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Lissit language

Started by Chocobo_Fan, August 19, 2015, 08:55:07 PM

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The Vengeance of Emma Strider features a good deal of Lissit text, and to my surprise the fandom has not yet jumped on a translation effort! I love ciphers, so I figured I should try translating them using the dictionary provided in the manual. Here are my contributions.

Firstly, I noticed that Lissit race names are actually composites of regular words in the language:

  • "Ge'filesh" (shadowlings) literally translates to "un-meat". A better translation might be "fleshless".
  • "Thirim duuriss" (spriggats) literally translates to "alive temperature". A better translation would probably be "living heat" or "living flame", though that's only really accurate for red spriggats. Were those the first ones the lissit encountered, I wonder?
  • "Hesh" (human) is also the word for hair or fur. This amuses me, since it means you would be justified in translating every instance of "hesh" as "hairy thing".
  • "Silith duuriss" (golem) literally translates to "alive stone", which I would interpret as "living stone". Pretty straightforward.
  • "Geduur ambuuriss" (spirit) literally translates to "shining corpse".

There are also a few terms in the campaign that are easily translated:

  • "Fangiss Ka" (Silithis' unique weapon) means "Fang of the Lissit". However, the manual seems to imply that "ka" has heavier connotations than just the name of the race, perhaps analogous to "humanity" or "mankind"; with that in mind, "Fang of Lizardkind" might be more accurate, but that sounds kind of silly. Below, ArtDrake proposed "Our Fanged People", which I like.
  • "Gasul" (Sarn Kamina's class) means "seer". Presumably this is how lissit refer to psychics.
  • "Barudit" (the standard lissit class) means "fighter" (literally one who fights with a mace).
(Personally, I'm a bit surprised that the promotion class, Drake, is an English word and not a Lissit one.)

Names seem to carry meaning as well: "Silithis Predat" means "Patient Hunter", though the adjective comes before the noun in a reversal of typical Lissit rules. (Because of this, I've taken the liberty of localizing her name to "Patience" in my translations.) Unfortunately, if the other names have meanings I can't decipher them from the manual's limited dictionary. "Ambuur" means "golden" and "des" is the past tense marker, but I can't make sense of "Sang", "Serret", or anything else.

The lissit characters in the campaign say their last words in Lissit. Here are the translations:

  • Des Serret: "Oso! Si-dama-ho...azis zesit ho. Ferat duur..." -> "No! My day...comes this day. Goodbye..."
  • Hee'la: "Omisigah... Gefang" -> "Omisigah... Choke blood..." *
  • Silithis Predat: "Si arimat sas si-dama-duurat...asit Ambuur Zaris...asit ze ka..." -> "I gladly give my life...for Ambuur Clan...for all lizardkind..."
  • Siripent: " zet geduuriss. Ferat duur, arisat..." -> "Sarn...I am slain. Goodbye, my love..." **
  • Sarn Kamina: "Ambuur des-zet des-zet esat. Si zet ko..." -> "Ambuur Sang...I was disobedient...I was wrong. I am cold..." ***
* Since "omisigah" has no exact translation and is just an expletive, I think it makes sense to keep it untranslated.
** Literally, this is "Sarn...I am dead. Goodbye, female lover...", but I think we can all agree that's a terrible translation.
*** "Ko" also means "afraid". I'm not sure which is more appropriate here.

And of course, cutscenes.

Training mission:
QuoteSilithis: "Lift your {hand}, {human}."
Emma: "I have a name."
Silithis: "Your name will be {Corpse} if you keep leading with your feet during your attack!" [...] "You see? What do I tell you, {human}? You must always lead with the {sword}, or you leave yourself open to a killing blow!"
Emma: " Emma..."
Silithis: "Tch! You make such slow progress. You are "{human}" until you improve. Try again!" [...] "Enough hesitation. Draw your {sword} and attack me!" [...] "Sloppy. {You are weak, small human}."

Silithis visits Adelbrae:
QuoteSilithis: "Where are [the Striders] now? Tell me!"
Villager: "Ah! Wait, I...I think they left on the road north from town. I can't be sure: I was...hiding."
Des Serret: "Nuurss? Sekesh azetesh thuuriss..." -> "North? They are in danger..."
Hee'la: "Idgas! Sus zetesh tor; sus simesh baruduresh alesh ze gestat. Isa, Silithis?" -> "Whatever! We are strong; we can beat all the bandits. Yes, Patience?" *
Silithis: "Zet gekoshiss, Hee'la." -> "Be quiet, Hee'la."
Villager: "What are you...saying?"
Silithis: "How tasty you would be with some spices."
* "Gestat" is not pluralized here, but should be, unless "alesh" creates an implicit plural or something like that.

Silithis apologizes to Emma:
Quote from: SilithisYou have become strong, and I am proud. But in making you tough, I made you feel as if you did not belong. Thinking of this, I am gehassiss.
This one is tricky. "Gehassiss" is not in the manual's dictionary, but "hassiss" means "graced with honor" and "ge" is a negating prefix. The most literal translation is therefore "dishonored", but context implies it could also mean "sorry".
QuoteEmma: "Silithis. Did you...did you mean it when you said that you were proud?
Silithis: "Isa. Su si-ari, Emma." -> "Yes. You please me, Emma."

Silithis talks to Siripent:
QuoteSiripent: "Come no closer, {woman}; who are you?"
Silithis: "The one who will save your life, {man}; {be quiet and follow me}."

Also, I feel the need to nitpick something: In the cutscene where Silithis first reunites with Emma (on the ship), she says attacking the shadowlings is "susugeduura", and immediately translates it as "suicide". However! "Susugeduura" is the infinitive verb, "to commit suicide", so it doesn't make sense to use it for the adjectival form used to say something "is suicide"! It should be conjugated, at least.

There are also some cutscenes where the lissit talk among themselves (Silithis' orders, Battle with Gulch prelude, etc.). Presumably, they speak in Lissit and this is translated for our benefit, yet they still sprinkle their speech with Lissit words like "hesh". This seems odd to me.

Do tell me if I missed anything.

I figure we can also use this space for a general discussion of the language. After being completely overwhelmed trying to learn a foreign language in school, I appreciate how simple and formulaic it is. Only two conjugation forms are unique, and the plural ones use the same suffix as general pluralization. The general vocabulary tends to follow a very Newspeak-like pattern of having only a few base words modified by prefixes and suffixes, making it easy to guess the meaning of most words. (The ambiguity of some words can be quite frustrating though!) Overall, it seems like an easy language to learn. However, I do find it odd that a matriarchal society would follow the male-default-female-exceptional rule in their language; it makes me wonder if Ambuur Zaris is an exception, and the rest of lissit society is more patriarchal.

I also think it's interesting that "t'ayil" (tail), "ze" (the), "blud" (blood), and "kalaw" (claw) are phonetic English cognates. Coincidence, or evidence of cultural exchange?


Very thorough! Nicely done. :)

I think I'll leave the gaps open to debate / speculation.


Quote from: CraigStern on August 20, 2015, 03:52:04 PM
I think I'll leave the gaps open to debate / speculation.

Noooooo D:

Will there at least be more information on the language in future games? (And I take this as tacit confirmation that the other names are significant...?)


Firstly, I find it a delicious linguistic comeuppance that the Lissit word for the Shadowlings is roughly 'fleshless', after calling the humans 'fleshling' for so long.

Second, I noticed some other cognate-like words:

Filesh for meat resembles flesh or fleisch in German.
Silith resembles silex in Latin, for 'flint' (the name of a beloved stone golem), and also the source of the word 'silicon', which is pretty much the element that defines rock. Silicon dioxide makes up most of the earth's crust.
Nuurss being North is pretty close.

Third, some points:

In Fangiss Ka, if -iss is the adjectival marker, wouldn't that make it "The Fanged Lissit" or "Our Fanged People", or some other construction where Fangiss modifies Ka?

And silithis seems to come from silith, which implies that patient has the origin of "stonelike", "patient as a rock".

Gehassiss is most definitely sorry, remorseful, or ashamed. At least one of those. Most likely the first.

Also, grammatical point. Infinitives can be used as nouns: "To love is to bear great pain." "You are mistaken; that is to live." Not all languages have a gerundial construction like "living" or "committing suicide", so they go with the implicit noun interpretation of the infinitive. If it were being used as an adjective, it would have been translated as "suicidal".


Quote from: ArtDrake on August 21, 2015, 07:11:24 PM
In Fangiss Ka, if -iss is the adjectival marker, wouldn't that make it "The Fanged Lissit" or "Our Fanged People", or some other construction where Fangiss modifies Ka?

Nope. The manual says "fangiss" is a noun. Which is indeed odd, since like you say, -iss is usually an adjectival marker. I like "Our Fanged People", though! You should be a localizer.

And on reflection, I suppose "it is to commit suicide" would still make grammatical sense... It does still feel strange to me, though.