A community for the dragon language of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Dovahzul Riddle Contest

March 2, 2015

A hint to lost treasure, a warning for trespassers, a joke told over a mug of ale - a riddle can be many things. For this contest, your challenge is to write a riddle in the dragon language. Winning entries will be featured in a collection here in the Library. You don’t need to be a member to enter, but if you are there’s a ​ 120 gold prize for the top 3 entries.

Here is an example of what your entry could look like:

Viing ved ol vulon,
bahlok alun unslaad,
drun daan nau ven,
ag voth frin
fah slen ahrk mindol.
Wo los zu'u?

Wings black as night,
hunger ever unending,
bringing doom on the wind,
burning with eagerness
for flesh and trickery.
Who am I?

Answer: Ruvaak, a raven

The beginning lines conjure the image of Alduin, and the word frin has a double meaning of either “heat” or “eagerness” that doesn’t become clear until the last line. Alduin is not known for eating flesh or for trickery, so our black-winged creature must be a raven.

For other examples of riddles, see this wiki article on Anglo-Saxon Riddles, or for an example from The Elder Scrolls, see The Yellow Book of Riddles.

Contest Entry Guidelines

The best entries will feature poetic elements such as rhythm, alliteration, or rhyme, and use wordplay and double meaning to their advantage. There are some grammatical elements that are avoided in Dovahzul because they can be vague or misleading without good context. Using these elements to trick the reader are highly encouraged here.

Riddles should be anywhere between 10-100 words in length. A riddle may be longer or shorter if necessary. Entries can cover any subject matter, but try to refrain from any explicit material. Submit text only.

You may use existing riddles for inspiration. However, don’t simply translate an English riddle into Dovahzul. The best entries will be ones that are written originally for the dragon language and use it to its fullest potential.

You can send your entry in a private message to paarthurnax or send it in the body of an email to [email protected] with the subject line: Dovahzul Riddle Contest.  In this message/email, please provide:

  • Your Dovahzul riddle
  • An English translation
  • The answer to the riddle, in both Dovahzul and English
  • The name, pen name, username, or blog url you would like to be listed as the author of your entry

The contest will be open for entries until Friday, March 20th. Pruzah pel!

Pronunciation & Stress

February 25, 2015

An important part of pronunciation is stress, or which syllable to emphasize in a word. For example, the word “dragon” is emphasized on the first syllable, while the word “draconic” is emphasized on the second syllable. Sometimes the placement of stress can change a word’s meaning, such as the difference between the noun “content” and the adjective “content.”

German and Old English follow a very straightforward rule - the root syllable (the first non-prefix syllable) receives the stress. And so, you have words like “hammer” and “elbow,” and “forgive” and “forget.”

Dovahzul, unfortunately, is not so simple. The placement of stress varies greatly. Since we’ve never heard the vast majority of words officially spoken, it’s important to establish where stress falls and why. Below are a set of rules that can describe the placement of stress in most words. Follow them in order to determine how a word should be pronounced.

1. Default stress placement is on the first syllable:

  • KRO-sis
  • HOR-vut
  • NOR-ok
  • HEV-no
  • KRI-lot
  • SU-leyk

2. Where a word ends in a or ah, stress never falls on the last syllable:

  • DOV-ah
  • MO-nah
  • BOR-mah
  • ZEY-mah
  • LIN-grah
  • KRON-grah
  • STRUN-mah
  • DEY-ra

This is rule is more of an extension of the first. Note an exception that sometimes appears with morah.

3. Where a word contains ah as either the first syllable or a middle syllable, that syllable receives the stress unless a syllable with aa, ii, or oo supersedes it (see rule #4):

  • AH-mul
  • AH-krin
  • GAH-rot
  • mo-NAH-ven
  • bor-MAH-u
  • zey-MAH-i
  • zey-MAH-zin
  • ko-NAH-rik
  • nah-GAH-di-NOK
  • ZAH-rah-MIIK

This rule explains the shift in stress that occurs between monah and Monahven, bormah and bormahu, and zeymah and zeymahzin. This stress shift occurs even with possessive suffixes, as seen in bormahu and zeymahi.

4. Where a word contains aa, ii, or oo, that syllable receives the stress. This does not occur in words where the first syllable of the word is “enclosed” by consonants:

  • ah-RAAN
  • dah-MAAN
  • vah-RIIN
  • mul-AAG
  • bo-LAAV
  • ni-MAAR
  • lah-VRAAN
  • fah-LIIL
  • kei-ZAAL
  • ko-GAAN
  • ko-PRAAN
  • vo-KRII
  • fo-LOOK
  • mah-LAAN
  • vo-KIIN
  • vo-THAARN

The exception described above is when the syllables are divided by two consonants rather than one (as seen in all the words above). Thus, words like lumnaar, tinvaak, and geinmaar are all stressed on the first syllable.

For this rule, it’s important to recognize where exactly syllables are divided. The syllables for kopraan are ko-PRAAN, and not KOP-raan. Ah should be treated as a single vowel, so this exception doesn’t apply to words like vahriin and fahliil. Th should be treated as a single consonant, as in vothaarn.

This rule explains why it’s uncommon to see two consecutive syllables with aa or ii, as seen in the word miiraak. It also explains the shortening that happens with the verb ending -aan, as seen in kriaan, indicating that the suffix should receive the stress.

5. Where a word has an affix (besides vo- or -aan), the affix is unstressed. These affixes may be known, like -us or -iik, or only the root word may be known:

  • SAV-iik
  • KRON-iid
  • a-LOK
  • di-NOK
  • di-LON
  • OD-us
  • mot-MAH-us
  • vo-LAAN
  • su-LEYK-i
  • bah-LOK-i
  • BRUN-iik
  • BOZ-iik
  • KRUZ-iik

This rule mainly illustrates how stress changes when a possessive suffix is involved. It also explains words that defy previous rules, such as bruniik and dinok. These are difficult to describe because we can’t be sure of their etymology, but the pronunciation suggests that brun and nok are roots of some kind.

This rule is not considered for the affixes vo- and -aan. The result of this is that -aan will typically receive the stress, and vo- will receive the stress if it isn’t superseded by the vowels aa or ii, as seen in volaan and vokrii.

6. Hyphenated compounds are pronounced as though separate words:

  • GRAH zey-MAH-zin
  • a-LOK di-LON
  • TIID ah-RAAN

Stress is not fixed, and can fluctuate in a sentence. Consider the sentence Alduin wahlaan daanii. This ends up being pronounced as “AL-du-IN wah-LAAN daan-II.” Ordinarily, the possessive suffix wouldn’t receive the stress here, but because the word wahlaan ends with a stressed syllable, the first syllable of daanii becomes unstressed.

These rules should help you arrive at pronunciations for most words. There are still some words that these rules can’t describe. If you have any ideas to further refine them, share your thoughts in the comments!

February 16, 2015

After a long hiatus, we're revisiting the Featured Member posts of yore. Each month, we'll shine the spotlight on a special member of the community. This month's Featured Member is  hiith,

hiith has been a community member for just over a year. Besides being regularly involved with the forums, hiith helped put together both the Canon and Non-Canon Memrise courses, and has created several custom dragon rune fonts:

Check out the interview with hiith below!

Drem Yol Lok! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Yes. I am a male of 16 year of age. I live in a small community in Louisiana, USA. I value knowledge, so I read a lot of books and do a lot of research on what-ever I find interesting. 

How did you first become interested in the Dragon Language?

I became fascinated with constructed languages around the time that I was introduced to Skyrim (I seem to always play video games when they've passed their peak in popularity). I wanted to learn a constructed language, and the Dragon Tongue was the only one that I was even remotely familiar with. 

Are there any other languages that you speak?

Other than English and Dragon Tongue, no. But I'm learning Spanish and Furbish, and there's too many more that I want to learn. I even hope to make my own language eventually.

Any projects that you're currently working on? 

Oh, always. At the moment, I'm in the midst of creating a new dragon-rune font, a Torsha font for koorahlok, a website to document the Furbish language in-depth (this project is way over my head!), and I'm knitting a hat (this project is going on my head! :P). I may actually be relatively inactive here for a while after I publish the next dragon-rune font because of how much I have to do, but I'll be far from gone.

Favorite Dragon Shout?

Become Ethereal. Dragon shouts carry much meaning, and this one really hits home, especially for joorre. It's also great as a game mechanic, with Call Storm not far behind it in my book.

Thanks for the interview! 

You're welcome!

January 31, 2015

"How to explain in your tongue? The dov have words for such things that joorre do not."

At long last, the Jarl's Bounty returns! The Jarl's Bounty is a wordsmithing event where the community helps create words for the dictionary. Usually, the Jarl's Bounty is a list of English words that don't have Dovahzul translations yet. This time around, we're setting out to create words that only the dov possess.

With its return, we're also switching up how the Jarl's Bounty works. Share your idea for a word in the comments below, and we'll discuss them throughout the day. After 5:00 PM Central Time, the Jarl himself will review your suggestions and add any suitable words to his list. When the list is complete, everyone who participates in the event will receive 60 gold!

The words for this Jarl's Bounty are:

  • Slaat (verb/noun) - to strike with the tail, as punch is to fist and kick is to foot; as a noun, a strike with the tail
  • Lokrein (verb/noun) -  to roar so as to announce one's presence or mark one's territory; such a roar
  • Zel (verb/noun) - to permeate through time, to happen or occur retroactively, so as to have always existed
  • Tein (noun) - kalpa, world-cycle
  • Sahdrog (noun) - a leader or ruler who is weak or undeserving of the title
  • Jahvrii (noun) - dragon heartscale
  • Korosaan (noun) -  an event or occurence that took place in the past
  • Qel (noun) - an event or occurence that will take place, an inevitable fate
  • Miirney - to bestow knowledge of the Thu'um to another; such a gift or blessing
  • Zahrahuth - to demand sacrifice, tribute, or veneration; the demanding of tribute
  • Duviing - to put down, fell, ground, bring down, prevent from flying; metaphorically, to remove someone from power or fall from power, downfall
  • Stiir (verb) - to bare one's teeth
  • Vein (verb) - to flap the wings strongly as a show of force or intimidation
  • Wul (verb) - to fly into or against the wind; metaphorically, to struggle against adversity or fate
  • Daanstrin (adjective) - to be resigned or accepting of one's fate, place, or future; antonym of the above

Comment below with your word ideas and example sentences of how they may be used. Pruzah tinvaak​!

Dragon Name Contest #2 Winners

January 25, 2015

The second Dragon Name Contest has wrapped up, and we're ready to announce the winners! There were so many great entries that we selected four winners instead of three. Thanks to everyone who participated! The winners are:

  • Ahromah ("hunter's fall" or "hunter balance fall") by RariShyZealot
  • Deyrazein ("daedra worship") by GoldenRivit
  • Monahvul ("mother dark" or "dark mother") by Monahvul
  • Vultuzmaar ("dark blade terror") by Vultuzmaar

Check out the winning entries and honorable mentions here.

Stay tuned for more updates and events, including a Jarl's Bounty next weekend!