| Proto draconic|
|Nouns decline according to...|
|Verbs conjugate according to...|
Proto-Draco is the reconstructed language spoken by the earliest of the dragons and great serpents. From it derive Ancient Draconic (later evolved into High and Low forms of Draconic, and later into Modern Draconic from the High one) and the languages of the naga, troglodytes and snake/lizard-folk in general.
It is a mostly isolating language. It modifies its nouns in definiteness and gender, and verbs in tense and aspect, by following inflectional particles.
The speakers (i.e., dragons) have heads that vary wildly in shape, so the language has to cope with variation. Many species have no usable lips, so the language doesn't feature any bilabial or labio-dental sounds (at least phonemically; individual dragons may have allophonic variation of dentals into labio-dentals).
On the other hand, longer mouths mean more room to articulate, so the series of fricatives is more diverse than in most humanoid languages.
The nasal consonant /n/ features rampant allophonic variation. Many speakers merge plosive + nasal clusters into a single nasalized plosive; the draconic nasal cavity allows for perfect distinction of voicing and place of articulation.
|Plosive||t d||k g|
|Fricative||θ ð||s z||ʃ ʒ||x ɣ||ħ~ʕ||h~ɦ|
The schwa and upsilon appear in pronunciation of some unstressed vowels, but aren't phonemic. In addition to single vowels, Proto-draco features double (long) vowels (pronounced with a slight dip in between, rather than a single long phoneme), and the falling diphthongs /ɯɤ/, /ɯɑ/, /ɪe/, /ɪɤ/, /ɪɑ/, /eɑ/, /eɤ/, /ɤɑ/.
Adjacent vowels that are not part of a diphthong become separated by /h/ (as onset on the second one), so very rarely will syllables be purely vocalic.
(TODO) Rework this entire part.
Syllables are (C(L))V(V)(C). Onset can be any consonant; L must be a glide or liquid (/j/,/l/,/r/), and can only occur after a plosive, or the frontal fricatives; codas can be any consonant.
Consecutive rhotics (/r/, /ʀ/, /ħ/, /h/) are merged into a single /ʀ/. The fricative /h/ followed by a consonant merges with it, geminating stops and nasals and adding and /s/ before sibilants. Consecutive sibilants interact the same way, the first one becoming an /s/.
Stress falls on the last syllable if it has a coda (except for /n/, /l/, or /j/) a long (double) vowel or diphthong; otherwise, it falls on the second last. A double vowel or diphthong that is stressed on the last syllable has its first component stressed; otherwise it has its second component stressed. Vowels in the last unstressed syllable tend to central positions ([ə] and [ʊ]).
(TODO) Rework this entire part. Help still welcome
I'm having doubts here :(
On one hand, I can make a Slavic-like romanization with š, ž, etc. It looks nice, and is completely unambiguous, but uses diacritics I don't have easily accessible for typing.
On the other hand, using digraphs I can type it on my keyboard, it still looks in-character, but h-clusters look the same as digraphs.
I can try also and play with the unused letters (f, v, j, c, x, plus ç and ñ easily available for a Romance-like one), but it doesn't look as draconic, and I already associate the letters with completely different phonemes, so more experimentation is required.
Help welcome :)
The single 'rh' digraph is unambiguous, since rhotics can't follow one another. A double 'rr' is more Romance-like, but it looks strange word-initially, whereas 'rh' is perfectly natural anywhere.
Nouns in Protodraco are classified in genders, with which the third person pronoun agrees. They do not inflect in number or definiteness, explicit quantity determiners (including "no", "few", "many", "all", "any", "some/unknown", etc.) are used for that.
Genders in Protodraco follow an animacy paradigm. The genders are:
- Draconic (Dragons, and deities, fire, storms, volcanoes)
- Beastial (Large beasts, and young dragons)
- Homids (Humans, elves, orcs, dwarves, 'those pesky things')
- Critter (Small animals, insects, vermin)
- Mobile (water, tools, weapons and other 'live-ish' things, parts of body like mouth and paws)
- Immobile (trees, mountains, geographical formations, parts of body like horns and bones)
- Intangible (abstract nouns)
Pronouns, demonstratives and quantifiers Edit
There are no number distinctions, or case marking. There are two 1st person pronouns: (possibly plural) excluding listener, and plural including listener. There is a single 2nd person pronoun, and the 3rd person pronoun inflects in gender. There are deitic suffixes which transform pronouns into demonstratives. The same quantity and definiteness determiners used for nouns can also be used in conjunction with pronouns.
Informally, there is a separate 2nd person pronoun intended for non-draconic listeners, but no dragon will seriously expect to ever use it for anything other than insulting one another.
(TODO) The Proto-Draconic language features distinctive genitives and possessives. There are different formations for possessions that were conquered, stolen, gifted, created, by birthright, intrinsic (body parts and characteristics), etc.
Verbs in Protodraco have a bare infinitive, a verbal and a predical form. Verbal forms are used for indicative and imperative moods, and verbal phrases. The predical form is akin to a participle, and doubles as Proto-draco's adjective. Bare infinitives work in the role of nouns, or when used in conjunction with auxiliary verbs. Neither form has subject or object agreement. The role of participants, as well as some aspects, are determined by word order and relative clauses.
Verbs inflect in tense by way of post-verbal particles. The basic verbal inflection is:
(Negation +) Root verb (+ Adverb) (+ Aux. verb) (+ Tense/Aspect)
A non-inflected verb is assumed non-past (present or future) indicative. Tense/Aspect particles are: proximal past, distal past, persistent past and present progressive.
Other tense and aspect combinations (in particular past perfective and future) can be constructed periphrastically.
Adverbs and tense particles immediately follow the verbs they modify, if there is an auxiliary verb. This allows for some word order play, differentiating among, for example, wanting to do a lot of something vs. wanting badly to do something, or having wanted (then) to do something vs. wanting (now) to have done something (then).
Word order is predominantly SVO. Clause structure is head-initial. The genitive marks the dependent with a prefix.
Canonical noun phrases are:
(Preposition +) Head noun (+ Attr. Adjectives) (+Genitive dependant) (+ Determiners/Quantifiers)
This is a proto-language sketch to serve as a base for a draconic language family to use sparingly in a D&D adventure.
I borrow from the "official draconic" (that was published on the Dragon Magazine in 2001) the fact that it has interesting possessive relationships, which feels dragon-like (but not the possessive relations themselves), and completely eschew its totally-not-dragon-sounding phonology and lexicon, and its letter-by-english-letter dyslexia-prone script.
Here are the goals and rationalizations behind it so far:
- The speakers are non-humans (i.e., dragons). I'd rather remove than add sounds, so I'll have them not use any bilabial or labio-dental sounds. On the other hand, I figure longer mouths mean more room to articulate, so I'll aim to use one long series of fricatives with many different articulations (I felt like giving them a wide range of nasal/ized consonants too, but didn't because of reasons below).
- Borrowing from the 2001 Dragon Magazine article, they should have interesting genitives and possessives. Say, differentiating possessions that were conquered, stolen, gifted, created, by birthright, intrinsic (body parts and characteristics), etc. Dragons are greedy and possessive.
- The language is born from imperatives, which might affect word order and conjugation.
- There should also be a rich kinship terminology, differentiating elder/younger siblings, mother/father side relatives, firstborns, etc. I figure they could be proud of those sorts of things, and possibly matriarchal (given Tiamat).
- Genders would be based on animacy. Dragons are the very top of the food chain except for deities. Homids (humans, elves, goblinoids, etc.) exert greater control on the world than beasts, but they're still puny things, and genders reflect that.
- For the rest, it should be simple, reflecting the minds of earlier, beastlier drakes. For one thing, I figure there is no tense; they're not so good at such abstractions and rely on explicit and simple time references ('before', 'later', 'now', 'while doing that other thing', and the basic 'day', 'moon' and 'season' cycles). There is also no declension of nouns per se, but rather through (mandatory) articles and demonstratives.
- I am human. The sounds shouldn't be too alien for me to pronounce if I am to use this myself from time to time, and I must be able to differentiate them, so the long series of fricatives can't be that long.
- This is my first conlang! It's both a learning ground for me, and a protolang for more developed conlangs I'm actually interested in (Classic/Modern Draconic, Arcane). Therefore it shouldn't have a very large consonant inventory, and should tend to a simple grammar.
I specifically want to experiment with: ergativity, non sex-based genders and case declension (mostly inexistent in my native language except for oblique personal pronouns), just because they are fun (why else would I be doing this?).
- Actually, better thought: these might be fun, but this will be more of a "caveman language", with very little grammaticalizaton and relying more on word order and prepositions for meaning. Non sex-based genders should still stick around, but are restricted to pronoun agreement.
Example phrase ordersEdit
(this chapter will become proper translations, but to figure out how to structure the lang I'm doing these for now :) I also have to curate the list a bit, I just grabbed it from the 'net and edited a bit some sentences I've worked on)
The sun shines. -> sun shine
The sun is shining. -> sun shine now
The sun shone. -> sun shine before
The sun will shine. -> sun shine later
The sun has been shining. -> sun shine before to now
The sun is shining again. -> sun shine now again
The sun will shine tomorrow. -> sun shine later one day
The sun shines brightly. -> sun shine strong
The bright sun shines. -> sun strong shine
The sun is rising now. -> sun rise now
All the people shouted. -> all people shout
Some of the people shouted. -> some people shout
Many of the people shouted twice. -> many people shout two
Happy people often shout. -> people happy shout common
The goblin jumped up. -> goblin up-jump
The goblin jumped onto the table. -> goblin up-jump to table
My little goblin walked away. -> goblin of-me out-walk
It's raining. -> rain
The rain came down. -> rain down-go
The goblin is playing in the rain. -> goblin in rain-place play now
The rain has stopped. -> no-rain to now
Soon the rain will stop. -> no-rain after time small
I hope the rain stops soon. -> me no-rain after time small want
Once wild animals lived here.
Slowly she looked around.
You should go.
I will be happy to go.
He will arrive soon.
The baby's ball has rolled away.
The two boys are working together.
This mist will probably clear away.
Lovely flowers are growing everywhere.
We should eat more slowly.
You have come too soon.
You must write more neatly.
Directly opposite stands a wonderful palace.
Henry's dog is lost.
My cat is black.
The little girl's doll is broken.
I usually sleep soundly.
The children ran after Jack.
I can play after school.
We went to the village for a visit.
We arrived at the river.
I have been waiting for you.
The campers sat around the fire.
A little girl with a kitten sat near me.
The child waited at the door for her father.
Yesterday the oldest girl in the village lost her kitten.
Were you born in this village?
Can your brother dance well?
Did the man leave?
Is your sister coming for you?
Can you come tomorrow?
Have the neighbors gone away for the winter?
Does the robin sing in the rain?
Are you going with us to the concert?
Have you ever travelled in the jungle?
We sailed down the river for several miles.
Everybody knows about hunting.
On a Sunny morning after the solstice we started for the mountains.
Tom laughed at the monkey's tricks.
An old man with a walking stick stood beside the fence.
The squirrel's nest was hidden by drooping boughs.
The little seeds waited patiently under the snow for the warm spring sun.
Many little girls with wreaths of flowers on their heads danced around the bonfire.
The cover of the basket fell to the floor.
The first boy in the line stopped at the entrance.
On the top of the hill in a little hut lived a wise old woman.
During our residence in the country we often walked in the pastures.
When will your guests from the city arrive?
Near the mouth of the river, its course turns sharply towards the East.
Between the two lofty mountains lay a fertile valley.
Among the wheat grew tall red poppies.
The strong roots of the oak trees were torn from the ground.
The sun looked down through the branches upon the children at play.
The west wind blew across my face like a friendly caress.
The spool of thread rolled across the floor.
A box of growing plants stood in the Window.
I am very happy.
These oranges are juicy.
Sea water is salty.
The streets are full of people.
Sugar tastes sweet.
The fire feels hot.
The little girl seemed lonely.
The little boy's father had once been a sailor.
I have lost my blanket.
A robin has built his nest in the apple tree.
At noon we ate our lunch by the roadside.
Mr. Jones made a knife for his little boy.
Their voices sound very happy.
Is today Monday?
Have all the leaves fallen from the tree?
Will you be ready on time?
Will you send this message for me?
Are you waiting for me?
Is this the first kitten of the litter?
Are these shoes too big for you?
How wide is the River?
Sit here by me.
Keep this secret until tomorrow.
Come with us.
Bring your friends with you.
Have some tea.
Pip and his dog were great friends.
John and Elizabeth are brother and sister.
You and I will go together.
They opened all the doors and windows.
He is small, but strong.
Is this tree an oak or a maple?
Does the sky look blue or gray?
Come with your father or mother.
I am tired, but very happy.
He played a tune on his wonderful flute.
Toward the end of August the days grow much shorter.
A company of soldiers marched over the hill and across the meadow.
The first part of the story is very interesting.
The crow dropped some pebbles into the pitcher and raised the water to the brim.
The baby clapped her hands and laughed in glee.
Stop your game and be quiet.
The sound of the drums grew louder and louder.
Do you like summer or winter better?
That boy will have a wonderful trip.
They popped corn, and then sat around the fire and ate it.
They won the first two games, but lost the last one.
Take this note, carry it to your mother; and wait for an answer.
I awoke early, dressed hastily, and went down to breakfast.
Aha! I have caught you!
This string is too short!
Oh, dear! the wind has blown my hat away!
Alas! that news is sad indeed!
Whew! that cold wind freezes my nose!
Are you warm enough now?
They heard the warning too late.
We are a brave people, and love our country.
All the children came except Mary.
Jack seized a handful of pebbles and threw them into the lake.
This cottage stood on a low hill, at some distance from the village.
On a fine summer evening, the two old people were sitting outside the door of their cottage.
Our bird's name is Jacko.
The river knows the way to the sea.
The boat sails away, like a bird on the wing.
They looked cautiously about, but saw nothing.
The little house had three rooms, a sitting room, a bedroom, and a tiny kitchen.
We visited my uncle's village, the largest village in the world.
We learn something new each day.
The market begins five minutes earlier this week.
Did you find the distance too great?
Madam, I will obey your command.
Here under this tree they gave their guests a splendid feast.
In winter I get up at night, and dress by yellow candlelight.
Tell the last part of that story again.
Be quick or you will be too late.
Will you go with us or wait here?
She was always, shabby, often ragged, and on cold days very uncomfortable.
Think first and then act.
I stood, a little mite of a girl, upon a chair by the window, and watched the falling snowflakes.
Show the guests these shells, my son, and tell them their strange history.
Be satisfied with nothing but your best.
We consider them our faithful friends.
We will make this place our home.
The squirrels make their nests warm and snug with soft moss and leaves.
The little girl made the doll's dress herself.
I hurt myself.
She was talking to herself.
He proved himself trustworthy.
We could see ourselves in the water.
Do it yourself.
I feel ashamed of myself.
Sit here by yourself.
The dress of the little princess was embroidered with roses, the national flower of the Country.
They wore red caps, the symbol of liberty.
With him as our protector, we fear no danger.
All her finery, lace, ribbons, and feathers, was packed away in a trunk.
Light he thought her, like a feather.
Every spring and fall our cousins pay us a long visit.
In our climate the grass remains green all winter.
The boy who brought the book has gone.
These are the flowers that you ordered.
I have lost the book that you gave me.
The fisherman who owned the boat now demanded payment.
Come when you are called.
I shall stay at home if it rains.
When he saw me, he stopped.
Do not laugh at me because I seem so absent minded.
I shall lend you the books that you need.
Come early next Monday if you can.
If you come early, wait in the hall.
I had a younger brother whose name was Antonio.
Gnomes are little men who live under the ground.
He is loved by everybody, because he has a gentle disposition.
Hold the horse while I run and get my cap.
I have found the ring I lost.
Play and I will sing.
That is the funniest story I ever heard.
She is taller than her brother.
They are no wiser than we.
Light travels faster than sound.
We have more time than they.
She has more friends than enemies.
He was very poor, and with his wife and five children lived in a little low cabin of logs and stones.
When the wind blew, the traveler wrapped his mantle more closely around him.
I am sure that we can go.
We went back to the place where we saw the roses.
This tree is fifty feet high, said the gardener.
I think that this train leaves five minutes earlier today.
My opinion is that the governor will grant him a pardon.
Why he has left the city is a mystery.
The house stands where three roads meet.
He has far more money than brains.
Evidently that gate is never opened, for the long grass and the great hemlocks grow close against it.
I met a little cottage girl; she was eight years old, she said.