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Various languages in BIONICLE?

matoran agori language species alphabet

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#1 Offline Illuminatus

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 06:09 PM

Hey, everyone.

 

So, I'm gonna go straight to the point and ask: How many actual languages do we know exist within the BIONICLE world? We know of the Matoran language, that almost everyone in the former MU used to speak; there's the Agori/Glatorian language of Spherus Magna. But is there anything else that we know of, for sure?

 

Another thing is, I believe bonesiii once mentioned that, contrary to popular belief, the "actual" Matoran language wasn't equivalent to English, and neither was Agori. So, that makes me wonder about numerous other things, the most prominent of which is the Matoran alphabet that has been used since 2001. What part of it is actually "culturally correct" from a Matoran's standpoint? Could we assume that their alphabet is indeed what we have seen for years (i.e. essentially the English alphabet with a more dismal graphical interpretation), and it is just their grammar and syntax that are completely different? Or is their alphabet completely different as well?


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#2 Offline The Legendary TNT

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 06:16 PM

Well, I know the Visorak had their own language. In fact, "visorak" means "the stealers of life" in their language. Also, birdlike Rahi had their own language. Nivawk (if I remember correctly) had it's own language that Turaga Dume learned.


Edited by TNT-Vezon with an Olmak, Jun 08 2013 - 06:24 PM.

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#3 Offline Illuminatus

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 06:30 PM

Yes, and there's also the language Kualus and Nuju speak... Good point. I'm mostly referring to more complex languages, though, like our own. Ones with cultural heritage.


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#4 Offline The Legendary TNT

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 06:35 PM

Kualus and Nuju speak that avian language that I mentioned. That's the only reason I know it exists, actually! :P I think there were some ancient dialects or forms of Matoran. There are lots of accounts where Nokama or Whenua translate something. Or that time where Hahli translated a stone on the way to Karzahni.


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#5 Online Pereki

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 06:47 PM

I actually asked Greg, back when he still visited here, whether the way we have seen Matoran written (using English words in Matoran characters) is canon, or whether it would technically be written using Matoran language (i.e. "kanoka" over "disk"). He responded saying that both methods are accurate, which I didn't find to be very helpful, because it doesn't really appeal to logical sense. Matoran have two ways of writing every word, and the alternative way, if spoken aloud, would be English? :confused: I'm sure that he was just trying to keep everything that had been released prior to the time canon, but it really is a strange answer.


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#6 Offline Illuminatus

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 06:55 PM

Wow... Frankly, that sounds like a really illogical answer. One would assume that the Matoran would've developed their own language, of which we only know fragments. And by fragments, I mean almost exclusively proper nouns.


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#7 Offline Canis Lycaon

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 06:55 PM

Well, the Zyglak and Skakdi had their own languages. It is also implied that there is an dead language that evolved into current Matoran, as seen with the 'Manas Zya' command used by Hydraxon.


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#8 Offline northmarch

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 07:02 PM

The way I see it; whenever you see a word in matoran, it's actualy from an older version of the dialect. Whenever they seem to use English, it's just a stand in for modern matoran. Never been confirmed but it would explain why we only seem to get names in matoran.Kanoka disk instead of disk disk
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#9 Offline Illuminatus

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 07:13 PM

I think it would be really awesome if there existed an entire Matoran language, with a tribal sound and, perhaps, loosely based on Latin. Think how essentially "Toa" would mean "guardian" or "hero" and instead of "Toa of Fire" Matoran would say something like "Toa Ignis"...


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#10 Offline Chro

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 07:28 PM

Matoran would say something like "Toa Ignis"...

Ta-Toa... :lol:


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#11 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 07:37 PM

One of the BS01 pages I visit the most often, Languages, lists these:

 

-Agori (possibly various dialects and such, but not stated there)

-Skrall (they speak Agori too)

-Bone Hunters

-Vorox/Zesk (broken-down Agori, plus gestures and whistles)

 

-Ancient Matoran (programming language as designed by GBs, borrowed heavily from Agori, now requires Rau to translate)

-Modern Matoran (modified by their own choices, etc.)

-Skakdi (also speak Matoran)

-Zyglak

 

That page doesn't list Rahi languages, of which we know of some:

 

-Visorak

-flying creatures language (known by Kualus and Nuju)

-Kikanalo language (from here I'm not so solid; not sure if this is specific to them or a "land creatures" language or what)

-various others

 

You could also possibly count:

 

-Vahki (high-speed, high-pitched Matoran, manifests as hypersonic signals)

 

 

I don't have time at moment to comment on the rest that was brought up here. Maybe later. :)


Edited by bonesiii, Jun 08 2013 - 07:38 PM.

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#12 Online TheSkeletonMan939

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 07:39 PM

Clearly, Greg has little knowledge about basic language concepts. A common misconception people have is that every word in English has an exact foreign translation for every language.

 

That's simply not true in any way. Latin eho, literally, means something like 'Hi-dee-ho!' But I always translate as 'Hey!' or something to that effect.


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#13 Offline Illuminatus

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 08:32 PM

Thank you, bonesiii, looking forward to reading the rest. :D

 

And also, thanks to the rest of you for taking part in the discussion. Anyway, I had a thought. Yes, obviously "Toa of Fire" would be "Ta Toa" in Matoran, but has it ever been explained how the names of the Toa Mata were chosen or formed by the Order of Mata Nui? Clearly, they were based on the archaic Matoran words for the six primary elements, but what if their names actually serve a different purpose in everyday Matoran speech? What if, their names are actually the adjectives deriving from the names Ta, Onu, Po, Ko, Le and Ga? So essentially, "Tahu" as an adjective and not a proper noun would literally mean "of or pertaining to fire". And thus, the title Toa Tahu would literally mean "Guardian of Fire".

 

Now wouldn't that just be awesome and iconic? :P


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#14 Offline Lewigi

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 08:45 PM

Thank you, bonesiii, looking forward to reading the rest. :D

 

And also, thanks to the rest of you for taking part in the discussion. Anyway, I had a thought. Yes, obviously "Toa of Fire" would be "Ta Toa" in Matoran, but has it ever been explained how the names of the Toa Mata were chosen or formed by the Order of Mata Nui? Clearly, they were based on the archaic Matoran words for the six primary elements, but what if their names actually serve a different purpose in everyday Matoran speech? What if, their names are actually the adjectives deriving from the names Ta, Onu, Po, Ko, Le and Ga? So essentially, "Tahu" as an adjective and not a proper noun would literally mean "of or pertaining to fire". And thus, the title Toa Tahu would literally mean "Guardian of Fire".

 

Now wouldn't that just be awesome and iconic? :P

Presumably, their names in Matoran are like file names on a computer. And those can be named any number of different ways. However, I don't believe the Toa Mata's names were based off of the element prefixes, in-story. I'm pretty sure that the only reason they are similar is because in 2001, LEGO decided to name their regions after them. Like with Knight's Kingdom, where each of the four provinces were named after their knight, i.e. Jayko, knight of Talonjay, Danju, of Alendan.


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#15 Offline Illuminatus

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 08:55 PM

Well, yes, naturally, but I'm talking about in-story reasoning. Technically, the Toa Mata probably weren't supposed to be older Toa than their original Turaga elders either, because it's kind of silly, but that's what happened in the story. And story-wise, it makes plenty of sense, and it's a good twist.

 

So that's what I'm talking about. Internal consistency. In-story reasoning. The Toa Mata must have been named after the elements, it just doesn't make sense any other way.

 

EDIT: I actually think I just came up with a pretty solid theory as to why the Toa Mata's names could be adjectives (at least ancient ones). Consider this, has it ever really been explained how the Turaga of Mata Nui (formerly the Toa Metru) seemed to know the names of the six Toa that would eventually come to the island and defeat the Makuta? I mean, surely, there is no reasonable explanation as to how they would, so my personal assumption is that they simply christened them according to their age-old folklore. The OoMN's reasoning could have been pretty much the same when they made the Toa Mata. Because they were a team of iconic element-wielding heroes with a very specific, very important mission. They were the Toa. So it makes a lot of sense to assume that "Toa Kopaka" could be an archaic form of "Ko Toa", meaning "Guardian/Hero of Ice".


Edited by Surreality, Jun 08 2013 - 09:04 PM.

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#16 Offline Lewigi

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 09:51 PM

Well, yes, naturally, but I'm talking about in-story reasoning. Technically, the Toa Mata probably weren't supposed to be older Toa than their original Turaga elders either, because it's kind of silly, but that's what happened in the story. And story-wise, it makes plenty of sense, and it's a good twist.

 

So that's what I'm talking about. Internal consistency. In-story reasoning. The Toa Mata must have been named after the elements, it just doesn't make sense any other way.

 

EDIT: I actually think I just came up with a pretty solid theory as to why the Toa Mata's names could be adjectives (at least ancient ones). Consider this, has it ever really been explained how the Turaga of Mata Nui (formerly the Toa Metru) seemed to know the names of the six Toa that would eventually come to the island and defeat the Makuta? I mean, surely, there is no reasonable explanation as to how they would, so my personal assumption is that they simply christened them according to their age-old folklore. The OoMN's reasoning could have been pretty much the same when they made the Toa Mata. Because they were a team of iconic element-wielding heroes with a very specific, very important mission. They were the Toa. So it makes a lot of sense to assume that "Toa Kopaka" could be an archaic form of "Ko Toa", meaning "Guardian/Hero of Ice".

Alright. Explain Helryx, since she actually was the first toa.

 

Not that it's a bad idea, just saying. I probably could think of a reason, but it's your theory. :P


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#17 Online Atamai

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 10:49 PM

Alright. Explain Helryx, since she actually was the first toa.

 

Not that it's a bad idea, just saying. I probably could think of a reason, but it's your theory. :P

For all we know Helryx could mean first.  :D


Edited by Atamai, Jun 13 2013 - 02:50 AM.

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#18 Offline Infrared

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 10:58 PM

I actually posted in the "Ask GregF a Question" topic regarding the meaning of the Toa Mata's names a while ago, but the question hasn't been answered yet. Hopefully Mr. Farshtey will be able to shed some light on that. :)

 

 

Well, yes, naturally, but I'm talking about in-story reasoning. Technically, the Toa Mata probably weren't supposed to be older Toa than their original Turaga elders either, because it's kind of silly, but that's what happened in the story. And story-wise, it makes plenty of sense, and it's a good twist.

 

So that's what I'm talking about. Internal consistency. In-story reasoning. The Toa Mata must have been named after the elements, it just doesn't make sense any other way.

 

EDIT: I actually think I just came up with a pretty solid theory as to why the Toa Mata's names could be adjectives (at least ancient ones). Consider this, has it ever really been explained how the Turaga of Mata Nui (formerly the Toa Metru) seemed to know the names of the six Toa that would eventually come to the island and defeat the Makuta? I mean, surely, there is no reasonable explanation as to how they would, so my personal assumption is that they simply christened them according to their age-old folklore. The OoMN's reasoning could have been pretty much the same when they made the Toa Mata. Because they were a team of iconic element-wielding heroes with a very specific, very important mission. They were the Toa. So it makes a lot of sense to assume that "Toa Kopaka" could be an archaic form of "Ko Toa", meaning "Guardian/Hero of Ice".

Alright. Explain Helryx, since she actually was the first toa.

 

Not that it's a bad idea, just saying. I probably could think of a reason, but it's your theory. :P

For all we know Helryx could mean first.  :D

 

Like Gali, it could also mean "water" or something else related. After all, "mahri" means "ocean" and "garai" means "gravity" while "Ga-" and "Ba-" each mean "water" and "gravity," respectively.


Edited by Infrared, Jun 08 2013 - 10:59 PM.

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#19 Online Atamai

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Posted Jun 08 2013 - 11:02 PM

Like Gali, it could also mean "water" or something else related. After all, "mahri" means "ocean" and "garai" means "gravity" while "Ga-" and "Ba-" each mean "water" and "gravity," respectively.

I would think that just as there are multiple words used to refer to the same thing in our world, there would be in theirs also.


Edited by Atamai, Jun 13 2013 - 02:54 AM.

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#20 Offline avak5

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Posted Jun 09 2013 - 01:41 AM

I think the Krana have their own language aswell


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#21 Offline Illuminatus

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Posted Jun 09 2013 - 07:06 AM

Well, yes, naturally, but I'm talking about in-story reasoning. Technically, the Toa Mata probably weren't supposed to be older Toa than their original Turaga elders either, because it's kind of silly, but that's what happened in the story. And story-wise, it makes plenty of sense, and it's a good twist.

 

So that's what I'm talking about. Internal consistency. In-story reasoning. The Toa Mata must have been named after the elements, it just doesn't make sense any other way.

 

EDIT: I actually think I just came up with a pretty solid theory as to why the Toa Mata's names could be adjectives (at least ancient ones). Consider this, has it ever really been explained how the Turaga of Mata Nui (formerly the Toa Metru) seemed to know the names of the six Toa that would eventually come to the island and defeat the Makuta? I mean, surely, there is no reasonable explanation as to how they would, so my personal assumption is that they simply christened them according to their age-old folklore. The OoMN's reasoning could have been pretty much the same when they made the Toa Mata. Because they were a team of iconic element-wielding heroes with a very specific, very important mission. They were the Toa. So it makes a lot of sense to assume that "Toa Kopaka" could be an archaic form of "Ko Toa", meaning "Guardian/Hero of Ice".

 

Alright. Explain Helryx, since she actually was the first toa.

 

Not that it's a bad idea, just saying. I probably could think of a reason, but it's your theory. :P

 

Explain what about Helryx? Why she was named the way she was or why she named the Toa Mata after the elements? :P

 

If you mean the former, than perhaps the Great Beings who made her had named her after something or somebody else that was iconic in their own culture.


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#22 Offline Lewigi

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Posted Jun 09 2013 - 09:03 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if their names meant nothing at all. After all, we have really weird names for government projects. Remember the name of the atomic bomb project? What does "Manhattan Project" have to do with nuclear weapons? And why was Ronald Reagan's codename "Rawhide"?

 

For all we know, "Helryx" could have the same name as some dish made with thornax. :P


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#23 Online Atamai

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Posted Jun 09 2013 - 09:47 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if their names meant nothing at all. After all, we have really weird names for government projects. Remember the name of the atomic bomb project? What does "Manhattan Project" have to do with nuclear weapons? And why was Ronald Reagan's codename "Rawhide"?

 

For all we know, "Helryx" could have the same name as some dish made with thornax. :P

Well Tobduk means "survivor" and while I'm not sure if that's in Matoran or not, it is proof that some character names have meaning,


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#24 Offline ~garnira returns~

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Posted Jun 09 2013 - 11:15 PM

Clearly, Greg has little knowledge about basic language concepts. A common misconception people have is that every word in English has an exact foreign translation for every language.

 

That's simply not true in any way. Latin eho, literally, means something like 'Hi-dee-ho!' But I always translate as 'Hey!' or something to that effect.

Or It would be rather hard to tell the story using the "direct" translation. Honestly I wouldn't enjoy reading a book of engrish dialogue, aside from the comedic value.


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#25 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Jun 09 2013 - 11:51 PM

K, back...

 

Another thing is, I believe bonesiii once mentioned that, contrary to popular belief, the "actual" Matoran language wasn't equivalent to English, and neither was Agori.

I don't recall wording it that way. Does anyone actually think that the language would be just like English? Also, what is meant by "equivalent"? Anywho, regardless of what I said, most of it isn't established, but what we know does have some key differences. Often descriptors tend to come after the nouns they modify, for example -- Metru Nui means Great City, but in word order it's City Great. So we do know for a fact that there are grammatical differences.

 

So, that makes me wonder about numerous other things, the most prominent of which is the Matoran alphabet that has been used since 2001. What part of it is actually "culturally correct" from a Matoran's standpoint? Could we assume that their alphabet is indeed what we have seen for years (i.e. essentially the English alphabet with a more dismal graphical interpretation), and it is just their grammar and syntax that are completely different? Or is their alphabet completely different as well?

Well this is where we can have two possible answers:

 

1) Forget suspension of disbelief and just realize that this is the product of English-speaking brains (or Dutch targeting English speaking kids? lol). Actually, when you get used to that, it's even possible to bring suspension back in when you realize that statistically speaking, if there are infinite random permutations of fictional alien languages, some could be very similar to English. Same can work for words that clearly are taken from real-world languages, like "Frostelus" or "Umbra" or "Nui". I prefer this one.

 

2) The Tolkien solution (little known unless you really get into his works including the side content), of saying that the non-English words we get are a translation into a fiction-within-fiction language. Tolkien treated the "actual" languages as something almost completely alien to the readers, but said that the ones that were meant to feel more familiar were changed in some way to make them feel more like English superficially. "Bilbo" for example is part of this "semi-translated" language, not the character's "actual" name (that was Bilba, which would sound masculine in the actual language but sounds feminine in English).

 

We can also imagine a cherrypicking compromise between the two, where the ones we like as-is are left intact but the ones that you don't like (I think the vast majority of us would point to Frostelus :P) you assume was "really" something else (probably something with "ko" in the name somewhere). This could vary from fan to fan, in the absence of any confirmation of it for Bionicle.

 

I usually lean against this because many of the names seem fairly 'alien'. On the feminine/masculine note, Bionicle has never been shy about having male characters with names that don't seem stylistically much different from females.(The "a" ending is common in both for example.) That seems to me to show that the names are probably accurate.

 

 

With the alphabet specifically, any mouth designed basically like humans will be most efficient when making the same basic sounds as English and most other languages. To make strange sounds you have to go guttural or the like, and that takes more effort. This is why human languages have tended to experience vowel and consonant shifts toward the front of the mouth, away from the guttural sounds, over time (basically we got lazy :P). No particular reason an alien language has to start out biased toward the guttural either, so they may have started more ideally.

 

This doesn't account, of course, for the "nonsense" letters like C and Q (both are really just K; qu = kw, except when c is s, etc. etc.), j (dzh), or x (ks), nor for why they wouldn't have letters for things like th, sh, etc. (although in that case the oddity is that WE don't, since we use those a lot but Bionicle languages usually don't seem to). The likelihood of an alien language just so happening to have even these impractical letters, and no different ones, is virtually nill (I mean equivalent; symbols for those sounds with exactly those rules). But these are relatively easily solved by just imagining that all "C"s are really "K"s (and Bionicle avoids "C"s anyways), and so forth.

 

 

 

I actually asked Greg, back when he still visited here, whether the way we have seen Matoran written (using English words in Matoran characters) is canon, or whether it would technically be written using Matoran language (i.e. "kanoka" over "disk"). He responded saying that both methods are accurate, which I didn't find to be very helpful, because it doesn't really appeal to logical sense. Matoran have two ways of writing every word, and the alternative way, if spoken aloud, would be English? :confused: I'm sure that he was just trying to keep everything that had been released prior to the time canon, but it really is a strange answer.

Offhand I don't remember this one; any chance we could get the quote? :P

 

If he literally said both methods (English using Matoran alphabet, and Matoran using Matoran alphabet), that's easily understood as meaning the one is still somewhat accurate and the other would be fully accurate (assuming the alphabet is fully accurate to begin with). It's unlikely he meant it how you seem to have taken it. :P But if he said something more like "they actually speak English", I can see why that would be disappointing, but that would also contradict answers I have seen, confirming that it's only "translated" into English. They do not speak English.

 

 

The way I see it; whenever you see a word in matoran, it's actualy from an older version of the dialect. Whenever they seem to use English, it's just a stand in for modern matoran.

There could be something to that, but likely it would not be anywhere near absolute. Really of course the ones we get were just whatever had the most storyline importance, enough to get names that went through legal, with less caution for the early years, and it seems statistically unlikely that those would so consistently be just ancient.

 

If you're onto something, though, that would be comparable to Tolkien's "Westron" (Aduni), which he translated almost entirely into English. Frostelus could thus be symbolic of something from a halfway-along "Middle Matoran" between Ancient and Modern. Frost Beetle would be entirely modern, and Kopaka would be fully ancient. The modern would still have parts from the ancient which would tend to be left untranslated.

 

Also, just like human names, people might tend to use the ancient instead of modern for their names.

 

The only serious issue with this is the number of times Greg has confirmed that a major name means this or that in Matoran, especially the mask names, with no hint that he means the ancient. Of course, we also don't know what the major differences are between ancient and modern; they might be mostly grammatical instead of stylistic.

 

Yes, obviously "Toa of Fire" would be "Ta Toa" in Matoran, but has it ever been explained how the names of the Toa Mata were chosen or formed by the Order of Mata Nui? Clearly, they were based on the archaic Matoran words for the six primary elements, but what if their names actually serve a different purpose in everyday Matoran speech? What if, their names are actually the adjectives deriving from the names Ta, Onu, Po, Ko, Le and Ga? So essentially, "Tahu" as an adjective and not a proper noun would literally mean "of or pertaining to fire". And thus, the title Toa Tahu would literally mean "Guardian of Fire".

All we know for sure is they were named after the elements. We don't know if those are the standard words for the elements and the prefixes are just abbreviations (though this is the most common theory) or if the prefixes themselves are the standard and the rest of the names are suffixes of unknown meaning.

 

Either way, I would think they would not ever put a modifier after a title (assuming the word order of titles is the same as English). Whatever comes after the title should be the name. But they might say "Tahu Toa" as a longer, more poetic or formal way of saying "Ta-Toa". Normally "Toa Tahu" would work, but in this case methinks they'd have a special rule that modifiers of the title have to come first to avoid confusing that with the Toa's personal name. So this wouldn't work with the same word order as "Metru Nui." You could, however, theoretically have "Metru Tahu" meaning Fire City (division) as a more formal version of Ta-Metru.

 

Also note that we don't know the proper full element names for all elements. We think (but I forget if it's confirmed) that Avohkii and Kraahkan are the names of Light and Shadow, but then Garai is clearly not the name of Gravity (Ba), so we can't just assume it. (IMO they are, and Garai is a subpower which could be translated better as Weight Control.) So in general it's easier to just go with the prefixes and save "Tahu" for the character.

 

Consider this, has it ever really been explained how the Turaga of Mata Nui (formerly the Toa Metru) seemed to know the names of the six Toa that would eventually come to the island and defeat the Makuta?

Between Vakama's visions, Red Star prophecies via Nixie, and legends passed down through the ages, they could have easily known their actual names. Early media claimed that they did indeed know they were coming and what masks they would wear even. They carved statues of them long before seeing them personally, such as the Gali mask statue at Ga-Koro's waterfall.

 

Most of that media was non-canon, so not sure if that was ever confirmed by the story team, but it seems hard to work around. Adjectives wouldn't explain knowing the masks exactly. Also, the Turaga happened to pick the exact same masks as the ones to hide around the island. So by whatever means, it seems they did know those six individuals were supposed to come.

 

I mean, surely, there is no reasonable explanation as to how they would, so my personal assumption is that they simply christened them according to their age-old folklore. The OoMN's reasoning could have been pretty much the same when they made the Toa Mata. Because they were a team of iconic element-wielding heroes with a very specific, very important mission. They were the Toa. So it makes a lot of sense to assume that "Toa Kopaka" could be an archaic form of "Ko Toa", meaning "Guardian/Hero of Ice".

So are you thinking that the elders actually would address them by this without knowing their names, and by luck be rightly addressing them, so the Toa don't notice? I very much doubt that but I must admit it's a cool idea. Notice, though, Nuju's speech to Kopaka in the first comic:

 

link

 

He confirms twice that he knows who Kopaka is (and has been waiting for him), and calls him "Kopaka". It would be very odd if this was an adjective; he'd be calling him "Icy". The noun form would of course be even weirder -- "Ice." And I think it's obvious we're supposed to get that Nuju foreknew Kopaka was coming. He stares at a Wall of Prophecy all day, yanno, he's gotta have some idea, right? :P

 

I wouldn't be surprised if their names meant nothing at all. After all, we have really weird names for government projects. Remember the name of the atomic bomb project? What does "Manhattan Project" have to do with nuclear weapons? And why was Ronald Reagan's codename "Rawhide"?

 

For all we know, "Helryx" could have the same name as some dish made with thornax. :P

I wouldn't call that nothing at all. :P Manhattan project was a codename, just like Rawhide, but the words themselves have etymologies, even if they were applied to obscure. Helryx is a name, so most likely describes her in some non-obscuring way. But anywho, it was always said that the naming of the Toa Mata was unusual. Normal Toa are not named after their element. Granted, with Helryx it would actually make sense, but it's just as likely she was named after some random personality trait or whatever.

 

In other words, all the character names definitely have meaning. But the logic of why it's applied to each individual in the way it is should vary about as much as you could imagine.

 

Incidentally, "Tobduk" was not that character's original name, so it's really more of a nickname or codename. Thus not the best example. :P But it might be more like a self-renaming, and if they name themselves in the start of their life it might work. I get the sense that Tobduk saw his old personality as gone and not applicable to his originally chosen name. Also, it's hard to imagine that a brand-new Matoran, even though he or she has full language skills immediately, would understand themselves well enough to have the most ideal names. I guess they pick something that feels best in their more naive initial states, and then just stick with it out of convenience unless there's a major event like what happened to Tobduk, or a Naming Day.


Edited by bonesiii, Jun 09 2013 - 11:55 PM.

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#26 Online Atamai

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Posted Jun 10 2013 - 02:37 AM

Either way, I would think they would not ever put a modifier after a title (assuming the word order of titles is the same as English). Whatever comes after the title should be the name. But they might say "Tahu Toa" as a longer, more poetic or formal way of saying "Ta-Toa". Normally "Toa Tahu" would work, but in this case methinks they'd have a special rule that modifiers of the title have to come first to avoid confusing that with the Toa's personal name. So this wouldn't work with the same word order as "Metru Nui." You could, however, theoretically have "Metru Tahu" meaning Fire City (division) as a more formal version of Ta-Metru.

In one of the books I recall Matau mentioning Le-Metru being renamed Ma-Metru. So since Ma- obviously stands for Matau, it's likely Ta- stands for Tahu.

 

Another thing worth mentioning is that maybe Matoran names are just prefixes with an added word or two at the end. For example we know Ko- means Ice, we know "Ka" is a word for spirit, and for all we know "pa" means of. Put that together and you get "Spirit of Ice" because Matoran grammar is backwards from ours.

 

But then one thing I don't understand is Matoran names that begin with a prefix that is not of their Element, such as Kodan and Balta. Also Takua's name made perfect sense back when we thought he was a Ta-Matoran, but now it raises questions as to whether or not his name was always Takua, or if he was renamed that to back up the disguise of a Ta-Matoran. Just some thoughts.


Edited by Atamai, Jun 11 2013 - 08:32 PM.

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#27 Offline Illuminatus

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Posted Jun 10 2013 - 05:45 AM

Oh, some very good questions (and answers) raised. It would be really nice if we could get some official confirmation (or decision) regarding just what portion of the Matoran language and alphabet are genuinely accurate from an in-story standpoint. Obviously, their entire alphabet being identical to English is even more naive than I originally thought.

 

I very much like the idea of "Kopaka" meaning "Spirit of Ice". Perhaps the names of the other Toa may mean similar things, but not exactly based on the same pattern. "Tahu" could mean "Raging Fire" and "Gali" could mean "Swirling Water". :P


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#28 Online Pereki

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Posted Jun 10 2013 - 09:31 AM

I actually asked Greg, back when he still visited here, whether the way we have seen Matoran written (using English words in Matoran characters) is canon, or whether it would technically be written using Matoran language (i.e. "kanoka" over "disk"). He responded saying that both methods are accurate, which I didn't find to be very helpful, because it doesn't really appeal to logical sense. Matoran have two ways of writing every word, and the alternative way, if spoken aloud, would be English? :confused: I'm sure that he was just trying to keep everything that had been released prior to the time canon, but it really is a strange answer.

Offhand I don't remember this one; any chance we could get the quote? :P

 

If he literally said both methods (English using Matoran alphabet, and Matoran using Matoran alphabet), that's easily understood as meaning the one is still somewhat accurate and the other would be fully accurate (assuming the alphabet is fully accurate to begin with). It's unlikely he meant it how you seem to have taken it. :P But if he said something more like "they actually speak English", I can see why that would be disappointing, but that would also contradict answers I have seen, confirming that it's only "translated" into English. They do not speak English.

I didn't save the PM, but I recall posting the question in the Official Greg Discussion, so it'd be in there somewhere. I remember distinctly enough that I can say with a fair amount of certainty that his full answer was "They are both right," so it's rather dependent on the way I phrased the question, which unfortunately I do not remember quite so well.


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#29 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Jun 10 2013 - 10:35 AM

In one of the books I recall Matau mentioning Le-Metru being renamed Ma-Metru. So since "Ma" obviously stands for Matau, it's likely "Ta" stands for Tahu.

It's possible, but then keep in mind that different Matoran often have the same word parts in their names, with different other parts. You can have Tahu, Takua, Talvi, Taipu, or Tanma. Then there's tons that start with Ka. If you had a water village called Kai-Koro, that could be Kai, or Kailani. And Ma itself could be Matau, Maglya, Macku, Marka, Makani, Mamru, Matoro, or Mazeko.

 

So if we want to judge what's likely in objective terms, it's by far more likely that "hu" is a suffix, at least going by that evidence alone. However, we do have other evidence, since Greg said they were named after the elements.

 

But then one thing I don't understand is Matoran names that begin with a prefix that is not of their Element, such as Kodan and Balta.

Well, two basic options.

 

1) The word parts are not Ko and Ba but Kod and Bal.

 

2) They are judged to have traits in a metaphoric sense; Kodan might have been calm and collected, and likely did not talk much since he was an observer (but would write a lot), and Balta might have had gravitas. :P Keeping in mind also that we don't know if they name themselves (as I theorize in my history retelling) or if someone else names them, they might have chosen those traits for their names as something to aspire to, and it might not always seem obvious in their lives and actual character traits since likeisay they would name themselves before they'd lived much to learn about themselves.

 

Also Takua's name made perfect sense back when we thought he was a Ta-Matoran, but now it raises questions as to whether or not his name was always Takua, or if he was renamed that to back up the disguise of a Ta-Matoran. Just some thoughts.

Tanma is also an Av-Matoran and not in disguise. Ta makes more sense with Av-Matoran than most others, since both fire and light shine, so Ta in the poetic sense of bright fits. Gavla can fit due to being a female, and water is the most common female element. Photok likes a color scheme similar to Po, so that might be an alternate form of Po, etc.

 

And no, we have no direct evidence that was a name Takua took on at the time, although it would have made strategic sense, in case the Makuta or anyone else had met him when he was living with the Av-Matoran. But that would be unlikely, so it wouldn't be necessary. On the other hand, Naming Day and the like are major parts of their culture, so it's possible.

 

I didn't save the PM, but I recall posting the question in the Official Greg Discussion, so it'd be in there somewhere. I remember distinctly enough that I can say with a fair amount of certainty that his full answer was "They are both right," so it's rather dependent on the way I phrased the question, which unfortunately I do not remember quite so well.

Alright, maybe I'll try to look for it later.

 

Edit: BTW, just wanna make sure everybody interested in this topic has seen these other recentishish topics also about some of these topics. I've been actually borrowing from the theory in DM's topic (first link) for some fanmade names.

 

http://www.bzpower.c...?showtopic=9299

 

http://www.bzpower.c...?showtopic=8536


Edited by bonesiii, Jun 10 2013 - 10:38 AM.

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#30 Offline fishers64

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Posted Jun 10 2013 - 12:19 PM

EDIT: Found it! *evil nefarious searching methods ahoy*

 

 

Although it hasn’t been confirmed, lets just say for this example that Kanoka means disk. if I were a Matoran and I wanted to write disk, would I spell.

 

:k: :a: :n: :m_o: :k: :a: or :m_d: :i: :s: :k:

The reason I ask this is because earlier sentences written in matoran in things such as MNOG were english words in matoran lettering, while sometimes matoran pronunciations of words are seen in matoran lettering. I wanted to know which was canon. 2) Both.


Edited by fishers64, Jun 11 2013 - 01:41 PM.

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#31 Offline darthme

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Posted Jun 10 2013 - 04:46 PM

I would assume that Matoran would speak their own language, unrelated to English.  Everything is just translated into English for our convenience, hence making it technically 'canon'. 

 

A while back, I wanted to create my own take on the Matoran language (linguistics being one of my interests).  Basically, I was going to just go with a whole new grammar and morphology with an alphabet based off the most commonly occurring letters in known Matoran names and place names. 

 

I was going to create the grammar as some sort of polynesian-based island langauge (where the sentence structure is usually Verb-Subject-Object) while keeping it very simple as it seems that there are no plurals in Matoran. 


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#32 Offline Exitium

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Posted Jun 11 2013 - 12:17 AM

[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;]In other words, all the character names definitely have meaning. But the logic of why it's applied to each individual in the way it is should vary about as much as you could imagine.[/color]

I'm not exactly clear on your reasoning here, considering that the only examples we have are the Toa Mata.  I actually don't recall ever hearing that they were named after their elements, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that every character is named after some trait, considering the six Toa Mata are in the minority in this case.  (Incidentally in English, many names are character traits, such as Angela or Miranda, but since these names are usually give before birth, they don't guarantee that the person will be, say, angelic or admirable.  The same could well apply here.)

 

Dealing with the whole "kanoka disk" problem that everyone is worrying about is actually simpler than it may sound.  One must imagine that everything we read in the canon is translated from Matoran into English (or your language of choice, but we'll use English for simplicity), but these are not necessarily one-to-one translations.  For example, the English equivalent of the Matoran word "Kanoka" is "disk," but "Kanoka" has a much more restrictive meaning than "disk," which means any flat round thing.  So for clarity, the imaginary translator might translate "Kanoka" as "Kanoka disk" in English to clarify that these are disks of power and not simply frisbees. When transliterated into Matoran letters, this would be  :k:[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;background-color:rgb(245,245,255);] [/color] :a:[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;background-color:rgb(245,245,255);] [/color] :n: :m_o: :k:[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;background-color:rgb(245,245,255);] [/color] :a:[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;background-color:rgb(245,245,255);]  [/color] :m_d:[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;background-color:rgb(245,245,255);] [/color] :i: :s:[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;background-color:rgb(245,245,255);] [/color] :k:, which looks absurd to a Matoran, but this translation was meant to be read in English, not Matoran.  By extension, all the English words we see in Matoran letters could be "doubly translated" in this fashion, thus making both spellings canon.  This would be sort of like the Bilba/Bilbo Tolkien example bonesiii was referencing earlier.

 

An example would be the rock in MNOLG, which reads something like, "My friend went to Po-Wahi and all I got was this lousy rock."  We could assume 1) by some astronomical coincidence, Matoran uses the same words and grammar as English in this sentence, 2) the rock isn't canon (a very real possibility, but an uninteresting one), or 3) the sentence is translated into English and then transliterated back into Matoran to make it appear more authentic, but still readable.  Presumably Po-Wahi is left as is because it's a proper noun (which are most of the Matoran words we have anyway and most likely to survive a translation processes like this unscathed).  I like option 3 myself, but you're welcome to disagree.

 

Of course this entire thing is merely a thought experiment because the story was written in English and the Matoran language doesn't actually exist in any real form beyond a few words (not to mention that there obviously is no translator), but I believe that this is the most parsimonious explanation for all the "Kanoka disks" and "Kanohi masks" we've seen floating around the canon for years.


Edited by Exitium, Jun 11 2013 - 12:18 AM.

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#33 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Jun 11 2013 - 12:53 AM

Quote

[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;]In other words, all the character names definitely have meaning. But the logic of why it's applied to each individual in the way it is should vary about as much as you could imagine.[/color]

I'm not exactly clear on your reasoning here, considering that the only examples we have are the Toa Mata.  I actually don't recall ever hearing that they were named after their elements, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that every character is named after some trait, considering the six Toa Mata are in the minority in this case.  (Incidentally in English, many names are character traits, such as Angela or Miranda, but since these names are usually give before birth, they don't guarantee that the person will be, say, angelic or admirable.  The same could well apply here.)

What I mean is that any imaginable etymology for a name, combining different word parts to mean something descriptive of them, of what they aspire to be, of random "it sounds neat" motives, or even "it's poetic" are possible. It also matters whether they do name themselves (in which case they likely pick from a library of word parts, checking against a database to ensure the name isn't taken already, based on whatever reasonings they feel like), named by someone else (same could apply), or named by some automatic system that might be random or based on personality traits the Matoran-making machine has assigned or some mix of both. I prefer the first theory as IMO it's more interesting for a character-based story.

 

So the point is that the reasons why a particular meaning for a name is applied to each unique Matoran could vary as much as the Matoran themselves vary. So we can't rely on assumptions, no matter how obvious they might seem, of what the motivations would be for a particular name. (But nothing wrong with theorizing for fun anyways, of course.)

 

One evidence against the "pick their own names" thing is that the Toa Mata were assigned their names; they didn't pick them. Of course, they were also made under very strange circumstances, so that might not apply to others.

 

Note, too, that the Toa Mata's names are not literally the only examples we have (I presume you mean of character names with known meanings). We have a handful of cases like "Mata Nui" or "Vezon" too, and there's also tons of evidence for possible theories about word parts of other names (as elaborated on in DM's topic; the first of the two links I gave earlier). And in some cases there's plenty of real-world connections. Like Roodaka probably has something to do with "rude" for example.


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#34 Offline Chro

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Posted Jun 11 2013 - 06:05 AM

I agree with Exitium's double-translation explanation. Honestly that's how I've always thought of it (though in not-as-well-defined terms).

As you said towards the end of that last post, bonesiii, I'm not sure about Roodaka, but some of them definitely have fourth-wall names... Hydraxon (derived from hydro, probably), Brutaka (a brute), and Axonn (do I really need to explain that?) all come to mind.


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#35 Offline Illuminatus

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Posted Jun 11 2013 - 01:20 PM

To be perfectly honest, I think the name-making folk got a bit lazy after 2004, what with all the blatant references to real English words in Matoran names. Despite all the lawsuits, I think 2001 was the most original year, name-wise, as it brought forth a multitude of diverse and interesting characters that not only had original and mystical-sounding names, but their names also had a deeper (and less apparent) etymology.


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#36 Offline Exitium

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Posted Jun 11 2013 - 08:22 PM

@bonesiii: There are several characters with names that do have meanings (most character traits), although I suppose what I objected to was your certainty that all names mean this.  Of course, I have no evidence to disprove your theory, although I'm not sure it meets sufficient burden of proof (I'm not fully convinced by DM's theory either, which I think relies to heavily on speculation, but that's for another topic, and obviously fan-made names can't be used as evidence).  I think we can agree that it is at least common that Matoran names refer to personal characteristics (as in English).  

 

@Surreality: I agree that the names have certainly gotten lazier.  In 2001, a lot of the Matoran names were words in various languages that referred to a Matoran's element (e.g., water, sea, ocean, etc. for Ga-Matoran), apart from the obvious ones taken from the Maori language.  Although these were clearly taken from real words, I thought they were some of the most interesting.  Someone made a great chart with all the names from MNOLG, but I'm not sure what happened to it.


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#37 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Jun 11 2013 - 08:43 PM

@bonesiii: There are several characters with names that do have meanings (most character traits), although I suppose what I objected to was your certainty that all names mean this.

Mean what? My whole point was that we don't have certainty for most character names... I was just discussing possibilities. :)

 

Of course, I have no evidence to disprove your theory, although I'm not sure it meets sufficient burden of proof

Please note that in S&T we do not use the word "proof" for support for theories, but just "evidence". In S&T terminology if something has proof, it's totally certain as a canon fact and thus is not just a theory. Evidence means an indication that something might be true, as interpreted in the theory (versus speculation). See clarification in the rules topic. :) Also, specifically on languages I allow a lot more leeway in S&T, so as long as someone thinks there's a reason to think it, it's allowed.

 

Also, just to be clear, I think what's most likely is that Matoran choose their own names (though I only think this is slightly more likely than someone else naming them or an automatic system naming them; all three are very possible) and that they choose them based on whatever motives they like. So many are not necessarily accurate descriptions of their own traits, but of how they see themselves when they are extremely young (and therefore likely not very accurate). I'm getting the vibe you might have thought I meant something else (specifically describing traits per se), so just want to be clear. :)

 

 

 

Re: Lazy -- yanno, what would be really cool is if we could interpret some of those names as "partially translated" (like Bilbo), and theorize what better-sounding untranslated names might be, for fan use. Might even make those names seem less annoying since we would reinterpret them as not totally canon (at least in headcanon).

 

I have a minor theory in my history retelling that 'axon' as a word part refers to a position of authority, and Axonn took the name while he was a warlord. Hydraxon in this explanation meant water-authority, referring to a claim that he ruled over a watery region at some point (although my main character suspects this might be a lie as a cover story), just because I thought it felt too odd to let their similar names go un-commented-on because I had them working together at one point. Maybe the "actual" word could be something quite different -- at least "akson" to get rid of the English-weirdness of "x" (although the heavy use in Vortixx might show that it should be kept?). And Hydra might actually be Ga -- Gaxon? :lol:


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#38 Offline Exitium

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Posted Jun 11 2013 - 09:52 PM

[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;]Please note that in S&T we do not use the word "proof" for support for theories, but just "evidence". In S&T terminology if something has proof, it's totally certain as a canon fact and thus is not just a theory. Evidence means an indication that something [/color]might[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;] be true, as interpreted in the theory (versus speculation). See clarification in the rules topic. [/color] :)[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;] Also, specifically on languages I allow a lot more leeway in S&T, so as long as someone thinks there's a reason to think it, it's allowed.[/color]

I should clarify that when I say burden of proof, what I mean is not actually "proof" (since that would be canon information, like you say), but whether I've found a theory sufficiently convincing.  Generally I find a theory meets this if it is the simplest explanation (parsimonious) and more likely than not to be true (probable rather than possible). Given the lack of material we have for languages, I understand your reasoning in having a relatively low burden of proof for language discussions, although, as I have stated previously, I think it is difficult to build a theory about languages that meet these (admittedly strict) requirements.

 

[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;]I have a minor theory in my history retelling that 'axon' as a word part refers to a position of authority, and Axonn took the name while he was a warlord. Hydraxon in this explanation meant water-authority, referring to a claim that he ruled over a watery region at some point (although my main character suspects this might be a lie as a cover story), just because I thought it felt too odd to let their similar names go un-commented-on because I had them working together at one point. Maybe the "actual" word could be something quite different -- at least "akson" to get rid of the English-weirdness of "x" (although the heavy use in Vortixx might show that it should be kept?). And Hydra might actually be Ga -- Gaxon? [/color] :lol:

If you're assuming that the "axon" in "Axxon" and "Hydraxon" are etymologically significant (an assumption I don't necessarily agree with), then I don't think "authority" would be the meaning, since as you've pointed out, it doesn't really fit Hydraxon.  Perhaps something like "guardian" since Axxon guarded the Mask of Life and Hydraxon was a jailer?  I also don't think we should toss out "x" quite yet, considering that there is a letter for it and it does have two pronunciations (ks and z).  Actually, that line of reasoning made me wonder what the pronunciation difference is between Xa and Za (both krana suffixes), so maybe the Matoran "x" has a slightly different sound than either of the ones we use in English.


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#39 Offline darthme

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Posted Jun 11 2013 - 11:12 PM

I also don't think we should toss out "x" quite yet, considering that there is a letter for it and it does have two pronunciations (ks and z).  Actually, that line of reasoning made me wonder what the pronunciation difference is between Xa and Za (both krana suffixes), so maybe the Matoran "x" has a slightly different sound than either of the ones we use in English.

 

"X" can also be pronounced simply as "k".  Making "Xa" sound something like, /ka/.  But I don't see why it would be that way with "K" already representing that sound, so I think it's best to assume that "X" is pronounced as in English.


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#40 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Jun 11 2013 - 11:13 PM

I should clarify that when I say burden of proof, what I mean is not actually "proof" (since that would be canon information, like you say), but whether I've found a theory sufficiently convincing.

Well, would you agree that the three possibilities are gave are the only options (at least I can't seem to think of any others offhand)? Which would you prefer and why, if any, out of curiosity? [Edit: I mean of how a Matoran gets their name, in case that wasn't clear.]

 

Re: x -- good point about ks vs. z. It does seem even less likely that it could mean both those, with the exact same rules as English (although the "infinite variety happenstance" explanation works still), but for example, is Xia Zia or Ksia, or something else?

 

I'm a big fan of the German ch sound, which I usually spell "kh" in fictional languages (so Morbuzakh would rhyme with German Bach in my preferences). Maybe "x" is a spelling of this sound. So it would be Khia. And Vortixx would be a drawn-out kh; Vortikhhh. :P If so, that would make the Krana Kha vs. Za.

 

Or ks would still work there; Krana Ksa. Probably the wisest theory is "strict ks" if we assume that it doesn't have the exact same rules as English, to preserve all the Makuta names like Teridax.

 

There's also the possibility that they don't actually spell all these different things with the same letter in "actual" Matoran, so Xia might be spelled with the Z letter actually. :shrugs:


Edited by bonesiii, Jun 11 2013 - 11:16 PM.

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