Fractures in a Dying World
Michael had to make the first NPC names “Tjamaladara” “Sora Thava” and “Torin.” The first one isn’t even valid in English. Since they are all Dragonic, I decided to put together some sort of sound system so that the future names will seem cohesive with these guys as precedent.
The first one gives off a Hindi vibe, as does the second. But that’s neither here nor there. My goal is to put together some rules to limit the namespace. That’s it.
In other words, Michael, you did this to yourself. I’m only going to target things that are Dragon names, but that will include most locations in the empire, as well as common monsters. It won’t, however, affect PC names unless they are dragonic.
Sins I know I’ve already committed: There are only 18 phonemes at the moment. That’s pretty low. And my syllable system is also pretty restrictive. More can be added as necessary, but I note that English has in the forties while Spanish is in the twenties. This means that my monster name translations are probably shorter than they would actually be, given how crowded the space is.
If you like ridiculous old programming languages, here’s some code in snobol4 that will tell you if a string of letters is a word in Tjagonaj. Why? ‘Cuz I’m learning snobol4. Later I might make an automatic translator out of it, since oh my gosh it’s so simple. It’s called Tjagonaj_spell_checker.sno if you care to run it.
>> snobol4 Tjagonaj_spell_checker.sno
word = pos(0) fragment rpos(0)
fragment = pos(0) (fragment syllable | *initial_syllable)
initial_syllable = (initial_consonant | '') vowel (end_consonant | '')
syllable = (consonant | '') *vowel (end_consonant | '')
letter = consonant | *vowel
consonant = any('bdgvzjnmrl') | 'dj' | 'zj' | 'nj' | 'dh'
end_consonant = any('bdgvznmrl') | 'dh'
initial_consonant = any('btcfshnmrl') | 'tj' | 'sj' | 'nj' | 'th'
vowel = any('aeio') | 'aj'
fricative = any('fshvz') | 'th' | 'dh'
stop = any('bdgtc') | 'tj' | 'dj'
palatal = 'tj' | 'sj' | 'nj' | 'dj' | 'zj'
To rule out difficult things I don't want to make real patterns for yet.
illegal = *ns | *ff | *dv | *sf | *pc
ns = 'md' | 'mg' | 'nb'
ff = fricative fricative
dv = any('aeio') vowel
sf = stop rpos(0)
pc = palatal consonant
upper = 'QWERTYUIOPASDFGHJKLZXCVBNM'
lower = 'qwertyuiopasdfghjklzxcvbnm'
isword w = input :f(end)
w = replace(w,upper,lower)
w pos(0) word :f(fel)
w illegal :s(fel)
output = 'yes' :(isword)
fel output = 'no' :(isword)
This language does not distinguish voicing in its consonants. Most appear as voiceless at the beginning of the word1. All are voiced in the middle of the word. Stops are voiceless at the end, while all else is voiced. Generally, there are not stops at the ends of words anyway2.
Below are the phonemes, with allophones (that’s all the ways it will be typed in English for Michael’s sake) in parentheses.
Stops: B, T(D), K(G), Tj(Dj)
You’ll notice the Tj is a thing. This is either palatal (which no one here can do, so bah) or it’s just a T followed immediately by a Y sound. It’s your own fault, Michael.
To make sure it is used, I’ll be turning weird sounds like CH or TR into it. Hence Dragonic > Tjagonaj
Th is like the “th” in “thing” while “Dh” is like the “th” in “thus.” You just added “Inix” and I’m gonna turn X’s into Sj now.
Nasals: M, N, Nj
Nj is like Ñ/ñ, but I want it to look consistent. We’ll see if it ever comes up, I just didn’t want Tj to be all alone. You’ll note (or I will, anyway) that there is no Ng sound, like in “king.” That stuff just becomes an N.
Other (liquids and glides): L, R, J(H)
The J is pronounced like a Y in English. It is also used after A to make it sound like English’s long ‘I’.
The H can be either English H or Spanish J depending on what you like (heck, feel free to make it sound like Hy). But remember, it can only happen at the beginning of words. Pronounce R however you want to.
I’m not morally opposed to the letter W. I’ll add it if you like. Maybe it’s hard to make with Dragon lips?
Here’s a chart. Stuff in the same color near each other are the same letter in Dragonic, but are transcribed and pronounced differently. Palatal is the Tj, Dj, Nj stuff (so it’s your fault). Dental is the Th, Dh stuff. The x is the Spanish J. The upside-down r is an R.
I’m limiting us to four unique vowels, with the rest being allophones. See T4 here, which matches the vowel system for Navajo. Pretty much, think Spanish but without U. Not that I’m fundamentally opposed to U, but I want to see how far we can get without it.
This will be the vowel, followed by the IPA symbol for it in , followed by all allophones (which would pretty much be when it’s in an unstressed syllable)
I[i] [ɪ]: ‘heel’ ‘hill’
E[e] [ɛ]: ‘hail’ ‘hell’
O[o] [ʊ] [ʊu]: ‘hole’ ‘book’ and the way English tends to do ‘hole,’ so I need to include it.
A[a]: ‘hall’ ‘HAL’ ‘hull’ I’m too lazy to copy/paste the different ways to type a in IPA.
Here’s a chart, though it likely means nothing to you. Same color is the same letter, but different pronunciation:
A syllable can be V, CV, or CVC (VC if the need arises, I guess). That means that Tjagonaj does not tolerate a bunch of consonants in a row. So the word “strength” would be ridiculous.
When there’s a problem with too many consonants in one syllable, stick in a short ‘I’.
When an English CH or DR occurs, replace it with TJ or DJ or NJ. So “Drag” would be “Tjag” or “Tjaj” though the second one looks a bit silly because of the two J’s. Church > Tjoridja.
Stress is based on a mora system, with primary stress falling on the penultimate mora, and secondary stress on every other mora preceding. A syllable has one mora if it has no coda (CV or V), and has two moras if it has a coda (CVC). Syllables with two moras are called “heavy.”
Oh God no, Mark, why would you do this to yourself, ain’t nobody got time for this. Not even you.
Well, gender and number are probably a thing. At the moment, slapping ‘A’ on the end makes something feminine. ‘O’ can be masculine, this is surprisingly common.
Plurals? Come up with an ending to slap on. Gonna default to “I” for masculine, “EN” for feminine. Yeah, it’s only because vixen.
Overall, it’s probably agglutinative, which means there are a bunch of prefixes and suffixes with specific, isolated meanings. That leads to long words, but would probably be easier for Michael to learn than fusional languages.
Tense is given at the beginning of a sentence, paragraph, story, or wherever necessary to make it reasonably unambiguous. Pretty much, you get a giant prepositional phrase to set the stage for what you want to say up front.
Past – Ande (From Latin)
Present – Najo (From English)
Future – Sova (From Arabic)
If you need to tell time more specifically, just stack them like cardinal directions. Andenajo is before now, Sovande is after then, Sovanajo, Andezova, etc. And they just stack. To say other specific times like “Every Saturday” you would just start with the equivalent phrase with the meaning of “Every Saturday.” Point is, verbs won’t bother with tense bollocks.
Here are a couple other words that would belong at the starts of sentences/clauses:
If – Adha
Then (therefore) – Thom
Then (after that) – Baz
Negation: Place “Ca” at the start of the clause. So lazy.
Then you have how to conjugate all the verbs. Let’s just stick pronouns in, eh? To be fancy, let’s put the verb first, followed by subject, followed by all objects. VSO. Then you don’t have to worry about conjugation too much, and just have to learn a couple pronouns.
As few verbs as I can manage and still have it be sensible. So there will be a couple assumed things. Below is a table of the most common verbs, followed by how they work.
- Assumed. If you want, we can make a ser/estar thing happen. But “Michael happy” would be, literally, “Michael is happy”
- Exists = “Hon”
- This is like “hay” in Spanish, or hunaka in Arabic (هناك). It’s useful.
These are useful for names. I’m gonna base them on Arabic (‘cuz I like Arabic) and Hindi (‘cuz why not), and run it through the rules of sounds. I’ll just use transliterations, because whatever.
English, Arabic, Hindi, Tjagonaj
- at fi par far
- beside bejaaneb bagal men bajol
- from men se si
- in fi men fen
- beyond waraa pare bara
- to ila se silo
- with ma saath madh
- on (top of) fawq ke sheersh par fen (combining was too stupid lookin)
- by men qabl dvara tlara
- about hawl ke baare men horen
- as kamaa jaisa hajzo
- into ila men simen[d]
- through men khelaal ke madhyam se cedham
- after baad ke baad boredh
- over khelaal ke oopar ceven
- under taht adheen/neeche cedjadh
- between baeen ke bich cebin
- out khaarej bahaar haraj
There is apparently demand for an Ophidian language, related to but distinct from Tjagonaj.
For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to make it mostly change how voicing works, since that’s non-contrastive in Tjagonaj already. That means I just find and replace D’s with T’s and so on as the first step.
Replace Aj with Ej
Replace j with x. This is like the Scottish loch.
Replace B with P in all cases
Replace D with T in all cases
Replace Z with S in all cases
Replace C with K in all cases (purely visual, since C is always hard in Tjagonaj anyway.)
If phonetically convenient (look how lazy I am) delete short I. This should give us some consonant clusters not allowed in Tjagonaj.
All imported Ph stuff becomes Pf. Use Pf when there’s anything weird after P.
Replace initial R with Rh. Visual, though articulating it is nice.
Replace final A with final E. (feminine)
Replace final I with final If. (plural)
Delete final O if possible.
Allow Ng to exist as Nk.
Replace E next to an M with O (why? I dunno, something about rounding, but mostly I don’t want a glut of E)
If you need to add in any syllables, add an O. (If Tjagonaj is dominated by A and I, Opfitien is dominated by O and E)
Pronounce all those final E’s more centralized. Think German. But I’m too lazy to write schwa all the time.
Below is the current lexicon in Tjagonaj. I can take my pick of whether a word was loaned separately, or to a common ancestor language, or through one to the other. This should help me with plurals.
English (Tjagonaj [IPA])(Opfition [IPA])
Baazrag (Bazraja, [,baz.‘raɪ.ja]) (Pasrexe [‘pas.re.xe])
Cacti (Cajdi, [‘kaɪ.di]) (Kexti [‘kex.ti])
Cactodile (Cajdo∂il [,kaɪ.do.’∂il]) (Kextothil [‘kex.to.θil])
Chathrang (Tjadhiran, [,tja.∂ɪ.‘ran]) (Tshathrank [t∫a.’θraŋk])
Cilops (Celoviz, [,kel.o.’vɪz]) (Kelopf [ke.’lopf])
Crodlu (Cirodjo, [kɪ.’ro.djo]) (Krotsh [‘krot∫])
Dagorran (Tagoran [,ta.go.‘ran]) (Takoran [ta.’kor.an])
Drakes (Tjagi [‘tja.gi], however plurals work) (Tshakif [‘t∫a.kɪf])
Gaj (Caj [’kaɪ]) (Kex [‘kex])
Inix (Inezjo [ɪ.’ne.zjo]) (Inesh [ɪ.’ne∫])
Megapede (Megabidho [,me.ga.‘bi.∂o]) (Mokapith [‘mo.ka.piθ])
Nightmare Beast (Beznomar [,bez.no.’mar]) (Pesnomar [‘pes.no.mar])
Silk Wyrm (Firnezilja [,fɪr.nɛ.’zil.ja]) (Fronsilxe [fron.’sil.xe])
Silt Horror (Horozilda [,hor.o.’zil.da]) (Rhosilte [ro.’sil.te])
Tembo (Tembo [‘tɛm.bo]) (Tomp [‘tomp])
1 Exceptions are B, which is always voiced (so no P), and stuff that is hard for English speakers to do voiceless (N, R, L, etc). So really it’s only most stops and fricatives that are voiceless there.
[a]I would like to note: this is not intended to be Swedish. I don't speak Swedish. You don't speak Swedish. This is not how I want this pronounced: https://youtu.be/I3OxCRTg8iE
[b]Heck, if you want to pronounce it like Sh or Zh (miraGe), you can do that.
©I'm not going to actually finish this unless there's demand for it. It rapidly becomes too complicated.
[e]I don't much like having three letters for it, but it's hard to make it clear what the sound is with fewer.
[f]Especially hard since I'm not using C. So Ch is out.