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Author Topic: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project  (Read 18793 times)

CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2015, 03:28:06 am »

PTW.
Although all these projects have died in the past without making much progress, I shall remain hopeful.
I'm a persistent forum bumper and thread necromancer and I think that alone will sustain this project. ( At least until I am struck with another strange mood and withdraw from society. ) At any rate, we've already made promising progress, in my opinion.

Orange Wizard

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2015, 05:03:07 am »

Well, it's never to late to reverse a trend.
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SirQuiamus

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2015, 08:09:49 am »

...
If we're going in with an analytical approach, then could we use intonation shifts or suffixes for certain adjectives: colours, or relative numbers?
...
Final paragraph of this post: I see no reason not to go with the IPA chart in the OP until told otherwise, but if someone wants to ask ToadyOne or ThreeToe, please do! :)


The chart is still far too tentative for an adequate description of the language, because it assigns the same IPA value to letters which clearly denote different phonemes, for example: []=uː and [e]=ɛ. The question is: should we (or Toady) improve the chart by assigning easily distinguishable vowel sounds to all the diacritical letters, or should we make Dwarvish a tonal language, like Chinese? In the latter case, it would be difficult to use intonation for marking adjectives, etc.       
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Dirst

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2015, 08:27:23 am »

On a practical note, remember that some graphics packs replace the accented letters with basic ones.  As mentione above, this can drastically change the meanings of some words.  For now don't let it dampen your thinking about the phonetics, just be aware that text may not render properly in the game.

As for the sentence order, in English the command-like style of putting the verb first is because an omitted subject has an implied "you" at the front.

Not an expert on linguistics, but I exprct the word order depends on what is most important (imagine the speaker might be interrupted at any moment).  iirc, Old English tagged most words to indicate their function in the sentence.
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SirQuiamus

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2015, 09:01:28 am »

We should also bear in mind that whenever we are talking about characters like and , we are not dealing with real Dwarven letters, but Toady's system for transliterating them into the Latin alphabet. This actually makes things a lot simpler in terms of phonetics, since we can simply assume that the dictionary is already based on a systematic effort to map all the sounds of the language (cf. Pinyin or Kunrei-shiki), and we therefore don't have to worry about homophones and other nasty stuff.
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Uronym

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2015, 09:12:53 am »

Glad you like my idea on tenses/syntax! I just thought it was pretty simple and to the point, like a dwarf, really. And we can nearly dodge the question of prepositions/particles with it.

As for the diacritics, it looks like we have four standard marks, as well as (some quick wiki diving tells me that this is a Scandinavian letter pronounced somewhat like "ah"). Each vowel can have an accent (), a grave (), a circumflex (), or an umlaut/diaeresis (), except u, which can only have an accent, grave, or its own special diacritic (ū). This raises the question of what they are supposed to mean:
  • Suppose that each mark makes its noun into a different phoneme. That would leave Dwarven with an astounding 25+ distinct vowel sounds! That sounds like a lot, even compared to English, which has a high number in relation to other human languages (somewhere between 10 and 20, depending on the dialect).
  • 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).
  • A more European middle ground would be for , and (perhaps) /ū to represent separate tones/accents, but and could be different sounds. This would put the language at a more reasonable sounding 10 vowels (a, , , e, , i, , o, , u).

As for the native writing system, the extremely isolating/analytic and agglutinate evidence from the game suggests to me similarity to Chinese; I like to think they would write in ideograph runes, with long, straight lines meant for carving into stone with another stone over several days. Of course, the dwarves in other fantasy works often write in phonetic runes, which sounds perfectly fine as well. Perhaps they could use a combination, similar to Japanese: phonetic runes could be used for some names and grammatical particles (or by children/foreigners with poor knowledge of the ideographs), with the ideographs being used for the majority of other words as well as native Dwarven names.

Developing a huge catalog of ideograph runes might be a little bit difficult though, considering the (ripe for expansion) extremely tiny vocabulary given in the word list already has 2175 distinct (though often quite similar) words. But perhaps that is just the thing for this kind of community project, and it would certainly be dwarf-like.
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SirQuiamus

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2015, 10:09:34 am »

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Just for reference, the letter denotes /ɔ/ (short) or /oː/ (long) in Swedish, is always pronounced as // in Finnish, and is always // in Finnish and Swedish. It would be fairly straightforward to make , , and signify different vowels, like in the aforementioned languages, but what about the other vowels with two dots (umlaut/diaeresis)? If the sounds are to be distinctive, diaeresis by itself would not be enough (and it would be at odds with the letters and ), so we need to come up with some kind of a sound change (the Dwarven Umlaut) to distinguish and from e and i.

EDIT: A completely different approach would be to make the distinction quantitative as opposed to qualitative, so that the umlauted letters would simply denote lengthened vowels.           
« Last Edit: January 25, 2015, 10:25:32 am by surqimus »
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bahihs

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2015, 11:21:36 am »

Quote
Also, frankly I don't understand bahihs's system, like at all. Mind trying to explain again in a different way?

Sure, no problem (though keep in mind that it is all kind of unnecessary since verbs do exist in the dwarven dicitonary).

Basically the idea is: we eliminate verbs. That's it.

That leaves us with only with nouns and adjectives, which gives us: "ideas"and "things" (nouns) and "qualities" (adjectives)

Then we can use a set of words (something like prefixes or articles) to denote when a noun or adjective is meant in the sense of an action (i.e a verb). Depending on the prefix/article we use, tense is indicated.

This means that any noun or adjective can be turned into a verb with the addition of a specific prefix.

Now for some examples to clear everything up:

First lets go back to my original example, the sentence was:

"Urist needs alcohol to get through the working day"

The problem here, is that the verbs "to need" and "to get" don't exist in the dwarven dictionary. However the nouns "greed" and "burden" do. Thus we can use these nouns in combination with the appropriate prefix/article, to transform them into verbs.

Now, lets say that the word/prefix "ash" indicates that the next word (a noun or adjective) is intended to be interpreted as an action happening right now (i.e the present tense) and that the word "ore" indicates that the next word is to be interpreted as an verb in the infinitive form.

Then (in english): Ash greed = "greeds" (or, "is greedy for/wants/desires") and Ore burden = "to bear" (or, "to endure/to get through")

Now in dwarven: ash dal = ash greed = "greeds" and ore okon = ore burden = "to bear"; where dal = greed and okon = burden in dwarven.

Finally the full sentence:

"Urist needs alcohol to get through the working day"
"Urist ash dal ucat ore okon ducim alod"

It sounds and looks a bit better if you compound the prefix with the noun-verb:
"Urist ashdal ucat oreokon ducim alod"

A few things to note:

1. I am using S-V-O here
2. There may be better words to express "needs" than "greed" but I just used the first thing I found in the dictionary
3. In order to combine this with Uronym's method, you would simply use the word "past", "future" and "present" (if they exist in the dictionary) as the articles/prefixes to denote actions (instead of the arbitrary "ash" and "ore"). Thus, "I bore it" (as in something heavy) could be: past-burden, or in dwarven: getokon

Now having said all that, Dirst provides compelling evidence showing that word roots are not as straightforward as I (and most of us, I think) thought (e.g verbs don't necessarily originate from nouns), not to mention the phonetic concerns we also have to deal with. However, I still believe that this idea could work for generating verb forms from nouns, so long as we are careful.

Ideographic runes are a pain, but I do agree with the analysis. It would allow long messages to be written quickly and can be a kind of art in itself for the engraver/craftsman (i.e calligraphy).
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Uronym

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2015, 12:02:51 pm »

The roots are pretty weird. I would personally choose to throw out some of the pointless words for compound words; for instance, in the case of sorcerer/sorcery, you could easily go with something like sorcerer/sorcerer-work (litez/litezducim) or sorcery-man/sorcery (olthezudos/olthez). But that is really a question of how much you are willing to deviate from the word list that we have; after all, it does say that sorcerer and sorcery are completely different words.

Also, I found a word for need: inem (require). So here is my proposal for the sentence:

Inem ozkakducimalodmabdug Urist.
Require carry-work-day-ale Urist
Urist needs alcohol to get through the working day.
Alt.: Urist needs the ale that carries him through the workday.

Who needs prepositions, anyway? With enough compounding, anything can be done! Also, fascinating find in the dictionary: "UN:nas". Perhaps this refers to "un-" as in the negating prefix in English? This could be useful.

Nasinem ozkakducimalodmabdug Rakust.
Rakust does not need the ale to bear him/her through the working day.

Both of these do away with any difference between "requires" (now) and "requires" (generally); I couldn't find any words referring to "now" or "currently" or anything like that. Another thought (again about Rakust):

Nasinem ozkakducimalodmabdug Rakust. Egomasrer dkudos Rakust.
[see previous]. Nature-appear tree-man Rakust.
Rakust does not need ale for his working day. Rakust naturally (therefore/thus) looks like (appears to be) an elf.

Again, it is difficult without a word for "is"/"to be", which is basically the most common and important word in all human languages. But we can probably do without it.
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Dirst

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2015, 01:54:13 pm »

I think that Uronym is slowly re-inventing German with the endless word compounding :)

One intermediate solution to the unrelated root problem is to come up with compounding rules such as <verb>-man/woman/boy/girl for a practitioner and <verb>-act for a profession and so on... then allow for the oddball existing constructions as "archaic" forms that would sound irregular but understandable to a native of the language.  And confusing to a foreigner or uneducated native.  Constructing a word from its component parts would be understood, though it may not be the common practice.  Poets and bards would switch back and forth as needed to keep meter.
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Dirst

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2015, 02:59:09 pm »

I've noted that no dwarven words end in a vowel.  This was probably done to make it easier to construct compound words, but it helpfully reduces the number of cases we need to deal with when conjugating, etc.  The complete lack of one-letter words means we can add a single vowel on the end and guarantee that we aren't accidentally changing the word or tacking on a compound.  The over-use of trailing vowels can make the language sound too Romantic, so use with restraint.

Picking out a system for genders isn't going to be particularly graceful.

MAN:udos
BOY:rged
WOMAN:aral
GIRL:saruth
BABY:m

I could eyeball that and say that -s and -d sound "masculine" to dwarves, -l and -th sound "feminine" and -m sounds indeterminate.  Four of them have leading vowels, but the s- on girl either breaks the idea of a leading vowel indicating a personal noun, or enters as some strange irregular case.  Probably best to ignore the leading vowels for now.

If we go with the four theme, the dwarven genders would be male, female, both/indeterminate, and genderless.  The four tenses would be static/unchanging, past, present, future.  The four verb forms could be based on convenience, keyed to the length and/or last sound of the verb... or someone could delve through the list and try to categorize them perhaps into intransitive ("Urist grumbles."), transitive impersonal/general ("Urist sings songs."), transitive personal/specific ("Urist loves her son."), and reflexive ("Urist bathes.").  Reflexive verbs are rare in English (we would tend to say "Urist bathes herself" rather than come up with different verbs for bathing oneself and bathing a pet), but a common enough feature in other languages that they might be a nice "foreign" touch.

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Miuramir

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2015, 03:54:43 pm »

... Adjectives (and other modifiers) should go before the noun, as they do in the game, with no preferred order for those adjectives (big red balloon/red big ballon both being fine).

I am only Dabbling at linguistics or conlangs, but something just struck me: why don't we let the structure be more informed by what the game already tells us about dwarven society? 

In particular, quality modifiers have their own special symbols, which might be assumed to have evolved as scribal shorthand for the quality adjectives, or adjectival-modifiers.  Additionally, there are two indicators of quality; one for the item itself, and one for the decoration and/or adornment on it.  One might liken this to the concept of Essence vs. Accident; and given the way dwarven souls work, it might work its way into religous terminology; a ghost would have the essence of the former dwarf, but the accident of a ghost; a necromancer-raised corpse would have the essence of an evil spirit, but the accident of the former dwarf. 

Quoting from the wiki on Item quality, "... a *+steel battle axe+* is a finely-crafted steel battle axe with superior decorations on it, and a ☼steel battle axe☼ is a masterfully crafted steel battle axe with decorations of standard quality."   Clearly, to dwarves order of adjectives makes a difference, and the quality of something is important enough that it has both a prefix and a suffix; the structure is:
  • [optional: quality-of-decoration(accident) prefix, if better than standard]
  • [optional: this-item-is-decorated(has accident) prefix]
  • [optional: quality-of-item(essence) prefix, if better than standard]
  • material-of-item(essence) adjective
  • use-or-subtype-of-item(essence) adjective
  • item-type(essence) noun
  • [optional: quality-of-item(essence) suffix, if better than standard]
  • [optional: this-item-is-decorated(has accident) suffix]
  • [optional: quality-of-decoration(accident) suffix, if better than standard]

So, the breakdown of:
*+steel battle axe+*
(in English, a finely-crafted steel battle axe with superior decorations on it), works out to:
  • superior-quality-prefix [optional: quality-of-decoration(accident) prefix, if better than standard]
  • has-decor prefix [optional: this-item-is-decorated(has accident) prefix]
  • fine-quality-prefix [optional: quality-of-item(essence) prefix, if better than standard]
  • steel adjective material-of-item(essence) adjective-or-noun
  • used-for-battle adjective use-or-subtype-of-item(essence) adjective
  • axe(thing for chopping, noun) item-type(essence) noun
  • fine-quality suffix [optional: quality-of-item(essence) suffix, if better than standard]
  • has-decor suffix [optional: this-item-is-decorated(has accident) suffix]
  • superior-quality-suffix [optional: quality-of-decoration(accident) suffix, if better than standard]

This might extend across Dwarven society; perhaps a dwarf might describe a hot date with a potential partner, where the food and furniture were above average but not by much, but they really enjoyed the conversation with their potential partner, as:
  • well-crafted-quality-prefix [optional: quality-of-decoration(accident) prefix, if better than standard]
  • has-decor prefix [optional: this-item-is-decorated(has accident) prefix]
  • superior-quality-prefix [optional: quality-of-item(essence) prefix, if better than standard]
  • name of other dwarf material-of-item(essence) proper noun
  • used-for-breeding adjective use-or-subtype-of-item(essence) adjective
  • meeting(encounter between sentients with conversation, noun) item-type(essence) noun
  • superior-quality suffix [optional: quality-of-item(essence) suffix, if better than standard]
  • has-decor suffix [optional: this-item-is-decorated(has accident) suffix]
  • well-crafted-quality-suffix [optional: quality-of-decoration(accident) suffix, if better than standard]
or, this was a:
-*Urist date*-
(Breaking it back down, it was a meeting, in the realm of things connected with breeding (compressed into "date" for English), with Urist, where the quality of the actual thing (essence) was superior, but the surrounding or accessory material (accident) was merely well-crafted.)

(Edited to add: Effectively, the "object" part of modern dwarf speech may have evolved from the "material of the item" primitive adjective.  So, steel battle axe > Urist breeding meeting; material-or-object, what-realm-of-activity, noun.)

Toady has already told us an enormous amount about how dwarves view the world; we just need to not be tone-deaf to the underlying Dwarven culture hints we've been given, just because they don't easily line up with what we think makes sense as humans. 

(Edited again, because I originally messed up the tag order in the cut and paste.  In some ways, Dwarven works like BBcode or HTML; you close tags in the reverse order that you open them.)
« Last Edit: January 25, 2015, 04:04:01 pm by Miuramir »
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bahihs

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2015, 04:27:29 pm »

The only thing that astounds me more than this game, are the people that play it. That is awesome (as in awe-inspiring) work Miuramir.
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CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #28 on: January 25, 2015, 04:28:27 pm »

Quote
Also, frankly I don't understand bahihs's system, like at all. Mind trying to explain again in a different way?
Basically the idea is: we eliminate verbs. That's it.
No.

The only thing that astounds me more than this game, are the people that play it. That is awesome (as in awe-inspiring) work Miuramir.
Yes.

CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #29 on: January 25, 2015, 04:31:55 pm »

Also, I think that it's justifiable that there's separate words for sorcerer and sorcery. Some other cases too. That said, I have no problem with ditching some things in favour of compound words.

For Miuramir, I apologize. I've got too much a headache and cannot read your long comment at the moment. I am interested, but text and I aren't agreeing right now. I'll get back to it.

Everyone: Thanks for taking this seriously! You guys are all great!
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