as taken from Dragon Magazine #278 "A Dwarven Lexicon" by Sean K. Reynolds
Compiler's Note: As a service to D&D players, Dragon Magazine fans, conlangers and fantasy role-playing gamers everywhere, I have codified and reduced the article that introduced this language into the basics. This is not my original work, but a presentation of just the bare essentials and mechanics of this fantasy language.
Alphabet and Punctuation
Mr. Reynolds theorized that the Dwarven alphabet was influenced by the fact that the Dwarves had learned to work stone and metal early in their history. He supposed that meant that there were mainly straight lines and very few curved lines in the Dwarven alphabet, mainly representing sounds that were borrowed from other languges and hard for the Dwarves to pronounce. Sentences are separated by a pair of diagonal slashes (//). Pauses, represented in English by commas, are represented by a pair of horizontal lines (=). Proper nouns are identified by a horizontal line below the first character of the word. Questions are indicated by an X, which represents a "choice of paths". A sentence with strong emphasis, represented in English by an exclamation point, is followed by a circle (°), expressing the importance of the sentence in the difficulty of carving a circle in stone.
Dwarven is a language of low vowels and hard consonants that usually sounds like a drone when spoken. Mr. Reynolds suggested that the Dwarves laid great importance on proper names, which translates to how they use nouns. Dwarven nouns are usually listed first, followed by a string of adjectives. Often smaller words are combined into larger ones, even if one of the words is a name. Sometimes, words that would be excessively long or confusing are broken into smaller, compound words. For example: "Gimli, brave in war, loyal friend, with the adamantine greataxe Hurkuk" gimlikurnzarnnarmervar = nos hurkukfarnyrgumdek Broken down for the hard of hearing, very young, or outsiders: gimli kurnzarnnar mervar nos hurkuk farnyrgumdek
The subject of a sentence in formal speech and writing is followed by the word "a", which exists only to point out the subject and has no true translation. "A" is usually pronounced "ah" as in "father". Though, there are dialects where it is pronounced "a" as in "map". Informal speech and writing, particularly with non-Dwarves, often omit the "a". Also, when the subject is omitted, so is the "a". When written, the "a" is always separated from the words forming the subject. When secondary words are attached to a word, they are added after the word in any order that is significant to the writer or speaker.
Mr. Reynolds wrote in his article that Dwarves traditionally wrote on diamond-shaped tiles of flat stone or metal, with writing starting at a corner and spiraling inwards, often with a picture or "rune" at the center identifying the intended recipient. An odd omission in the Dwarven language is a word for "or". Instead of using "or", they will repeat the similar elements in the two options. For a Dwarf to ask "Do you want to attack the goblins or the dragon?" he would say instead, "Do you want to attack the goblins, attack the dragon?"
The elf says the magic sword we want is in the lich's tomb. olvrem a marnarnnus lar horlem magmornder mornludrukar
A red dragon! Scram! durgarnbar a° // valergos°
Gimli, hit the orc with your axe! gimli a = gedork nosnyr°
|Dwarven||Common||Part of Speech|