From PIE to Primal, Sounds

[Note: I have combined multiple past posts under a single section: From PIE to Primal] (AMB, 3/22/18)

Over a series of posts we’ll discuss exactly what we, the creators of Wenja, do each time we create – or rather derive – a new word for the primary language of Oros. How do PIE words like *bʰere- ‘to carry’ and *h₂odyo ‘today’ become Wenja bara and shaja, respectively?

Our first post will begin with the largest class of consonants in PIE — stops (aka occlusives). Stops are found in all of the world’s languages.  When you make a stop, the air is stopped in the mouth in the initial production of the sound, and then the air is released. For this reason you can’t hold a stop out like an s or an m; try holding out a p — you’ll find that it’s impossible!

There are six stops in English:

Voiceless Voiced
Bilabial p b
Alveolar t d
Velar k g

English stops are organized according to place of articulation and voicing. Stops can either be voiced or voiceless. Voiced sounds require vibration of the vocal folds (in your throat); voiceless sounds do not. The terms bilabial, alveolar, and velar refer to the place of articulation, or where in the mouth a sound is articulated. You can see in the diagram to the left that bilabial sounds are made with the lips, alveolars just behind the top front teeth, and velars towards the back of the mouth.

(Click here for an interactive overview of English phonetics)

While there are only six basic stops in English, it’s very likely that PIE had fifteen. That’s a lot compared to most languages of the world!  The majority of Indo-Europeanists assume five places of articulation (bilabial, dental, palatal, velar, and labiovelar (velar consonant with lip rounding)) and three different ways to make stops (voiceless, voiced, and voiced aspirated). The voiced aspirated stops, which are perhaps better described as breathy, are characterized by a voiced puff of air following the stop in question.

Voiceless Voiced Voiced Aspirated
Bilabial p b
Alveolar t d
Palatal ǵ ǵʰ
Velar k g
Labiovelar gʷʰ

Now let’s see how all of this plays out in Wenja. In the lists below, we first give you an example of a PIE word beginning with the reconstructed stops in question (marked in bold), followed by descendant words in actual Indo-European languages. We then conclude with the Wenja derivative (marked in red).

  • Labials:
    • PIE *ped/pod- ‘foot’ > Luvian pāta-, Sanskrit pad-, Greek pod-, Latin ped-, English foot, Armenian otn, Wenja padi ‘foot’
    • PIE *bel- ‘strong’ > Sanskrit bála- ‘strength’, Greek beltíōn ‘better’, Latin dē-bilis ‘lacking strength’, Old Church Slavonic bolĭjĭ ‘bigger’, Wenja bala ‘strong’
    • PIE *bʰer- ‘carry’ > Sanskrit bhárāmi ‘I carry’, Greek phérō, Latin ferō, Armenian berem, English bear, Old Church Slavonic berǫ ‘I take’, Old Irish ·beir, Wenja bara ‘carry’
  • Dentals:
    • PIE *ters- ‘be dry, thirst’ > Sanskrit tarṣáyati ‘makes thirsty’, Greek térsetai ‘becomes dry’, Latin terra ‘(dry) land’, English thirst, Albanian ter ‘I dry’, Wenja tarsa ‘become dry’
    • PIE *doru ‘(oak) tree’ > Hittite tāru ‘wood, tree’, Sanskrit dā́ru, Greek dóru, Old Irish daur, Old Church Slavonic drěvo, Albanian dru, English tree, Wenja daru ‘wood’
    • PIE *dʰeh₁- ‘put, do’ > Sanskrit dhā- ‘put, do’, Greek thē- ‘put’, Latin faciō, English do, Old Russian , Wenja daha ‘do, make, put’
  • Palatals:
    • PIE *ḱerd- ‘heart’ > Sanskrit śrad-, Old Church Slavonic srĭdĭce, Lithuanian širdìs, Hittite kard-, Greek kardíā, Latin cord- [kord], English heart, Wenja charda ‘heart’
    • PIE *ǵónu ‘knee’ > Sanskrit jā́nu, Avestan žnum, Hittite gēnuGreek gónu, Latin genū, Eng. knee, Wenja janwa ‘knee’
    • PIE *ǵʰeu- ‘pour’Sanskrit hūyáte ‘is poured’, Avestan zaotar- ‘priest’, Greek khe(w)ō ‘I pour’, Tocharian B kewu ‘I will pour’, German giessen, Wenja jawa ‘pour’
  • Velars:
    •  PIE *kes- ‘hair’ > Old Church Slavonic kosa ‘hair’, Lithuanian kasà ‘braid’, Hittite kiss-, Greek késkeon, Old English heord ‘hair’, Wenja kasa ‘braid, weave’
    • PIE *gras- ‘grass’ > Sanskrit grásate ‘eats’, Greek grástis ‘grass’, Latin grāmen ‘grass’, Wenja grasti ‘straw’
    • PIE *gʰrebʰ(hᵪ)- ‘grab’ > Sanskrit /ghrabh-/, Av. grab-, OCS grabiti, Eng. grab, Wenja grabasha ‘grab, catch’
  • Labiovelars:
    • PIE *kʷis ‘who’ Sanskrit kás ‘who’, Old Church Slavonic kŭ-to ‘who, Lithuanian kàs, Hittite kuis ([kwis]), Latin quis ([kwis]), Old English hwæt, Wenja kway ‘who, what’
    • PIE *gʷen- ‘woman’ > Sanskrit jáni-, Old Church Slavonic žena, Old Prussian genna, Hittite kuinnas ([kwinnas])Greek gunḗ, English queen, Wenja gwani ‘woman’
    • PIE *gʷʰen- ‘kill’ > Sanskrit hánti ‘slays’, Avestan jaiṇti, Old Church Slavonic ženǫ ‘I hunt’, Hittite kuenzi ([kwentsi]) ‘slays’, Greek -phonos ‘slayer’, Latin dē-fen-dit, English bane, Wenja gwana ‘kill’

If you’ve made it this far and have looked closely at the PIE & Wenja examples, you’ll note two basic changes in the Wenja stop system.

  1. Voiced aspirates are pronounced as normal voiced stops in Wenja: *bʰ, dʰ, ǵʰ, gʰ, gʷʰ > b, d, j, g, gw, respectively
  2. Palatal stops are pronounced as (alveopalatal) affricates in Wenja: *ḱ, ǵ, ǵ > ch, j, j, respectively. Recall that ch  = < ch > (cheese) & j = < j > (juice).

Though there are some modifications here and there (we’ll get to those), it’s pretty much that simple! This leaves us with the following stop inventory for Wenja:

Voiceless Voiced
Bilabial padi bala
Alveolar tarsa daha
Palatal (Alveopalatal) charda jawa
Velar kasa grabash
Labiovelar kway gwana

Next time we’ll talk about the fricatives – the hissy sounds – of Wenja: s, z, h, sh, and f.

Welcome back!

Having examined the stops of PIE & Wenja, we can now turn to the fricatives. Fricatives are noisy sounds, characterized by significant (but partial) obstruction within the vocal tract. In English, we have nine fricatives (in case you’re wondering, that’s a lot!) — they can be made with the lips & teeth together (labiodental), with the tongue in between the teeth ([inter]dental), just behind the top front teeth (alveolar), retracted slightly behind that (alveopalatal), or in the throat (glottal). Note the voicing distinction found in the stops is also present for all the fricatives except for < h >.

Voiceless Voiced
Labiodental f v
Interdental θ ð
Alveolar s z
Alveopalatal ʃ ʒ
Glottal h

The sounds < f >, < v >, < s >, < z >, and < h> are pretty self-explanatory — they’re the sounds at the beginning of the words fishvansitzoo, and hi, respectively. But what about those remaining, funny-looking characters? The symbol < θ > =  < th >, as in thick, < ð > = < th > as in then, < ʃ > = < sh > as in shoot, and < ʒ > = < j > as in judge.

And how about PIE?  While the proto-language had fifteen different types of stops, it probably only utilized four different types of fricatives.  They were:

Voiceless Voiced
Dental s [z]
Uvular χ (h₂) ʁʷ (h₃)
Glottal h (h₁)

We’ll discuss each of these in turn.

The fricative *s was likely a dental sound, more like the Spanish s than the English one. We find this sound all over the place in PIE, for instance in the widespread root ‘to sit’. PIE *sed- ‘sit’ > Ved. sáda ‘sit!’, Lat. sedēre, Eng. sit, OCS sěděti, Gk. hézomai, Arm. hecanim, Wenja sada ‘sit’.

While < z > is a full-fledged sound in English (note the pair sit ~ zit), it was not in PIE. In linguistics we would call *z an allophone of the phoneme *s. By this we mean that PIE speakers didn’t hear *z as a different sound from *s, despite their difference in pronunciation. In fact, the only time we can reconstruct *z is when *s was situated in front of a voiced stop (*d, *gʰ, etc.).  To give you an example, the *e vowel in *sed- ‘sit’ was sometimes deleted to produce *sd-, which was automatically pronounced as *-zd-. This famously explains the source of PIE *ni-zd-ó- ‘nest’, literally the ‘place (for a bird) to sit down’, continued by Sanskrit nīḍás, Latin nīdus, Old Church Slavonic gnězdo, English nest, Wenja nizda ‘nest, lair’. As for the element of *nizdó-ni ‘down’, if you watch Brenna’s Winja Warshta: Brina Winja dachaya, you’ll hear her give the command U ni sada! “Sit down!” The basic word for ‘down’ in both Wenja & PIE is ni.

Just like PIE, < z > really isn’t used in Wenja, except when it’s before voiced stops in words such as mazga ‘to descend; marrow, semen’ or in borrowed words (Izila < Iz. His-hílax).

The other three fricatives of PIE, *h1,* h2, *h3, are known as the laryngeals. These were all fricatives produced in the back of the throat, which were largely eliminated / altered beyond recognition in the daughter languages.

Here’s the funny thing about the laryngeals. While they were technically consonants in PIE, they are primarily continued as vowels in the Indo-European languages.  So if they’re usually vowels, why do we think they were consonants? This is largely due to the Anatolian languages, such as Hittite. Let’s look at some examples:

  1. *h₁es- ‘be’ > Hittite ēszi ‘is’, Sanskrit asti, Greek esti, Latin est, English is, Wenja hasa ‘be (formal), exist’
  2. *h2ent- ‘face’ > Hittite ḫanti ‘in the face of’, Sanskrit ánti ‘before’, Latin ante, Greek antí, English end, Wenja shantiyi ‘near’
  3. *h3er- ‘large bird’ > Hittite ḫāraš ‘eagle’, Greek órnis ‘bird’; Gothic ara, Old Irish irar, Old Church Slavonic orĭlĭ ‘eagle’, Wenja faran ‘eagle’

You’ll note that in the words above both *h2 and *h3 are continued as < ḫ > in Hittite, a sound which was either a velar or pharyngeal fricative.  For more on the laryngeals (and PIE phonology) in general, I recommend that you read through a recent paper of mine, posted here.

So why do the laryngeals become vowels in the non-Anatolian languages? Well, often laryngeals were situated in difficult-to-pronounce consonant sequences, such as *ph2ter- ‘father’. They ‘vocalized‘, which really means that they inserted a short vowel (schwa, the *uh* sound in among) next to it in order to make the sequence pronounceable.

  1. *dhh1s- ‘sacred, religious’ → *dhəh1s- > Gk. thés-phatos ‘decreed by god’, Lat. fānum ‘temple’ (< *fasno-), Skt. dhíṣṇya- ‘devout’, HLuv. tasan-za ‘votive stele’, Wenja dahisna ‘temple’
  2. *sth2-to- ‘standing, made to stand’ → *stəh2-to- > Gk. statós, Ved. sthitá-, Lat. status, ON staðr ‘obstinate, restive (of horses)’, Wenja tashta ‘stand, pedestal’
  3. *dh3-ti- ‘gift’ → *dəh3-ti- > Gk. dósis, Ved. díti-, Lat. datiō, Wenja dafti ‘(mutual) exchange’

You can see that Wenja does pretty much the same thing as PIE — it inserts a vowel next to the laryngeal to make the sequence easier to say.  While PIE used schwa, Wenja uses either < i > or < a >, which depends on other factors we can’t get into here.

And like Hittite, those consonant sounds haven’t gone anywhere, though two of them have shifted in pronunciation. You’ve probably picked up on how the three laryngeals change into Wenja:

  • *h₁ > h   (no change!)
  • *h₂ > sh
  • *h₃ > f

While the second & third laryngeals become < sh > and < f > consistently throughout Wenja, you’ll often see the first laryngeal changing to < sh > in certain contexts, namely before a consonant or at the end of a word.

  • PIE *wih₁ró- ‘hero’ > Sanskrit vīra- ‘hero’, Latin vir ‘man’, English were(wolf), Wenja wishra ‘hero; the one’
  • PIE *d(e)h₁só- ‘god’ > Greek theós, Armenian dik’, Wenja dashka ‘god’

You’ll note that in the second example, *deh₁só- ‘god’, there’s an additional change of < s > to < k >, which is something we’ll discuss in a later post on consonant sequences.

So to wrap things up, here is the fricative inventory of Wenja:

Labiodental fmaygan ‘piss man’
Alveolar sada ‘sit’
Alveopalatal shazda ‘branch’
Glottal
hatra ‘food’
Smarkaka, salwa!  Having looked at the realization of PIE stops & fricatives in Wenja, we can now turn our attention to the resonants.  Resonants, as their name implies, are relativity loud (in linguistics, we use the term sonorous) sounds, ones which are made with very little obstruction of airflow. Phonetically & phonologically, they have much in common with vowels, which will be the focus of our next Winjas Surka post.

There are six resonants in PIE & Wenja.  Each is present in English, with one crucial difference.  The < r > of both PIE & Wenja is trilled, not approximant, as we here in the stereotypical “American” r.  You can hear the correct < r > in a whole slew of commercials for Ruffles potato chips. (Note too that the PIE < r > was likely dental, not alveolar)

  • < r > (voiced alveolar trill)

PIE *prō ‘forward’ > Hitt. p(a)rā ‘forth’, Ved. prá, Av. fra-, Gk. pró, Lat. prō ‘in front of’, Eng. fro, OCS pro- ‘through’, Lith. prã ‘past’, Wenja pra ‘ahead, forth’

  • < l > (voiced alveolar lateral approximant)

PIE *lewk- ‘light’ > Hitt. lukke- ‘kindle’, Ved. rócate ‘shines’, Av. raocaiieti ‘lights up’, Gk. leukós ‘bright’, Lat. lūc- ‘light’, OIr. luchair ‘a shining’, Arm. loys ‘light’, Eng. light, TA/B luk ‘to shine’, OCS luča ‘beam of light’, Wenja lawka- ‘bright’, lawkari ‘firefly’, lawkisna ‘glowing’, lawkas ‘light, color’, lawkaya ‘shine, light (transitive); kindle’, lawkwal ‘white wolf’

  • < m > (voiced bilabial nasal)

PIE *men- ‘think’ > Ved. mánas- ‘mind’, Av. manah- ‘mind’, Gk. ménos ‘mental energy’, Lat. ment- ‘mind’, OIr. do-moiniur ‘I think’, Arm. i-manam ‘I understand’, Eng. mind, OCS mĭnjǫ ‘I believe’, Lith. menù ‘I think’, Wenja manas ‘plan, strategy’, manaya ‘warn’, mani ‘think; rage, be angry’

  • < n > (voiced alveolar nasal)

PIE *ne ‘not’ > Hitt. na-tta ‘not’, Ved. , Av. na, Lat. ne-, OIr. , OEng. ne, OCS ne, Lith. , Wenja nay ‘no’, na ‘not’, nakwayda ‘never’, etc.

  • < w > (voiced labiovelar glide)

PIE *wh– ‘to lead, convey (in a vehicle)’ >  HLuv. waza- ‘drive’, Ved. váhati ‘leads, brings’, Av. vazaiti ‘leads, brings’, Gk. ekhetō ‘let him convey’, Lat. uehere ‘to convey’, OIr. fén ‘wagon’ (< *weǵh-no-), OCS vezǫ ‘I convey’Middle Dutch wagen ‘wagon’ ( > English), Wenja waja ‘drive; ride (a bear, sabertooth)’

  • < y > (voiced palatal glide)

PIE *yugom ‘a yoke’ > Hitt. iukan ([jugan]), Ved. yugám, Gk. zugón, Lat. iugum, Welsh iau, Lith. jùngas (with secondary -n-), Eng. yoke, Wenja yawga ‘to yoke, join’ 

In PIE, that’s not the end of the story for resonants. In fact, each of these sounds, under certain conditions (to learn more than you could ever want, see http://www.brill.com/products/book/indo-european-syllable :D) are realized as “vowels” in that they act as the peak of their syllable. For < r, l, m, n > this is indicated by a little circle under the consonants in question, for < w, y > they are re-written as < u > and < i >, respectively.

  • < r̥ >

PIE *mr̥tos ‘dead’ > Ved. mr̥tá-, Av. mǝrǝta-, Gk. brotós (< *mrotós) ‘mortal’, Lat. Morta ‘goddess of death’, Arm. mard ‘man’, Eng. murd-er, Old Russ. mĭrtvŭ ‘dead’, Lith. mirtìs ‘death’, Wenja marti ‘death’, marwa ‘dead’

  • < l̥ >

PIE *wl̥kwos ‘wolf’ > Hitt. walkuwa- ‘monster’, Ved. vr̥ kás, Av. vǝhrka-, OCS vliku, Lith. vilkas, Wenja wal(kwa) ‘wolf(pack)’

  • < m̥ >

PIE *deḱm̥ ‘10’ > Ved. daśa, Av. dasa, Gk. déka, Lat. decem, OCS desȩ-tĭ, Lith. dẽšimt, Wenja dacham ’10’

  • < n̥ >

PIE *n̥- ‘un-‘ > Ved. a(n)-, Gk. a(n)-, Lat. in-, OIr. an-, Eng. un-, Wenja an-fraji ‘distracted’, an-sharta ‘unharmed’, an-shurdwa ‘wrong, incorrect’

  • < u >

PIE *nu ‘now’ > Greek nun, Latin nunc, Sanskrit nu, Wenja nu ‘now’

  • < i >

PIE *n‘down’ > Sanskrit ni ‘down’, ni-taram ‘downward’, Greek nei-othen, Old Church Slavonic ni-zŭ ‘low down’, English ne-therWenja ni ‘down’

If you look closely at the Wenja forms above, Wenja does not have these reduced resonants — rather, with very few exceptions (there are more cases with i & u), there is always a vowel next to resonant in question.  In Indo-European terminology, we would say that Wenja is pre-ablaut. For the most part, no reductions have happened yet.  This is one of the “proto-PIE” features we refer to in our past interviews.

Having taken a wonderful vacation after the end of the semester, we can now return to the blog. It’s been a while since we discussed the derivation of Wenja from PIE and today I’d like to focus on a topic that is near and dear to my heart — consonant clusters. A consonant cluster is a sequence of two or more consonants in a row.  Some languages, such as Hawaiian, do not allow any such sequences.  Think of the Hawaiian words that you know (Honolulu, Maui, Hawai’i, etc.). Each syllable is either a simple vowel (V) or a consonant plus vowel (CV).

English, on the other hand, allows for a number of different types of syllables, many with very complex consonant clusters.

  1. V = “a”
  2. CV = “ray”
  3. CCV = “pray”
  4. CCCV = “spray”
  5. VC = “(h)eck”
  6. VCC = “ex”
  7. VCCC = “(s)ects”
  8. CVCCCC = “texts” [teksts]
So you can see that the largest possible syllable in English may be of the shape “CCCVCCCC” — a hypothetical “sprexts” if you will.
As for as consonant clusters are concerned, Proto-Indo-European was much closer to English than Hawaiian. It permitted syllables of the following shapes:
  1. V = *n̥ ‘un-‘
  2. CV = *de ‘towards’, *só ‘he’, *h₂a (first person singular within certain verb paradigms)
  3. CCVC = *pleh₁- ‘fill’
  4. CCCVC = h₂stḗr ‘star’
  5. CVCC = gʷénh₂ ‘woman’, wṓkʷs ‘voice’, sáls ‘salt’
  6. CCVCCC = h₂wḗḱst ‘carried’, mlewh₂t ‘spoke’
So the largest word that you have in PIE is of the shape CCCVCCC, a hypothetical *spreḱst if you will. English is only slightly more tolerant in its consonant clusters.
While Wenja does allow for consonant clusters, it is much more restrictive than English & PIE.
It allows for:
  1. V = “u” (imperative)
  2. VC = “aysh” (marker of posssibility, ‘maybe’), “an” (‘inside, in’)
  3. CV = “ku” (question), “hu” (perfective marker), “ba” (marker of surprise)
  4. CCV = “pra” (‘forth, earlier, in the morning’)
  5. CVC = “san” (‘without; no’), “dus” (‘bad’), “pas” (‘behind, later, afterwards’), “tam” (‘even’)
  6. CVCC = “bars” (‘barley’),
  7. CCVC = “smar.kaka” (‘hello’), “brash.tar” (‘brother’), “dwis” (‘2 times; again’)
  8. CCVCC = “swansh” (‘play music!’ [command])
You’ll note that there are no consonant clusters in Wenja like “spit” or “pits”, where an “s” precedes a stop at the beginning of a syllable (spit) or follows a stop at the end of a syllable (pits). In this sense, Wenja strictly prohibits violations of the Sonority Sequencing Principle, which demands that the sonority (i.e., perceptibility) of a syllable rise the closer one gets to the vowel.
And why, you might ask did we make this decision?  Two reasons:
  1. Recall that Wenja was designed to be “Proto-PIE”, a stage of the language before all of the fancy inflections were created within PIE.  (Much more on this in a future blog post)  There are no word endings per se, rather there are “clitics” that gravitate towards words to indicate additional grammatical information within the sentence.  In PIE the ending *-s marked either the nominative singular (the nominative marks the subject of the sentence) or the genitive singular (the genitive marks the possessive form, with other uses); cf. *h₃rḗḱs ‘king (nominative singular)’ and nékʷts ‘at night’ (genitive singuar).  With the -s directly attached onto the roots ‘king’ and ‘night’, it creates an even more complex consonant cluster.  No such situation exists in Wenja.
  2. As for the syllable initial “s” + stop clusters, there’s a really weird phenomenon in PIE called “s-mobile“, where an “s” may or may not appear at the beginning of a root.  A famous example is the verb *speḱ- ‘to see’, which shows up in English as spy, in Latin as spec- (seen in English spec-tacle), and Greek skep- (as in English sceptical). However, in Sanskrit the verb is paś- WITHOUT an s.  We really don’t know what s-mobile was, but it’s not unreasonable to assume that at some point it was a prefix of some sort, hence the variation. For this reason, our team assumed that in proto-PIE there were no roots with an original “s”, hence Wenja pacha ‘see’.
In our next blog post, we’ll wrap up our discussion of sounds by taking a look at vowels in PIE & Wenja. Tu sakwan prasti!
In our final post about the creation of the Wenja sound system, we’ll look at perhaps the simplest component : the vowels.
It turns out that the vowels of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) were pretty straightforward, too. Unlike English & French which have close twenty vowels, there were only a handful of them in PIE.
Three of the vowels of PIE, *e, *a, and *o, merge to Wenja a, as you can see in the following words:
  • *e : *h1es ‘is’ > Hitt. ēšzi, Ved. ásti, Gk. estí, Lat. est, OCS jestŭWenja hasa ‘is’
  • *a *sal- ‘salt’ > Ved. sal-ilá- ‘salty’, Gk. hál-, Lat. sal-, Arm. , OIr. salannWenja sal(i) ‘salt’
  • *o : *gwow– ‘cow’ > Lyc. wawa-, Skt. gáv-, Gk. bó(w)es ‘cows’, Lat. bouēs, Arm. kov, OCS gov-ęždĭ ‘bovine’, Wenja gwaw(i) ‘cow’
Why is this? Well, to a large extent the vowels *e and *o would alternate with each other in the same word, with *e used in some situations and *o in others. This is a process called ablaut. We even find remnants of this within English.
  1. sit ~ sat         < PIE *sed- ~ *sod-, Wenja sada
  2. sing ~ sang   < PIE *sengwh- ~ *songwh-Wenja sangwa
  3. bind ~ band  < PIE *bhendh- ~ *bhondh-Wenja banda
The left form in each pair is the present tense of the verb, with the right one being either the past tense or a noun form. All of this is easily explainable by reconstructing the vowel *e as the vowel of the present tense, with *o being used in the past and nouns. (Note: this is a huge oversimplification, but is mostly true.)
A number of Indo-Europeanists believe that while the vowels *e and *o participated in ablaut alternations in late PIE, in proto-PIE (what Wenja was designed to be, in part) this alternation did not yet exist. This may sound like a stretch, but there are lots of examples of vowel alternations being created in the history of language from all over the world.
We don’t have to go far — check out some more recent examples of vowel alternations in English:
  1. keep ~ kept < *keept — the “eh” vowel was historically the same vowel as the < ee > one (before the Great Vowel Shift)
  2. man ~ men < *maniz — the “eh” vowel in men used to be the same as the < a > one (before Germanic Umlaut occurred)
In PIE there were other vowels as well, such as the high vowels *i & *u :
  • *i *mizdho- ‘reward’ > Av. mižda-, Gk. misthós, Goth. mizdo, OCS mĭzda, Wenja mizda
  • *u *nu ‘now’ > Sanskrit nu, Latin nunc, English now, Wenja nu ‘now, and’
These vowels remained as such in Wenja, resulting in a three-vowel inventory within Wenja. Such inventories are quite common among the languages of the world, found in languages like Arabic.

There were also long vowels in PIE, vowels that were twice as long as short ones. In English we don’t really make a distinction between the two, at least not in making contrasts between different words. But you’ll note the difference in vowel length in a pair of words such as bet ~ bed, where the < e > vowel is roughly twice as long in bed. Because the actors were primarily monolingual English speakers, the team decided to get rid of vowel length all together.
  •  : *h3rḗĝ-s ‘king’ >  Latin rēx, Old Irish , Wenja fraji (not fraaji)
  • *ā : *nās- ‘nose’ > Latin nasus, English nose, Wenja nas (not naas)
  •  : *swesōr ‘sister’ > Latin sorōr, Sanskrit svasAr, English sister, Wenja swasar (not swaasar)
And finally, there were the diphthongs in PIE. Diphthongs are complex vowels that consist of two vowel-like elements squished together. In English we have sounds like < i > (as in “I” and “sky”), < o > (as in “no” and “toe”), and < ow > (as in “cow” and “bout”) which begin with a vowel that transitions to another vowel. In PIE there were six diphthongs altogether (excluding long diphthongs). And since *e, *a, and *o all became a in Wenja, these six diphthongs collapsed together to two : ay & aw.
Diphthongs: *e, *a, *o + *u & *i
  • *ei : *ḱei- ‘lie down’ > Skt. śaye ‘lies’, Gk. keĩmai ‘I lie’, Wenja chaya ‘lie down’
  • *ai : *kaikos ‘blind’ > Lat. caecus, Goth. haihs ‘one-eyed’, Wenja kayka ‘one-eyed’
  • *oi : *mei- ‘exchange’ > OLat. moenus ‘duty, tribute, payment’, Wenja maya ‘trade, exchange, replace’
  • *eu : *sreumn̥   ‘river’ > Gk. rheũma, English stream, Wenja shrawman ‘river’
  • *au : *h₂sauso- ‘dry’ > Gk. haũos, Lith. saũsas, English searWenja shisawsa ‘dry’
  • *ou : *mouro‘idiot’ > Gk. mōró-, Sanskrit mūrá-Wenja mawra ‘stupid, foolish; idiot’
Lastly, let’s talk about the rhythm of the language. Many people have noticed Wenja’s sharp, staccato rhythm, which directly contrasts with the sing-songy nature of Izila. We believe that PIE was exactly like Izila; as a pitch-accented language, its speakers differentiated stressed syllables through pitch, not loudness. The stress moves back and forth in both PIE & Izila, as any syllable could be stressed.
Not so in Wenja. Using linguistics terminology, Wenja’s rhythm is trochaic, with its trochees assigned at the left side of the word. This means that in a word with two syllables, the stress will fall on the first syllable : bada ‘dig’ = [BA da].  In a word of four syllables, the stress will fall on the first and third syllables, with the stress being strongest on the first syllable: bada-bada ‘keep on digging’ [BA da BA da].
This results in a language with a very “caveman” rhythm. But this wasn’t created out of whole cloth. In fact, there’s a theory by Paul Kiparsky whereby the “default” accent is assigned to the leftmost syllable of the word, all things being equal. It’s called the “Basic Accentation Principle” (the BAP for short), and is becoming increasingly more popular within the field. I personally am a fan of it. It’s very heady stuff, but if you’re interested in reading about it more, check out this paper of Kiparsky’s.
Well, that’s it for sounds.  Next up: verbs!

The Grammar of Wenja

Preface: The Wenja People

Wenja is an Indo-European language spoken by a group of hunter-gatherers in the world of Oros. The Wenja are currently under attack by two other neighboring factions, the Udam and the Izila.  The Udam are a dying race of Neanderthals, and they do anything they can to survive. This often involves eating the Wenja.  The Izila are a technologically advanced tribe of humans to the south, who try to abduct the Wenja for cheap slave labor.

Brief Overview of Language

Wenja is a language which marks its verbs in different ways depending on the subject in question. When the subject is an agent (a ‘doer’) of an active verb (see below), Wenja speakers place endings on the verb, while non-agents and inactive verbs put these endings on a special word at the beginning of the sentence. Word order is strictly SOV : subject + object + verb. Nouns may be classified as animate and inanimate, and only animate nouns may trigger endings on the verb.

Endings

The Wenja classify their nouns and pronouns (nominals) as either active or inactive. Active nominals trigger endings on the verb, while inactive nominals trigger endings on the sentence-initial “special word” chain (see very bottom). Note that inactive nominals can also be marked through stand-alone versions of the pronouns (see next section), if there is no sentence-initial special word.

Active nominals are:

  • agents of transitive verbs: He eats birds.
  • agents of active intransitive verbs: He

Inactive nominals are:

  • subjects of nominal predication: He is sad; He is a hunter.
  • subjects of inactive intransitive verbs: He falls (unintentionally).
  • objects of transitive verbs: He eats

For Wenja, intentionality of the subject is what separates verbs from being treated as active vs. inactive. So, the subject of the verb ‘fall’ can either be treated in either way, depending on whether the fall was intentional or not:

  • I fell (by accident): nu-m
  • I fell (intentionally): nu pata-m.

Verb endings are as follows:

sing plur
1 -m -mas
2 -ta -tan
3 ø (-sa for emphasis) -(a)rsh

Thus:

“He eats an apple”

Nu-ø                           mara                           hada-ø

Nu-3.sg.inactive      apple                           eat-3sg

“He hits me”

Nu-m kayda-ø

(or I am hit)

“You hit me”

Nu-m kayda-ta

“I hit him”

Nu-ø kayda-m

The ending -ra marks reflexive and is used when the agent and object are the same. With reflexives there is no marking on the verb (that is, these are treated more like inactive constructions than active ones).

“I hit myself”

Nu-mra kayda-ø

“He falls”

Nu-ø pata

“I fall”

Nu-m pata

Stressed Pronouns

The endings above also have a stand-alone version, which can be used for inactive nominals when there is no sentence-initial special word. This happens regularly for:

  • nominal / adjectival predicates (“We are warriors.” / “We are strong.”)

The stressed pronouns can also be used for:

  • intransitive subjects    (“We are hurt.”)
  • direct objects    (“The Izila hurt us.”)

Using the stressed version of the pronouns can also convey additional emphasis/contrast.

The stressed versions of the pronouns are as follows:

sing plur
1 mu mas
2 ta tan
3 sa say

Nominal predication:

Mu Wenja.

“I (am) Wenja.”

Say shnar-hadan.

“They (are) cannibals.”

Mas lasiwa.

“We (are) weak.”

Intransitive subjects:

Mu pada.

“I fall (unintentionally).”

Direct objects:

Mu kayda.

He hits me.

Mas kayda.

He hits us.

Animate vs. Inanimate Nouns and Agreement

Wenja speakers view the things within their world as either living (animate) or non-living (inanimate). For the Wenja, anything animate has a soul.  Animate nouns are people, gods, and animals. Inanimate nouns are objects, such as rocks, weapons, and food.

Recall that the Wenja only use endings on their verbs when the subject is animate. It is for this reason that there is no ending on the verb in the following sentence:

The apples are killing me

Nu-m mara-ø gwan-ø

[the apple gets ø marking even though it’s the agent, because it’s inanimate.]

Contrast this with a plural animate noun, which triggers the ending -rsh on the verb:

The mammoths are killing me

Nu-m mamaf gwana-rsh

Possessive Pronouns

The possessives are all unstressed words added to the very beginning of what it describes.

sing plur
mi- ‘my’ mash- / masi- ‘our’
ti- ‘our’ tay- / tani- ‘y’all’s’
si- ‘his; her; its’ arsh- / arsi- ‘their’

For the singular forms and long plural forms, if the host word begins in a vowel, insert a < y >.  Thus, /anna/ ‘mother’ → miy-anna ‘my mother’.

The long plural forms are only used with prepositions; see the next section for more.

Prepositions

While English places its prepositions before the noun or pronoun it modifies (“in Wenja”, “before Roshani”), Wenja places their prepositions after (Wenjasu “Wenja in”, Roshani parshay “before Roshani”). The basic prepositions of Wenja are as follows:

  • “of, possession” :                               -s
  • “to, for” :                                             -i/-y (-i after consonant, -y after vowel)
  • “in, on, at” :                                         su
  • “with” :                                                ha
  • “from, by, than (comparison)” :         bi
  • “towards”, “into”, “onto” :                  m

In a string of nouns, these prepositions need only be used once:

And sniffing you come … for what? (for) food? (for) peace?

nu    salka    gwam-ta…    kway-i?     hatra-(y)? kwayta-(y)?

Postpositions only attach to the main noun that they modify:

with one spear

sam gwaru-ha

NOT    sam-ha gwaru-ha

When using personal pronouns as the object of the preposition, use the possessive form. The plural form will make use of the “long” form.

  • tani-s ‘of y’all, y’all’s’
  • mi-yi ‘to, for me’
  • si-su ‘on him/her/it’
  • arsi-ha ‘with them’
  • ti-bi ‘from you’
  • masi-m ‘towards, into, onto us’

Nominal Derivation

Like English, Wenja uses certain suffixes to create new nouns. These include:

1.     Agent/Participle: add -n- to the verb stem.

  • fumaygan ‘pisser; piss man; pissing’
  • lajan ‘gatherer; gathering’
  • sajan ‘winner; winning’
  • awan ‘carer; caring’

2.   Patient: add -ta- to the verb stem.

  • fumayta ‘pissed, pissee [thing pissed on]’
  • lashta ‘gathered; gatheree [thing gathered]’
  • sashta ‘winnee [thing won]; won’
  • awta ‘caree [thing cared for]; cared’

3.   Instrument: add -tar to the verb stem.

  • lajatar/lashtar ‘tool of gathering; scythe’
  • sajatar/sashtar  ‘tool of winning; battle-tool’
  • awtar ‘tool of caring; sponge’

4.   Action: add -man to the verb stem.

  • lajaman/lashman ‘gathering’,
  • sajaman/sashman  ‘winning’,
  • awman ‘caring’

5.    Abstract: add. -ti to the verb stem.

  • lajati/lashti ‘idea of gathering’,
  • sajati/sashti ‘idea of winning’
  • awti ‘idea of caring’

More on Verbs

Wenja has two tenses: past and non-past. Non-past is unmarked, and can indicate the present as well as the future.

The past may be (but doesn’t have to be) marked by adding unaccented hu– before the verb root.

“The apple is killing me.”

Nu-m mara-ø gwan-ø

“The apple killed me.”

Nu-m mara-ø hu-gwan-ø

Repetition (iterativity) is marked by copying the first syllable of the verb. It works with both the past and the non-past:

“The apple keeps killing me (over and over).”

Nu-m mara-ø gwa-gwan-ø

“The apple killed me repeatedly (the apple really killed me).”

Nu-m mara-ø hugwa-gwan-ø

When copying the first syllable of past verbs, Wenja can also express completion and complete affectedness of the object (the apples really killed me).

In a sequence of narrated events, the past marker hu– is not indicated after the first clause.

“I ate an apple, and it killed me.”

Mara hu-hada-m, tu-m gwan-ø

Infinitives

The verbal stem also works as an infinitive.

“to kill beasts”

gwar gwan(a)

When there is a main verb + an infinitive, the main verb is always sentence-final.

“I need to kill beasts.”

gwar gwan dawsa-m

Note that psych verbs like “need”, “want”, etc. are construed as active verbs, and so the ending is attached on the verb, instead of the sentence-initial special word / stand-alone pronoun.

Constructions like “teach” (dachay(a)-) take two objects, same word order as above:

“Mother teaches me [to find healing herbs].”

“Mu mashtar [yakabush wayda] dachay.”

Verbal Valency

Causative

As in English, Wenja uses a specific word to indicate the causative, the construction which means “to make do something”.  Wenja uses the infinitive + daha ‘do, put’. This construction can make causatives to both transitive and intransitive base verbs. An alternative (and more archaic) suffix -ay- can also be added to roots to create causatives. Both formations are indicated below.

Intransitive base verbs

Nu-m shnar sasa daha. / Nu-m shnar sasay.

“The man made me sleep”

Nu shnar sasa daha-m. / Nu shnar sasayam.

“I made the man sleep.”

Transitive base verbs

Nu-m shnar mara hada daha. / Nu-m shnar mara hadayam.

“The man made me eat an apple.”

Nu shnar mara hada daha-m. / Nu shnar mara hadayam.

“I made the man eat an apple.”

Passive

In Wenja, a passive is not always necessary. When leaving out the underlying agent, (as in the second example), the sentence can equally mean “it killed me” or “I was killed”.

nu-m mara hu-gwan-ø

“The apple killed me.”

nu-m hu-gwan-ø

“It killed me./I was killed.”

However, if desired, a passive may be formed by indicating the demoted agent (the “by phrase”) with the Instrumental -ha.

nu-m mara-ha hu-gwan

“I was killed by the apple.”

(Of course, difference is more visible with other persons):

nu-m hu-gwan-ta

“You killed me.”

nu-m ti-ha hu-gwan

“I was killed by you

Sentence-Initial Special Word Chains

Many sentences in Wenja start with a special word chain, typically beginning with an adverb. These words not only help Wenja speakers connect their sentences (such as nu ‘now, yes’, tu ‘then, so’) but also indicate certain grammatical properties (such as ku, when asking questions, and aysh ‘could, should, would’).

  • nu (pre-vowel variant nw-): affirmative indeed, yes, now
  • na: negative no, not
  • ku (pre-vowel variant kw-): interrogative ???
  • (pre-vowel variant w-): imperative !!!
  • may: negative imperative don’t!!!!
  • tu (pre-vowel variant tw-): then (temporal sequence) so, then
  • ma: adversative but
  • ba: exclamative! whoa! hey!
  • ha: final (in order to) so that
  • aysh: subjunctive / optative could, should, would

In general, when no endings need to be place at the beginning of the sentence, these special adverbs can be omitted, unless they’re needed for the meaning.

To illustrate the function of these special words, note the following sentences:

I hit him (basic sentence).

kayda-m

Let me hit him! / May I hit him!

U kayda-m.

I should (could, would) hit him.

Aysh kayda-m.

Whoa, I hit him!

Ba kayda-m!

I hit him?

Ku kayda-m.

And then I hit him,

Tu kayda-m.

I didn’t hit him.

Na kayda-m.

May I not hit him!

May kayda-m.

Other Caveman Media (Guest Post by Dansurka)

Hello everyone! I’ve asked Dansurka, an avid fan of FCP and an extremely good Wenja speaker, to write a guest blog post for the site. He’s decided to discuss other forms of Caveman media. (Naturally) He’s most graciously included a translation after the Wenja, but see how much you can figure out!

-Winjapati

Nu salwa Far Cry Primal hu-lijatan. Batari Ull-kwa marwa, tani-waycha palshna, salwa kurpashna hu-waydatan. Ma-nu kway? Kwar alya chawhan pacha magata?

U tawsatan! Aysh sakwim. Shaysman Puri (Quest for Fire) bagayam. Hay muvi 1981-bi, Ron Perlman-ha, Rae Dawn Chong-ha, alya-ha-kwa. Wakwasu, Ulam jinafmas. (Say Winja-way, ma-na pur daha magarsh.) Alya janhas, Wagabu (Say Udam-way) wayka, tu Ulam shlaka. Ulam Wagabu hal-halsh, ma pur Ulambi dafa. Na daha magarsh, tu jarshan tray wantar santaya, ha pur waydarsh. Jarshna muvi, ma ‘ti su.

“Ma”, aysh warhatan, “Na muvi walham. Layda (‘game’) walham. Aysh-kwa hay laydasu mamaf fraja magam, FCP-way, tu sa su-su!” Ta smara! U Mamaf: Chawgra (The Mammoth: A Cave Painting) paratan: hay layda Android-i iPhone-i-kwa. Hay-haywa lijan. Ya layda lijatan, sa chawgra-way. Hay gastiya “laydaka”-su, mashtar mamaf fraja. Si-chardu-bi hay, ha si-putila wayda.  Shancha-su, salway marirsh. Mamaf: Chawgra mana-manu, ma hafchu wakwas mamafs mi-charda hayay. Su-su.

Ma-nw-aysh warhatan, “Na muvi na shuta layda walham. Smay-smaya walham. Nu law-lawkas awam. Kw-aysh ‘kartun’ bagaytan?” Ta tawsayam! U Shawsas Krudis (Dawn of the Croods) pachatan. Wakwasu, Krudi, janhas chawhans, jinafmas. “Aaaaah!” nayminsu* chawha arsiyi. Krudi hasarsh:

“Eep”(Ip), yuwanka gwan.

“Grug” (Grag), shajan “Aaaaah!” nayminas, Ipis pashtar.

“Ugga” (Uga), Gragis chamyugi, Ipis mashtar.

“Sandy” (Sam-shidi), bargwa nawashna dugishtar.

“Thunk” (Bum-Bum), mawra brashtar.

“Gran” (Mash-mashtar), Ugas chishta mashtar.

*(Nayminas waydani, “Aaaaah!” supima warshta.)

Shawsas Krudis-i kwatur “sama” (“seasons”). Na parshwa sama su, ma ‘pa salwa jinafmas, sur buha. Kwaturta su-su. U Netflikisu waydatan.

“Ma,” aysh warhatan, “pal-palhu alya chawhan wakwas marsta!” Ta frashta! U kraybaman kacha dahatan, shuta-m Twitar-ha jawhatan (), ham sa shwadatan!

Here’s Dansurka’s translation:

“So you’ve played all of Far Cry Primal. Batari and Ull are dead, your village is full, you have found all the bracelets. But, now what? Where can you see other cavemen?

Be happy! I will help. I suggest “Quest for Fire”. This movie is from 1981, with Ron Perlman, Rae Dawn Chong and others. In the story, we meet the Ulam. (They’re like the Wenja, but they can’t make fire.) Another tribe, the Wagabu, attack, so the Ulam defend. The Ulam drive off the Wagabu, but they lose their fire. They can’t make it, so the elders send three hunters to find fire. An old movie, but still good.

“But”, maybe you say, “I don’t want a movie. I want a game. And if in this game, I can control a mammoth, like FCP, that would be great!” You’re in luck! Try “Mammoth: A Cave Painting” This is a game for Android and iPhone. One player only. This is like a cave painting you play. In this different little game, you control a mother mammoth. She goes from her tribe to find her child. In the end, everybody dies. Mammoth: A Cave Painting is very short, but the powerful story of the mammoth moved me. Very good.

But now you might say, “I don’t want a movie or a game. I want to laugh. And I like bright colors. Can you suggest a cartoon?” I’ll make you happy! Watch “Dawn of the Croods”. In the story, we meet The Croods, a family of cavemen. They have a cave in “Aaaah!” Valley*. The Croods are:

Eep, an adolescent girl,

Grug, leader of Aaaah! valley, Eep’s father.

Ugga, Grug’s wife, Eep’s mother.

Sandy, the violent infant daughter.

Thunk, the dumb brother.

Gran, Ugga’s sneaky mother.

*”Aaaah!” was the valley founder’s last words.

“Dawn of the Croods” has four seasons. The first season’s not good, but after we’ve met everyone, it improves. The fourth season is the best of them. You can find it on Netflix.

“But”, you could say. “You forgot so many caveman stories!” You’re right! You can leave a message below, or tweet at me, , to tell me about them!

How to Speak Wenja: Jayma’s scenes

Today we’ll look at Jayma’s scenes, a bad-ass hunter who teaches you the art of beast hunting.

Jayma is played by the amazing Ayisha Issa, who is a very kind and funny lady — but don’t mess with her, she’s also an expert in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Super stoked about her appearing in Dark Matter, season 3.

Meeting Jayma

Takkar :

Apa, apa!
Back, back!

Jayma:

Ta Winja.
You Wenja.
You’re (a) Wenja.

Tu-ta yuwanka. Chlawta…. Majish padi mamaf-way.
So-you young, loud… big feet mammoth-like
You’re young, loud… big feet like mammoth

Dwa sashwalim hars salkamas.  Shitawgata.
Two suns-for bear track-we. Frighten-you.
We track a bear for two suns. You scared him away.

Dwa sashwalim sam harsi? Hars hafchu waydam – kwati salka daycham.
Two suns-for one bear-for? Bear fast find-I – how to-track show-I
Two suns for one bear? I find bear fast – show you how to track.

Majish warshta mamaf padiyi. U kwati salka… daysh.
Big words mammoth feet-for. IMP how to-train … show.
Big words for Mammoth Feet. Show us how to track.

Aysh hars waydata.. tushi gwash.
Should bear find-you.. quiet walk
If you find the bear – walk softly.

On the Hunt

Jayma:

Su wanman, Mamaf Padi. 

Good hunt, Mammoth Feet.
Good hunt, Mammoth Feet.
(Every time I hear “Mamaf Padi” I imagine Jayma pinching Takkar’s cheeks)

Tiyi, gwar cham-chamsha dahamas. Shlangwi gwan dafmas.
For-you, beast super-tired make-we. Easy kill give-we.
We tire the beast for you. Give you easy kill.

 

Tall Elk (1:40)

 
Jayma:

 

 

 

Wantar hafchu fakwi daws. Na ya alya pacharsh, pacha daws..

 

Hunter fast eyes needs. Not what other see-they, to-see needs.
A hunter needs fast eyes. Must see what others do not see.
(Tricky construction in second sentence, literally, “That which others do not see, he needs to see.”)
(Also: This first sentence was the actors favorite sentence in the game. They always said it sounded like, “Wantar have to fuck with us.”)
Gwardu fakwi sashwal daws. Kuspa jaw dwayarsh. Ku, ti-fakwi kuspa dwayarsh?
Slow eyes sun need. Night sky fear-they. QUESTION, your-eyes night fear-they?
Slow eyes need the sun. They fear night skies. Do your eyes fear the night?
(Since Jayma is giving animacy to the eyes within her story, she uses the -rsh for plural agreement in the verb.)
 
Takkar :
Kwayda wanam, nam jaw nakwayda shwada.
When hunt-I, not-me sky never tells.
The sky never tells me when to hunt.
 
Jayma:

 

 

 

Mamaf Padi, um ti-fakwi wantaris daysh.

 

Mammoth Feet, COMMAND-me your-eyes hunter-of… show.
Show me your hunter’s eye, Mammoth Padi.
 
Kuspas, barju halchi hada, chawhisu chawda. U sa wayda, nu si-charu hinacha.
Nights, tall elk eats, shadows-in hides. COMMAND him find, and his-antlers seize.
The tall elk feeds at night, hides in shadows. Find him and take his antlers.
(I freakin’ love how Jayma says “hinacha” here.)
 
Epic Hunt Intro

Jayma:

Tiyi nawashnas kawti, Mamaf Padi.
You-to baby-of skin, Mammoth Feet.
You have skin of a baby, Mammoth Feet..

Dwaynwal.
Direwolf

Majish Hars.
Great Bear

 

Takkar :

Ti-kansham gwar-gwardu hafchu gwari.
Your legs slow-slow fast beasts-for .
And your legs are too slow for fast beasts.

Jayma:

Haskawantar hafchu gwar sansha, majish gwar.

Master-hunter fast beast seeks, great beast.

A master hunter seeks the fast beast, the great beast.

Ku, tisu haskawantar?
QUESTION, you-in master-hunter?

Is a master hunter in you?

Majish gwar Urusim shalarsh. U arsh-maji shayu madi. Balti hinacha tu haskawantar buha.
Great beast Oros roam. COMMAND their-great spirits face. Strength seize so-that master hunter become.

Great beasts roam Oros. Face their mighty spirits. Take their strength and become the master hunter.

 

Farewell



(All the feels!)

Jayma:

Winja bal shawga. Nu cham-chamsham.
Wenja strong grow. Now RED-become.tired-I.
The Wenja grow strong. Now I become really tired.

Palhu mansi tiyi manarsh, Takkar
Many moon for.you wait-they, Takkar
Many moons wait for you Takkar.

Takkar :

Wanmas… samsam.
Hunt-we… together.
We hunt together.

Jayma:

 

Mam chlawta mamaf padi shitawga
But-me loud mammoth feet scare
Loud mammoth feet scare me.

Ta Winja daws, Haskawantar.
You Wenja need, Master hunter.
The Wenja need you. A master hunter.

Mi-sashwalim supima, shwadarha shwasam.
My-suns-through last, animals-with dwell-I.
I spend my last suns with the animals.

(This sentence is about the closest we have to a Wenja tongue twister.)

 

How (Not) to Speak Wenja: Queen Batari’s Scenes

After a long hiatus I’m now returning to finish up what I began on the 1st Primalversary beginning in February — compiling an annotated set of dialogue for all of the cutscenes in the game.

We’ll begin with a look at Queen Batari’s dialogue. As you all know, Batari is a menacing figure in the game, and is about as close to a “bad guy” as you can get. She’s arrogant and ruthless, though has a weakness known to Tinsay – her fear of Krati, a man (lover? son?) from her past. She’s played by Debra Wilson, who — from the get go — was immersed in the part. One of the most impressive actors I’ve ever met.

Batari’s dialogue is completely done in Izila (His-hílax), the language of the Izila. For an overview of the grammar, see my post from yesterday: http://box2018.temp.domains/~speakjb5/how-not-to-speak-wenja-izila-his-hilax/.


Observing Batari



Batari:

Úb, Udam pésti.
Up, Udam  pest.
Up, Udam pest.

Klutór!
Louder!
Louder!
(This is the comparative to klutós ‘loud’. It’s actually related to Eng. loud-er. *klutós > *hludós > loud; -or > -er)

Udam pésti bélom mnyetor.
Udam pesti strong it-thinks
Udam pest thinks it’s strong.

Haxtár!
You-will-burn!
You will burn!
(hax- ‘burn’ is related to hása ‘ashes’ below)

Nu híd. Wénja pésti budzdá hsenti.
Now this one. Wenja pests smart are.
Now this one. Wenja pests are smart.

Bélom. Subeidés. Desnóm, híd bere. Wenja nu Suxlei beideti.
Strong. Obedient. Temple-to, this-one take. Wenja now Suxli serves.
Strong. Obedient. Take this one to the temple. Wenja now serves Suxli.

Warrior:

Hidí!
Go!
Move!

Takkar (in Wenja):

Siyi shawgas. Aysh shajan sushalhayns.
To-her power. Should leader sunwalker-of.
She has power. She is probably the leader of the sunwalkers.

Meeting Batari

Batari:

Ímo, héi Gwárpati hesti.  His-hílax-wei purhé hyéutsti. Tód, wéi-wei supniyéti.
So, this Beastmaster is. Izila-like fire-with it-fights. It, we-like dreams.
So, this is the Beastmaster. It fights with fire like the Izila. It dreams to be like us.
(This is perhaps my favorite scene of Debra’s. Interestingly, she begins addressing Takkar as an “it”, then shifts to animate “he” when she tries to woo him; once he says “no” to her, she goes back to calling him an “it”.)

Bélos hesi, Wénja. 
Strong you-are, Wenja.
You are strong Wenja.

Órosom hrékti wélxsi? His-hílax-wei.
Oros to-rule wish-you? Izila-like.
You wish to rule Oros? Like the Izila.

Mogxéyox te. Hóiwoi mégi béidesi. Hóiwoi Bátarei.
Make-you-great-I you. Only me you-will-serve. Only Batari.
I will make you great.
(The word mogxeyox is a causative derivative of megx ‘great’)

Takkar (in Wenja):

Nakway bidam.
No-one serve-I.
I serve no one.

Batari:

His-hílax-wei hyéutsti wélxsi.
Izila-like to-fight want-you.
You want to fight like Izila.

Tód Wénja-wei haxtór. 
It Wenja-like will-burn.
It will burn like Wenja.

Stealing Krati (non-stealth)

Batari:

Wénja.

Warrior:

Kráti! Kráti!

Batari:

Súxlis te dégwetu.
Suxli you let-him-burn
Suxli burn you.

Nú Wénjam dégwomi.
Nu Wenja burn-I
Now I burn Wenja.

Stealing Krati (stealth) – 2:00

Takkar:

Krati.

Batari:
Purós putlóm, súxnus hasósyo.
fire-of child, son ash-of.
Child of fire, son of ash.
(This is the closest thing to poetry in the game.  Given the formulaic nature of the line, I intentionally translated it with chiasmus)

Kráti. Kwór Kráti? Kwór Kráti!?
Nu Wenja burn-I
Now I burn Wenja.

Wénja! Wénja hyód Krátim klept, tú haxtár!
Wenja! Wenja who Krati steals, you will-burn!
Wenja! You will burn for touching Wenja!

Final Battle with Batari

Batari:

Kráti?

Wénja.

Dérkso, hyód dexs!
Look, what you-have-done!
Look what you have done!

The Death of Batari

Batari:

Ápo gwmské, Súxli. Me solwéye!
Back come, Suxli. Me save!
Return, Suxli! Save me!

Wénja pésti!
Wenja pest!
Wenja pest!

Héi Wénja degwe, hása!
This Wenja burn, to-ashes!
Burn this Wenja to ash!

Súxli, dégwe hása!
Suxli, burn to-ashes!
Suxli, burn to ashes!

Updates to Website

Smarkaka, salwa!

After a three-month hiatus during which Brenna and I welcomed our second son to the world, I’m making some serious updates to the blog.

First, after a year and a half of requests, I’ve finally posted the complete Wenja / Izila lexicon to the
website. You may access it here: http://box2018.temp.domains/~speakjb5/p/warshta-lexicon.html.

Second, I’ve added an Izila primer for those of you interested in learning how to speak like Batari. Go here: http://box2018.temp.domains/~speakjb5/how-not-to-speak-wenja-izila-his-hilax/.

And finally, I’ve added a section with interviews, articles, and other news from our work on Primal. You can access it here: http://box2018.temp.domains/~speakjb5/p/interviews-articles-and-other-news.html.

How (Not) to Speak Wenja : Izila (His-hílax)

A Grammar of Izila (His-hílax)

 
 
Preface: the Izila People

Izila is an Indo-European language spoken by the Izila tribe, which lives in the southern part of Oros.  Theirs is a sedentary agrarian society, which is led by a divine warrior queen.  All Izila speak the Izila language, and some even speak Wenja, when necessary. The word Izila is a simplified pronunciation of His-hílax, which means “the language of the Masters”.

How Words are Made
The structure of words in Izila is much more complicated than in English.  Like in Spanish & German, you can add lots of different types of endings to words to indicate that word’s function within the sentence. For instance, in Spanish, for “I walk” you would say camin-o, but “you walk” is camin-as. This use of suffixes is found pretty much everywhere in Izila.
There are two basic types of words in Izila : nominals (nouns, adjectives, and pronouns) and verbs.  Let’s start with the nominals.
Nominals:
There are six basic facts about the Izila nominals you need to know.
1.       Like in Spanish, nouns may be classified according to one of two genders.  While in Spanish nouns may be either masculine or feminine, in Izila nouns may be either animate or inanimate.  Pretty much everything is inanimate in Izila, except for those entities that the Izila believe are capable of rational thought. Thus:
a.       The Izila, respected Wenja, and the gods are considered to be animate: Ménsos ‘the moon god’, Súxlis ‘the sun god’, Roshánis (Izila name), Sáyla (female Wenja gatherer).
b.      All animals, plants, non-living objects (such as rocks), disrespected Wenja, and all Udam are considered to be inanimate: hárs ‘bear’, búúlis ‘bush’, kéuhom ‘cave’, Wóga(male Wenja crafter), (Udam name).
c.       All of this will become important later when we learn to use adjectives and pronouns; see (6.) below.
2.      Like in English, there are 2 numbers in Izila: singular (one) and plural (many).
a.       sem bákom ‘one berry’ ~ dwo báka ‘two berries’
b.      sem gwér ‘one beast’ ~ dwo gwér ‘two beasts’
3.      In English we use lots of prepositions with our nominals.  These prepositions allow for nouns to have different functions in the sentence: “on the rock” (location), “to the rock” (direction), “with the rock” (using the rock as an instrument), etc.  In Izila they like to avoid prepositions and instead use suffixes attached to the ends of their nominals to convey these types of meaning.  There are eight of these suffixes in Izila; each has a singular form & a plural form:
a.       Nominative: use this form if the N is the subject of the sentence
Roshánis dómom démheti.                  
‘Roshani builds a house’
b.      Genitive: use this form if the N possesses something else
Rosháneis hegnígweru bélistom.         
‘Roshani’s fire-spear is the strongest.’
c.       Accusative: use this form if the N is the object of the sentence
Roshánim káideti.                          
‘Wah strikes Roshani’
d.      Dative: the “to” form
Hegnígweru Roshánei dohəm.
‘I gave a fire-spear to Roshani.’
e.       Ablative: the “from/by” form
Hegnígweru megi Rosháneisdoxto.
‘A fire-spear was given to me by Roshani’
f.        Instrumental: the “with” form
Kəmtom Údam Wénja kwe Roshánihe gwenom.
‘I killed 100 Udam & Wenja with Roshani.’
g.       Locative: the “in/on” form
Mókom Rosháni hesti.
‘There’s a fly on Roshani.’
h.      Vocative: use this form if the N is addressed in the sentence
Rosháni, kwór hesi?                             
‘Roshani, where are you?’
4.      To make matters even trickier, Izila uses different suffixes depending on what sound the word in question ends with. So, if the word ends in an -o (dómo- ‘house’), it will use one set of endings.  If it ends in an -i (Rosháni- ‘Izila commander’), it will use yet another set of endings.  All together, there are five classes of nouns and adjectives.
a.                   The o nouns (such as dóm-om‘house’):

o-nouns
singular
plural
animate
inanimate
animate
inanimate
nom
os
om
oi
a
gen
osyo
osyo
ohom
ohom
acc
om
om
ons
a
dat
oi
oi 
oibi
oibi
abl
od
od
oibi
oibi
inst
ohe
ohe
ois
ois
loc
oi
oi
oisu
oisu
voc
e
oi
a
                        So, dómom ‘house’ (subj.), dómosyo ‘house’s’, etc.
b.                  The ax nouns (such as Izílax‘land of Izila’):
ax-nouns
singular
plural
nom
ax
ahas
gen
ahas
ahom
acc
am
ans
dat
ahai
abi
abl
ahad
abi
inst
aha
abi
loc
ahi
aksu
voc
a
ahas
Izílax ‘Land of Izila’ (subj.), Izílahas ‘Land of Izila’s’, etc.
c.                   The i nouns (such as Roshán-i ‘Roshani’):

i-nouns
singular
plural
animate
inanimate
animate
inanimate
nom
is
i
eyes
i
gen
eis
eis
ihom
ihom
acc
im
i
ins
i
dat
ei
ei
ibi
ibi
abl
eis
eis
ibi
ibi
inst
ihe
ihe
ibi
ibi
loc
i
i
isu
isu
voc
i
i
eyes
i
Roshánis ‘Roshani’ (subj.), Rosháneis ‘Roshani’s’, etc.
d.                  The u nouns (such as hís-u ‘spear’):
u-nouns
singular
plural
animate
inanimate
animate
inanimate
nom
us
u
ewes
u
gen
ous
ous
uhom
om
acc
um
u
uns
u
dat
ewei
ewei
ubi
ubi
abl
ous
ous
ubi
ubi
inst
uhe
uhe
ubi
ubi
loc
ou
ou
usu
usu
voc
u
u
ewes
es
hísu ‘arrow’ (subj.), hísous ‘arrow’s’, etc.
e.                   The consonant nouns (such as nók ‘murder’):
Consonant
singular
plural
animate
inanimate
animate
inanimate
nom
s
es
– / a
gen
os
os
om
om
acc
əm
əns
– / a
dat
ei
ei
bi
bi
abl
os
os
bi
bi
inst
he
he
bi
bi
loc
i
i
su
su
voc
es
es
                        nók ‘murder’ (subj.), nekós ‘murder’s’, etc.
5.      Like nouns and adjectives, pronouns have different forms, too.
1st person
 “ I ”
“ we ”
nom
ego
wei
gen
men
nos 
acc
me
nos
dat
megi
nos
abl
med
ənsmed
inst
moi 
nozbi 
loc
moi
ənsmi
voc
— 
2nd person
“ you ”
“ y’all ”
nom
tu
yus
gen
teu
wos
acc
te
wos 
dat
tebi
wos 
abl
twed
usmed 
inst
toi
uzbi 
loc
toi 
usmi 
voc
— 
— 
3rd person
singular
plural
animate
inanimate
animate
inanimate
nom
so
tod
soi
ta
gen
os
tos
sohom
tohom
acc
som
tod
sons
ta
dat
osmoi
tosmoi
soibi
toibi
abl
osmod
tosmod
soibi
toibi
inst
soi
toi
soibi
toibi
loc
osmi 
tosmi 
soisu
toisu
voc
6.      Now that we’ve seen all of the nominal forms, let’s talk a bit about the two situations where gender matters.
a.       The first situation involves adjectives.  When an adjective modifies a noun in Izila, it needs to agree in number, grammatical function, and gender. Adjectives modifying animate nouns must be marked as animate; adjectives modifying inanimate nouns must be inanimate.
Izila hyéudos bélos hesti.
The Izila warrior is (a) powerful (person).
                        Udam hyéudom bélom hesti.
The Udam warrior is (a) powerful (thing).
Puyós hrégnis Súklim hyáktor.
The pious queen worships Suxli.
Hákromhísu Údam káydeti.
                        The sharp arrow hits an Udam.
b.      The second situation involves the use of pronouns.  When an Izila speaker uses words such as “him” or “it” instead of a full noun, she is using a pronoun. 
Roshani speaks with the (Izila) queen. Roshani speaks with her.
Roshánis hrégnis wérti. Roshánis soi wérti.
Roshani speaks with the (Udam) slave. Roshani speaks with it.
Roshánis kwálhe wérti. Roshánis toi wérti.
7.       Sometimes you’ll want to use adjectives to compare one nominal with
another. In these cases, you’ll be using two types of suffixes:
a.       Comparative:
                                                        i.            Add the suffix -r-: bélor- ‘stronger’, sólwor- ‘safer, more whole’, hwápor- ‘worse’, plétur- ‘broader’, tépir- ‘hotter’, etc.
                                                      ii.            When comparing two nouns, using the ablative form to indicate “than”: Roshánis prókod bélors hesti. ‘Roshani is stronger than the interrogator.’
b.      Superlative:
                                                        i.               Add the suffix istó-: belistó- ‘strongest’, solwistó- ‘safest’, hwapistó- ‘worst’, pletwistó- ‘broadest’, tepistó- ‘hottest’
                                                      ii.               To indicate the “X-ist” of a group, use the genitive: Roshánis sólwohom Izíla belistós hesti. ‘Roshani is the strongest of all Izila.’
8.      Important nominal suffixes:
a.                   Agent: add -tor- to the verbal root (e).  Examples: léktor
‘gatherer’, séktor ‘winner’, áutor ‘caretaker’ (lit. ‘carer’), etc.
b.                  Patient/Participle: add -tó- to the verbal root (,
when possible). Examples: hmiktós ‘pissed on; piss man’, lektó- ‘gathered’, sektó- ‘conquered’, utó- ‘cared for; patient’
c.                   Active Particle: add -(o)nt- to the verbal root (,
when possible): legónt- ‘gathering’, segónt- ‘conquering’, uwónt- ‘caring for; liking’
d.                  Instrument: add -trom to the verbal root (e). Examples:  
                          léktrom ‘tool of gathering; scythe’, séktrom ‘tool of winning; 
                          battle-tool’, áutrom ‘tool of caring; sponge’
e.                   Action: add -mən to the verbal root (e). Examples: légmən
‘gathering’, ségmən ‘winning’, áumən ‘caring’
f.                    Abstract/Infinitive: add. -ti to the verbal root (e). Examples:
lékti ‘gathering’, sékti ‘winning’, áuti ‘caring’
Verbs:
Now that we’ve taken a look at the nominals, let’s move onto the other major class of words in Izila: verbs. Like the nominals, Izila verbs use suffixes, too. There’s a lot of information that’s encoded in these suffixes.
1.       This information may be:
a.       Person:
                                                        i.            First:   the speaker is the subject, either “I” or “we”
1.       bérmi ‘I carry’
2.      bérme ‘we carry’
                                                      ii.            Second: the addressee is the subject, either “you” or “y’all”
1.       bérsi ‘you carry’
2.      bérte ‘y’all carry’
                                                    iii.            Third: someone else is the subject, “he, she, it” or “they”
1.       bérti ‘he, she, it carries’
2.      bérənti ‘ they carry’
b.      Number: singular (one) vs. plural (many)
                                                        i.            Singular: bérmi, bérsi, bérti
                                                      ii.            Plural: bérme, bérte, bérənti
c.       Tense:
                                                        i.            Present: the action is happening right now (true present) or is about to (future)
1.       bérmi ‘I carry, I am carrying, I will carry’
2.      bérənti ‘they carry, they are carrying, they will carry’
                                                      ii.            Past: the action has already happened
1.       bérəm ‘I carried, I was carrying’
2.      bérənt ‘they carried, they were carrying’
d.      Voice:
                                                        i.            Active: the subject is performing the action
1.       bérti ‘he carries’
2.      bérənti ‘they carry’
                                                      ii.            Mediopassive: use this when making reflexives, passives, or other special situations
1.       Reflexives: Xoreséi bértor ‘he carries himself to the mountain’
2.      Passives: Roshánihe bértor ‘he is carried by Roshani.’
3.      Some verbs always use the MP even when have an active-like meaning, like sekw- ‘follow’: Izíla hyéudos Údam hyéudom séktor ‘The Izila warrior follows the Udam warrior.’
e.       Mood:
                                                        i.            Indicative: what you use normally to make a statement
1.       Hegnígweru bérme.  ‘We carry firespears.’
2.      Hegnígweru bérsi.  ‘You carry firespears.’
                                                      ii.            Imperative: what you use in commands (only present)
1.       Hegnígweru bérme!  ‘Let’s carry firespears!’
2.      Hegnígweru bér!  ‘Carry firespears!’
                                                    iii.            Subjunctive: what you use to indicate possibility, probability, or uncertainty  (only present)
1.       Hegnígweru béroime‘We should (might, may) carry firespears.’
2.      Hegnígweru bérois  ‘You should (might, may) carry firespears.’
2.      Here is the complete list of endings:
Present
Active
MP
1s: “I”
mi
har
2s: “you”
si
tar
3s: “he/she/it”
ti
tor
1p: “we”
me
meda
2p: “y’all”
te
dwe
3p: “they”
nti
ntor
Past
Active
MP
1s: “I”
m
ha
2s: “you”
s
ta
3s: “he/she/it”
t
to
1p: “we”
me
meda
2p: “y’all”
te
dwe
3p: “they”
nt
ntor
Imperative
Active
MP
1s: “I”
2s: “you”
di / e
so
3s: “he/she/it”
tu
tu
1p: “we”
me
me
2p: “y’all”
te
te
3p: “they”
ntu
ntu
Subjunctive
Active
MP
1s: “I”
oim
oihar
2s: “you”
ois
oitar
3s: “he/she/it”
oit
oitor
1p: “we”
oime
oimeda
2p: “y’all”
oite
oidwe
3p: “they”
ointi
ointor
How Sentences are Made
Now that we’ve seen how both nominals and verbs work in Izila, let’s make some actual Izila sentences. The standard order in these sentences is:  SUBJECT + OBJECT + VERB. 
                        Hegnéis   blóg    té     gwərhetu!
                        Hegni’s   flames   you may.consume!
                        ‘May the flames of Hegni consume you!’
Adjectives precede nouns:
                        Méga háwi   diwí       pitnáxti.
                        Large     bird      sky-in  flies.
                        ‘A large bird flies in the sky.’
Possessives precede nouns:
                        Rosháneis hegnígweru bélistom.
Roshani’s  fire-spear             strongest
‘Roshani’s fire-spear is the strongest.’
Prepositions follow nouns:
                        Pélhubi wetezbó    Izíla   Izílam           démhat.
                        Many       years-ago     Izila   L.of.Izilam  conquered.
                        ‘Many years ago the Izila conquered the land of Izila.’
However, words may be moved around in the sentence if the speakers want to emphasize a particular word or phrase.  If speakers want to emphasize the object, they move it to the beginning of the sentence.
Izílam           pélhubi wetezbó    Izíla démhat.
                        L.of.Izilam   many       years-ago    Izila conquered.
                        ‘The land of Izila, the Izila conquered many years ago.”
If speakers want to emphasize anything else, they move it right before the verb. 

Diwí     méga háwi   pitnáxti.
                        Sky-in  large   bird       flies.
                        ‘A LARGE BIRD flies in the sky.’
How Izila was Created
For those readers who are linguists, you may be curious about some of the phonological changes that have occurred in Izila.  For the most part, the creators have been extremely faithful to the standard conception of Proto-Indo-European and have only made changes that were absolutely necessary.  These changes include:
1.       All voiced aspirates have merged with voiced stops
2.      All palatals have merged with velars
3.      *H is lost in coda position, except in verbs and certain key words (máxter ‘mother’, dwáx ‘far’, etc.), where they are pronounced as /x/
4.      *H becomes /h/ in onset position, though is lost in difficult clusters
5.      Certain consonant clusters have been simplified either by deletion or by schwa insertion (decided on a case-by-case basis)

The Izila (& Wenja) Script

Smarkaka salwa! Mashi graybati Winjas : we finally have a writing system for Wenja. This was a system first proposed (in part) during the mocap shoots in Toronto during Summer 2015, though was ultimately not adopted by the creative team at Ubisoft. Here is a snapshot of what that system originally looked like:

Affixed to the back of my script binder, this is perhaps my favorite line in all of the game. It says “Puros putlom suxnus hasosyo.”  Here’s what that looks like today:

Some definite similarities, but you can see that a number of changes have been made.

Okay, so how does the script work? First & foremost, the Izila script is an alphabet, with characters that represent both vowels and consonants. The original idea was that the Izila invented a writing system to communicate with their celestial gods: Mensi & Suxli. Tensay learned the writing system while he was a slave of the Izila and brought it back to the Wenja village. (NOTE: THIS IS NOT CANON)

Each letter has a name in Izila: < p > is pód, < b > is bárs, etc. Each letter is based off of the first sound of the picture it represents. So, the picture of a foot stands for the letter < p >, because pód, the word for “foot” in Izila begins with a “p”. This is a process called acrophony and is actually how our alphabet originally came into being (see here).

The letters themselves are arranged as only a linguist would — stop consonants are first, moving from the front of the mouth to the back, then fricatives, then nasals, liquids, glides, and finally vowels. There are two letters with dual functions. The letter ulóm “owl” represents both < w > and < u >, and the letter yugí “eternal life” stands for both < y > and < i >. You can see this in two of the examples below. yugí represents < y > in Sayla, but < i > in pati. Similarly, ulóm represents both < w > and < u > in the name Wuga.
When a writing system is first invented (as occurred in the ancient Near East, China, or Mesoamerica), it starts off with letters that do not just represent sounds, but also letters that represent words (i.e., morphemes). Such characters are called logograms.  There are a handful of these in the Izila script.
What this means is that you would never write out the words “Izila”, “Wenja”, “Udam”, etc. using the phonograms listed above. Rather. you would use one of these special signs.
In addition, there are also additional logograms that can function as determiners, signs that you place before a specific concept to indicate what type of entity that thing is. If the noun in question is an animal, a man, a woman, a god, a spirit, or a tribe, you’ll place one of these determiners before it. You can use these symbols as logograms as well.
Finally, there are two types of punctuation in the kraybati — a word-boundary marker and a final symbol that indicates the end of a text.
Allow me to explain logograms, determiners, and punctuation markers with the sentence below.
Let’s first transcribe the writing systems directly into what it says. I’ve used colons to indicate word boundaries, #  the end of text marker, capitalized all logograms, and superscripted any determiners.
smarkaka:mw:MANWENJApaty:hay:nawa:kraybaty:TRIBEWENJAs#
Let’s begin with the word “Winjapati”, the third word in the line. It begins with a determiner hnér, which marks that the person in question is a man. Essentially, it’s like an unspoken “Mr.”. If I were a woman, I’d use the sign gwéni. The determiner hnér is then followed by the logogram WENJA and then the phonograms < p > < a > < t > < y >, resulting in Winjapati. Later in the line the logogram WENJA reappears, but this time it’s preceded by génhos, indicating that this Wenja is referring to the tribe (or language).
As with much of what we have done in Far Cry Primal, this writing system is based in a certain amount of reality. There are a set of symbols called the Vinča Script (Vinča = Winja…. it’s too perfect.), which were first used roughly 10,000 years ago. Though many call it a “script”, it’s unclear if it was actually one. (Highly unlikely that it was).  The symbols used above are taken from the Gimbutas font, designed by Prof. Sorin Paliga, a linguist at the University of Bucharest, Romania. Visit here for a fuller discussion, with references, of the Vinca script and a link to the truetype font so you can make your own Wenja texts.
I’ll conclude this post with a sample of some of my favorite lines from the game, written in the Izila script.

How to Speak Wenja : Wuga’s Scenes

Today we’ll look at Wuga’s scenes (known as Wogah in the game), a quirky, one-armed crafter who introduces Takkar to Wugas fnagu “Woga’s claw” and a whole host of upgrades.

Played by the extremely talented (and extremely kind) Ron Kennell, I smile every time I hear him yell “Fmaygan”.  Mi-sharm hadarsh!

Meeting Wuga

Wuga:

Mawra Udam!
Stupid Udam!
Stupid Udam!

Takkar :

Mu Winja!
I Wenja!
I’m Wenja!

Wuga:

Nay! Mu supima Winja! Ta dijam-shanti, fmayga-su tagata. Udam-war-way.
No! I last Wenja! You dirt-face, piss-in covered. Udam-just-like.
No! I’m the last Wenja! You’re a dirt face, covered in piss. Just like Udam.

Smarka, Fmaygan.
Bye, Pisser/Pissee.
Bye, Piss-man.
(Fun fact : the suffix -an can mark an agent noun, equivalent to the -er suffix in English. So, shaja “lead” + -an = shajan “leader”.  BUT it also marks the recipient of an action, so technically shajan can mean “leadee; the one who is lead”. This is much less common in Wenja. But this is precisely what the -an in Fmaygan is doing. Wuga is really drawing attention to the fact that he peed on Takkar) 



Confronting Wuga

Wuga:


Sharm-hadan. Udam. Mawra sharm-hadan. Ay!
Arm-eaters. Udam. Stupid arm-eaters. Ah!
Arm-eaters. Udam. Stupid arm-eaters. Ah!

Na-ta Udam.
Not-you Udam.
You’re not an Udam.
(*sniffs*)

Fmaygan!
Pissee!
Piss-man!
Winja! Mu Winja!
Wenja! I Wenja!
Wenja! I’m a Wenja!
Ku-na Winja marwa?
QUESTION-not Wenja dead?
Are the Wenja not dead?
Takkar :

Palhu gwayfarsh, na mayta ti-way.
Many live-they, not crazy you-like
Many live, not crazy like you.

Wuga:

Nam mayta. Winja sakwim!
Not-I crazy. Wenja help-I!
I’m not crazy. I help Wenja!

Pashta? Kala. Saywa shash-way. Hasar Urusis. 
See-you? Pretty. Hard rock-like. Blood Oros-of.
You see?  Pretty. Hard as a rock. Blood of Oros.

Bal Winja tachisla dahay su. Ma Hasar Urusis mibi chawda.
Strong Wenja weapons make-for good. But Blood Oros-of me-from hides.
Good for making strong Wenja weapons. But Blood of Oros hides from me.

Takkar :

Shash waydam. U nartar hay – u Winja-ha gwayfa.
Rocks find-I. COMMAND west go – COMMAND Wenja-with live.
I find the stones. You go west – live with Wenja.

Wuga:

Buda Fmaygan. Sashwalsu dayshan Hasar Urusis sansha. Hay miyi.
Smart Pissee. Sun-in shining Blood Oros-of Seek. This me-for.
Smart Piss-man. Look for the Blood of Oros shining in the sun. This one’s mine.
(You can see that -an also is equivalent to -ing in English : daysha “to shine” : dayshan “shining”. Very useful suffix)

Peak of Oros

Wuga:


Fmaygan! Mu bal damshi tatishta. Nu-ta bal fnagu taticham!
Pissee! Me strong hut build-you. Now-you strong claw build-I!
Piss-man! You built me a strong hut. Now I build a strong claw for you!

Kwayda shanchim, u apa gwam. Tu kwarkwar shwaldata darfata-kwa!
When stop-I, COMMAND back come. Then wherewhere climb-you jump-you-and!
When I finish, you come back. Then you climb and jump anywhere!
(If you haven’t noticed already, the basic word for “and” is -kwa and it comes after the 2nd thing it’s conjoining.  So: Winja Izila-kwa = “Wenja & Izila”. Nu can also mean “and”, though it only occurs at the beginning of a sentence: Nu shawsi Ulls hinacha “And take Ull’s ear!”)

Takkar :

Hay-ha shwaldam darfam-kwa.
This-with climb-I jump-I-and. 
I climb and jump with this.


Wuga:


Wugas fnagu! Waydata!
Woga-of claw! Found-it!
Woga’s claw! You found it!
Su fnagu! U barju yaha, shwalda.
Good claw! COMMAND high throw, climb.
A good claw. Throw high, climb up.
Faran parkun! U-ra fnagu bawga, ha farun parkun shwalda. Su ha nawa kwarwi taticha.
Eagle feather! COMMAND-REFLEXIVE claw be.useful, so.that eagle feather climb. Good so.that new tool make.
Eagle feather! Use claw to climb eagle cliff. Good to make new tools.
Na kwarwi bal Wugas fnagu-way!
Not tool strong Woga-of claw-like!
(But) no tool strong like Wogah’s claw!
The Lost Totem

Wuga:


Udam gwar jarshna Winja damsha waykarsh, chwanta drawbarsh – mi-sharm hadarsh!
Udam beasts old Wenja home attack-they, totem break-they – my-arm eat-they!
Udam beasts attack old Wenja home, break totem – eat my arm!

Na sharm yakam, ma chwanta yakam!
Not arm fix-I, but totem fix-I!
I didn’t fix my arm, but I did fix the totem.

Udam gwan, Fmaygan. Chwanta sakman hinacha. Tu nawa Winja chwanta damsham!
Udam kill, Pissee. Totem scraps take. Then new Wenja totem build-I!
Kill Udam, Piss Man. Take back totem scraps. Then I build new Wenja totem.

Wuga:


Apa, apa! Kuswa dashta!
Back, Back! Almost done!
Back, back! Almost done!

Kakura, piki, Udam hasar!
Dung, tar, Udam blood!
Dung, tar, Udam blood!

Chwanta saywa daha, darwa-way.
Totem hard make, tree-as.
Makes totem hard as tree.
Dashta!
Done!
Done!
Takkar :

Bal. Winja shayu-way.
Strong. Wenja spirit-like
Strong. Like Wenja spirit.


Wuga:

Bal. Fmaygan-way.
Strong. Pissee-like.

Strong. Like Piss-man!
Winja damsha prapa. 
Wenja home seems
Feels like Wenja home.