can I say?  Some people prefer pop music... I like simple "let's sing these while on a hike" kind of songs. You have to imagine this wouldn't be so nicely sung when someone is in the grip :p

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

Online recording software >>

Béno ankoan,
fian opéféd,
lēenan kalēniali
pa me opéahl
mér en me,
otema herle
mér madîjj me
otema boa amai
mér lēnial me
otema helakolé
ba verc me obaahlra nokcso


Power of the animals,
come to me,
all the spirits hiding
be in me
when I am running
let me do as the deer do
when I fight
let me do as a mother bear does
when I am hiding
let me do as a fox does
my blows
let them be as (those of) a snake


Animal Spirits
Come to us now
Vanishing Spirits
Come live in us
when we run
let us run like the deer
when we fight
let us fight like a momma bear
when we hide
let us hide like a fox
learn to strike
like a rattlesnake

Phonology idea

Saturday, July 27th, 2013
Do a statistical survey of the distribution of different vowels and consonants in some common form of English. The survey would basically give a two-dimensional array, one dimension corresponding to the individual sounds and the other to frequency at different positions in words.

Now, alter the distribution significantly, so that the sum of each sound's array is roughly the same, but the tops and troughs swap place. After this, recalculate the sum for the frequency for each of the columns (corresponding to frequencies at a position), so they add up to one. (Also, try maintaining the sum of all vowels vs. the sum of all consonants in a given column somewhat intact.)

The result would be a language whose sounds are the same as English, but the way they are used is significantly off. I do think using a restrictive and relatively English-like set of consonant clusters might make sense, but who knows. 

Usage for this thing: naming languages in fiction.

Detail #50: a type of numeral

Friday, July 26th, 2013
At times, trying to come up with numerals different from the normal ordinals, cardinals, groups-of-N, and distributives and whatnots is a thing I try my hand at, but seldom manage.

It hit me that one natural context for numerals is when discussing time, and it could very well be possible for a language to have specific forms for the numerals for N:th day (or even N:th general unit of time), or for N days, to such an extent that the time unit generally can be left out.

four-TIME-[some oblique case, plural]: on four days
 four-TIME-[some oblique case, singular]: on the fourth day (of the month)
four-TIME-[some other oblique case, singular]: four days from the time inferred from the context
four-TIME-[some other oblique case, plural]: every fourth day

Meanwhile, if the language treats "many" and "how many" as numerals, in giving them ordinal forms as well, this could provide some further cool stuff. Finally, diminutives would possibly be used to form, say, hours and minutes or some analogous time units.

I would further like for it to lack the nominative and accusative, so that talking of four units of time as a subject or objects requires normal ordinal or cardinal numerals.

This idea might enter Tatediem.


child is hapi

Friday, July 26th, 2013
hapi = child (noun) (some things Google found for "hapi": a common term; Hapi Mari (aka Happy Martiage!?) is a Japanese manga series; HAPI drums; Hapi brand Asian snacks; HAPI is an Egyptian river god and an Egyptian funerary deity; a brand of Chinese beer from Harbin Brewery; HAPI is an acronym for Hispanic American Periodicals Index; an unusual last name; a rare first name; similar happi is a loose, informal Japanese coat; in Finnish similar happi means oxygen; Hapi Bolaghi is the name of a place in Iran)

Word derivation for "child"
Basque = haur, Finnish = lapsi
Miresua = hapi

Another Basque word for child (or offspring) is ume, which is also used for young animals.

The words child and children can be found in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Vaes Dothrak Vimithreri

Friday, July 26th, 2013

I’m mostly recovered from my first trip to Comic-Con this past weekend, and I’ve discovered that June is almost over, and I’ve only got one post for the month. This is my attempt to remedy that.

Something fun that I got to do for Comic-Con was translate some of the trolley signs for San Diego MTS into Dothraki. The signs were up at the station right across the street from the convention center, and I thought they came out pretty well. Here are some pictures:

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For a full set of the signs, though, check out this picture that SDMTS put together (along with some more literal translations I provided):

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Thanks to Nara Lee for setting it all up! It was pretty cool.

Also, while I was there I got to participate on a panel called “I Can’t Write, I Can’t Draw, But I Love Comics!” put together by Susan Karlin. Here’s a photo:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

The Making Game of Thrones blog also put up a post on the panel with a pretty good picture. You can check it out here.

In Valyrian news, I’ve finished the translations for season 4, so all that’s left is filming and post, and a long wait for the premiere!

Ama ba glénra — Mother of Darkness

Thursday, July 25th, 2013
This is a song I happened to be listening to one evening, which got stuck in my head.  I took the usual course of remedying the situation, as you can see below.

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

Record music with Vocaroo >>

ama ba glénra,
ama yéâ
graŵi pal uvén
balēané lēena
kantan frn se wî
se ân jjew
raactab olēéméera


Mother of darkness,
mother of light
earth below,
soul in flight
songs of love and
love of living
show the truth/ show what *is*!


Mother of darkness,
mother of light
earth below us
soul in flight
songs of love and
love of life
guide us to our heart

The One Ring

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
Sorry about the double post.  I didn't realise I'd be doing two things worth posting in one day.  >.o

This is the "one ring" poem, done after seeing a challenge for it on Facebook.

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

Record and upload audio >>

tsune baahl tré ân otiab ere,
tsune baahl tré ân otiab su,
tsune baahl tré ân otiab úraj
wî (ân) pa glén ŵak otiab sodra.


There is one ring to rule them
one ring to find them
one ring to bring them all together
and to bind them in the shadows.


One ring to rule them all
one ring to find them
one ring to bring them all
and in the darkness bind them.

Diioo staloni – Book of pictures

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
So, I have decided that I'm eventually going to make one of those awesome little books that you'll see for child learners of foreign languages.  You know the ones- they're full of bright pictures, simple phrases, and are fun to glance through even if you don't really plan on learning anything?

Sandic is totally getting one of those, if only for the reason that I would love to have a book to flip through and look at myself.  Granted, I already know the words, but there's something beautiful about seeing them printed that really makes it worthwhile!

Anyway, to that end, I made this image today.  :)  I hope to make many more soon!

Words with an umlaut are stressed where the umlaut falls.  Same for words with letters underlined.  Since I didn't think to do it before uploading, the stress for "safpa" is on the first a: "sAfpa".  :)  Enjoy!

Special thanks to PDClipart for making their collection available online!  I can see myself playing with this a lot in the coming weeks.

butterfly is pehinexa

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
pehinexa = butterfly (noun) (some things Google found for "pehinexa": an unique term; similar pexinxa occurs on a number of Brazilian bargain websites and may be a form of the Portuguese word pechincha which means bargain)

Word derivation for "butterfly"
Basque = tximeleta AND pinpilinpauxa
Finnish = perhonen
Miresua = pehinexa

Basque has multiple words for butterfly, perhaps they are from different dialects. I choose the two that seemed most common.

The word butterfly occurs just once in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alice tells the Caterpillar that some day he'll change into a butterfly.