Building a Rosetta Stone

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Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Frumious on Thu Dec 25, 2008 2:26 pm

First steps:

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EDIT: this is totally bogus. See below.
Last edited by Frumious on Fri Dec 26, 2008 5:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby theopenandclosedbook on Thu Dec 25, 2008 4:12 pm

What would my user name be in that launguge? Be cool to have it in my sig.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Frumious on Thu Dec 25, 2008 10:57 pm

You know, I'm looking at it again and thinking maybe I got it backwards.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Frumious on Thu Dec 25, 2008 11:13 pm

Yeah, it makes tons more sense if you assume it's written right to left. Now we've got N showing up twice, once with a vowel subscript and once without... vowel subscripts for A and O identified... the E subscript is probably that little curl at the bottom of the SH symbol... the ' symbol is consistent...

That first try was crap. This has got to be the way it works.

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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Adam Black on Thu Dec 25, 2008 11:43 pm

You got it right! Er, the second time. The Tongue of the Ancients does indeed read from right to left.

You got all the consonants and vowels spot-on, man. Note that the trailing "i" in "Bana'i" is really only the lower slash. The upper one (the larger one) is just a dummy character that stand-alone vowels get tacked onto.

Also: the "e" attached to "Sh" in "Shen'to" isn't the curl at the bottom; it's the double-slash through the "Sh" character itself.

Your next assignment (if you choose to accept it) is to figure out what the tattoo on Locus' left arm says. :D
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Frumious on Fri Dec 26, 2008 10:02 am

Assuming the "i" is slashed through the consonant preceding it, the repeated signs are LI-LI-. Huh. I think I know what's coming next. At the end we have a T with a vowel mark I haven't seen before, it looks kind of like an I, but it has hooked ends. And in between them is a small mark that could either be the word-divider or the apostrophe, but considering that we've seen that she is a Lili'tu, a half-succubus... I'm gonna say that's the apostrophe, and the mystery vowel marker is "u". :)

Lili'tu!
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Adam Black on Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:06 pm

You, sir, are amazing! Got it in one. :D
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby theopenandclosedbook on Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:51 pm

Nice. So we have some words, now, is the launguge just one letter swapped for another or something more?
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Frumious on Fri Dec 26, 2008 5:32 pm

I don't know, have we seen any repeated morphemes we could guess the identity of?

* Xel'duum -- the Life-Drinker
* Ca'Cubi -- folks who have been training Anna since childhood to wield...
* Unaph'to Xel'duum -- the Wrath of the Life-Drinker
* Shen'to Bana'i -- the Eater of Spiders
* O'Kot'tu -- Wights or Ghouls
* Lili'tu -- half-succubus
* Zol'to Shen'to Bana'i -- Fist of the Eater of Spiders

Not much repetition, but it sounds like one thing is obvious: /-'to/ means "of". And strangely, it's attached to the head of the noun phrase, not the modifying noun. As if we said "Eaterof spiders." Linguistically, that's kind of weird.

So we can bust apart some phrases and get:

* zol - "fist"
* shen - "eater"
* bana'i - "spiders" (-i plural maybe? too soon to tell)
* unaph - "wrath"

xel'duum presumably can be decomposed into "life" and "drinker" but we don't know enough to tell how to break it apart.

It also sounds like 'tu might designate races or species.

I'm really curious what the apostrophe sounds like. I can't think of any sound that would fit in all those places, so I'm wondering if it maybe just tells you which syllable is stressed.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Arantor on Fri Dec 26, 2008 7:32 pm

Frumious wrote:I'm really curious what the apostrophe sounds like. I can't think of any sound that would fit in all those places, so I'm wondering if it maybe just tells you which syllable is stressed.


Well, although it's meaningless in this context (since Adam has control of the lettering; it's not a font), in other contexts the apostrophe is used to indicate where an accent should be when the user isn't familiar with the methods in adding accented characters - e.g. Poke'mon.

If that's the case, the preceding letter would be accented with an acute accent, making it and my pronuncation guess on the right: (sorry if this doesn't appear correctly on your screen, I'm using Latin Extended-A glyphs which aren't in all fonts)
* Xeĺdumm (Xe-leh-dumm)
* CáCubi (Cay-cu-bi)
* Unapȟto Xeĺdumm [approx] (Un-a-phe Xe-lay-dumm)
* Sheńto Banái (She-ne-to Ban-ey)
* ÓKoťtu [approx] (Oh-kohte-tu)
* Lilítu (Li-lee-tu)
* Zoĺto Sheńto Banái (Zo-le-to She-ne-to Ban-ey)
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Frumious on Fri Dec 26, 2008 8:49 pm

But dude, you can't put an accute accent on a consonant! It's so wrong! If that's what it's about, you gotta move it back to the preceding vowel, no?
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Frumious on Fri Dec 26, 2008 8:51 pm

Oh, so you were assuming there were some unwritten vowels in there somewhere?

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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Adam Black on Sat Dec 27, 2008 8:39 am

The apostrophes are there more for the writing than the speaking. And, if that's not confusing enough, when writing of (geographic) places rather than people or things, a dash is used instead. Xel'Duum, for example, grew up in a place called Al-Yntis...which translates roughly as "the beautiful valley", IIRC. It's a little confusing.

You were right on the money for the 'to suffix, though: it means "of" or sometimes "from".

As for pronounciation:

Unaph'to Xel'Duum = oo-NOFF-toe zell-DOOM
Zol'to Shen'to Bana'i = ZOLE-toe SHEN-toe buh-NYE
Lili'tu = lee-LEE-too
Ca'Cubi = KAY-cue-bye (which is sorta where we get the word "cacodemon")
O'kot'tu = oh-COT-too

It's a fairly gutteral language, and when someone like Spook speaks it (and Spook's voice sounds like a baritone who's been eating gravel and broken glass), it's downright chilling.

As for the language itself, it's based upon a "real" language--one that was "discovered" in the late 1500s. I won't say exactly which language that is, because I don't want to give anything away just yet.

Definitions are usually straight-forward, although some words mean more than one thing. The "xel" in "Xel'Duum", for example, means "life". Literally, however, it means "blood". So Xel'Duum is known as "the life-drinker", but literally, she's "the blood-drinker". This is because her race (which were the first humans ever) were hemophiliacs. Once they started bleeding, they never stopped. Cuts and wounds never really closed up. Broken bones and other internal injuries were especially agonizing. And don't even get me started on childbirth! Most of the families back then consisted of a father and an only child.

This factors into Xel'Duum's life at an early age--which is another story I'll tell later on. She was known simply as "Xel" back then.

Also: be careful! The Tongue of the Ancients has a strange trait (curse?) associated with it...once you learn it, it becomes your primary language. You even start thinking in this language; it becomes your native tongue. There's a character I'll introduce later who will show what happens when you immerse yourself too far into this language. This character will be shown in the next 3-issue series after Locus is done. He's someone who knew both her father and her mother.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Arantor on Sat Dec 27, 2008 9:39 am

Frumious wrote:Oh, so you were assuming there were some unwritten vowels in there somewhere?

Adam! Help us!


Wouldn't an apostrophe usually signify missing letters? It was just a random speculation late at night (3.32am local time to be precise)

Adam Black wrote:The apostrophes are there more for the writing than the speaking. And, if that's not confusing enough, when writing of (geographic) places rather than people or things, a dash is used instead. Xel'Duum, for example, grew up in a place called Al-Yntis...which translates roughly as "the beautiful valley", IIRC. It's a little confusing.


I did wonder if that were the case, but as I say it was a random late night speculation.

It's not really confusing, actually, working with the assumption that the dash would have a different symbol to apostrophes. Wales is an excellent example of why this is necessary; there is a town whose name in full is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which translates to "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave" (No, I'm not kidding. I have been there.)

A lot of languages name places after some important detail there, and in some cases after the settlement's founder, or in other cases as above after descriptions. Since in both cases that involves describing the location with regular nouns, there is a necessity to distinguish between words-being-formed-into-names and words-being-formed-into-places, so I can see the need.

I have a theory as to the language in question, however I won't share that just yet either.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby theopenandclosedbook on Sat Dec 27, 2008 12:25 pm

Wait a second, Locus isn't going to be the main charactar.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Frumious on Sat Dec 27, 2008 1:42 pm

OK, so the ' are a matter of orthography, with no phonetic significance, as are hyphens in place names. Kind of like the apostrophe in English possessives. Cool. :)

Hmm... I can think of only one "real" language which was "discovered" in the late 1500s, but I'll keep quiet about that too....
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Adam Black on Sun Dec 28, 2008 6:22 am

theopenandclosedbook wrote:Wait a second, Locus isn't going to be the main charactar.


Locus is a main character, but she's not the only main character. :wink:
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby theopenandclosedbook on Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:32 pm

Adam Black wrote:
theopenandclosedbook wrote:Wait a second, Locus isn't going to be the main charactar.


Locus is a main character, but she's not the only main character. :wink:


Ohhh, ok.
Hmm, how far ahead have you worked out the plot?
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Adam Black on Thu Jan 01, 2009 2:14 pm

This is what I have planned out so far:

Locus: Three issues of her and Spook kicking everyone's ass who had any part in killing her dad. Issue two of that starts tomorrow.

Unveiled: Three issues about Locus' Dad. Who he was, where he got those scars all around his eyes, and how he ended up having a baby girl with a succubus. Note that "Unveiled" is a working title at present.

Spook: Two or three issues with some stories Spook is gonna tell to Locus, including: what happened to him the last time he was in Arizona, where he's from, how long he's been around, and the shenanigans he gets into with his best friend (whom we haven't met yet). "Spook" may or may not be the title of this little series. I haven't decided yet.

Total issues: 8 or 9, which means 16 to 18 months of webcomic, beginning in November of last year when Locus first went online.

After that, it can go anywhere, really. There are some names and concepts I've introduced so far, as well as ones I'll be introducing in issues to come--next issue, for instance, they'll be talking about a guy named Hampstead who we'll see more of in "Unveiled". Each one of those names and concepts has at least three issues worth of story attached; many of them have much, much more.

The story of Xel'Duum is a big story. Huge. I hope to get to tell that story at some point in the future. But it's ultimately up to you guys. I'm not going to do a comic about one thing when you're more interested in something else.

My favorite part of working on the Kiss comic last year and the year before was the feedback I got from readers. So, I may even leave the future stories up to a vote. I'll ask you guys what you'd like to see more of, and go from there.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Melvar on Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:02 pm

I’ve heard this called thread necromancy, would that be a specialty of mathemagicians? I doubt it, which means I’m casting off-school, and… uh…
Anyway, I’ve collected more data:
zodaʼtai korinʼi – true sight (sight true)? —you can’t fool it, according to Uncle Spook.
zeʼme moza shenʼto gi – “I will drink the blood from your living heart!” —according to Mr Black himself in his commentary.
amgedʼpha xelʼduum – Life-Drinker Reborn (reborn life-drinker)? —planned as the new name Locī by the fat necromancer.
dʼaaehaq – some kind of curse? —said by Locō as Karrak grabbed her.
paiʼstaeta – a curse, something like “motherfucker” according to Mr. Black. —said by both Uncle Spook and Locō referring to Karrak.
upaah zonega fiisʼta dʼetharzi – “Wings of the winds, carry thou to peace” —Sendoff for the father Locī, suggested by Silk.
tulpa – ?
meittron – father of Sammael —according to Rainbow’s book.
sheshach – the Garden of Eden —called thus by Sammael.
odoʼpa telocʼvovim – Words of Opening —given by Sammael to Templeton.
—thus from the comic. Uncle Spook has also been tweeting:
zeʼme moza shenʼto gi – as above
zirdo lodoʼto cool – “I’m the king of cool.”
—and then there were the runes on the fat necromancer’s paunch, which said, so far as visible and known to us, lansh ?o?? telo (or, closer but requires a good font for vowel diacritics: lͣnʃ ?ͦ?? tͤlͦ). There were also some on his robes, but they were too small and blurred to tell apart.

Now, speculation: There is probably a lative case, or something analogous, since there is no obvious preposition in the Sendoff. (The lative is the case indicating movement toward or to.) I suspect the Words of Opening to be literally a command to open. Spook’s assertion of his own royalty shows us that either the Tongue of the Ancients is pro-drop (meaning that pronouns can be dropped if they are not necessary to understanding), there are no pronouns at all, or at least no first-person-singular pronoun, or there is no “to be” (or, again, no first-person-singular conjugation, if conjugation exists). Thus I believe the latter sentence has the structure “be-1sg king-ᴘꜱᴅ cool” with “zirdo” being the first person singular conjugation of “to be”, “lodo” meaning “king”, with the familiar suffix “ʼto” for “-ᴘꜱᴅ” (-ᴘꜱᴅ indicating the possessed case, this being the closest circumscription I can think of).

In other news, I shall from this post forth decline Locum properly, because I like cases.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Adam Black on Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:34 pm

You're doing great so far! I'm glad this stuff is getting figured out. A few notes:

zodaʼtai korinʼi – literally, "unveiled eyes". Zoda is "veil". 'tai on the end means "not" or "un-". Korin is "eye"; add the 'i to make it plural.

zeʼme moza shenʼto gi – “I will drink the blood from your living heart!” This is true...essentially. Not quite literally. I can't find the notes right now, unfortunately, but it's a shortened form of the translation shown above.

amgedʼpha xelʼduum – Life-Drinker Reborn. I'm pretty sure it's literally "born again life-drinker", but again, I can't find the notes. I tend to write these things down and then put them aside and lose them altogether.

dʼaehaq – This is one of those generic expletives, like Loco's "carajo" (which is Spanish). Anytime you see it in the comic, it's being used the same way an English speaker would say "FUCK!" or "SHIT!" or "GODDAMMIT!"

paiʼstaeta – Another generic expletive, kind of like "pendejo" in Spanish. Pretty much means "bastard" or "motherfucker" or "asshole".

tulpa – Check out this wikipedia entry, especially the following quote: "In mysticism a tulpa is the concept of a being or object which is created through sheer willpower alone."

Meittron – the "original" version of the name "Metatron", who is an angel second only to YHVH--some even call Metatron "the lesser YHVH". In the comic, this is incorrect. "Meittron" is, in fact, the name of God. We will actually see Meittron in the comic--at some point in the future.

Everything else in your post is right on the mark!
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Melvar on Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:54 pm

Note that the apostrophes in words of the Tongue of the Ancients starting in my previous post are in fact U+02BC MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE , which are letters instead of punctuation marks and thus do not permit word breaks after their position; they are in my opinion preferable in this case to U+2091 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK which is the usual character used for an apostrophe.

Now, I must wonder how the second person is encoded in the Sendoff. There are, in the formulation “Wings of the winds, carry thou to peace” five major lexemes: wing, wind, carry, peace, and thou. The sentence contains only four words. If we reformulate it to “Be carried to peace by the wings of the winds”, thou falls out. Thus, we may have the structure “carry-ᴘᴀꜱ-ɪᴍᴘ peace-ʟᴀᴛ wing-ᴘʟ-ᴘꜱᴅ wind-ᴘʟ”, in any order. Unlikely, though, at best, because of its unintuitiveness to those who are based on Indo-European languages. Then again, so is the ʼto construction. Another possibility is that “wings of the winds” is a single word, it seems after all to be a fixed phrase or idiom.

And so, Mr. Black, you have confirmed that ʼi is one way to mark the plural. Besides in “zodaʼtai korinʼi” and “shenʼto banaʼi”, we have not encountered it yet. Either there are other ways to mark the plural, as there are other plurals in the Sendoff, or there are no plurals in the original, as speculated in the last paragraph.

Edit: inserted a missing phrase.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Melvar on Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:03 pm

More speculation: the appearance of “shen” in the blood-drinking threat suggests its meaning may be closer to “consume” than “eat”.
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Adam Black on Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:43 pm

All of this is pretty much true.

The big thing to remember about the Tongue of the Ancients is that it's (and I may be giving stuff away here, but I don't think so) a very old and primitive language. It is indeed the First Language, according to the history which we'll be getting into much more as things progress.

As such, a lot of words translate into English as different things. "Xel", for example, means both "blood" and "life". Blood is the direct translation, but the colloquial meaning is Life. Blood and Life were one and the same to the people who used this language, for reasons I can't go into until later.

As for the suffixes (especially 'i), they're not always consistent, and that's because of all the different peoples who were using this language back in the day. You'll be surprised at how much this language still gets used, but I won't be able to show any of that until issue 10, at least.

In issue 6, we'll see how a word which is technically plural can apply to a single person--but I don't want to ruin that surprise. :wink:

(I left a hint on page 8 of issue 5, but it's probably too subtle a hint)

And, if that's not enough, I should point out that the original TotA is actually very gutteral--a little like how the vampires speak in 30 Days of Night (which is a fun movie--check it out!). It's really an ugly-sounding language. However, we've only heard succubi and Lili'tu use it so far (for the most part) and those ladies tend to soften it up a bit with more vowel sounds. Succubi (and their half-human offspring) have a way of making the language a little nicer to listen to. When Chimera told Locus "Unless you have your Mother's Voice..." in issue 3, that was partly what he was talking about.

Partly. Silk demonstrated what a succubus can do using only her voice by stirring up a brisk wind back on page 2 of last issue. That wasn't magic--it was just her Voice alone.

These are all things which will end up in the comic in the future--some of it quite far into the future. But I don't think I'm giving anything too important away in pointing it out right now.

At some point, I really should record some audio so you guys can hear what it sounds like. I've been thinking about doing up some quick mp3s showing the language as pronounced by someone like Spook, and then repeat the phrase in the more feminine succubus pronunciation.

Problem is, I don't know any girls who would be willing to do the succubus part. :lol: I really doubt it's something I could talk my wife into doing--she's self-conscious about things like that. Hell, you have to put half a bottle of tequila in her before she'll sing in Rock Band, fer Chrissakes! :wink:
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Re: Building a Rosetta Stone

Postby Melvar on Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:20 pm

Adam Black wrote:In issue 6, we'll see how a word which is technically plural can apply to a single person--but I don't want to ruin that surprise. :wink:

(I left a hint on page 8 of issue 5, but it's probably too subtle a hint)

Does it have to do with the fact that “Nefilim” is itself a plural, that of “Nefil”? (More commonly spelled “Nephilim” and “Nephil” respectively.) Heh… apparently, as I just found, one possible etymology is it meaning “those causing others to fall” because, as one proposes, Men’s hearts would fail at the sight of them.

So as to be able to refer to the Tongue of the Ancients more conveniently, I would like to know what it calls itself. “Tongue of the Ancients” is such a cumbersome phrase. On top of that, if translated into German, it sounds rather stupid, just like any number of other concepts do that sound reasonable in English, so if I ever have cause to use it in German, I’d like to use the endonym.
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