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Author Topic: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project  (Read 18650 times)

Dirst

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #105 on: February 24, 2015, 03:38:05 pm »

Does anyone have any thoughts on the alphabet and runes?

Beyond that, I was thinking about numbers.  I have an idea for digits, but that's only part of the issue.  During DF's time period, mathematicians used a place-value system for numbers and merchants used a symbol-value system (Roman numerals).  There is also an option in between similar to Chinese numbers.

Examples using modern glyphs:

Place value: 925
Symbol value: CMXXV
Chinese: 9百2十5

Place value: 302
Symbol value: CCCII
Chinese: 3百2

Which type of system does everyone think is appropriate for dwarves to use DF?  Note that the game interface is going to use place-value no matter what, this is more about how things are written down when a tale says that thirty-seven thralls stormed the dining room.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 06:38:08 pm by Dirst »
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CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #106 on: February 25, 2015, 09:45:19 am »

I lost all my long-winded speeches, but I think the Chinese example you provided is most likely, or a variant that functions similarly to our numeral system, which is divided by thousand-digits and often abbreviated by the first letter of our word for that place value group. Like so, 2b, 35m, 350k, 42 ( together as 2b35m350k42) for two billion, thirty-five million, three hundred fifty thousand, and forty two. That would likely be the way for bookkeeping at very least, and whether or not they would use a tally-derived ( like Roman is ) number keeping system, I'm not sure, but I don't see reason why they wouldn't. It's even possible, if not probable, that they use both. I'd like to note that I'm still for a Mayan-esque Base20 number system, which is derived from base5 tally, but simplified and developed to function as a place-value system and provide easy line-of-sight basic arithmetic. ( It would have to be modified to be horizontally-justified though, which wouldn't be hard but would negate some of its usability as a way of keeping numbers. Possibly pushing it into a strictly professional use, like modern-day stenography and accounting for the varying levels of accuracy you can set for your bookkeeper to keep. )

As for the alphabet, yes I have some ideas. Someone, I think it was you Dirst, suggested we use IPA to determine the vowel sound, I'm not sure we should actually. From what I can tell, Dwarven vowels encompass every vowel producible by a humanoid mouth and most of the consonants. I lost the paragraph I wrote explaining the general history of the extended Latin alphabet, but I do still have the main idea of it and my guesses at what each vowel glyph corresponds to. Basically, what I want to do is make a group chart, similar to what we did with the consonants, sorting each vowel by its "type". From what I've determined, the primary vowels are: a,,,e,,i, ,o,,u,. The remaining modifiers, if not strictly tonal or gestural as suggested, or based on duration and stress, as is also possible, are intermediate vowels that fall in between these primary vowels. ( I don't know how to approximate those sounds. ) As can be easily seen, each primary vowel has its compliment primary vowel, e.g. o with , with two exceptions: a, which has a third variant that counts as a primary vowel and i, whose compliment I speculate may not be a vowel at all, or at least not purely a vowel. I speculate that is the Dwarven equivalent of the absent "j" sound, which is only present in the in-game human language. Whereas Humans treat it as a consonant, Dwarves treat it as a vowel and Toady theoretically notated them differently as a result, if we're still treating him as the transliterator of the languages from their native alphabet. This could lead to some fun with in-game transliteration if Dwarves borrow words from Humans, and to give some real life examples: Bjrn would become Brn, York would become ork, etc. I don't have strong justification for this, sadly, but it's my suggestion nonetheless.

What I think each glyph corresponds to:
a - "a" as in "pawn" or "o" as in "moss" ( same sound )
- "a" in cat
- "ow" in cow, but shorter.
e - "eh" as in "Eh"
- "ey" as in fey
i - either "i" as in "sick" or "ee" as in "free"
- I've already said above, though it could also be "ee" as above, especially if that's not represented by the above or one of the other modifiers.
o - "oh" as in "Oh" or "bow" ( the weapon )
- "uh" as in "Uhmm." or "bun"
u - "oo" as in "moon", though perhaps shorter
- "ew" as in "chew" or "ue" as in "blue" ( same sound )

If the other marks are stress/duration marks, then the opposite marks of, for example and , could refer to the main vowel or its compliment being stressed or lengthened. e.g. long "eh" or long "ey" ( The former like me on a Monday, the latter like the Fonz. :P ) As for the circumflex... I'm still very unsure. Maybe as powerful emphasis?? Personally, I like to think of it as a "rolling" tone, like an ornamentation in singing, but as someone else jokingly pointed out: Dwarves are not much for musicality. :P ( When I find the exact quote, I'll append it to the bottom of this message in edit form. )

Some phonetic renderings according to the above Urist Disuthedm ( Dagger Nightmarekey ) - Oorist Disoothehdeym - Oo wrist de sooth eh day mm.-
I know that goes against how I've previously assumed and heard others say "Urist" is pronounced, and for that reason "Urist" will probably continue to be pronounced as rist/rist as a sort of exception.

We'll probably be divided among ourselves about the vowels for years.

-snip
  • The other extreme is that each represents a different tone/pitch, similar to Chinese. In this case we could assume that each mark represents a similar tone as, say, Pinyin: (rising tone), (falling tone), (rising then falling tone), ū (flat tone), and / (?). However, I can hardly imagine a dwarf making tones. I like to think they talk in a gruff monotone, or in some horribly off key (when singing).
-snip-
« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 09:52:40 am by CaptainMcClellan »
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Dirst

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #107 on: February 25, 2015, 10:58:19 am »

I wasn't trying to say we should use the IPA glyphs as some sort of official guide, just that it's a nice collection of many different vowel-sound recordings that we can refer to as a common point of reference.  That's because "a as in tomato" just lets people read things in their own dialect :)

Note that Loam's vowels roughly wrap around that chart.  The IPA chart is taller and skinnier than our current diagram of vowel relationships, and it requires devising some sounds between the IPA entries.  If we keep to the brilliant pattern that Loam laid out, we have the following rules:

Base vowel is unrounded
Circumflex is rounded
Accent moves one slot counter-clockwise
Accent-grave moves one slot clockwise
Umlaut is a distinct vowel placed mid-way between base vowels

front, near-close
front, close (rounded)
i front, close (unrounded)
near-front, close
central, close
near-back, close
back, close (rounded)
u back, close (unrounded)
back, near-close
back, slightly more closed than close-mid
back, slightly less closed than close-mid
back, mid (rounded)
o back, mid (unrounded)
back, open-mid
back, open
central, open
near-front, open (rounded)
a near-front, open (unrounded)
front, open
front, near-open
front, open-mid
front, mid (rounded)
e front, mid (unrounded)
front, slightly less closed than close-mid
front, slightly more closed than close-mid

This requires splitting the current "close-mid" row in two, and rotates the "a" and "e" groups slightly away from their expected positions.  It's unusual for a language to contain vowels that differ only in being mid or close-mid, let alone mid and two levels of close-mid... and this gives us a little insight into how dwarves speak and hear.

The vertical position on the IPA chart (open vs. closed) is governed by the peak frequency (by volume) in a vowel's sound, which tends to be a relatively low frequency.  The horizontal position (front vs. back) is governed by the second peak frequency, which tends to be a lot higher.  Dwarven vowels always distinguish vertically or horizontally, never both at the same time, and the entire middle of the chart is unused (i.e., there is no schwa).  We could surmise that dwarves have better hearing response at low frequencies, or that they have more difficulty than humans distinguishing the second peak.  I don't think there's any reason to believe that a dwarf's mouth would be incapable of making the sounds in the middle of the chart, but those sounds would sound very mushy and indistinct to their own ears.

A schwa might escape a dwarf's lips as a verbal pause (where humans use "eh" or "uh") because it wouldn't be confused with a real word.

Edit: Fixed two typos.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 12:46:24 pm by Dirst »
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Loam

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #108 on: February 25, 2015, 12:03:45 pm »

I took it more as "base is lax, circumflex is tense." Umlauts are still "half-vowels," i.e. unrelated sounds:
Code: [Select]
i = [ɪ]
= [i]
= [ɨ]
u = [ʊ]
= [u]
o = [ɔ]
= [o]
= [ɤ]
a = []
= [a]
= []
= [ɑ]
e = [ɛ]
= [e]
= []
It still wraps around the chart, but the sounds are more understandable to English speakers, which I assume is our main audience. Tense and lax aren't qualities listed on that vowel chart, but they do exist (sort of), and maybe that's just how the Dwarves see things.

As for acutes and graves, I've been playing with the idea that they palatalize the consonant either before (grave) or after (acute) them: basically, whichever way the high end of the accent is pointing, that consonant gets palatalized (or, if the vowel is word-initial, it adds a [j] before the vowel). The vowel itself is the same as the base vowel. This also cuts our vowel count down to a more manageable fifteen.

Of some note is the fact that, in the attested corpus (i.e. the RAW language files), the circumflex, umlaut, and ring accents all appear ~30 times, whereas the acute and grave accents appear ~15 times each. This suggests that they are just different variations of the same vowel (or rather sub-vowel... so they're like variants of a variant...) instead of two widely-separated sounds.

On schwas: there's always the possibility that vowels in unstressed syllables will weaken to schwas or other sounds. So they're not phonemic, but could easily be allophonic. Depends how deep into things like word stress you want to go.

CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #109 on: February 25, 2015, 12:21:32 pm »

The vertical position on the IPA chart (open vs. closed) is governed by the peak frequency (by volume) in a vowel's sound, which tends to be a relatively low frequency.  The horizontal position (front vs. back) is governed by the second peak frequency, which tends to be a lot higher.  Dwarven vowels always distinguish vertically or horizontally, never both at the same time, and the entire middle of the chart is unused (i.e., there is no schwa).  We could surmise that dwarves have better hearing response at low frequencies, or that they have more difficulty than humans distinguishing the second peak.  I don't think there's any reason to believe that a dwarf's mouth would be incapable of making the sounds in the middle of the chart, but those sounds would sound very mushy and indistinct to their own ears.

A schwa might escape a dwarf's lips as a verbal pause (where humans use "eh" or "uh") because it wouldn't be confused with a real word.
Which seems weird, at first... but it's really not. Think about it, when surrounded by the sounds of incessant mining and hammering, you kinda kill your ability to establish sounds in the mid-range as well. So your hearing would fall to higher and lower frequencies, and as age sets in the ability to distinguish higher frequencies dull naturally, and added to the auditory assault of dwarven industry.. it's not surprising that they would have better hearing response at low frequencies. They need at least a few transcribable "alert" phonemes though, which can be heard over low frequency Dwarven machinery. ( ie the sound of stone gears grinding together, which is pretty low and constant. ) Also, the sounds of wood cutting are rather low too, but they can be loud enough to make it hard to distinguish words in lower registers, further making that a necessity. What do you think, should there just be special symbols for battle cries and alert yells, should they just be written in a descriptive sense ( "an alarming cry" ), or are we assuming all dwarves have horns at all times that they can use for that purpose instead of verbal language?

Also, I don't really know if this was addressed or not, but are iotazation and the "j" sound going to be used with the "i-type" runes or ignored?

I'll try to upload a recording of the pronunciation chart I had in my last post later.

I took it more as "base is lax, circumflex is tense." Umlauts are still "half-vowels," i.e. unrelated sounds:
Code: [Select]
i = [ɪ]
= [i]
= [ɨ]
u = [ʊ]
= [u]
o = [ɔ]
= [o]
= [ɤ]
a = []
= [a]
= []
= [ɑ]
e = [ɛ]
= [e]
= []
It still wraps around the chart, but the sounds are more understandable to English speakers, which I assume is our main audience. Tense and lax aren't qualities listed on that vowel chart, but they do exist (sort of), and maybe that's just how the Dwarves see things.

As for acutes and graves, I've been playing with the idea that they palatalize the consonant either before (grave) or after (acute) them: basically, whichever way the high end of the accent is pointing, that consonant gets palatalized (or, if the vowel is word-initial, it adds a [j] before the vowel). The vowel itself is the same as the base vowel. This also cuts our vowel count down to a more manageable fifteen.

Of some note is the fact that, in the attested corpus (i.e. the RAW language files), the circumflex, umlaut, and ring accents all appear ~30 times, whereas the acute and grave accents appear ~15 times each. This suggests that they are just different variations of the same vowel (or rather sub-vowel... so they're like variants of a variant...) instead of two widely-separated sounds.

On schwas: there's always the possibility that vowels in unstressed syllables will weaken to schwas or other sounds. So they're not phonemic, but could easily be allophonic. Depends how deep into things like word stress you want to go.
I don't know about it palatizing things. Could you maybe give an example of the usage in a dwarven word?

Mmm, I guess. So then we're down to 5 primary vowels again, with two variations and 5 intermediary with no tension variance?

Hmmm. I think in terms of things like that we would have begun to argue dialects, which means we'd looked too deep and missed the point of this whole thing. Which was: Make a functioning language, not necessarily a natural one. My intention was just to get a Dwarven that I could write poetry in, and we've already gone way beyond that. ( Kudos to us, I say! If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing, such is Dwarf Fortress. More accurately: We like to simulate things down to the most minute details possible with as much realism as possible. )

Miuramir

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #110 on: February 25, 2015, 01:17:55 pm »

Beyond that, I was thinking about numbers.  I have an idea for digits, but that's only part of the issue.  During DF's time period, mathematicians used a place-value system for numbers and merchants used a symbol-value system (Roman numerals).  There is also an option in between similar to Chinese numbers.

One thought is that we get some insight into Dwarven perception of numbers with the bookkeeper's precision.  Dwarves seem to have developed a more explicit use of significant figures; with the concept of numbers with 1, 2, 3, 4, or unlimited significant figures, in base 10. 

Looking at the rounding probably implies that there is a single dwarven word for each of "ten", "hundred", "thousand", and "ten thousand".  So, an ordinary dwarf faced with describing 12,345 items (goblins, stones, whatever) would probably use only two words; "one" and "ten-thousand".  (It's possible also that the "one" is assumed, or gets replaced with a singular signifier; e.g. in English one can say "three hundred" or "one hundred", but one might also say "a hundred".) 

Conversely, there is no indication that there are words for groups larger than ten-thousand (e.g. no million, billion, etc.).  I suggest that it stages up; and as in some existing languages (Chinese?) that the common word for "uncountable" or "infinite" is the highest level word twice.  So, "ten-thousand ten-thousands" is literally 100,000,000; but is used for any unimaginably large, uncountable, or infinite number. 

Edit: And probably also sarcastically and as an expression of futility.  "I'm not going outside this fall, there are ten-thousand ten-thousands leaves out there, and someone will want me to pick them up and put them in a stack."
« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 01:21:22 pm by Miuramir »
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Loam

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #111 on: February 25, 2015, 01:41:34 pm »

I don't know about it palatizing things. Could you maybe give an example of the usage in a dwarven word?

"dstik" is pronounced [djʊstɪk] "dyuh-stick"

"skrith" is pronounced [skjrɪθ] "sai-krith"

It's pretty simple, really, though it's hard to do with sounds like [r]. The easy-but-not-exactly-accurate way of understanding it is to put a "y" sound between the vowel and the consonant. It's a big thing in Russian.

So, the typical way of saying "Urist" [jʊrɪst] would be spelled "rist."
Incidentally, "yurist" in Russian means "lawyer." Make of that what you will.

Dirst

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #112 on: February 25, 2015, 02:26:48 pm »

I took it more as "base is lax, circumflex is tense." Umlauts are still "half-vowels," i.e. unrelated sounds:
Code: [Select]
i = [ɪ]
= [i]
= [ɨ]
u = [ʊ]
= [u]
o = [ɔ]
= [o]
= [ɤ]
a = []
= [a]
= []
= [ɑ]
e = [ɛ]
= [e]
= []
It still wraps around the chart, but the sounds are more understandable to English speakers, which I assume is our main audience. Tense and lax aren't qualities listed on that vowel chart, but they do exist (sort of), and maybe that's just how the Dwarves see things.

As for acutes and graves, I've been playing with the idea that they palatalize the consonant either before (grave) or after (acute) them: basically, whichever way the high end of the accent is pointing, that consonant gets palatalized (or, if the vowel is word-initial, it adds a [j] before the vowel). The vowel itself is the same as the base vowel. This also cuts our vowel count down to a more manageable fifteen.

Of some note is the fact that, in the attested corpus (i.e. the RAW language files), the circumflex, umlaut, and ring accents all appear ~30 times, whereas the acute and grave accents appear ~15 times each. This suggests that they are just different variations of the same vowel (or rather sub-vowel... so they're like variants of a variant...) instead of two widely-separated sounds.

On schwas: there's always the possibility that vowels in unstressed syllables will weaken to schwas or other sounds. So they're not phonemic, but could easily be allophonic. Depends how deep into things like word stress you want to go.
I think that using accents as some kind of modifier (rather than distinct vowels) will help a lot.  Intuitively, I'd like an accent to do "half of a circumflex" and an accent grave to do "the other half," but I don't think that's feasible.  Shorter or longer duration might work.

I put your vowels into a table and tweaked a couple of the entries.  Wikipedia has some limited data on the frequency peaks in vowels, and the ones in parentheses are my guesses based on linear regression of the Openness/Backness/Roundness attributes.  You can judge the guesses by looking at the raw regression results (Pseudo-F1 and Pseudo-F2) in rows that have actual data.  Richer source data would yield better estimates.

These F1 and F2 numbers can be put into a vowel synthesizer to get a feel for what these things sound like.

DFIPAOpennessBacknessRoundnessOpen#Back#Round#F1F2Pseudo-F1Pseudo-F2
ɪNear-closeNear-frontNo0.8330.750(350)(2000)347.7622026.655
iCloseNear-frontNo10.750(240)(2100)260.7292112.970
iCloseFrontNo110240 2400 261.4282360.535
ɨCloseCentralNo10.50(240)(1900)260.0291865.405
ʊNear-closeNear-backNo0.8330.250(350)(1500)346.3641531.524
uCloseNear-backNo10.250(240)(1600)259.3301617.839
uCloseBackYes101250 595 195.624883.428
ɤClose-midBackNo0.66700460 1310 432.1771198.160
oClose-midBackYes0.66701360 640 369.170711.314
oMidBackYes0.501(450)(600)456.204624.998
ɔOpen-midBackYes0.33301500 700 543.238538.683
ɑOpenBackNo000750 940 779.791853.415
aOpenCentralNo00.50(800)(1400)781.1901348.546
aOpenFrontNo010850 1610 782.5881843.677
Near-openFrontNo0.16710(700)(1900)695.5541929.992
eɛOpen-midFrontNo0.33310610 1900 609.0422015.791
eClose-midFrontNo0.66710390 2300 434.9742188.422
Close-midFrontYes0.66711370 1900 371.9681701.575

All of the DF vowels here have at least one of Openness and Backness at an extreme value (0 or 1).

Edit: A couple of the o's were transposed.  It's been fixed.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 02:58:56 pm by Dirst »
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CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #113 on: February 26, 2015, 08:47:30 am »

I don't know about it palatizing things. Could you maybe give an example of the usage in a dwarven word?

"dstik" is pronounced [djʊstɪk] "dyuh-stick"

"skrith" is pronounced [skjrɪθ] "sai-krith"

It's pretty simple, really, though it's hard to do with sounds like [r]. The easy-but-not-exactly-accurate way of understanding it is to put a "y" sound between the vowel and the consonant. It's a big thing in Russian.

So, the typical way of saying "Urist" [jʊrɪst] would be spelled "rist."
Incidentally, "yurist" in Russian means "lawyer." Make of that what you will.
Yeah, I thought that's what you meant by palatalization. I call the iotaization, but I guess that's not the correct term... That's an interesting take to bring. Whether they use palatalization or not, I'm unsure, but I guess that method of notating it would be pretty valid, if a bit limited.

I make of that that we have a hilarious new character. :)

Urist McWright, Ace DWARVEN Attorney.

Wearing his black beard of JUSTICE and his Adamantium Court Suit, he will object your objection to his objection... With a battle-ax. ( That's why he's always Wright. )
(( I spent entirely too long on that joke, so I really hope it gets a laugh. -_- ))
((( Yes, that does mean he's not wearing pants behind that desk. :P )))

Timeless Bob

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #114 on: February 28, 2015, 12:10:25 am »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFldBVWFgWo
bu`t to the head!

I'm both amazed and gratified that so many conlang enthusiasts have gotten together over this - what a worthy effort so far!

From the "Model Languages" group (from way back in the AOL days before Yahoo was even around), there was this resource: http://www.zompist.com/kit.html 
It may still be of some use to this effort.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2015, 12:33:24 am by Timeless Bob »
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Uristsonsonson

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #115 on: March 04, 2015, 01:50:22 am »

Hi! I'm not sure exactly where you guys are at in this, but I've been reading the thread off and on with some interest. I tried something like this about a year ago. That project kind of died between lack of time and lack of scripting know-how (it was such a PITA it took a literal day just to alphabetize some of the files by hand), but I thought it might be interesting to give you some of my old resources and mention that I came across a workable workaround for when you get to the actual work of entering all of this into the game itself. Just add a new entry to the language_words document for each form you want the game to have for each word and then go through the racial languages and the symbols file to match the format. An example:

[WORD:ABBEY_NOM_INDEF_SING]
   [NOUN:abbey:abbey]
      [FRONT_COMPOUND_NOUN_SING]
      [REAR_COMPOUND_NOUN_SING]

[WORD:ABBEY_NOM_INDEF_PLUR]
   [NOUN:abbeys:abbeys]
      [FRONT_COMPOUND_NOUN_PLUR]
      [REAR_COMPOUND_NOUN_PLUR]

[WORD:ABBEY_NOM_DEF_SING]
   [NOUN:the abbey:the abbey]
      [THE_NOUN_SING]
      [THE_COMPOUND_NOUN_SING]

[WORD:ABBEY_NOM_DEF_PLUR]
   [NOUN:the abbeys:the abbeys]
      [THE_NOUN_PLUR]
      [THE_COMPOUND_NOUN_PLUR]

[WORD:ABBEY_GEN_DEF_SING]
   [NOUN:of abbeys: of abbeys]
      [OF_NOUN_PLUR]

And here's everything I can find from the old project:
http://dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/DF2014:Language_token The library of tokens that can be used in the language files.
http://dffd.bay12games.com/file.php?id=8862 My alphabetized language_words and language_SYM files. You might want to double check them but feel free to use both or either.
http://dffd.bay12games.com/file.php?id=9051 Reelya's LangOpt stuff. I don't remember much about it but I think it was useful.
http://dffd.bay12games.com/file.php?id=8219 Milo Christiansen's Words Splitter script. This was incredibly useful for splitting all the entries up. The only issues are that you have to manually format the output and that I forget how well that scheme worked and whether I had to add or remove any categories. I used the DF fortress naming screen a lot to sanity check the results every so often.
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CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #116 on: March 04, 2015, 02:23:10 am »

Hmm.... Did you test this and see if it worked?

Also! Thank you both for your interest and your resources! Not to mention, bringing attention to this thread so that I wouldn't forget it,

Uristsonsonson

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #117 on: March 04, 2015, 02:36:10 am »

About a year ago. The basic idea was solid. I just don't recall all of the fine tuning I had to use or have any files except the two I uploaded to DFFD.
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CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #118 on: March 04, 2015, 09:23:11 am »

Wow. I just looked over the language tags, and that's phenomenally useful! With a bit of time, we could actually implement a full and robust language that way. Albeit, still one with a limited vocabulary. Well

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFldBVWFgWo
bu`t to the head!

I'm both amazed and gratified that so many conlang enthusiasts have gotten together over this - what a worthy effort so far!

From the "Model Languages" group (from way back in the AOL days before Yahoo was even around), there was this resource: http://www.zompist.com/kit.html 
It may still be of some use to this effort.
Thanks! I still haven't looked at the Model Languages resource much yet. I'll try to get back to it.

Dirst

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #119 on: March 04, 2015, 10:57:36 am »

So here is my attempt at the numbers, using a variation on the Chinese system.  My theory is that Dwarves might have the gross-body agility of a sack of potatoes, but they have good fine-muscle dexterity for crafting and therefore have no trouble extending any arbitrary combination of fingers.

A dwarf starts counting on the right hand with palm outward (or down if counting to herself), using the thumb for "1", thumb and index finger for "2", thumb index and middle fingers for "3" and so on up to 5.  Fold down the thumb for "6".  Fold down the index finger for "7" and so on until you have a pinky for "9".  For "10" fold down the last right-hand finger and extend the left thumb.  The number "28" would be the left thumb and forefinger as well as the right ring and pinky fingers.

In cases where the dwarf needs to show a big number using one hand, palm outward means "this hand" and palm inward means "the other hand."

In writing, Dwarven has left-hand and right-hand runes that are mirror images of one another, and they are pretty much always in pairs.  The first row of runes in the image below are the left-hand runes 0-9 and the right-hand runes 0-9.

A leading zero can be omitted, but usually isn't.  A trailing rune that looks something like a hand indicates the number is finished.  This is something of an anti-fraud measure, preventing someone from appending digits after the fact.

For numbers greater than 100, a pair of digits on the front can count hundreds marked by a symbol that looks like a bucket or barrel.  The next pair of digits at the front, if needed, are marked by a symbol that looks like a minecart or wagon.  The three markers are shown on the third line in the image.

I imagine that dwarves would want to have certainty about any uncertainty in their numbers, so the second row of runes indicate approximate values.  The first one would be signified with the left thumb up but curled, the second one with the left thumb extended with the index finger curled, etc.  The final rune on the third row is for a completely unknown digit (for example, one of the ?'s on the stock screen).  It's a hybrid of "approximately 1" and "approximately 4" and "approximately 6" and "approximately 9" (signified with a hand having all of its fingers curled or "half extended").




Here are some example numbers:

2600

An uncertain count between 910020 and 910049

Approximately 70



The hand, barrel and wagon symbols could be used directly as plural markers in the text.  Just prefix the noun with the appropriate marker so that Dwarven plurals come with a rough order of magnitude with meanings like "handfuls of daggers" or "wagonloads of bones."  How to actually pronounce this is a job for later (we need to account for words that begin with vowels).

As mentioned earlier, dwarves don't seem to have a native concept of really really big numbers, but this could be extended.  Either combine the markers to have "bucketfuls of wagonloads of golbins" or extend the collection of markers to "caravans" and "armies" and "fortresses" and "kingdoms" and so on.  It's plausible that scholars and recordkeepers do the latter while laymen do the former.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 12:26:26 pm by Dirst »
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