Creating new words, yay or nay?

Discussion of existing grammar and words, pronunciation, and compounding new words.

Re: Creating new words, yay or nay?

Unread postby Adi'karta » 20 Feb 2011 01:02

It would take a bit of imagination, but that's mostly just because the language is new to me. I can clearly see where you're headed with that phrasing, and that's what matters.

So I take it there is no pre-defined rule of Karen's that mentions word order as being important to word meaning? I feel like a child, asking so many questions, but I've been slow on the uptake in a lot of things recently. Maybe I need more sleep. :D
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Re: Creating new words, yay or nay?

Unread postby Lyat'aag » 20 Feb 2011 07:35

The technical terms you're looking for are "Syntax" and "Diction."

There are languages in the world for which the grammar is Syntax based, which means that the word order determines the meaning of the sentence.

The other languages (there might be more kinds, but I haven't heard of any) are Diction based, which means that the word choice matters much more while word order doesn't matter as much.

English is a Syntax-heavy language, which means that "gun-shot" =/= "shot-gun". The order of the words changes the meaning. In a Diction heavy language, the terms are either equal or can be equal depending on context, though "gun-shot" isn't a great example of this.

Perhaps a better example would be:

The lion licked the trainer.

The trainer licked the lion.


In English, a syntax heavy language, these two sentences have VERY different meanings, as the subject and object are inverted by their change in position in the sentence. If English were a Diction heavy language, there would be some sort of affix indicator attached to the words to indicate which word is the subject and which the object, making word order unnecessary for disambiguation.

In Diction Heavy English, it might look like this:

The lionus licked the trainerad.

The trainerad licked the lionus.


Both of these sentences would be identical in my made up, Diction Heavy English. According to the rules of this made up language, the Subject is indicated by adding "-us" to the noun and the object by "-ad." To get the inverse sentence you could use either of the following sentences:

The trainerus licked the lionad.

The lionad licked the trainerus.


And in a diction heavy language, both of those would be equivalent to each other and inverted compared to the previous two. Of course, in most Diction heavy languages, it's not quite as simple as adding an affix, but you must be careful to pick the RIGHT affix. Thus, in a Diction heavy language, it's critical to make sure you pick the right word. I.e. "lionus" is very much not the same word as "lionad" just in the same way that "he" and "him" are very different words. In fact, the difference between him/he, he/she, they/them, is a carryover from Old English, which was actually a Diction heavy language.

Funny how Old English, a Diction heavy language, and Latin, another Diction heavy language, merged to form Modern English, which is a Syntax heavy language. Not sure, but it probably had something to do with French influence on the Latin.

Mando'a seems to me to be mostly Syntax heavy simply because it's based grammatically on basic, which is English, thus inheriting the Syntax dependency from English. However, one trick you can use to get around any normally tricky English rule is the "Occam's Razor" of Mando'a: The simplest way to say something is often the best. Mando'a relies almost entirely on context for everything, so it's more Diction Heavy than normal English is due to the use of much fewer words. It relies so heavily on context to disambiguate a sentence that it would be hard to mess up the word order so badly that you couldn't understand it, while Mando'a's limited lexicon forces you to be very picky about word choice. However, I would argue that the diction heaviness is an illusion. We work hard to pick the right words because we have so few, but syntax prevails in being the dominant establisher of meaning.

Example:

Ni juri gar.

Gar juri Ni.

Ni gar juri.


While the last one and the first one might be permissible in common Mando'a, you might get some funny looks. In fact, people might wonder if you were taught to speak by Yoda. However, if you tried to use the first and second sentences interchangeably, you would run into trouble. Even if the context was perfectly well known, equating those two sentences would be awkward to use at best.

I would say that, in the end, Mando'a relies too heavily on English's grammar structure to ignore word order. Now, don't let that convince you that word order must always follow certain rules. Remember that context and implied meaning rule hand in hand with the truncation and abbreviation of everything which is unnecessary, creating a very context-based speech environment. Word order is only a guideline and a means of disambiguation. In layman's terms, you only really need to strictly follow word order when not doing so would be terribly confusing to other people. Anything that gets your point across is generally acceptable provided it doesn't take much work for everyone else to get the point of what you're trying to say.

In fact, we could pretty much make a Mando'a linguistic law around that idea, since it's present, but not well described, in the language anyway:

The "best" grammatical structure for any Mando'a sentence is the sentence which creates the least amount of work for both the speaker and the listener in communicating with each other.


If it's easier to say and/or easier to understand, then it's grammatically preferable.
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Re: Creating new words, yay or nay?

Unread postby MsLanna » 20 Feb 2011 16:12

Since tehre simply isn't much diction in Mando'a, I'd say we try for a word-oder based grammar.
The problem I see is that we base it on English word order. English idioms are translated word by word, as are compunds and fixed expression. The difference between 'look for' and 'look after' in Mando would be based on the English language. So we basically translate from English into Mando as we use.
If you have another mother tongue, that can cause problems.

Not that I mind. ;)

I was also not trying to get at the difference between subject and object, but the different word classes. One time 'shot' is a noun, the other time it is a verb. This difference is usually discenible from context.

The shot killed him.
I shot to kill him.

Then there are bits that make double sense. 'She fed her dog biscuits' is probably the most often used example.
Without context you cannot be sure if she fed her dog, or fed dog biscuits to a poor 'her'. :P

I don't think all of those ambiguities should be removed. But conventions should be there to give you a map to nagivate the languae and show you what is the most likely interpretation.
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Re: Creating new words, yay or nay?

Unread postby Adi'karta » 24 Feb 2011 19:40

And if it's spoken, she could be feeding her dog, whose name is Biscuits...but written, there would be a comma there. ;)
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Re: Creating new words, yay or nay?

Unread postby KensokuT10 » 20 Aug 2011 14:45

I say yes to new words. Mando'a's ( :S ) limited vocabulary can be a significant hindrance when translating non-Mando concepts.
Also, yes to English syntax rules. "Ni ven gaa'tayli gar," for example, just sounds more straightforward and logical as "I (future tense prefix) help you" than in any other word order. And even if Yoda happened to say that in Mando'a, it would probably be something like "Gaa'tayli gar, ni ven vaabi."
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Re: Creating new words, yay or nay?

Unread postby Salvo Mereel » 26 Oct 2011 23:42

Su'cuy Vode!

I've been slowly teaching myself Mando'a over the past year or so, and really enjoy it. But there are just so many words that don't exist, and it can get quite irritating to try and translate without them.
I think creating words is a great idea, but I hate the fact that they would not be Cannon, if we were to make them.

But what if we got a group of people together to write a Mando'a Dictionary book? I'm talking about a real book, licensed by lfl. We could include all of KT's stuff, plus any other words that Mando'a lacks.
It's not impossible. There's already another book out there for Star Wars languages. -HERE-

So....Any ideas on where to start? :D
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Re: Creating new words, yay or nay?

Unread postby Adi'karta » 02 Nov 2011 05:16

Yeah, I have that book. :)

It would be pretty neat if we could get an officially-sanctioned project going to grow the language and publish a book. The Conlang Society might have some useful resources, as well, though I haven't really looked too much in-depth into their site. They are responsible for the Dothraki language from Game of Thrones, among other things.

As for where to start for actually making the book reality, we might first need to ask the person at LFL whom I emailed when asking for permission to host this website -- more specifically the translator itself, since it was a complete reproduction of Karen's original work. I would say we should get Karen in on this, but afaik, she has decided to completely move on from Star Wars and focus on writing other things, including video games (yes, I read her blog from time to time), and probably doesn't want to put much heavy focus on this. Furthermore, the Clone Wars cartoon seems to be placing heavy emphasis on neutering the Mandalorians as a people and effectively nullifying and retconning just about everything the fans and Extended Universe have dreamed up around them. I can't blame them, because the EU and the fandom at large most definitely have different interests in mind than Lucas himself and the official creative team; since it's their material, they can do whatever they want with it, even if it might upset a few fans.

If there is enough drive to do this, I'll email LFL and ask if such a project might even be allowable.

Should we start a new thread with a community vote?
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Re: Creating new words, yay or nay?

Unread postby Salvo Mereel » 09 Nov 2011 00:54

Yes! Do it. :yay:
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Re: Creating new words, yay or nay?

Unread postby Vlet Hansen » 13 Jun 2013 04:16

If we start making words, might I suggest we start with structural ones? A language without a word for roof, wall, door, floor... yeah, it slows down quite a bit.

Also, as an aside, I've started using Mhokar to mean sun, as in the local star of a system. Taken from Mhor Ka'ra.
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