Friday, August 27, 2010

Possessive Suffixes

Here I have prepared a chart of the main Khalani possessive suffixes. This suffixes are used as seen in the example "En taro Adun!" in order to convey possessiveness of the subject and also as common possessives, taroon Arassar my name is Arassar.

-o (masc.)
-im (fem.)
Note that there may be dialect divergencies, but these account for most of the Khalani possessives. It is worth mentioning that there are also left-overs of a very ancient honorific possessive system that used to also indicate the power relationship between speaker and possessor.

You may note that these are used very frequently in greetings, so we have

En tar-o Adun!
for Adun's (masc.) name

but we also have

En harud-im Raszagal
for the memory of (fem.) Raszagal

This is composed of harud memory and the suffix -im for the 3rd person feminine, thus "her memory". Note that -im can either be the 3rd person singular feminine or the common 3rd person plural. It is common for groups of people to use the 3rd person plural suffix as a kind of title, kind of how it is used in "Your Majesty" and such constructions.

The Dark Templars

The Forged (ones)

This is common practice and you will see it pretty oftenly.

Well, this is all for today! If you have any doubts just comment!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Greetings

We learn from the games that the Protoss have very specific greetings. In the first StarCraft series we are saluted by the advisor, as soon as we start the Protoss campaign, with "En taro Adun!". We learn from the manual that Adun is actually a historical figure very important in Protoss lore, among other things he helped the Dark Templar escape to Shakuras after the retreat of the Xel'naga and the division between the Khalai Protoss and those who rejected the Khala. The salute is oft translated "In honor of Adun!", the actual rendering is closer to
en      tar       -o      Adun
/ɛn ˈtaɾɔ aˈdun/ 
for    name     his     Adun
The structure obeys Khalani rules of syntax. The possessive construction in Khalani is
noun + possessive + "possessor"
So literally means "for his name Adun" which translates to "for Adun's name" or, what is the same, "for Adun's fame/glory/honor", tar is actually a concept which englobes what we regard as fame or renown. This is a very common and standard greeting among the Protoss. We are also told that both Khalai Protoss and Dark Templar acknowledge Adun as a very important figure, and the Nerazim (or Dark Templar) have another salute which they commonly use among themselves
Adun toridas
/aˈdun ˈtɔridas/
Adun shelter-DEF-PRES
Which translates literally as "Adun shelters (you)" but can also be translated as "May Adun give you refuge" as he did historically to the Dark Templar allowing them to scape the madness in Aiur. Here the verb is tor both the definite and present suffixes to mark the Present Simple. I will further explain how these are used in following posts.

It is worth mentioning that before Adun's time Protoss used the greeting "en taro Khas" (featured in my profile) with the same meaning but using the name of the famous Khas which discovered the psionic link all Protoss share and instituted the Khala discipline. Other common salutes included
Khas arashad
/kʰas aɾaʃad/
Khas be-praised
 This would most likely be used only by the Khalai, the followers of the Khala. Also there were many other salutes available for Protoss, similar to these, "Adun guide us", "Honor guide us" and so on, this could be used in this way:
tar        -o    Adun   ruulas
/ˈtarɔ aˈdun ˈruːlas/
name    his   Adun   guide-PRES
This would be translated as "May Adun's name guide us", which could be shortened to "Taro ruulas", "his name guide us", and another common greeting:
var         -un       ruulas
/varˈun ˈruːlas/
honor    our        guide-PRES
Oft translated as "Our honor guides us", which can in turn be used with some other possessive suffix and combinations to denote "my honor guide us" or "Adun's honor guide us" as the moment demands. Next time I'll be writing about the possessive suffixes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

About inconsistencies

Many will be aware of the fact that there is no real agreement on Khalani transcriptions into the Roman alphabet. The fact is that there was no standard whatsoever followed in any of the novels and authors just went as they wanted when facing the problem. The StarCraft quotations were no better in this respect. It seems they were intended as an approximation to English pronounciation, but in fact confused more than they helped for lack of a standard way to actually express the sounds of Khalani.

While facing the challenge of creating a consistent language for the Protoss I had to make some decisions on the way the words and phrases would be transcribed. Most of them will show no significant changes from what fans are used to seeing in such places as the StarCraft Wiki, some others had to be changed in favor of a standard or agreement. My approach was intended to be as close to the known transcripts as possible, while at the same time taking the similarities to make fixed rules. I will include the IPA of most words and sentences when needed. Links to show how the vowels and different consonants sound will be provided.

Some diphthongs and consonant clusters will be hitherto standardized. For instance the famous name Raszagal will here stand for /'ɹaʒagal/ which would sound very close to English "rashagal" the way Zeratul pronounces it in StarCraft II. Or the example below Adun toridas! is written in IPA for better understanding.

A different matter is the one about the tribal names of the Protoss, which I think are Human translations of the actual names in Khalani, since they represent stars and constellations as are named by Humans. So this will be addressed also in following posts.

En taro Adun!

Monday, August 16, 2010

About Khalani

To actually speak about Khalani is quite difficult. Describing its sounds and phonology could be quite a challenge since the Protoss do not really 'speak' but engage in a telepathic communication. This is the same reason as to why humans can understand Protoss speaking or why do Protoss speak in Human tongues. What really happens is that Protoss can perform a kind of communication that goes directly to the brain, avoiding the whole middle step of using a particular 'language'. But we are told Protoss do have a language of their own.

It seems that when Protoss 'think' they think in this ancient language, in the same way that a german person thinks in German or an italian thinks in Italian. This kind of communication would be a previous step to the full telepathic communication they use. So Protoss can alternate between these two kinds of speech.

As they are not actually speaking it is really hard to determine where is the place of articulation or obstruents in such a 'thought-language'. The best idea I had is that these concepts are here viewed as how humans would 'hear' the consonants and vowels and different sounds, and this is based in the canon in-game sentences and phrases (so in this point it can be pretty subjective).

I thought it would be for the best if the sounds in Khalani were not completely impossible to pronounce, since the idea of the language is that it can be used by humans (and therein lies all the fun, also) so I did the best I could with the material I had to devise the grammar of the language to a point that it will not be plainly taken from English but won't be completely impossible to understand. In a previous attempt I did have some very odd constructions which I've discarded in favour of something clearer.



Welcome to this newly formed blog about the Khalani, the Protoss' language as depicted in the StarCraft series of games and novels.

For the most part I will assume the figure of Arassar, Protoss grammarian of the Shelak tribe. I have considered all available canon to make this project possible, and also combined some knowledge on different not-so-common Earth languages or at least not-that-popular languages, which I thought could share some features with Khalani. I thank deeply the StarCraft Wiki for compiling various StarCraft phrases and sentences, and bid you pay a visit there if you are interested in a thorough retelling of Protoss history and culture.

This project is meant to be pure entertainment an unofficial (yet) and unfunded imagining of how the Protoss' language could have been and also to be able to express in the language for fans of this noble alien race, as well as for those curious who wonder what the phrases in the game could possibly mean. I hope this comes to be enjoyed by all who like StarCraft series and enjoy language creation, to them

Adun toridas!
/a'dun 'tɔridas/ 
May Adun give refuge!