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March 29, 2010

Lies, rumors and pure conjecture: Random thoughts on Darnassian grammar (speculative work in progress) Edit

Verbs - Regular conjugationEdit

present root + (d|l)ar -- (Examples: I go, it goes)
present plural root + ??? -- (Examples: we are, they are)
past root + (d|l)er -- (Examples: she prepared, he went)
past plural root + (d|l)eh -- (Examples: they did, we hunted)
future root + (d|l)as -- (Examples: I will kill, it will survive)
future plural root + (d|l)ash -- (Examples: they will balance)
imperative root + (n)du -- (Example: prepare!)
imperative plural root + (n)ath -- (Example: go!)
subjunctive root + (n)de -- (Example: may I declare)
subjunctive plural root + (n)del -- (Example: may we declare)
infinitive root + (d|l)ore -- (Example: to do)
participial root + ??? -- (Example: studying) -- Note: may be same as gerund.
gerund root + (d|l)ah -- (Example: balance, survival)

To be (slightly irregular)Edit

adar a??? ader aleh adas adash andu anath ande andel adore a??? alah

To do (irregular)Edit

kar k??? ker kareh kas karash karu karath kare karel kore k??? karah

To goEdit

belar b??? beler beleh belas belash bendu benath bende bendel belore b??? belah

To prepareEdit

bandar b??? bander bandeh bandas bandash bandu bandath bande bandel bandore b??? bandah

To declare (oneself)Edit

fandar f??? fander fandeh fandas fandash fandu fandath fande fandel fandore f??? fandah

To killEdit

endar e??? ender endeh endas endash endu endath ende endel endore e??? endah

To huntEdit

mu'dar mu'??? mu'der mu'deh mu'das mu'dash mu'ndu mu'ndath mu'nde mu'ndel mu'dore mu'??? mu'dah

To surviveEdit

talar tal??? taler taleh talas talash tandu tanath tande tandel talore tal??? talah

To balanceEdit

falar fal??? faler faleh falas falash faldu falath falde faldel falore fal??? falah

To learn/studyEdit

therar ther??? therer thereh theras therash therdu therath therde therdel therore ther??? therah

Other vocabularyEdit

-sh'a, -shan = honorific title

  • mush'a, mushan = hunter
  • ensh'a, enshan = killer
  • thero'shan = studier, student
  • shan'do = professor, teacher, honored one, "One who honors the Way of the Kal'dorei/those who Walked before us".

Darnassian grammar primer - beginningEdit

The first thing to keep in mind is that Darnassian does not follow the rules of English and there is often likely no "word for word" literal translation of any given phrase. To find the meaning behind given phrases takes a little more effort then, but the first step to figuring out the structure of a language is in identifying parts of speech.
Let's take a simple phrase from the official WoW lexicon -

Bandu thoribas!

Prepare to fight!

Verb conjugation and reflexive prepositional and possessive modifiersEdit

This looks easy enough. The phrase may be just an imperative verb matched with an infinitive verb if we take the word for word, or it may be something more. We also see two clear word roots in this phrase, bandu or ban/d- and thor-.
We see the root thor- in other phrases too:
  • Ande'thoras-ethil.
  • Thor falah nor dora.
  • Ashra thoraman?
All refer to trouble, or strife and fighting. We can also see from this that the root thor- is often modified by a suffix - this reflexive modifier can either be an adjectival modifier or a possessive one, or even a "counting" modifier that denotes quantity. So, to begin with, we have identified thoribas as the fighting part in the meaning of the sentence.
This leaves us with bandu as the imperative form of the verb to prepare. We can also see this same imperative verb form in other phrases too:
  • Fandu-dath-belore?
  • Andu-falah-dor!
This implies that there is regular verb conjugation in Darnassian, not unlike French, Spanish, Japanese or many other of our own languages. This means they follow a regular pattern, and when we encounter one, we should verify it against our known set of patterns, keeping in mind that exceptions and irregular verbs might occur.
One other thing to note before we move on is that, as in English, the imperative verb form in a declarative sentence in Darnassian will always come first in that sentence. Even in the interrogative statement above, this seems to be the case.
Notice something else - we have just identified two new verb roots - fan/d- and an/d- in the above. Identifying and isolating root words will be an important part of correctly labeling and translating parts of speech as we move forward. But let's move on.
Is thoribas then the infinitive form of the verb to fight?
First, we should look for any corroborating words or phrases, but sadly, this is the only example we have of that ending.
Second, we should look for any other instances of verbs in the infinitive form that we can confirm, but again, examples lack.
At this point, it is worth trying to move from a descriptive grammar (deriving a rule from observed cases) to a proscriptive grammar (creating a rule and then applying it to cases) to see what works. If, for instance, we assume that reflexive modifiers are mostly of a possessive or prepositional nature in non-verb cases (trouble and fight could be either a verb or a noun), then we might be dealing with a prepositional modifier instead, as in to the fight or for a fight. This would work in this case and would not break our already established rule for regular verb conjugation.
Just as easily, and because in later examples we will see more evidence that the preposition for is already a different modifier, -ibas might possibly be a reflexive possessive pronoun meaning yourself, or even, referring back to the speaker.
  • Bandu = You prepare (imperative)
  • thor- = fight, trouble
  • -ibas = yourself/me (reflexive possessive pronoun, either or neither is possible)
  • Bandu thoribas! = Prepare (yourself) for trouble/a fight (with me)! (literal), Prepare to fight! (practical)

Action verbs: Preparing, Killing, Hunting, Surviving, Balancing, Declaring, GoingEdit

So, now that we can tell others to prepare to fight, what else can we communicate? For starters, it would be nice to know if we are challenging friend or foe before casting our spell or unsheathing our blades at just anybody.
  • Endu'di rifa!
  • Kill the defilers! (presumed)
Well, yes, I would certainly like to kill the defilers. Here we can see another imperative verb in action: endu, which is more than likely the command verb, (you) kill. We also see a conjunctive suffix appended as a definite article to specify "the defilers" or 'di rifa we want to kill. We now have a new verb root, en/d-, which rather suitably means kill.
But why indeed should I go killing these defilers? For what greater purpose?
  • Anu'dorini talah.
  • For nature's survival.
Ah yes, good catch. From other phrases available, such as Anu'dora, which means, For truth, we can identify Anu' as the prepositional prefix for to the noun dorini, or nature. This leaves us with the apparent gerund (or noun form) of the verb survive being talah, meaning perhaps both survival and surviving as in the sentence, "I like surviving. Survival is good." Going back to our previous conjugation patterns, this would mean the root of the verb survive is ta-.
The concept of nature (as in mother nature, not human nature) is another interesting case. Here we see dorini refer to the possessive nature's but elsewhere as the singular dure. Not coincidentally, the word dor likely means land, as in the name Kalimdor meaning Land of Eternal Starlight, derived itself again from the root kal meaning star. It may not be coincidental either that dorei are children, presumably of the Earth Mother (beings of the land).
While we are on the subject of nature, the same gerund verb from appears quite often in the word falah, perhaps one of the most used words in the phrases we have available, the word for balance.
  • Andu-falah-dor.
  • Thor falah nor dora.
  • Enshu falah-nah.
  • Asha'falah?
Again, the gerund form of the verb fal- is used as a noun - and here it is The Balance, not just any particular balance, but more in the sense of The Tao, or The Force, etc. In this it is quite useful and still meaningful. The above phrases might then translate to:
  • Andu-falah-dor. = Be (imperative) of balance (gerund), the land. (literal), Let balance be restored. (practical)
  • Thor falah nor dora. = (The) Fight (for) balance and truth. Fight here not being in the imperative form, I presume, thus meaning "the fight" and not the command "you (had better) fight."
  • Enshu falah-nah. = This one depends greatly on context to identify the meaning of both Enshu and -nah.
  • Asha'falah? = What (is) balance?
Unfortunately, this brings up an interesting conflict with a pre-existing translation of the word falore. One interpretation is that the word means sister and the second that it means agree. However, if we are to accept both the previous verb conjugation patterns that form the basis for the rest of the root verbs above, as well as the gerund rule for falah to make any sense, then falore would be the infinitive form to balance. Here's why it is complicated:
  • Ana'duna falore, iszera duna bantallas.
  • Yes sister, the green(skins) are primitive. (Official translation)
Let's take the rest of the sentence apart first, identifying what we already know.
  1. The most clear term in use here seems to be the word iszera, which is generally accepted as the plural for green(skins), or Orcs and Goblins, and is clearly the object of the sentence.
  2. The word duna is repeated twice in the Darnassian, but not in the official translation, suggesting this is not as simple as a word-for-word exchange.
  3. The prefix Ana' occupies the usual place for a prepositional modifier in other examples we have encountered.
  4. The word bantallas likely stands the best chance of being associated with the meaning primitive.
Although we have not yet encountered the prepositional prefix ana', Thalassian appears to share the same rule of prepositional modifier prefixes, and ana' bears too much of a resemblance to the Thalassian prefix anar', or By, as in Anar'alah belore (By the light of the Sun) to dismiss completely.
One interpretation of the word duna is that it means fact/truth/reality, while another defines it as others.
To test this case, if we take falore to mean the infinitive to balance, in line with both the verb belore (for the infinitive form - see examples further below) and falah (for the verb root fal- to mean balance at all), then we arrive with two possible meanings:
  • Ana'duna falore, iszera duna bantallas.
  1. By reality to balance, the greenskins are really/truly primitive.
  2. By us/others to balance, the green others are primitive.
These are again, literal translations, but an idiomatic meaning for the first might be an expression somewhat like By/via reality, (in order) to balance, or in other words, Get real, sister. There is no reason to assume Darnassian is necessarily devoid of sarcastic or idiomatic expressions.
Of course, two previous interpretations of falore are sister and agree/d. Not to dismiss these out of hand, I would simply offer this third interpretation in the context of an inclusive verb conjugation pattern that, well - just seems to work that way - with fal- as the verb root for balance, with falah as the gerund form and falore as the infinitive form. If falore does mean either sister or agree, then a glaring exception occurs in verb conjugations elsewhere.
Now, after all of this, I know exactly why I should kill these defilers: so that nature can survive, balance can be restored, and well, because greenskins... are just so primitive. Still, it might be a good idea to be able to know who exactly is a defiler and who is not a defiler before I go killing everyone.
  • Fandu-dath-belore?
  • Who goes there?
This is one of the first phrases we identified as having an imperative verb form, but here is where it gets tricky, because the English translation does not contain any kind of imperative or command verb. In English, the command is implied when you shout "Who goes there?" because it is an interrogative statement, or an interrogation. Perhaps not so in Darnassian. We have already established a rule on reflexive modifiers and that may apply to sentence structure as well, and it looks as though dath and belore are both modifying the imperative fandu, so let's try rephrasing the question into an imperative statement for meaning.
Another way of stating "Who goes there?" in the imperative in English is to say, "Declare yourself!"
  • Fandu-dath-belore?
  • (Declare) who goes (there)?
There is a very good possibility that dath, therefore, is the interrogative article who and that belore is some form of the verb to go. (Which makes sense, especially if one considers that the Thalassian word for the Sun is belore; Thalassian and Darnassian both share a common ancestral tongue, and if one considers the Sun as a "chariot of fire in the heavens" and all that, quite a good bit of our very existence depends upon it coming and going.)
This of course who make -ore an irregular verb suffix, unless it is in fact the infinitive conjugation we have been looking for, making belore mean to go and the ultimate meaning of the sentence to be:
  • Fandu = You declare (imperative)
  • -dath = who (reflexive interrogative article)
  • -belore? = to go (infinitive)
  • Fandu-dath-belore? = Declare who (is) to go? (literal), Who goes there? (practical)
If this sounds like a bit of a stretch, consider this question in French: As-tu aller au cinéma?, or Did you go to the movies?, which literally translates as Have-you to go to movies/theater?


  • Verb forms in Darnassian follow regular patterns of conjugation, and can be charted as such by tracking verb roots. There may be exceptions.
    • Imperative verbs always appear at the start of the sentence.
    • Gerund verb forms exist and can be used as nouns.
  • Nouns can be modified by adding either adjectival and possessive suffixes, or prepositional prefixes.
    • Suffix modifiers are generally directly joined to the word to make a longer word, except in the case of definite articles used reflexively.
    • Prefix modifiers are generally joined by a conjugation, represented by an apostrophe.
  • Indefinite articles and prepositions within sentences are generally only inferred or implied, and not written/spoken.

Still to come: verb conjugation tableEdit

Mushan (talk) 12:58, March 29, 2010 (UTC)

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