Apologetics for Non-Canon Mando'a

Discussion of extensions to the Mando'a core grammar and suggestion of new word roots.
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Apologetics for Non-Canon Mando'a

Unread postby Raeth » 13 Jan 2014 23:59

EDIT: Take any and all of my ranting with a grain of salt or tongue in cheek. My passions burn hot sometimes, but I never forget we are vode an!

As an advocate for expanding, growing, and evolving Mando'a beyond the invaluable, wonderful, yet also constrained core of Canon Mando'a (i.e., Mando'a as created by author Karen Traviss and as used in officially licensed Star Wars media) into a more fully developed and nuanced language that can stand fully on its own in daily conversation and use, I have found myself thrust to the forefront of an ideological battle.

At one pole, there are those who say the only Mando'a is Canon Mando'a, and everyone must be completely beholden to the vocabulary and grammar found therein.

At the other pole, there are those - like myself - who say Mando'a should be evolved and grown so that it can enjoy a fuller usage and a broader audience.

Before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear: I absolutely believe Mando'a needs people from both these positions and more. For every Mando'a provocateur creating new words, there is the Mando'a traditionalist keeping things in check so that the spirit, flavor, and integrity of Mando'a remain intact. Conversely, for every Mando'a historian preserving the sanctity of Canon Mando'a, there is a Mando'a adventurer breathing new life into this niche interest. For every Mando'a archivist who knows by heart chapter, page, and verse every use of Canon Mando'a in every RepComm novel, there is a Mando'a theorist who has come up with an authentically Mando'a way to tell your boss off at work.

It is NOT about one side being more right than the other or being more important than the other. What I am writing here is ONLY to justify and explain what I do as one who is firmly at the pole of evolving Mando'a and in support of Non-Canon Mando'a. It is NOT here to bash Canon Mando'a or the people who only use Canon Mando'a.

Canon Mando'a is a great and wonderful gift for nerds like myself, a well-developed language with its own orthography set in the Star Wars universe and, 'lo!, actually for a part of the story I deeply care about and find interesting, i.e., the Mandalorians. I can only hold eternal gratitude that Karen Traviss undertook giving us as much detail and material to work with as she did.

That said, Canon Mando'a is not complete Mando'a let alone a complete language:

"I planned to expand the database to at least 2,000 words - which is more or less the critical mass for a spoken language - but this is as far as I got before I called endex on SW." - Karen Traviss, 1

In other words, more Canon Mando'a was in the works before the RepComm novels were brought to an early end. We are only seeing a portion of what theoretically exists in terms of the Star Wars universe. Additionally, Karen Traviss makes note that she the vocabulary she created stops short of a linguistic critical mass. Simply put, as a language Mando'a has acknowledged gaps in its vocabulary, let alone its grammar.

Speaking of grammar, yes, I acknowledge that there are explanations regarding the abbreviated grammar (specifically in regards to verb conjugations, tenses, and voices) in Canon Mando'a. That said, this is an explanatory tool for Mando'a the fictional language as exists in a fictional universe. That is the reality Canon Mando'a. I'm not demeaning it, I'm not bashing it, and I'm not disrespecting it. But, Canon Mando'a and the explanations for its particular nature are explanations for its place in a fictional universe, and those explanations are a literary tool used to craft a published product. As an analogy, you cannot have a discussion about the Force, the Jedi, and the Sith without acknowledging their place within a fictional universe. The Force isn't a branch of physics, its a storytelling fabrication, as are the Jedi, Sith, and Revanites.

When I talk about Non-Canon Mando'a and its evolution, I am talking about a Mando'a that - while having its roots in the fictional universe Canon Mando'a - is evolved and adapted in such a way as to retain its original flavor and characteristics but is more fully and developed so that it suits our real-world, day-to-day life. Yes, in the Mando'a of the Star Wars universe, it was spoken sans verb tenses, sans particles of speech, and with heavy reliance on context alone. However, here in the real world, we use all those missing grammatical bits and pieces every day, often whether we are aware of it or not. To bring Mando'a up to par with any other language - either naturally evolved or constructed - so that it can be used in any communicative situation - work, conversation, prose, and so on - myself and others are growing Mando'a based on Canon but into new Non-Canonic directions. It is the transition from fiction to real and the pragmatic means by which this might happen.

Some have reacted to these endeavors to evolve Canon Mando'a into Non-Canon Mando'a as if I am either suffering from some mental defect resultant from a blaster bolt to the head or as if I've just killed their pet nerf and am violating its corpse at the dinner table. Non-Canon Mando'a is neither stupid nor a travesty, SO SAYETH KAREN TRAVISS HERSELF:

"The information is "as is" - i.e. the dictionary is the version I wrote for Lucasfilm, and the alphabet is straight from them - so if you don't like something in it, make up some fanon that keeps you happy. It's just background to some fiction, and it really isn't worth getting your panties in a bunch about it. Treat it like real languages - they also evolve daily and spawn different versions." - Karen Traviss, 2

There you have it, from the great KT herself. You want to stay with Canon Mando'a, please, do so. But, if there are those of us who want to see where Non-Canon Mando'a takes us, we are free to do that, too.

In matters of what is or is not Canon Mando'a, I defer to others - first and foremost Disney and LFL, then to Karen Traviss, and then to those who are devotees of Canon Mando'a. I am not here to try and convince you that Canon Mando'a contains passive verb voices or past imperfect conjugations or gendered adjectivals or that "fluffy" is the Canon Mando'a word for 'big and strong'. I am not here to corrupt, destroy, or violate Canon Mando'a. I have great respect and appreciation for it, because without Canon Mando'a, there is no bedrock for Non-Canon Mando'a.

That said, when I am discussing Non-Canon Mando'a, when I am soliciting input and opinions and help in evolving Non-Canon Mando'a, for the love of Mand'alor, STOP TELLING ME SOMETHING ISN'T IN CANON MANDO'A! I KNOW, I GET IT! THAT IS WHY SOME OF US ARE MAKING NEW GRAMMAR AND VOCABULARY! Some grammatical elements are missing in Canon Mando'a, some of us want those missing elements, and so we are creating those elements for use in Non-Canon Mando'a. If you don't like it, you can either help evolve it or choose not to use it or even make your own Non-Canon Mando'a altogether. I am not trying to force anyone to use anything I or anyone else like me comes up with. If you want to use it, GREAT! If not, that is perfectly fine, too! If nothing else, having a repository of Non-Canon Mando'a will help Canon Mando'a speakers figure out what we heretics are saying even if they do not want to use it themselves.

As a final note, for as many times as I have been told, "That's not Canon! That doesn't exist! That's not KT's Mando'a!" I would just like to say, I have seen everyone here create and use Non-Canon Mando'a! Every time you make a new compound word, every time you make a new derivative or hybrid word, every time you expand the definition or meaning of a word for greater use, YOU ARE MAKING AND USING NON-CANON MANDO'A! So, see, we're all heretics to one degree or another. My suggestion is we stop freaking out over the differences between Canon speakers and Non-Canon speakers and do what KT said:

"It's supposed to be fun. Let's all help ensure it stays that way. " - Karen Traviss, 3

Ori'vore. Vode an bal Mando'a darasuum.
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Re: Apologetics for Non-Canon Mando'a

Unread postby Adi'karta » 15 Jan 2014 03:32

Despite our previous confrontation, I am inclined to agree with you, and I support your efforts, especially now that it has its own area to grow in. One of my primary fears was the wrath of LFL -- that they might revoke my re-use privileges in regards to the original canonical Mando'a Lexicon.

As for myself, I enjoy the challenge of being forced to convert what I want to say into a more minimal representation of the thought, which is another reason why I initially fought you on this. I've made strides towards minimalism in every area of my life, and having a language that is minimal, practical, and to-the-point is great. However it is indeed quite limiting, and as such efforts like yours are a boon.

So especially with the words of Karen Traviss backing you, and with no indication that Disney or LFL will be serving us with a C&D for this creative exploration of the language, have at it!

Your updated grammar will not be included in the stock grammar guides which I plan to publish on the translator app, nor will any non-canon word stems (or even our fan-created words) be included in the "canon" mode of the translator -- however, I do have plans to include such "extended" vocabulary in another section of the translator app (I may include your updated grammar there), and will even include a translator for non-canon word stems if/when the list of new stems reaches an unwieldy length (let's say more than fifty unique stems -- but this is really open to interpretation).

Really the most important obstacle to growing a new dialect is gaining speakers. Luckily your grammatical constructs so far are relatively straightforward, and so on Mando'a Chat Night, while you might confuse some people, we should still be able to derive your basic meaning, even if none of us directly subscribe to your dialect.

I wish you luck with this endeavour, and I will contribute positively whenever I feel I have something positive to add to the conversation.
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