Archive for January, 2014

Le:ee Jwr — O God

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
I wrote a prayer.

Order of Texts: Sandic -- Smooth English of Sandic


le:ee jwr,
frn le:ee awwahl ialthan nu ba
erin le:ee gator utesai baahl,
frn wena wii deelen le:ee awwsa wii
auzob awwma le:ee wii lenab
ialthan also jwr awwahl,
ba ivi kafasi.


O God,
with regards to you we are only pieces of 
the vastness of you which will never be understood and known,
of your beauty and your ugliness we know
and will know,
we do your good and your bad
 pieces are we of us-God,
of the All which flows.

Keei Dalkain — Son of Man

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
Another song. I did this one while waiting for a guy to come help me with something. He never showed up, but the song remains!

I didn't sing this one. Here's the original English version.

Maybe someday I'll take the time and collect all the songs in Sandic and sing them and put them in a collection, or something. Mn.

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


"Son Of Man"

Oh, the power to be strong
And the wisdom to be wise
All these things will
come to you in time

On this journey that you're making
There'll be answers that you'll seek
And it's you who'll climb the mountain
It's you who'll reach the peak

Son of Man, look to the sky
Lift your spirit, set it free
Some day you'll walk tall with pride
Son of Man, a man in time you'll be

Though there's no one there to guide you
No one to take your hand
But with faith and understanding
You will journey from boy to man

In learning you will teach
And in teaching you will learn
You'll find your place beside the
ones you love

Oh, and all the things you dreamed of
The visions that you saw
Well, the time is drawing near now
It's yours to claim in all

Son of Man,
A man for all to see.


“keei dalkain”

Beeno aan ahl paelai,
sa aan ma frnsa,
pian otiab otemee-e
gre ba ma

klee ba fias biab peefeed
deelewabin peetesu
ian toa ta jjujjan peetefeed,
ian toara peetemisia !

le:ee keei dalkain, opeebra
obale:anee frn pee ba le:ena
arapi peeteahl gre ba ma
le:ee gezo ba ma pian batora paelab

jjiave aan keemania piab kaneot tjeer
aan piab kaneot kre
a paelai wii katefei
bateahl paela ba lev !

peetetora meer ade san ,
peetetade meer ora san ,
meadab peetesu amal pal ba usei!

ta paron pian oxmee-e
ta le:ia usain
amal omii aan opeema le
opeesod pat ivi !

le:ee keei,
ba keei erini bamee-e


"The adults' little one"

Power to be strong,
knowledge to act wisely,
they will show themselves to you
when this is done

along this path you are travelling along
you will find secrets
you will go to the top of the mountains
you will climb very high up!

O little one of the adults, listen here
may your soul fly
you will be honorable when this is done
O child, the doing is what gives you strength

Though no one leads you,
and no one carries you along,
Still, (if you act/are) strong and understanding
the weakness will become strength!

You will teach as you learn,
you will learn as you teach,
you will find your place with what you love!

the dreams that showed themselves to you
those you knew before
they are whispering to you in divine inspiration that you should act quickly
quickly, seize everything (you have dreamed)!

O little one,
what is little shows itself to be big / what is unimportant shows itself to be important

Asshekhqoyi Anni Save…Save

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Well, it’s that time again. It’s been another year, and now I’m thirty-three. It’s been a heck of a year. I presented at TED and El Ser Creativo, did a really epic season of Game of Thrones that got totally shafted by the Golden Globes, the first season of Defiance, Thor: The Dark World, and picked up a couple new projects. What I didn’t do was get to 4,000 Dothraki words. :( Things have really slowed down on that front. Having a bunch of stuff to work on is outstanding, but it does mean that I’m not able to expand the languages as much as I’d like to, or give them as much attention as I’d like to. I haven’t forgotten about anything, I can assure you, it’s just going to take more time for me to get things settled.

Consequently, there’s not a lot of new material to work with for this year’s Dothraki haiku competition—which begins right now! I’ve thought a lot about expanding to include Valyrian, so here’s what I’ll say. I will allow Valyrian haiku, but they won’t compete directly with the Dothraki haiku. If there are a sufficient number of submissions, I’ll make Valyrian a permanent member of the haiku competition. For now, though, Valyrian is an expansion language, and Valyrian compositions will not be accepted for the coveted Mawizzi Virzeth.

Now, let’s see if I can come up with something of my own:

Vezh chak karlina
Ma frakhoki vash kashi
Eya kishoon.

Okay, that should be figure-out-able, but I won’t lie: it’s a little tricky.

This year’s challenge word is noreth, “hair”. Because I like it. Again, the challenge word is not required, but if you wanted something to give you a jump start (in case you can’t think of a theme ex nihilo), try using the challenge word. It’s got kind of a strange shape (and was likely inspired by the Moro word ndreth, which is the plural of ereth, which means “clothes”).

And here are the rules, reposted from last year:


For the purposes of this contest, a haiku is 17 syllables long, with the syllable counts for each line being 5, 7 and 5, in that order. If you need to fudge, we’ll set up a separate category for haiku that are 17 syllables, but maybe don’t hit the right line numbers.

Also (and this is important), since this is Dothraki, we are definitely going by syllable count, not mora count. Regarding syllable-counting, in Dothraki, a syllable is defined as a vowel plus one or more consonants on either side. A syllable cannot contain more than one vowel, which means that a word like kishaan is trisyllabic, not disyllabic.

If it helps, you may or may not contract the various prepositions that contract. So, for example, mr’anha (two syllables) is the usual way of saying “inside me”. For your haiku, if you wish, you can separate the two out, i.e. mra anha (three syllables). You can also drop purely epenthetic e vowels (so the past tense of “crush”, kaffe, can be rendered as kaff’). Feel free to play with word order and drop pronouns, as needed, bearing in mind that such language is figurative, and the reader will still need to be able to figure out who’s doing what to whom.

For Valyrian: Long vowels count as two mora, and a vowel with a coda counts as two mora, but a syllable will not have more than two mora. So a long vowel plus a coda consonant will still be two mora, for the purposes of the poem. Try doing this with mora, instead of syllables, and see how it goes. This will make it more like a real Japanese haiku. If you need a particular word in a particular number/case combination or a verb in a particular conjugation, please let me know and I’ll give it to you.

Addendum: Rising diphthongs count as two mora (i.e. ae and ao); falling diphthongs count as one (e.g. ia, ua, ue, etc.). Also, word order is certainly freer in poetry than it is in everyday speech, but the rules about adjectives still apply (i.e. you use the short forms if the adjective appears directly before the noun it modifies; otherwise they’d take their full forms). And, finally, word-final consonants are extrametrical. Thus if a word ends in -kor, that counts as one mora, not two.

Shieraki gori ha yerea! Fonas chek!

Conlangery SHORTS #12: Verbs in Uskra

Monday, January 20th, 2014
Bianca tells us a little about the verbal system of Uskra, one of her conlangs, and how she played with giving grammatical forms multiple uses.

Conlangery SHORTS #12: Verbs in Uskra

Monday, January 20th, 2014
Bianca tells us a little about the verbal system of Uskra, one of her conlangs, and how she played with giving grammatical forms multiple uses.

Test Sentences, 1

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

The first two sentences in Gary’s list are:

  1. The sun shines.
  2. The sun is shining.

Now, for me, the difference between the two sentences is that the first is in the habitual and the second is in the progressive. OK. No problem. sodna-lɛni makes that distinction:

1. loho logɨdiya evna.

from the sun
moves out iteratively

2. loho logɨdiya evi.

from the sun
is moving out

logɨdiya is the class IV noun meaning ‘light, rays of light’ in the motile plural. It’s the subject of both sentences.

loho is the class II noun meaning ‘the sun’ in the motile singular. It acts as the source or point of origin for the subject. It can be motile because class II nouns are higher up in the animacy hierarchy than class IV nouns.

evi is the verb in use. It means that its subject is moving out in all directions from a grammatically required point of origin. In the first sentence evi is in the iterative, and in the second, the imperfect.

In Kēlen, the two sense are conflated and the easiest way to express the concept is in the sentence:

1|2. la anlōki;


narrow is keptu

Sunday, January 19th, 2014
keptu = narrow (adjective) (some things Google found for "keptu": an uncommon term; one of the many races of humanoids in the role-playing fantasy video game The Elder Scrolls; user names; a very rare last name; name of a World of Warcraft gaming character; similar keptų means baked or fried in Lithuanian)

Word derivation for "narrow"
Basque = estu, Finnish = kapea
Miresua = keptu

Another Basque word for narrow is mehar.

In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, after Alice enlarges inside the White Rabbit's house, Alice said, "...this fireplace is narrow, to be sure; but I THINK I can kick a little!".

Makiamjale: pee — The Noose

Sunday, January 19th, 2014
New song. APC, "The Noose"

Yes, is singable. Yes, I sang it. Not sharing just yet. Need to make a good version.

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

"The Noose"

So glad to see you well
Overcome them, completely silent
Now with heaven's help
You cast your demons out

And not to pull your halo down
Around your neck and tug you off your cloud
But I'm more than just a little curious
How you're planning to go about
Making your amends to the dead
To the dead

Recall the deeds as if
They're all someone else's
Atrocious stories
Now you stand reborn before us all
So glad to see you well
And not to pull your halo down
Around your neck and tug you to the ground
But I'm more than just a little curious
How you're planning to go about
Making your amends to the dead
To the dead

With your halo slipping down
Your halo slipping
Your halo slipping down
Your halo slipping down
Your halo slipping down [repeated]
Your halo slipping down to choke you now


"Makiamjale: pee"

uxheeloi peemee-e
otiab krian peexmiarsee , siad lena baneot jae
iad ba aan ba
lenab pee peexveel

heelob pee yneot vurale:
o adleb pee wii
piab yneot vur le:yus dee
a fele: ywiisra aan sa frn wwee ian ta kaxmale:lin
peetemii anuu
ian kaxmale:lin

frn ba lenaiale: peesin
wwee frn juti oahl
ta dan uxmain
pal tau aww peetovo ejj uxmesi
hiaktiso peeme-e
heelob pee yneot vurale:
o adleb pee, gre ba madei piab
a fele: ywiisra aan sa frn wwee
ian ta kaxmale:lin peetemii anuu
ian kaxmale:lin

ba heelo pee bayumale:
meer heelo pee bayum…
heelo pee bayumale:
heelo pee bayum… nau
nau heelo pee bayumale:
wii piab bamee-e


You seem healed up
You defeated them entirely, bad does not speak anymore
with the help of heaven
you have released your sin

I am not yanking at your halo
onto your neck and
pulling you from the cloud
But I really want to know how to the dead
You will apologize
to the dead

you think of the atrocity
like it is someone else’s
past actions
you stand before us, reborn
you look like you’re perfect
I’m not yanking at your halo
pulling it onto your neck and pulling you into reality
but I really want to know how
you will say sorry to the dead
to the dead

your halo is slippin’ down
your halo is falling…
your halo is slippin’ down
your halo is falling.. now
now your halo is slipping
and it shows (what) you (are)

I’m back!

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Since I last posted on December 16, 2011, I have moved house, settled into a new job, and created a new language. Yes, me, the “one conlang is enough for me” woman, has created a new conlang. What can I say, these things happen.

This is how it happened: I read a blog post online about brain imaging, and then thought about having a language that expressed motion better than Kēlen does (which admittedly can’t be that hard, Kēlen doesn’t really express motion very well at all.) What I ended up with is a language that talks about direction and journeys between endpoints and makes extensive use of path metaphors. The appendix of this document has the original email exchange with David, version 1 of the language (now called sodna-lɛni), and a short history of the development of the language. Under Future Developments, I wrote:

More vocabulary. Think about modality, quantifiers, adjectives. Work through Gary Shannon’s list of sentences.

So that’s what I am going to do here: work through Gary’s sentences. In sodna-lɛni, and maybe in Kēlen, too. To that end, I am changing the name of this blog to something more generic.

The Life of Hercules: Birth and Childhood

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
Herakles as a boy strangling a snake.
Marble, Roman artwork, 2nd century CE
Public Domain, from
       You all know I based my series The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head on the mythical character of Hercules (Herakles or Heracles in transliterated Greek).  Hercules is a familiar figure in literature and popular culture -- the mighty invincible hero character who happens to be a real hunk -- including innumerable movie and television renditions, TV adaptations, and frequent depictions in graphic arts and sculpture.  (Who wouldn't want to sculpt all those giant muscles?  Even this Baby Hercules had already developed some significant abs!)  I used to watch Kevin Sorbo's version in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  (although I came to it late and never saw the beginning, and preferred the Xena spin-off).  That version left much to be desired, I thought, but it was fun. 
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt
depicted as the infant Hercules
grappling with the Standard Oil Company
Public Domain, from
       When I decided to base my series on Hercules, I used Robert Graves' compilation Greek Myths as my source and I had to do two things: first, I had to familiarize myself with the events of Hercules' life and, second, I had to choose which events would be adaptable to my termite culture.  Two of the events at the start of the hero's life seemed essential: how he came to be born and how and why he killed his first monster.

       Here is a summary:

      Amphitryon was married to Alcmene.  Zeus wanted to beget a great Champion, so while Amphitryon was away avenging the deaths of Alcmene's brothers, the King of the Gods ordered time to be suspended for 36 hours so he would have plenty of time to achieve his goal.  He then assumed Amphitryon's form and dallied with Alcmene for the entire time.  When Amphitryon returned the next day, Alcmene refused to sleep with him, saying they had just spent a whole night of pleasure together.  Amphitryon consulted the Seer Teiresias, who informed him he had been cuckolded by Zeus. 
       Zeus couldn't resist boasting about his exploit, even announcing that his son would be called Heracles ("Glory of Hera").  You can imagine how well this went over with Hera (Zeus's consort).  She laid a plot, saying that whoever was born before nightfall on the day of the birth would be the King of the House of Perseus, an honor Zeus intended for Heracles.  Then she worked to hasten the birth of Eurystheus, and she slowed the birth of Heracles by sitting in the doorway of Alcmene's room with her clothing tied in knots and her fingers locked together.  Hence Eurystheus was born first and the infuriated Zeus, who had gone along with Hera's pronouncement, was forced to make Eurystheus King.  However, Zeus forced Hera to agree that, if Heracles successfully performed Twelve Labors that Eurystheus set upon him, Heracles could become a god.

       Now those of you who have read The War of the Stolen Mother can see right away how I adapted this: Lo'zoi'ma'na'ta is clearly Alcmene and Bai'go'tha the Tyrant of To'wak is clearly Eurystheus.  Zeus is the consort of the Highest-Mother-Who-Has-No-Name, and Teiresias can be none other than the Seer Thru'tei'ga'ma.  I couldn't have Hera be the schemer, because the Highest Mother wouldn't be that petty; she wants Ki'shto'ba to be hatched probably more than her kingly consort does, so I turn the Amphitryon character into the bad guy who tinkers with the eggs in order to make sure Bai'go'tha hatches first.  Thus the premise of Eurystheus/Bai'go'tha assigning the Twelve Labors is set up in both stories, although the motivation for Ki'shto'ba's acceptance of the tasks is quite different from Heracles's (but that's for another post).

       Now, when Heracles was born, he had a twin whose name was Iphicles.  Twin kings or heroes were very important for the Greeks, and thus I introduced the character of A'zhu'lo, a lesser Warrior, obviously not an identical twin.  Iphicles doesn't play much of a part in Heracles's life story, but A'zhu'lo plays a significant part in Ki'shto'ba's story.  The twins are close and love each other very much, yet a certain sibling rivalty exists between them.  This leads to some of the strongest and most poignant plot episodes.

       When Heracles was somewhere between eight months and one year old, he and Iphicles were sleeping when Hera sent two "prodigious azure-scaled serpents" (Robert Graves' description) to attack and kill Heracles.  The babies made a ruckus and Amphitryon rushed in with his sword, only to find Heracles strangling the serpents, one in each hand.  "As they died, he laughed, bounced joyfully up and down, and threw them at Amphitryon's feet."

       I needed to make very little change to that episode, except for the fact that the snakes' origin is left ambiguous.  One might say the Highest Mother did send them, to test Ki'shto'ba and to foreshadow its future power.  I must also say that the Roman statue of the event seems curiously passive -- Heracles might just be having a mild-mannered conversation with the snake, and only one snake is depicted.  As for the political cartoon version, well, it goes to show that ordinary people must have been more highly schooled in classical allusions than they are today -- how many people these days would know about how Hercules strangled snakes when he was in his cradle?

       One other quotation from Graves might be illustrative here: "One Termerus used to kill travelers by challenging them to a butting match; Heracles' skull proved stronger, and he crushed Termerus's head as though it had been an egg.  Heracles was, however, naturally courteous, and the first mortal who freely yielded the enemy their dead for burial." Ah, the Huge-Head, the stone-headed Warrior!  And anyone who has read any of the Ki'shto'ba stories knows our Champion is invariably courteous.

       And one final note ...  This prophecy of Zeus was spoken: "No man alive may ever kill Heracles; a dead enemy shall be his downfall."  I put my version in the mouth of Thru'tei'ga'ma/Teiresias and I phrased it thus: "No Shi would ever witness the death of the second-hatched nymph, nor would anyone ever eat its dead flesh."  And from a later Seer, "A dead foe, but no treachery, shall be [Ki'shto'ba's] ruin."  These two prophecies play a huge part in the unfolding of the Huge-Head's story.  Ki'shto'ba is close to invincible as long as other Shshi are present, and the ambiguity of the prophecy of its cause of death is a constant source of debate throughout the books.  In fact, v. 6 will be called The Revenge of the Dead Enemy.

       If you want to read the totality of my adaptation of these elements of the early life of Hercules, you can buy The War of the Stolen Mother at Amazon or Smashwords, or if you want a foretaste, you can read the pertinent chapter in the sample listed above as SM, Ch.4 (The Tale of the Huge-Head's Hatching and Nymphhood).