Trollish language is a primitive,
animalistic language that is defined by harsh, brutal and extremely loud sounds.
Slobbering, snorting and growling are among the most common ways for a troll to
produce words. This has often yielded the thought that
trolls do not speak at
all, but merely let loose all their orifices in (often despicable and filthy)
different ways to communicate. That a true language system underlies these
brutal and gruesome sounds has baffled scholars in whole
Sarvonia. Despite difficulties
researching the language (being eaten does not exactly motivate scholars to plan
field trips up the Troll Mountains), the knowledge that we have about the
language is growing as time passes. In this entry the specifics of the TRULTRUL
language will be explained with several examples of this fascinating tongue.
Research History. Research on TRULTRUL, or "Trollish", has led many researchers to dead ends in the past. The primitive and animalistic quality inherent to the language long seemed to be beyond the grasp of scholars. However, since Mandrick Mizzle published his (now utterly famous) "On Trollish Phonology", the field of Trollish Studies has leaped forward and is now in a new era of discovery and contemplation. Much of the information below can be found in "On Trollish Phonology", although Mizzle wrote the book with a focus primarily on phonology (as the title suggests). It may well be that new features of the will come to the fore in the time to come.
Origin. The origin of the language of the trolls is hard to indicate. As trolls live all over Caelereth (Most tribes may be found on the Sarvonian continent, but some inhabit Cyhalloi and Nybelmar as well) it is impossible to speak of TRULTRUL in the sense that all trolls speak the same language. The language described below is mainly the language used by the Kloighut, or Mountain Trolls. This tribe lives in the Troll Mountains in north-eastern Santharia. Mandrick Mizzle, our leading expert on Trollish, has spent many years trying to approach these trolls and listen to their speech. In his book "On Trollish Phonology" Mizzle reasons that as the language of the trolls shows such an enormous conservative nature it might well be that the primitive language spoken by the Kloighut reflects the Trollish language in general, that is, spoken by all trolls in Caelereth. This has, up to this day, neither been verified or falsified. Mizzle does state that dialectal variations are unavoidable considering the distance between the different tribes, the isolated character of the tribes and the time that has passed without inter-tribal contact. More research will have to be carried out on the speech of the other Trollish tribes, like the Ighut, Ghereghut and Ighmeshut.
Principles. The research of the Trollish language was thrust into existence by the discovery that the random seeming grunts and hisses of the trolls were in fact part of a language system. This language system has, since that groundbreaking discovery, been researched on a very sporadic basis (as it is not easy to blend into troll society) and the knowledge that we have is limited. It is, however, the believe of some scholars that this limited knowledge perfectly reflects the way that trolls regard their language, or any language for that matter. Trolls are very close to animals in the way they behave and interact with the world around them. This animal nature is reflected in their language. The vocal chords of the average troll are mainly used to growl and snort, so the language is based on growls, snorts, hisses and other animal sounds (as long as it is very loud and impressive). The vocabulary of the trolls is limited to a set of primitive words which they use for just about everything. Primitive, in this sense, means that the lexicon is limited to semantic items which are essential to a primitive culture.
Words such as animal
(MOSH), troll (TRUL), death (MARGH), day/night (KHOLEM/MARGHOGH) are primitive
in the sense that a primitive culture would develop them at an early stage.
Words such as argumentative, corrosion, subtle, etc. are words which will not be
found in the Trollish language. As troll society does not seem to have changed
dramatically during the last ages, so has the language remained in a
conservative state. It is possible that the
trolls do not see the need for more words as they can interact with one
another without difficulty. If trolls has been a species fond of trading and
interactions with other species it might have developed a completely different
TRULTRUL, with much more influences of other languages and lexically quite
advanced. The only exceptions to the primitive vocabulary seem to be the words
with a religious connotation. This is of no great surprise, as troll religion
underlies their entire society. This religious vocabulary shows the interwoven
nature of religion and life in trollish
society, as religious terms (inner sight (GHUAKOL), shaman (KLOHMAGHI), etc.)
seem to be part of this primitive word-set.
Pronunciation. TRULTRUL words are presented with capitals to indicate the loud nature of the language. As indicated above, trolls basically construct their words using (loud) animal sounds. It is often hard to distinguish words from basic growling or grunting. Scholars, like the famous troll-expert Mandrick Mizzle, have endeavoured to create a list of the types of pronunciation common to most TRULTRUL words. Mizzle's "On Trollish Phonology" is a hefty work comprising of a detailed description of all TRULTRUL phonology. The following sounds are most common to Trollish vocabulary and each reflect a basic animal sound:
A sound is created at the base of the throat and is accompanied by a baring of teeth. The guttural sounds emitted this way form the basis of the troll phonemic system. For example: ZAGHAKHA 'mmm, tasty, yummy' comprises of two distinctly Growling sounds; GH and KH.
A harsh stop is created by emitting a short, powerful burst of air (mostly accompanied by a good amount of spittle) whilst pronouncing a T, P or K. For example: UT 'clan, tribe, group'; the final sound of this word is a very loud, clearly pronounced T.
As the name suggests, these sounds are often accompanied by a large amount of saliva. A slick, slobbery noise which is produced with pursed lips and an active tongue. For example: MOSHMOSH 'food'; the SH sound is very frequent in words with a connotation of 'food' or 'meat', probably due to the over-salivating nature of the trollish digestive system.
There are two different types of hisses: The first is used in TRULTRUL words and comprises of a outflow of air through clenched (and often bared) teeth. This is represented by a normal S in Trollish words. For example: SNI 'little, small, lesser, weak'; This type of hiss is often accompanied by a nasal sound (M or N) which causes the trollish nose to dip down (this probably has some societal significance which we have not yet been able to discern).
The second type of Hiss (also called Mizzle's Hisses) is the hissing sound used between words. The semantic load of this hissing will be discussed in the next paragraph. This type of hiss is always an inward flow of air through clenched teeth. At first no real significance was attributed to this hissing between words until Mandrick Mizzle published his "On Trollish Phonology". In this publication he discusses the usage of Mizzle's Hisses and opened a whole new insight with regards to the complexity of the Trollish language.
All vowels sound as if they are pronounced while the troll is scraping stones in his throat. This probably has a very logical anatomical explanation, but, as a dissection of a troll has not yet been possible, we do not know where this eerie scraping noise comes from. This Scraping is often impossible to reproduce by other species, but shouting the vowels with a very hoarse voice will get people halfway.
It should be stressed that the sounds described above form the
largest part of the Trollish phonemic system. It does not constitute the entire
pronunciation as trolls will use every type
of sound producible by all types of orifice (yes, all types) to make itself
heard by other trolls.
Syntax. Trollish is a Statement Language, which means that instead of fully crafted sentences it relies heavily on context-sensitive short statements (with Mizzle's Hisses a lot of subtleties can still be inherent to these statements). This reflects the nature of the trolls; there is an enormous focus on the present and almost no need to delve into the past or imaginary future. It had been assumed that trolls have an alternative way of communicating to one another, as the limited vocabulary of their language would be insufficient on a day to day basis. The language itself would then only be used when larger groups converse and when trolls command other trolls. This has proven to be a misconception. TRULTRUL is the day to day language of all trolls, enabled by a language system which underlies the spoken words, Mizzle's Hisses.
Below is an example of one of the few Trollish conversations that we have successfully transcribed. The exact translation of this sequence of TRULTRUL has long been difficult to discern, but through the work of Mizzle, a new understanding of the conversation has been reached. (Note: Mizzle's Hisses have been added between /.../, more on these types of hisses can be found below.)
/Friendly Hiss/ KHEGH!
As you can
see, the hissing between words can carry different semantic loads to the words
and even indicate markedness or focus. The translation by Mizzle demonstrates
how a string of utterances can be interpreted as full-fledged sentences.
Mizzle's Hisses. When trolls speak they frequently create sharp intakes of breath between words. These intakes of breath are produced with clenched teeth which creates a hissing sound. Although more research still has to be done on this subject, it seems as though these hissing sounds convey deeper meaning and context to the spoken words. Past researchers have posed the theory that these hissing sounds between words were caused by the bad shape of most troll teeth. Mizzle, however, has shown that this conception is quite erroneous, as the hiss is not always used between words and by pointing out that the semantic load of the different types of hisses is a conscious element of the Trollish language. This hissing aspect of the language points to the animalistic and primitive nature of the language, as it is akin to the growling/mewing/hissing sounds made by animals all across Santharia. They can be threatening, soothing, calm, etc. For example the TRULTRUL sentence:
ZAGHAKHA /Friendly Hiss/
SNITRUL (lit. 'yummy human/elf')
would probably mean 'nice human' or even 'friend'.
It should be obvious that
the true complexities and nuances of troll
language is difficult to discern, as there are more than fifty different types
of Mizzle's Hisses attested in his "On Trollish Phonology". It may well be that
the true meaning of TRULTRUL is lost to all other races, but the study of
Mizzle's Hisses can lead to a better understanding of this fascinating race.
Non-Verbal. Non-verbal elements in Trollish languuage can be summarized as follows:
As encountered in the example of TRULTRUL above, trolls can count. They, however, do not have words for the different numerals (it is unclear whether the concept of calculating is known to trolls, as the last researcher who tried to get a troll to add and subtract was subtracted himself). Numbers below 10 are shown by lifting the required number of fingers. So, for example, if a troll wants to indicate that he saw three pebbles, he would raise three fingers and say aloud SNIGHSNIGH. Ten lifted fingers means either 'ten' or 'a lot'.
Here/There/Yonder & This/That
Trolls create the basic distinction between close by and far away by either pointing at their feet to indicate closeness, pointing to a distant (but still observable) spot to indicate 'there' and stretching their full hand towards a general direction to indicate 'yonder'. 'This' and 'that' are indicated by pointing at the object in question. It is, however, not clear if trolls have a notion of the difference between 'this' and 'that'. Pointing at objects could also always mean 'that', without an inherent understanding of the difference between the locations of multiple objects.
Vocabulary. Below are the words that our researchers have gathered so far. It should be noted that trolls are capable of combining words to indicate something for which they do not have one single lexical item. The different types of Mizzle's Hiss have not been included in the table, but can, as discussed above, subtly change the meaning of each word. Here is the list: