!!- All proper nouns used in this article, as well as species names (asura, charr, norn, etc.), the Asuran script, and all other references to the Guild Wars universe apart from the fictional author Sprokk are property of ArenaNet, LLC. and NCSOFT Corporation. Otherwise, this conceptualization of the Asuran language is not affiliated with these copyright holders and is entirely the product and property of a third party. -!!
This article is written and published for the purpose of explaining the recently neglected tongue of the subterranean asuran race to the uneducated layman and even, with the appropriate application, the more talented of bookahs including charr, humans, and sylvari. It is the opinion of the author that norn have little chance of embracing the logical complexities of Asuran, but should one come across this paper without the immediate urge to use it as kindling, there may be hope.
It -- that is, the current paper -- is organized into several sections for the convenience and understanding of the current reader: Phonology and Orthography (that is, the sounds one makes when speaking Asuran, and the glyphs one writes), Syntax (that is, the order in which words must be said or written if one is to be understood), Quantimorphology (that is, the oft-cited mathematical aspect of Asuran's logic), the Lexicon (that is, words), and Example Texts. It is recommended that the reader begin at the beginning, and end at the end, as things are meant to be, but if logical ordering proves difficult to comprehend I suppose there is nothing stopping you from taking a less sensible route in your learning.
Regardless, I, the Esteemed Philologist Sprokk, distinguished graduate of the College of Synergetics in Rata Sum and foremost scholar of the Asuran language and literary works, wish you luck. My expertise will doubtless prove of great assistance to all but the most helpless of students. Regardless of success, however, the luck of the reader is wished for, as is his, her, or its enjoyment.
Phonology and Orthography
Unlike some languages, Asuran speech and its writing system are perfectly matched: each sound has one letter that makes it, and each letter has one sound. Observe:
The column with reference to numbers and mathematical symbols will make sense in the Quantimorphology section, so the diligent student need not fear. Onwards!
(For those of you using inferior technology and simply wishing to type in Asuran script, there are methods.)
Asuran syntax is the epitome of a perfect head-final language. That is, its word order is always subject-object-verb. For example, "I (subject) golems (object) build (verb)" would be the word order in a sentence meaning "I build golems."
- Like Common, however, adjectives come before nouns, and adverbs before verbs, although determiners (such as "this", "that", "those") come after nouns.
- Instead of prepositions as in Common, which come before a noun, Asuran has postpositions that come after, so instead of saying "in Divinity's Reach," you say the equivalent of "Divinity's Reach in".
- Finally, when showing possession in Asuran, one must modify the noun to be possessed via a quantimorpheme, and precede that noun with the individual possessing it. For instance, "Sprokk's thesis" would be rendered "Sprokk [his]thesis".
Altogether, a sentence that would be uttered, "That stupid bookah went into Zojja's lab," would be ordered in Asuran, "Stupid bookah that Zojja [her]lab into went."
It should be noted that Asuran does not bother with many of the egregious elements of other languages' nouns: it does not decline for gender (ie "he" vs "she" vs "it"), case (ie "he" vs "him"), plurality (ie "device" vs "devices"), or definiteness (ie "a device" vs "the device").
Additionally, the Asuran speaker may elect to omit certain elements from his or her speech if they are obvious in the context, especially the subject of a sentence. For example, if someone were to tell me something extraordinary, and I wished to reply with the equivalent of, "You did?" I would not need to include the extra two syllables needed to indicate who I am talking about: I would simply say, "Ru-mo naa?" (did?)
This is the most complex aspect of Asuran, and is what sets it apart from inferior languages. Asuran mostly strays from true morphology -- that is, adding small word parts onto larger words, arbitrarily tailor-made for a single function, for instance "-ed" for the past tense (jumped). It also avoids similar separate words, such as "will" for the future tense. It even avoids the pitfall so many languages fall into of having altogether too many entirely random pronouns: He, she, him, her, it, they, you, me, we, and so on and so forth.
No. Instead, Asuran simply assigns well-ordered numbers to each of these, up to 18: 1-9 modify pronouns, while 10-18 modify verbs. These values are called quantimorphological values. A sentence, at any given point, has a certain quantimorphological value. As the sentence goes on, prefixes (a piece of a word that goes on the beginning) is used to modify this value so that it corresponds to the intended meaning of a verb or noun; these prefixes are called quantimorphemes.
Nominal Quantimorphological Values
Quantimorphemes that modify nouns have two roles: when they modify "real" nouns, such as "city" or "laboratory" or "moa", it tells you who owns that thing. The second role is to form pronouns. In Asuran, there is only one pronoun -- extremely efficient -- and that is sur simply modified with quantimorphemes.
|#||Gloss Meaning||Common Equivalent|
|1||3rd person plural||they/them|
|2||3rd person singular||he/she/him/her/it|
|3||4th person plural||they/them*|
|4||4th person singular||he/she/him/her/it*|
|5||2nd person plural||you|
|6||2nd person singular||you|
|7||1st person plural inclusive||we**|
|8||1st person plural exclusive||we**|
|9||1st person singular||I/me|
- The 4th person requires some explaining: It refers to any 3rd person after the initial third person, which is the sentence's focus. This eliminates ambiguity in sentences such as "My father's brother thinks he is smart." In a sentence with this order, "father" is the 3rd person noun, while "brother" is the 4th. If "he" refers to the 3rd person, it is my father who is deemed to be intelligent by my uncle. If "he" instead refers to the 4th person, my uncle is in fact deeming himself to be intelligent.
- Inclusive and exclusive 1st person plural differ in that the inclusive includes the person you are talking to, while the exclusive does not. For instance, if you say "We are geniuses," if "we" is the inclusive 1st person plural, that means the person you are talking to is a genius as well as you, and possibly some other asura. If "we" is the exclusive 1st person plural, however, the person you are talking to is still a buffoon.
Verbal Quantimorphological Values
|#||Gloss Meaning||Equivalent (using verb "learn")|
|11||Past progressive||was learning|
|12||Past perfect||had learned|
|13||Present progressive||is/am/are learning*|
|14||Present perfect||has/have learned|
|15||Simple future||will learn|
|16||Future progressive||will be learning|
|17||Future perfect||will have learned|
Note that the simple present, since it is used so commonly, is inferred if a verb is used when the quantimorphological value of the sentence is less than 10.
Numbers to Letters
Now, the astute student will have noticed that there are 18 different quantimorphological values, and 18 different consonants. A student of language may think, "A-ha! So each quantimorphological value is denoted by a consonant! How logical!" But students of language are more often than not idiots. That would still require each and every speaker to remember 18 different morphemes which are arbitrary. I insist instead that they must only remember numbers, which are by their very nature easier for the asuran mind to order, and need only use a select few consonants in their quantimorphology as suits their idiom.
Each consonant in Asuran refers to a number in alphabetical order,* and each vowel refers to a basic operation. So the basic format for forming a quantimorpheme is choosing a consonant for a value, and a vowel for an operation. For instance, the syllable il means "add 2", as I=[+] and L=2 .
- The exception to this are the "nasal" consonants, M and N, which both have quantimorphological values of 3. In practice, one may use either, but one must use N before N, Z, S, D, or T; and M before M, B, or P.
You can, in theory, reach any quantimorphological value from any other quantimorphological value simply by adding and subtracting. This, however, makes you look like an imbecile. It is instead far better to try to use the smallest values you can -- sticking to the "early" consonants in the alphabet -- by also using multiplication and division. When you have multiplied or divided your way closer to your target value, you may add a consonant to the end of your quantimorpheme to add or subtract. So, zer means "multiply by 5, subtract 1". It should be noted that if you are multiplying, you cannot add afterwards, and if you are dividing you cannot subtract. It is assumed that multiplication will always be followed by subtraction, and division by addition (even if of 0, which is simply not said or written unless you would have two vowels coming into contact).
A final method of forming a quantimorpheme is using the vowel A. This is the digit sum vowel: if your current quantimorphological value is high, ie 12, you can use this vowel to immediately reduce it to 5.*
- Note that I did not say 3 (1+2=3), because Asuran uses an octal (base-8) numeric system, rather than decimal (base-10). That means we can only count to 7 before getting into multiple digits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, etc. 12 is therefore treated as 14 in Asuran (1+4=5).
After using the digit sum vowel A, you may then add, subtract, multiply and divide as normal (except the vowel and consonant are reversed in addition and subtraction), so aler means "digit sum, multiply by 2, subtract 1", which is one relatively efficient way to get from 18 to 7! In another example, azi means "digit sum, add 4".
Every sentence in Asuran is assumed to start with a quantimorphological value of 9. That is, it is assumed you will be talking about yourself. If you are not, and are instead going to use a different pronoun as your subject (that is, you are going to start your sentence with "you", "he", "it", "we", etc.) or an object/individual that belongs to someone other than yourself, or a verb in a state other than the simple present, you must create a quantimorpheme to alter your quantimorphological value, and attach it to the beginning of the subject in the sentence.
All quantimorphemes are prefixed -- that is, attached to the beginning -- of nouns or verbs, to change the quantimorphological value immediately before the pronoun, noun, or verb you wish to articulate appropriately. However, some writers will write them as separate words, depending on the time period and the writer. This is one way philologists like myself identify ancient samples of Asuran! Still others, and it is in this manner I have elected to transcribe it in this guide, prefix and hyphenate their quantimorphemes.
But I digress, so I will give an example of quantimorphology in practice. To give a sentence meaning "He is infuriating me," a quantimorpheme is attached to the pronoun in the beginning to change the quantimorphological value from 9 (the default, meaning the 1st person singular) to 2 (3nd person singular). The best way to do this is probably our digit sum (since 9 in base-8 is 11, and 1+1=2), so the quantimorpheme would be a. Then, because our word order is subject-object-verb ("He me will be teaching"), we raise our value back to 9, by *5-1 (since 7 is most times an unnecessarily large number so +7 should not be done, and *4+1 is impossible since we cannot add after we multiply), giving us the quantimorpheme vor. Finally, we need the present progressive (13), and to get there we can simply +4 for the quantimorpheme zu. If you are curious, this sentence would be a-sur zu-sur vor-gritt.
This, at last, is all you need to know about quantimorphology.
Ordinals are created with the form [number] zi [noun]. For example, "fifth golem" is jinn zi golem.
|that over there||wo|
|those over there||anko|
- The question particle, naa, comes at the end of the sentence you are asking.
- The passive particle, oz, comes before the passive verb.
It should be noted that there are some words, such as kluk, that are not included in this list to preserve the sensibilities of the non-asuran reader who may inadvertently read the translations and take costly offence. I therefore sincerely apologize to those of you who got this far purely in the hope of learning swear words.
Golemancer Blimm's Final Warning
Tisett Blimm fuul, jep wasst golemmixxer, Livia oz lowad vi-rektin, Oola prijj; sur surz asiin nes li-sur so-trimff, jep wasst vredd se-surz -- er iin ziluxx -- projjek i Tyria frezzen. Anko es magt vi-fuul noyyiz vaayi, voyidd zett de wiit es arres antti govel vaz oz gu-nekrom. Yorrd si-sur twad pwi so-sennd, o se-horps wasst nes ra li-hold es bu-glem. Si-hold ankla lu-sura emon gu-biin.
(here Blimm lie, most great golemancer, Livia [pas] favour -5.counselor, Oola apprentice; PRO PROgen brilliant quality -2.PRO *7.surpass, most great mind /7.PROgen -- or any other -- generation in Tyria grace. Those which would -5.rest disturb dare, eternal time for bone which tomb these line with be +10.curse. Earth -7.PRO against up *7.rise, and /7.remains great quality to testament as +12.serve. -7.remains those +2.PRO around +10.join.)
"Here lies Blimm, the greatest of the golemancers, favoured counselor of Livia, apprentice to Oola, whose brilliance he has surpassed, the finest mind to grace Tyria in his or any other generation. Let those who would dare to disturb his rest be cursed for eternity by the bones that line these tombs. Let the earth rise up against them and their remains serve as a testament to his greatness. Let their remains join those that surround him."