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Learning Matoran: Lesson 2

Posted by Tolkien , Oct 22 2010 · 470 views
Language and Etymology
Oe a gauru ur a terenye.
Vemo Mata Nui na lhihke lhia,
K’a kaihe a karnye a terevua.
Oe lhe na veta ovemo.


We were separate, and without purpose
So the Great Spirit gave us the Three Virtues:
Unity, Duty, and Destiny.
And these gifts we embraced.

--from “The Legend of Mata Nui”

=l Intro to Nouns l=

At the most basic level, Matoran and English nouns are, well, nouns. They represent persons, places, things, ideas, etc. Grammatically, however, Matoran nouns exhibit some features that are quite different from those in English.

The most pervasive feature of Matoran nouns is the system of grammatical particles by which the roles of different nouns are defined. Particles are function words which can indicate the grammatical roles of nouns, verbs, and/or adjectives in a sentence. In English, some prepositions actually approach the category of “particle” in some verbal constructions.

There are 9 particles in all, split into 3 distinct groups: Case, Motion, and Time/Location. The first group—Case particles—is the most vital to understand and will be discussed first.

[Although the other two categories of Motion and Time/Location should technically also be considered cases, I will separate them here because of the fact that they have much in common with adverbial elements.]

Case Particles:

First, it would be appropriate to explain the concept of Case. If you know or have taken a language like German, Dutch, or even Latin, you’ll know exactly what case is: the role that a noun plays within the structure of a sentence.

In English grammar, the roles of Subject, Direct Object, Indirect Object, Possessive, etc. are all functions of case. These roles are primarily indicated in English grammar by “word-order”: the placement of a noun in a sentence.

For example, the subject of a sentence is usually placed before the verb, while a direct or indirect object normally follows the verb. In many other languages, these roles can be indicated in a variety of different ways (inflection, for example), and word order is not emphasized as much.

This is the situation in Matoran, with different cases being indicated by particles, rather than word-order or inflection (suffixes, prefixes, etc.). As mentioned above, there are three particles to indicate case: subject, object, and possessive.

Subject (Nominative) Case

The Subject (or Nominative) Case, as evidenced by its name, marks the Subject of a sentence—the noun which performs the action of the verb.

It can be indicated by the particle word i, but this is not actually required and can frequently be dropped. Therefore:

matoran “Matoran”
(i) matoran “Matoran (as subject of sentence)" << Parentheses indicate that the particle is optional.

As can be seen, this particle is always placed before the noun. There is also a plural form of the particle: ne (also placed before the noun):

ne matoran “Matoran (pl., as subject of sentence)”

Object (Objective) Case

The Object (or Objective) Case marks a noun as the Direct or Indirect Object of a sentence—the noun which receives the action of the verb or to/for whom the action is done.

It is indicated by the particle a or ea (both are interchangeable). Like the Subject Particle, these are also placed before the noun. The plural forms of the Object Particle are na or nea. Examples:

a/ea matoran “Matoran (as direct or indirect object of verb)”
na/nea matoran “Matoran (pl.)”

Distinguishing whether or not the Objective Case is used as a direct or indirect object is a topic that will be discussed in a later lesson.

Possessive (Genitive) Case

The Possessive (or Genitive) Case indicates the possessor of an object—a noun which possesses another noun.

It takes the particle ui or wa (also interchangeable), which differ from the other two case particles in that they can be placed before or after the noun, depending on the sentence. The plural forms of the Possessive Particle are mi or ma. Examples:

rahi ui/wa matoran – “Matoran’s Rahi” (Matoran = possessor)
rahi matoran ui/wa – “Matoran’s Rahi”
rahi mi/ma matoran – (pl.)
rahi matoran mi/ma – (pl.)

Although the particle can be placed before or after the noun, it should be noted that the possessor-noun (here matoran) always follows the noun which is possessed (rahi).

Etymologically, the origin of the two distinct particle forms for the Genitive Case can be traced to a much earlier stage of the Matoran Language when ui and wa indicated, respectively, possessor and possessed. In time, the role of wa was decreased, and eventually it came to be used simply as a variant of ui.

-------

Now that we have these three basic cases, we are one step closer to being able to compose simple sentences. The only thing lacking is Verbs, and these will be covered (somewhat) in the next lesson: Lesson 3—Intro to Verbs. Stay tuned.

JRRT


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Learning Matoran: Lesson 1

Posted by Tolkien , in Language and Etymology, Matoran Language Oct 17 2010 · 893 views
Language and Etymology

Ke ovahi o kii vahi,
Mata Nui uamo.
inihe ka usmo ia ngie,
ke orna hu Matoran,
lhe ii arta.


In the time before time
The Great Spirit descended
Out of the Heavens carrying we,
The ones called the Matoran
To this paradise.

--First lines of "The Legend of Mata Nui"

=l Preface l=

First, I must make a confession. For the past ten (or so) years, my primary hobby has been an obsession with constructing languages: "conlanging". In the words of J.R.R himself, it is the "secret vice". And, as might be expected, I have not been able to keep it from spilling over into my interest of Bionicle. This is the result: an attempt to formulate a grammar of the Matoran Language (using the basis of the dictionary already posted elsewhere in the blog).

As a basic principle, I have attempted to imitate some grammatical structures common to Polynesian languages such as Hawaiian, Māori, and Samoa. Ultimately, however, the majority of the grammar is more or less arbitrary (or "a-priori"). And, of course, this means that (almost) the entirety of the grammar presented here is non-canon.

But now to the point! This grammar will be posted in a series of lessons designed specifically for "beginners" (or, at least, "people who aren't hard-core linguistics-people"). A good general knowledge of "grammar" and "phonetics" will be an advantage to any reader here, but I will aim to present linguistic concepts in the least jargon-heavy manner I can come up with (no promises style_emoticons/default/tongue.gif). I'll be starting out with a discussion of phonology in this post, followed by posts on Nouns, Verbs, the Matoran Alphabet itself, Adjectives, Syntax (Sentence Structure), etc.

Enjoy, if you will.

Or as the Matoran say:

A kanga ri o'atukhe.


=l Lesson 1 l=

Basic Pronunciation

First, it's best to establish that, while Matoran obviously don't have the same vocal organs as humans (teeth? tongues? what?!), they are capable of producing a similar array of sounds; or, at least, similar enough that we humans can come pretty close.

With that said, here's a basic list of the principal sounds of Matoran with English equivalents where necessary. Unless otherwise specified, all sounds are pronounced as in English:

-Consonants:

b
c – as <k>, except at the beginning of some words, where it is pronounced as <s> (an unfortunate hold-over from English orthography...>.<)
ch – always <k>
d
f – also spelled <ph> (a more archaic orthographic convention in Matoran)
g – always as in "dog"
h
kh –like the German <ch>, harsher than English <h> (would be called a "velar fricative")
j – optionally pronounced as in "jar" or "yard" (like <y>)
k
l
m
n
ng – as in "sing" at the beginning of a word; as in "finger" in all other positions
p
r – trilled, as Spanish <r>
rh – not trilled, more like English <r>
s
sh
t
th – as in "think" (very rare)
v
w
y
z

-Vowels:

a – as in "all"
e – as in "rate"
i – as in "machine"
o – as in "go"
u – as in "loose"
y – as German <ü> (rare sound). Pronouncing <i> ("machine") while rounding the lips like <u> ("loose") gives a close approximation.

All vowels can be either short or long. Long vowels are written simply by doubling the letter (aa, ee, oo, etc.) and are held twice as long as short vowels.

If you haven't dealt with spelling systems other than English before, the most important thing to remember is that every letter represents a sound—every letter is pronounced. There are no "silent letters" in Matoran, and there are only a few "digraphs" (two consonants with one sound: th, ch, etc.).

-----

And that concludes Lesson 1. Thanks for reading if you got this far. Next up: Lesson 2--Intro to Nouns, which will hopefully be a little more interesting.

JRRT



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Yesterday Quest. Oh Dear.

Posted by Tolkien , Sep 24 2010 · 114 views
Storyline
So apparently there is a Mighty Debate raging about the latest Yesterday Quest installment.

This post perfectly sums up my opinion on the subject. Thank you, Surreality, for bringing some coherent reality to the discussion.

JRRT




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Simplicity Kit [update 2]

Posted by Tolkien , Sep 17 2010 · 47 views
Art
[Update 9/17/10: Toa Inika]


I realized that I never actually posted this here...

This is the Simplicity Kit. A kit which you will probably need glasses to see (and, if you don't have glasses yet, you just wait). The goal of this was basically to amuse myself spriting something tiny, easy, simple. That sort of thing. It may not be useful to anyone, but it was very fun. So fun, in fact, that I may just have to find time to update it in future.

Until then, enjoy:




JRRT


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Always Remember.

Posted by Tolkien , Sep 11 2010 · 26 views
Art



JRRT



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...art?

Posted by Tolkien , Sep 08 2010 · 26 views
Art
No, not the pixel-y kind either:



This was an attempt at a header for "Despair" (click the image). It shows pretty much the extent of my non-computer art skills: i.e. limited to sketches and rather bad overall. But, since I'm throwing it out there, might as well as see what people think.

JRRT


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Looks Like I'll Be Doing Another Quote Entry Here...

Posted by Tolkien , Aug 20 2010 · 48 views
Life
Quotes are just so easy. After all, someone else came up with the content...

These are from the first day of the semester. For some reason, good quotes always seem to be confined to the first day. I suppose it's because the professors are trying to make a good impression.

QUOTE(From Chaucer class)
In writing your papers, remember to consult the explanatory notes in the textbook. After all, they may contain some information that supports your most excellent argument!

On the other hand, they may also contain something that completely destroys your argument, in which case, you can avoid looking like a fool.

JRRT


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Quote. Funny.

Posted by Tolkien , Aug 15 2010 · 41 views
General
Explanation: I am on an email list that discusses various linguistics-oriented topics. Among the myriad conversations, there sometimes arises a humorous post or two (at least, humorous to me...). This is one:

QUOTE(Post 2)
QUOTE(Post 1)
Some major word classes are not found in all languages. English, for example, lacks "ideophones" where diverse feelings about an event and its participants are jammed into one word - as in "rawa-dawa" from the Mundari language of the Indian subcontinent meaning "the sensation of suddenly realising you can do something reprehensible, and no one is there to witness it".

Wow, I finally have a word for what fuels the Internet!

Profound.

JRRT


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Gearing Up

Posted by Tolkien , Aug 14 2010 · 45 views
Life
Hmm. One week left until the fall semester begins.

Since it's kind of a tradition (debatable), here's what I've got for classes this time around:

Old English (This is, literally, the one course that I have always looked forward to taking. Finally! But it's also a graduate course, so I hope I'll survive...)
Chaucer in Middle English (Canterbury Tales ftw)
English Linguistics (The topic of this class is...rather uninteresting, unfortunately: "Linguistic communities in America." What? Blaaah.)
Greek and Roman Mythology (Final elective class. I thought it'd be a fitting companion to last semester's "Germanic Mythology" class.)

Wow...to think this is going to be my final semester of undergraduate work. It seems like it's gone by so fast. I'm actually really excited to be getting my BA at long last...

Next stop, grad-school.

---

Oh, also, looks like I'm now a critic with the Short Story Critics Club 3. Check it out, yo.

JRRT


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Short Story And A Movie

Posted by Tolkien , Jul 30 2010 · 56 views
Writing??


Thought I might as well plug this in my blog (that's what it's here for, right?). It's my entry for the Library Summer Olympics (SS category), if anyone is interested.

---

On another note, I went to see Inception two days ago. Christopher Nolan is officially my favorite director of all time. Best film I've seen since The Dark Knight. Possibly just as good. Some observations (spoilerized: don't ruin it for yourself! Go see the movie):

» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


JRRT







Chapter I

Posted Image


=ll=


"Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a blog-hole, and that means comfort."

=ll=

A Short Bio of the...Author?

=ll=

 

The author of this blog currently resides in the rather dry, bare, sandy climate of the southwest United States. He is a grad-student and teaching associate at his university, currently working toward a Ph.D. in rhetoric/composition and linguistics.
 

=ll=

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