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Common Orcish Article (Long) - was Re: tolkien?

From:Doug Dee <amateurlinguist@...>
Date:Sunday, December 14, 2003, 2:13
In a message dated 12/13/2003 3:46:00 PM Eastern Standard Time,
elemtilas@YAHOO.COM writes:

>Care to share the article if it's not too long, >or at least distill some of its essence?
The language described is simple, and surely not as interesting as most of those constructed by people on this list, and the article is too long to quote in its entirety, but for interested parties I have quoted extensively below. Everything below is a direct quote except the comments in square brackets (and any typos are mine). [from "Even Orcish is Logical" by Clyde Heaton, in Dragon #75, July 1983] ** Before a language can be designed, you have to decide a few things about the people or creatures who will speak it. First, what kind of vocal apparatus do these creatures have to work with? . . . Second, what kind of culture and world view do these people love in and with? . . . The sound and grammar of a language will almost certainly reflect the cultural environment in which it is used. For example, it may be no coincidence that ancient Rome, and aggressive, expansionist society, spoke Latin by putting the verb first. [He's wrong about Latin word order.] . . . The English-speaking world puts the subject of a sentence, a noun, in leadoff position in the simplest sentences. This may reflect, as it seems to do, an acquisitive, possession-oriented culture. [I doubt that, since SVO and SOV are the most common orders in the languages of many different cultures.] . . . The third fundamental decision involves the question of use. What do these people _do_ with this language? Is it spoken primarily courtiers (such as High German) or by peasants and merchants (such as Low German)? [Apparently he thinks that the "high" and "low" refer to the social class of the speakers of varieties of German.] To you, as the game-world designer, this decision is important because it will limit the kind of vocabulary you will develop. . . . Orcs are always shown with protruding fangs, a physical feature which definitely limits the sounds they can make. Many subtle sounds that require a completely closed mouth to produce will be unknown to orcs, because their fangs literally get in the way. Their harsh, savage nature will further lead orcs to use mostly harsh, guttural sounds. Therefore, the only consonant sounds in the language are D, G, J, K, N, R, T, and Z. The vowel sounds are A (as in "at"), E (as in "egg"), and O (as in "off"). . . If we were designing a language for a less hostile race, such as elves, we might discard this series of consonants completely in favor of softer sounds such as F, H, TH, L, and S. . . . [Syllable structure is (C)V(C) giving 243 possible syllables.] I doubt seriously if orcs would use more than two syllables to a word, especially in their common, intertribal language. . . . In Common Orcish, we will record a tendency for verbs to be of one three-letter syllable, and for connectors such as "and," "or," "but," "from" etc. to be of one two-letter syllable. Plurals will be denoted by adding the suffix -a to a word, and a female version of a noun will be given an -o suffix. All other words, whether nouns or adverbs or adjectives, will be of similar structure, probably of two syllables. . . . Orcs are not as highly developed as either dwarves or elves, however, so we will use the simple egocentric grammar of subject, verb, and object, in that order. Words modifying another word will follow it. . . . [He presents a vocabulary of about 100-200 words, mostly military terms and things like pronouns and conjunctions.] To translate an English sentence into Common Orcish vocabulary and grammar, reorganize the sentence in English first. The sentence "The officer ordered us to climb the wall" has "officer" as its subject, "ordered" as the verb, and "us" as the object of the verb. The basic Orcish sentence would be "Officer order me." The subject is not modified, but the verb is modified by the phrase "(to) climb the wall" and by being placed in the past tense by the modifier "dotad". The object is modified by adding the plural suffix -a. The complete rearranged sentence reads "Officer order (past) to climb wall us." A direct translation of this sentence into Common Orcish yields "Jeddar jen dotad teg kokad dagada."


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>