Before starting the translation, I took a closer look at the English sentences of the Gwani and especially at mistakes they contain and tried to isolate recurring patterns. The goal was to build up a rudimentary grammar for the language… and spot the underlying rules. What became apparent were a few general peculiarities of the dialect:
1. no use of comparative or superlative forms for adjectives, instead: “good, very many” was used.
2. no use of specific article “the”
3. verbs are rarely conjugated, and even never in the 3rd person singular (is -> be)
4. some of the Gwani do not use any form of the verb “to be” at all
The last two points in particular make it clear that the language ability of each individual can vary greatly. Given their social structures and the small number of members of the group, however, this is only logical:
– According to the game, the Gwani learn the human language of Gwenno
– It is probable that some of the group had to stay away from the lessons frequently or even constantly, e.g. due to illness or other commitments such as hunting. It therefore makes sense that the weakest developed language skills are found among hunters. Also the sick daughter of the leader speaks our language only reasonably well.
In total, I have identified four quality levels:
A1 – hardly developed language skills: uses only 2-3 word sentences (Bwundai&Mwaerno)
A2 – poorly developed language skills: does not use verbs, no accents and only infinitive forms:”Be good, lot” (Gilwoyai, Neyobi&Kapyundi)
B1/2 intermediate language competence: Simple, incorrect grammar “We are going to attack! (Baiyanda & Myauri)
C1 – good language skills: speaks almost without mistakes, makes very few of the regular mistakes (Yenani)
So far, so good.
At this point I had to decide whether I would actually implement an idea I had early on:
The Gwani have always been a matriarchal society. This fact would influence a developing language of a society. I think it would be likely that words would more often have a generic feminine and maybe the masculine forms would get an appendix – just the contrary to how our language works: not Baron (m) and Baron~ess (w), but rather e.g. Barona (f) as a basic form and Baronaer (m) as its male counterpart.
I hope it will become somewhat clear what I mean. (And no, this is by no means intended or suitable as a contribution to feminist linguistics… I have no idea about that and leave this to people more knowledgeable than me.)
Back to the topic: I wanted to take this socialization into account by using basic feminine word forms, for which a necessary masculine form is provided with a corresponding addition.
“PartnER” became “PartnA” accompanied by default with a female article: “die Partna” (German has three genders of “the”: der, die das (masculine, feminine, neuter)
I then added a syllable ending to it, which was found more often in the Gwani language: “~ta”
“die Partna” -> “die Partnata”
The male counterpart was given an interfix (prefix
This means that
[Noun]~ata (-> standard feminine form)
[Noun]~aeta (-> standard masculine form)
Accordingly, “The Huntaeta” refers to a male hunter, “The Healata” to a female healer…
Concrete example from the text: “I Myauri. Be Huntaeta. My Partnata Yenani be Leadata of Gwani. I, father of Neyobi and Kapyundi.”
So now this is set: Off I go and start translating…