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MADJAL: A conlang game. Round one. (longish)

From:Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 30, 2004, 23:23
Madjal, a conlang "game"

Back story:

Thousands of years ago, before the dawn of recorded
history, the world's most powerful shamans, wizards,
witches, and other magick users, gathered together in
the Lost Valley south of Eden and west of Mu to create
the world's first International Auxiliary Language for
magickal spell casting.  For only thus could the spell
research of one magick user be shared with all magick
users the world over.  They called this language

The most basic form in Madjal is the two-word
imperative sentence which consists of the name of an
object, and the action which that object is commanded
to perform.  Examples inlude such basic spell casting
commands as "Fadjo pulam!" ("Torch ignite!"), "Clocus
reviam!" ("Stone arise/levitate!"), "Temin distari!"
("Beast/monster cease-to-exist!")  and "Purata
bolusam!" ("Door open!")

Over the centuries, whenever magick users gathered
together to discuss their trade they found it useful
to converse in the one language they all understood.
Yet due to its imperative nature, Madjal was
ill-equipped for anything but casting spells.  Thus
the language evolved to include mechanisms that
facilitated a wider range of human communication.

Rules of the Madjal game:

   1. A "challenge" consists of a sentence in English
that is to be translated into Madjal.

   2. To answer the challenge, the participant writes
the Madjal translation of the sentence, inventing
whatever new Madjal vocabulary and grammar are
necessary to complete the translation.

   3. The contestant should not _discuss_ the grammar
or vocabulary of his translation, but should allow the
translation to speak for itself.

For example, given the above sentences:

   Fadjo pulam! -> Torch (I command thee to) ignite!
   Clocus reviam! -> Stone arise/levitate!
   Temin distari! -> Beast/monster cease-to-exist!
   Purata bolusam! -> Door open!

The challenge: "Demon ignite!"
Is answered by the translation: "Temin pulam!"

The challenge "Monster fly away!" (new vocab required)
Could be answered by the translation: "Temin lofito!"

And the non-imperative challenge "The monster flew
away." (new grammar required)
Might be answerd by the translation: "Temin khi

In answering the challenge individual words are not
translated, and the grammatical rules are not
explained, but only demonstrated.  Notice that no
translation of the word "khi" is offered. And, in
fact, the word might not even be translatable into

Initially there are NO grammatical rules that cannot
be broken or altered by a new translation.  Does word
order matter in Madjal?  Who knows!  That has yet to
be determined.

Is Madjal an inflecting language?  Who knows.  The
only sentence forms we've seen so far don't give us a
clue.  Only time will tell.

What letters are included in the Madjal alphabet?  We
only know which letters have appeared so far in the
complete Madjal corpus.  Maybe there are more, maybe
there aren't.  Eventually we will know.

The entire corpus of Madjal will consist of every
translation ever offered for any challenge, and, in
addition, any works of prose or poetry written
entirely in Madjal that anyone cares to offer, along
with their English translations, to the project.

The canonical Madjal dictionary will eventually be
written entirely in Madjal.

Various English/Madjal dictionaries may be compiled,
but should reflect only those meanings actually found
in the complete Madjal corpus.

Eventually a description of Madjal grammar may come to
be written, but not until the grammar has taken shape.
 The Madjal grammar, when it is written, will be
descriptive of the corpus.  It will never prescribe
Madjal usage.  Madjal grammar is whatever is found in
the corpus.  For the present, there is no fixed
grammar and in this free-form chaos, anything in the
way of sentence structure can, and probably will
emerge in the corpus.  The very oldest entries in the
corpus may eventually be classified as "Old Madjal" or
 "Archaic Madjal", and have less weight as citations
in modern dictionaries and grammars.

Above all, the goal of the Madjal game/project is to
NOT discuss the features of Madjal, but to "discover"
them in the Madjal corpus itself.  Thus the first and
foremost task, in fact the ONLY task for now, is to
create the Madjal corpus, one challenge translation at
a time.


The complete Madjal corpus as of 30 June 2004:
(Updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and soon to be
hosted on its very own web page.)

   Fadjo pulam! -> Torch (I command thee to) ignite!
   Clocus reviam! -> Stone arise/levitate!
   Temin distari! -> Beast/monster cease-to-exist!
   Purata bolusam! -> Door open!
   Temin pulam! -> Monster ignite!
   Temin lofito! -> Monster fly away!
   Temin khi lofito -> The demon flew away.
   Purata khi bolusam. -> The door opened.
   Gaudio kashadi! -> Window (I command thee to)


Madjal challenge #1 (new grammar required):
(Challenge deadline Friday midnight GMT)

Given the complete Madjal corpus (above), translate
into Madjal the sentence "John ignited the torch" or
"John caused the torch to ignite."

Extra credit translation with same new grammar (new
vocabulary required): "Mary frightened the demon." or
"Mary made the demon afraid."


Andrew W Soukup <aws@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Sally Caves <scaves@...>