Archive for March, 2012

Imperial Messages XIII – “Ang ming lugaya ranya …”

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

This is the thirteenth posting in a series on the process of translating the short story “Eine kaiserliche Botschaft” by the Praguer writer Franz Kafka (*1883, †1924). The individual installments will go through the text mostly sentence by sentence, quoting from the German text as well as a translation of it into English. Following these quotations, I will discuss and comment on newly coined words and thoughts I had on grammar while doing the translation.

The text

Niemand dringt hier durch und gar mit der Botschaft eines Toten. — (Kafka 1994, 282:4–6)

Nobody reaches through here, least of all with a message from one who is dead. — (Kafka 2011)

Ang ming lugaya ranya – ang da-miraya nilarya-vā kayvo budangya nyānena tenya. —

Interlinear glossing


‘Nobody can penetrate here; he does so least probably with the message of a dead person.’

Notes on translation

This sentence may likely have caused me the most effort to translate in the whole series up to now. And not because I did not realize I already had a word that means ‘to penetrate’ at first, but because of the little word “gar” (Kafka 1994, 282:5), which may be translated into English as “even” in this context. The sense of the sentence is pretty clear, I think: having a message from a deceased person with you makes it even less likely you will find a way through. And after I tried hard to figure out a way to express “least” by means of the comparison verb varya- ‘to be the least’, only to find that it is unsuitable here because there is no comparison between A and B regarding a property C, I decided to go for the less complicated construction I used above, which uses the newly coined nilarya ‘improbable’ as an adverb, from nilay ‘probably’ (possibly derived sometime from nil- ‘to think’, but I forget), with our favorite superlative suffix -vā stacked on because adverbs can only be compared that way. I am not entirely happy with “da-miraya”, as for some reason I perceive this literal “do so” as terribly English-like, but I wanted to avoid repetition, and having no verb there at all felt awkward as well.

One grammatical feature of note here is that Ayeri distinguishes two meanings of “with” by means of different constructions. If the “with” entails the use of a tool, means, or the help of something or someone to accomplish the action, the constituent noun phrase will be in the instrumental case. If the “with” refers to accompaniment, however, like in “mit der Botschaft eines Toten” (Kafka 1994, 282:5–6; “with the message from one who is dead”, Kafka 2011) above, the preposition kayvo is used and the dependent noun phrase will be in the locative case, thus “kayvo budangya”.

Works cited:
Kafka, Franz. “Eine kaiserliche Botschaft.” Drucke zu Lebzeiten. By Franz Kafka. Eds. Wolf Kittler et al. Frankfurt a. M.: S. Fischer, 1994. 280–82. Print.
———. “A Message from the Emperor.” Trans. by Mark Harman. NYRblog. The New York Review of Books, 1 Jul. 2011. Web. 9 Feb. 2012. ‹›

Shierak Qiya Jada

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Indeed, season 2 (or series 2, depending on where you’re reading this from) is nearly upon us. This is a small announcement to let regular readers know that during the season I’m going to move away from the regular Dothraki qua Dothraki posts and write up responses to and commentaries on the episodes as we move through the second season (once it’s aired somewhere in the world, the spoiler curtain has lifted. Me nem nesa). Of course, since this is the Dothraki blog, I’ll be focusing on how a given episode relates to the Dothraki language and culture, and I’ll also discuss the Dothraki lines in each episode.

Before moving on, though, I’ve a bit of business to take care of. Last week I did an AMA over at Reddit (you can see the whole thing here), and redditor dopaminer asked the following:

Have you received requests from friends to make their names sound like the word for “awesome” or anything like that? (PS, if you still need to some up with a word for awesome, can it have the sound “rachel” in it?)

Of course, Dothraki has a word for “awesome” (vezhven), but I said I’d come up with something, and I have.

When it comes to flora and fauna vocabulary, I try to research what the Dothraki Sea might be like, but as you read through the Song of Ice and Fire series, George R. R. Martin’s always throwing wild cards in. I’ve tried to come up with words for all the animals that the Dothraki encounter, and a good percentage of those they would likely encounter (e.g. animals around Slaver’s Bay and surrounding environs). We’ve already seen (and, indeed, already had a word for) the mighty lion, hrakkar, but in A Dance with Dragons we were introduced to the city of Volantis, where there are two major political parties: The Elephants and the Tigers. We’d seen elephants before (or at least in cyvasse), but this was, to my knowledge, the first mention of tigers (or tiger cloaks, for that matter). As it seems only right that the Dothraki would come up with their own words for the mightiest of beasts, “tiger” is a good candidate for a new stem.

While most animate nouns that aren’t humans end in a vowel, there are a number of beast words that are disyllabic and end in a consonant—to wit:

  • hrakkar “lion”
  • noah “bull”
  • qlaseh “deer (archaic)”
  • hlizif “bear”
  • kolver “eagle”

And, since tigers are awesome, it seems only fitting to add a new one to the list:

  • rachel “tiger”

There you go, dopaminer! The word is, of course, stressed on the second syllable, and the vowels are different (and the consonants, a bit), but romanized, you can see the resemblance. And, hey, now we’ve got half of the Volantine political factions in Dothraki! Racheli Volanti. I like it. Now we just need “elephant”…

To everyone else, let the countdown begin! I’ve seen the first episode, and it was damn good. I think everyone will be pleased. Fonas chek!

(Oh, and regarding the featured image, I didn’t have any tiger pictures, so that’s, uh…a murloc. That’s close, right?)

oats is aulo

Friday, March 30th, 2012
aulo = oats (noun) (some things Google found for "aulo": a common term; a uncommon masculine first name; AULO is the stock symbol for Aurelio Resource Corp.; user names; an unusual last name; similar aulos was an ancient Greek wind instrument; name of a place in the Philippines)

Word derivation for "oats" :
Basque = olo, Finnish = kaura
Miresua = aulo

With this word, I'll end my series of basic, dry food items.

Trurian word of the day: wilt

Friday, March 30th, 2012

wilt (noun): body; trunk, tree trunk; girth, circumference.


“you have to wrap this around your body”

Inscription from The West Tillage Gate.

Friday, March 30th, 2012


Tagged: conlang, pseudoglyphs, umu, writing sample

Name That Glyph | Round Nine

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Last Week’s Results


JBI | Mohawk


JVA | diaper, baby


JBA | turnip


JGI | pineapple


JÖJÖ | long grass, shrub, field, farm


JNA | hula dancer, broom


JÖDÖ | whale surfacing for air, breach


JÖJI | reverend female elder


JÖM | steam, smoke


JI | hair


JGA | hermit crab


JÖJA | bundle


JBU | alarm clock

Next Week’s Round


Name Those Glyphs

Tagged: conlang, Name That Glyph, pseudoglyphs, umu

Three Little Pigs Update

Friday, March 30th, 2012
After my recent vocabulary posts, my Words-I-Need list for translating The Three Little Pigs is down to:


Here's a snippet for your enjoyment:

Ud y zhukhi mayn, am vukhi mayn, am vusin chwkh mayn ndakhu yb yyn.
So (clarifier) inhale 1st-prsn(fut), and exhale 1st-prsn(fut), and blow down 1st-prsn(fut) house(dir-obj) of 2nd-prsn.
Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house down.

Internet Troll

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

This is how I feel after working with Unicode for a couple of hours! Image courtesy of Trick Slattery (

Internet Troll

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

This is how I feel after working with Unicode for a couple of hours! Image courtesy of Trick Slattery (


Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
IPA: ['kʰoj·nʉ]
n. ice. The solid state of frozen water or any other liquid.

This word is pretty simple and it's much too similar to its English equivalent. As a Tulvan word it can be used with the adjective affix but in the sense "ice-like" not only implying cold but the solidification of it being frozen. As for example:

mar ikoinu. Icy blood.

The meaning here would be a block of frozen blood, as opposed to koinu imar bloody ice, which would imply some blood staining an ice block. To say that a man has "icy blood" would be an impossibility since that blood would not be able to be pumped.