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Sawilan poetry.

From:Ed Heil <edheil@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 19, 1999, 4:28
A while ago I took on an interesting project:

One of my favorite roleplaying games is Talislanta (cf. ), but it is not a conlangy type of game
world.  It includes information about who speaks languages, but no
detail whatsoever on those languages.

A group of races over on the Eastern side of the continent speaks a
tribal language called "Chanan."  I gathered together all of the
proper names and terms which were associated with the various "chanan"
speakers, and came up with a bunch of "roots" that were combined in
the different tongues to make up the names that I had found.

It was, if you will, con-philology: working with existing texts and
constructing a linguistic background.

Some of the languages were, from a linguistic view, sort of silly and
extreme, but I made them up as parsimoniously as I could given the
(extremely limited) information I had.  In any case, one of the
languages I came up with was Sawilan, which is the language of an
extremely passive and pacifistic race of bird-like, musical island
folk.  Their language, as I reconstructed it, has...

No stops.

All of the normal Chanan stops are fricatives in the Sawilan dialect.

Anyway, it's an isolating, VSO-type language.

I hadn't touched the language since I produced a little document
about the philology of the Chanan language groups, which explained the
etymologies of all the Chanan terms in the games.  But I started
thinking about it again today and talking about it on the Talislanta
mailing list, and I asked anyone if they would like to write me some
Sawilan poetry that I could translate into Sawilan.

Dale, one of the fellow listemes, submitted a bit of poetry
that his daughter had written called "In Silky Moonlight."  So I made
a translation into Sawilan with interlinear glosses.  I'd love to
hear reactions from the list; I had fun coming up with words that fit
the very limited phonological inventory of Sawilan but still sounded
right for their meanings.

(it's all pretty phonetically simple; the vowels all sound like Latin
long vowels; the only unusual phone is notated 'h', and is prounounced
like a very short breathy-voiced schwa.)

Ed Heil

--- Forwarded Message ---
From: Ed Heil <edheil@...>


This is the Sawila version of the first part of your daughter's poem.
 It was perfect!

We've got lots of new vocab and sentence patterns now!
Note that the most basic Sawila poetic form is a simple repetition of
five syllables per line (kind of the Sawila version of Iambic

It's called "Sila samu i."  Tell your daughter thank you for her
poem! :)

Sila  Samu I
"Silken moonlight."

La nawa wisri,
fly wing-(of)-whisp
(The whisp-wing flies)

La sin luh, sin luh,
fly in silence in silence
(flies in silence, in silence)

La fa samu ru.
flies towards moon (of) red
(towards the red moon.)

(note: "ru" here is lengthened and given a low tonal curve to
indicate that it is *scarlet* and not just any color red that is
meant.  That's the kind of thing that Sawilan does with tones --
though it's not noted here, it is also a tone that not only
differentiates "la" meaning "fly" from "la" meaning "wind" or "blow,"
it also indicates the exact manner of flying.)

Yi frawa sin luh
move lips in silence
(her lips move in silence)

Ran fun sin hrasa,
talk she in language
(she talks in a language)

Ria hraya li
which can only

un li yuhra fun.
I only understand it
(which only I can understand.)

Yuhra hri un sa,
understand not I sometimes
(sometimes I don't understand)

li wisri li sa.
only whisps only sometimes
(sometimes only the whisps understand.)

San un yiyah sin
am I always in

sila samu i.
light (of) moon (of) silk.
(I am always in silken moonlight.)

New vocab, including Old Chanan roots:
sila: light (tela)
samu: moon (tamu)
i: silk (ke)
la: fly (also means "wind")
nawa: wing
wisri: whisp or butterfly (wetre -- meaning "little/wee folk")
fa: towards (pa)
ru: red
sin: in (ten)
luh: silence (luka)
yi: move (che)
frawa: lips (prawa)
ran: talk (ran)
fun: he/she/it (pun)
hrasa: language (krata)
ria: which (reka) (always used with another pronoun in the relative
 clause, usually 'fun'/'pun')
li: only (le)
un: I (kun)
yuhra: understand (chukra)
hri: not (kre)
sa: sometimes (ta)
san: to be (tan)
yiyan: always (chechan)

One more time, just the poem itself:

Sila Samu I

  La nawa wisri,
 La sin luh, sin luh,
  La fa samu ru.
 Yi frawa sin luh
  Ran fun sin hrasa,
 Ria hraya li
  un li yuhra fun.
 Yuhra hri un sa,
  li wisri li sa.
 San un yiyah sin
  sila samu i.

Ed Heil

Indigo Shift wrote:

> From: Indigo Shift <mitc2932@...> > > Ed Heil wrote: > > BTW, I'd like to put out a "call for submissions" -- if anyone wants > > to make up a really short passage (a few lines) of Sawila poetry, I > > would like to try to translate it into the Sawilan dialect of Chana, > > in order to enlarge the language. Any takers? > > well, here's a poem my daughter wrote: > > SILKY MOONLIGHT > > Satin Butterfly wings, > flying silently to the scarlet moon. > Her lips move silently, > Talking in a language only I, > Lavender, can understand. > Sometimes I can't understand. > Sometimes only the butterflies > understand. > I am always in the silky moonlight. > Sometimes I see the veins on her. > Her blood is so silver it makes her color. > The moon is lonely. > I am her familiar. > I feed her, clean her, take responsibility over her. > People wonder how I do these things. > I myself don't know how. > I have sat so long in one spot, > I don't want to move. > The moon pulls a little of my soul out of me every day. > I am slowly, not painfully, fading away. > If you wish to be the moon's familiar, > Listen to me: > Don't sit in one spot. > Walk around. > Or you'll end up like me. > Always sitting in Silky Moonlight. > > dale >
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