Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

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Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 07 Jan 2016 21:14

So, I've been wondering for a bit now, why is the transliteration of Mando'a sounds into Roman characters so severely lacking?

One incredibly common example being q 'ey' vs e 'eh' both being represented as e.

I understand that there may be rules that govern when an 'e' is 'ey' vs 'eh' based on where it exists in the word, but generally conlangs benefit from using IPA formatting or some derivative thereof to represent individual phonemes. That way, upon seeing the written Romanized version, you can immediately know the pronunciation without a shadow of a doubt.

Another conlang that I learned a while back, Na'vi, did an excellent job of this by using some diphthongs and some accented letters. Examples from Na'vi include: i ('ee' sound) vs í ('ih' sound, kid, bit), and a ('ah' sound, father) vs ä ('aa' sound, bad, tap). The accented letters are what got me used to typing with the US-International keyboard layout, as nearly every accent is readily accessible with simple keyboard shortcuts.

I know most of the people that visit this forum have likely already learned and actively use the existing Romanizations, but coming at this vocab from a new learner's perspective, having a standardized format that at least comes close to being able to 1:1 match the Mando'a alphabet (instead of trying to squeeze 32 phonemes out of 26 letters) would make learning it substantially more accessible.

Thoughts?
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby Adi'karta » 08 Jan 2016 01:03

I swear I remember reading something from Kar'buir stating that each vowel had a consistent pronunciation in any occurrence, but I cannot find any record of that so my memory may be faulty. If that is the case, though, then we would only need as many vowel characters as there are vowel sounds in the language (and since it was developed to be somewhat compatible with Metschan's Mando'a typeface, that means it only had 5 vowels plus a few diphthongs). I cannot speak to that, though, as I am still studying Classic Mando'a (Legends-canon) and have not yet begun studying the expansion which Taljair put so much work into.

Regarding the 32 phonemes vs. 26 letters issue, that is the result of a hybridisation of MLD.pdf [direct download link] (completely non-canon) from mand-alore.com (inactive) with Classic Mando'a (no longer surviving canon, so I suppose the point is moot) with a bunch of new vocabulary (courtesy of Taljair). The only thing that is still canon is the original "Mandelorian" (incorrect spelling and all) typeface created by Philip Metschan for Lucasfilm to use on the displays inside Jango's ship in AOTC. That said, in at least one instance in TCW, the artists ended up using ErikStormtrooper's older font in the concept artwork for the show (and possibly in the actual show -- I have not seen the episode in question), so I suppose that makes *that* canon as well.

The most-noticeable point of distinction between the canonical font and older versions of fan-made fonts is the variance of the letter "M" (in the canonical font, the M looks very similar to N, whereas in the older fan fonts, it looks more like the Arabic numeral 7).

I'll chalk the whole thing up to Mando'a developing dialects:
  • Classic Mando'a ("Legends" a.k.a. old-canon)
  • Archaic-Modern Mando'a (mand-alore.com MLD.pdf)
  • Modern Mando'a (be'Taljair body of work).
I am very much in favour of the idea of creating a more dynamic and useful typeface (and also in support of creating a handwriting variant which is less tedious to write by hand, even though handwriting is becoming more and more rare these days as a communication medium). If you have any suggestions on the topic or would like to explore, please go ahead and do so. Post your ideas here, and I guarantee you'll get some useful feedback and discussion surrounding it. It has been a while since I've done any serious linguistics study or made frequent use of the IPA, so how helpful I may be is questionable.
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 08 Jan 2016 06:56

Ori'vor'e!

I think I will take that on then, as I feel like it would definitely help facilitate not only communicating with written/typed Mando'a but also rapidly learning correct pronunciation for speaking it as well.

I'll likely go the same route that Na'vi did and use accented letters + specific diphthongs associated with IPA notation pronunciations to denote the different sounds, which will enable 1:1 transcription of Mando'a text to that format.

Also I'll of course welcome any critique / suggestion :)

Vor'e
-A'nu Biss
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 10 Jan 2016 00:22

Alright vode, I believe I have decided on a standardized format of Romanizing Mando'a. Let me know what you think.

It's pretty straightforward, "long" vowel sounds are the bare vowels (with 'a' being the only exception since there aren't multiple 'a' sounds) and "short" vowel sounds are the ones marked with the accent.

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In case that is a bit hard to read:

m | man, mom
a | father, haha -- One thing I'm unclear on with this letter, it can apparently also be 'aa' as in bat, man? Are there rules on when?
n | no, night
d | dive, dark
o | open, old
r | right, red
e | day, okay
h | hate, hide
b | bind, rubber
y | yes, yard
t | top, tight
sh | shoot, push
ê | bet, step
i | flee, bleed
j | jump, jedi
k | black, attack
ai | die, fly, eye
l | label, light
s | sit, saber
u | flute, cool -- Another one here. This one is both 'oo' and 'ü" sounds? As in look, put?
v | victory, vice
p | place, pet
û | but, cut, stuck
z | zap, fizz
g | ghost, give
î | tip, spit
ch | cheese, fetch
w | why, water
oi | boy, exploit
f | fate, food
ui | buoy, gooey, suey
' | uh-oh, little (with British accent) - if you're really confused on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUIRa0T0BV8
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby Adi'karta » 11 Jan 2016 02:37

I'm separating your list by consonants vs vowels, mostly for my own notes:

Consonants: (IPA transcription reference)

Spoiler: show
sound IPA examples
m m man, mom
n n no, night
d d dive, dark
r ɹ right, red
h h hate, hide
b b bind, rubber
y j yes, yard
t t top, tight
sh ʃ shoot, push
j jump, jedi
k k black, attack
l l label, light
s s sit, saber
v v victory, vice
p p place, pet
z z zap, fizz
g g ghost, give
ch cheese, fetch
w w why, water
f f fate, food
' ʔ uh-oh, little (with British accent)


Vowels: (IPA transcription reference - note: interpretation is contingent upon my Miwdest American accent and may not be perfectly representative)

Spoiler: show
sound IPA examples
a ä father, haha -- One thing I'm unclear on with this letter, it can apparently also be 'æ' as in bat, man? Are there rules on when?
o o open, old
e e day, okay
ê ɛ bet, step
ee i flee, bleed
u u flute, cool -- Another one here. This one is both 'u' and 'ə/ʊ" sounds? As in look, put?
û ʌ but, cut, stuck
î ɪ tip, spit


Diphthongs/Glides: (no transcription reference -- best-guess transcription)

Spoiler: show
sound IPA examples
ai ai die, fly, eye
oi oi boy, exploit
ui ui buoy, gooey, suey


Notes on your questions: I have no idea if there are specific rules on when. Can you provide an example or two of each situation from the Mando'a dictionary?

Also, here's a chart of the consonants from the MANDOR font:

Spoiler: show
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby Vlet Hansen » 11 Jan 2016 04:41

that's convenient, actually
Shi adate kotep luubid...
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 11 Jan 2016 16:44

Nice, thanks for formatting that out and adding the IPA!

For the 'a' / 'æ' examples, "Mando / Mandalorian," as far as I am aware, use 'æ' for the first A and then 'ä' for the 2nd. "Man" - dah - lor - ian
Not sure about the long/short U sounds, haven't seen any examples of that one but I'm just taking that from the pronunciation guides in the Total Guide PDF that Taljair posted (which I believe came direct from MLD.pdf)

Also, I'm curious as to why you changed 'e' to 'ay' and 'i' to 'ee',
Adi'karta wrote:
ay e day, okay
ee i flee, bleed



If anyone wants to type using these symbols the easiest way is to edit your keyboard layout and change it to US-International (on a Windows computer) look for Region and Language settings in Control Panel, and the keyboard layouts are typically under Advanced Settings in this area. It varies pretty widely between Win 7 and Win 10, but if you poke around under that heading you'll find it. I use the default ALT+SHIFT to swap layouts on the fly between US standard and US International. Once you've changed your layout to US-International you can type ^ then the vowel to type one of the accented vowels. If you're in US-Int and you want to type a ', ", ~, or ^ by itself you can either type a letter that doesn't receive an accent (such as S) or just hit space after the character. It's pretty intuitive and it was really quick to pick up for me at least, so hopefully people won't have too much issue with it. And, if you hate it, you can always swap back to US-Std on the fly with ALT+SHIFT.

Vor'e
-A'nu Biss
Last edited by A'nu Biss on 11 Jan 2016 23:09, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby Adi'karta » 11 Jan 2016 21:09

For the vowels you had questions on, I'm mostly looking for examples from the Mando'a vocabulary which make use of those sounds (my vocabulary is lacking due to being lazy about practising) -- unless you're just looking to use the Mando'a miitgaan for transliterating aruetii words, in which case never mind.

Regarding my switch from "ay" to "e" and "ee" to "i" -- those are the proper IPA characters for representing those sounds. The "ee" sound in English is represented by "i" in IPA, and I'm pretty sure "ay" in English becomes "e" in IPA, or is at least from one of the series of IPA characters derived from the letter "e". (See here for what I mean - you will need speakers or headphones for this.). The corresponding spellings within the Mando'a vocabulary for those sounds are, in fact, "ay" and "ee" from what I can tell with a quick search for each in the translator.

For the IPA stuff, if anyone wants to use only on the boards and not change their input method on their computer, you can also go here to type the characters, then copy-paste them into the IPA tags we provide in the "Full Editor" mode or just type the tags in the "Quick Reply" editor like so:
Code: Select all
[ipa]<ipa characters go here>[/ipa]


EDIT:

I am clearly out of practise. I don't know why I equated "ay" with "e" in the Mando'a vocabulary -- it clearly varies depending on the word it's in. I shall fix my table above to make up for my oops. That said, "ee" is consistently pronounced both across English and Mando'a, so perhaps it should remain as "ee" in my table?
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 11 Jan 2016 23:01

Adi'karta wrote:I am clearly out of practise. I don't know why I equated "ay" with "e" in the Mando'a vocabulary -- it clearly varies depending on the word it's in. I shall fix my table above to make up for my oops. That said, "ee" is consistently pronounced both across English and Mando'a, so perhaps it should remain as "ee" in my table?


Hmm.. the problem I have with that is the Mando'a letters themselves that represent that sound. Basically, my intent was to create a transliteration that 1:1 matches either a diphthong or single character to a specific sound produced by a single character in Mando'a.

So yes we could use 'ee' instead of 'i' to represent the sound that '&' makes, but that throws a lot of problems into the mix with understanding why the diphthongs 'ai' (ah+ee) 'oi' (oh+ee) and 'ui' (oo+ee) are pronounced the way they are. It's intuitive if 'i' = 'ee,' not so much if 'i' doesn't exist in the transliteration except in said diphthongs.

Either way, we certainly should get away from '&' being transliterated as any one of 'ee,' 'i,' and 'y' with seemingly no rhyme or reason (as is current per the dictionary)
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 14 Jan 2016 20:47

Alright, after attempting to use the Romanization I suggested above, I noticed a couple things that didn't work very well and have made modifications to fix those issues.

The diphthongs made for some oddball constructions that didn't look intuitive or correct, and several words that people are very familiar with already (oya!) got altered by them, which likely wouldn't fly anyway.

So, with that said, the modifications are:

ui --> uy
oi --> oy
ai --> Stays as ai

These diphthongs yield better constructions (instead of "kuiir" and "oia," it's now "kuyir" and "oya" - much more familiar and looks much better), and more accurately represent the sound that is made from those vowels being joined together anyway (oo+ee naturally makes an u+y sound, as does oh+ee -> o+y, while ah+ee doesn't sound like a+y all that much)

Overall, I'd say this style looks really good after having seen it applied to the entire dictionary. I can glance at each word and know immediately how it should be pronounced and also immediately how to represent it in Mando'a characters without a doubt. Couldn't say the same for the pre-existing transliteration.
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby Adi'karta » 15 Jan 2016 18:58

I agree with your constructions; the new diphthongs seem pretty clear. I would say for sake of consistency to swap ai for ay but you are absolutely right that (at least in my accent) ah+ee does *not* sound like how ay *looks*, especially in a word, where the actual y sound is much more noticeable when gliding from an u or o through the i sound and into a consonant. I am sure a few edge cases will present themselves, but at the moment your new Romanisations of those diphthongs look great.
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 17 Jan 2016 06:43

Adi'karta wrote:I agree with your constructions; the new diphthongs seem pretty clear. I would say for sake of consistency to swap ai for ay...


Thanks! Yes, I really wanted to but I ran across a couple of instances in the current dictionary of ah+y+ai Mando'a characters consecutively that would appear confusing if the 'ai' diphthong were not distinguishable from ah+y.

The two primary examples that caught my eye:

(Pre-existing Romanization):
chayaikir
ayaytir

Both of those, the 'ayai' and 'ayay,' are the same three characters in Mando'a. The "ayay" construction seems awkward to me, while "ayai" is a lot clearer in both correct pronunciation and which Mando'a characters would be used to represent it.
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby Adi'karta » 18 Jan 2016 21:15

According to the old dictionary, the pronunciation for chayaikir is "CHAI-ay-keer", leading me to believe the "ay" in that word should be "ai", and the "ai" should be "e", as such: chaiekir or perhaps with a "y" thrown in as a pseudo-consononant like chaiyekir or a beten like chai'ekir.

Also according to the old dictionary, the word ayaytir is originally spelled eyaytir and is pronounced "ah-YAY-teer". I think aietir or aiyetir might be a more accurate Romanisation, but they both seem a little awkward. If we use a beten, maybe ai'etir.

The only problem with my beten suggestions is it causes the beten to play double-duty as either a glottal stop or a "j", which might cause some problems.

We definitely need to update some Romanisations.
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 18 Jan 2016 23:39

Adi'karta wrote:The only problem with my beten suggestions is it causes the beten to play double-duty as either a glottal stop or a "j", which might cause some problems.

We definitely need to update some Romanisations.


Ah interesting. It appears these words were even more confusing than I at first realized. Hah.

The Beten wouldn't necessarily have to do double duty. It could easily remain a glottal stop, but then the word wouldn't match the Mando'a.

I was basing my interpretation of these words purely off of the Mando'a symbols and the sounds associated with those symbols. The Mando'a symbols seem a lot clearer than going off of what may or may not be a correct interpretation of the sounds those symbols make in that word. What I don't know, however, is which came first - the pronunciation or the Mando'a representation?
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby Adi'karta » 19 Jan 2016 20:23

The pronunciation in the translator on the main Mando'a.Org site is the official pronunciation straight from the MandoaApril09.xls file penned by Kar'buir and gifted to the Internet for all eternity.

The font as you're using it is a fabrication by a fan (created the mand-alore.org website, which was focused around building a real-world Mandalorian clan, and which published a Mandalorian Dictionary under the name "MLD.pdf" a few years ago), which was an extension of the slightly-flawed first version of the font reverse-engineered by ErikStormtrooper from the AotC DVD menu screens, which in turn came from the original font produced by Philip Metschan. Tal'jair was inspired to learn Mando'a by MLD.pdf, and reused the font because it was inspiring and seemed sensible.

Since Mando'a is no longer canon (or at least it has not been pulled back into canon yet by Lucasfilm and Disney), we can pretty much ignore the old canon and do whatever we want, but I am personally very inclined to build off of whatever Kar'buir provided us, as without her there would be no Mando'a in the first place. As for the four variants of the Mando'a miitgaan in existence, all I can say is that I am still in favour of making a new version to specifically suit our expressed needs and more-consistently represent the phonetics in the language, as mentioned in the Mandalorian Writing Systems thread.
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 19 Jan 2016 21:27

Ahhhh... That makes it a lot clearer then.

So the pronunciations came first then? Is a copy of that MandoaApril09.xls file still floating around somewhere that I might take a look at it?
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby Adi'karta » 20 Jan 2016 00:09

I keep a copy on my Google Drive for reference and easy access, but you should also be able to download it from the link on this page via the Internet Archive.
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 20 Jan 2016 17:39

Thanks - I'll have to sort through this quite a bit and parse the pronunciations into the new romanization. Going to be quite a task, but in the end it'll give us a more absolute foundation to build on for our efforts here.
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby Taljair te Mir'ad » 20 Jan 2016 22:28

Shab, vode, it looks like I'm missing hell of a lot of new stuff. And with that new work in progress, looks like the whole vocabulary will need a complete rewrite. It gives me a headache just thinking it... I'll do my best, though, just need to see the resulting rules for romanization.

As a suggestion, i made a column in my vocabulary with all words written in mando'a font. Maybe just jump from that, since each sound in mando'a is represented by a single letter?
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Re: Regarding the Transliteration of Mando'a...

Unread postby A'nu Biss » 20 Jan 2016 23:54

Taljair te Mir'ad wrote:As a suggestion, i made a column in my vocabulary with all words written in mando'a font. Maybe just jump from that, since each sound in mando'a is represented by a single letter?

Aye, I've done that already. It looks very nice and clean in the new Romanization... However, as I've just learned, that Mando'a font may not be 100% accurate to the original text from Kar'buir...

I'd like to get this as close to canon as possible since we're basically establishing a foundation for future development, and I just can't trust the MLD as a primary source any longer.
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