My commentary to the DotU word list

The original word list for drow language contains exactly 145 words. It is enough for a few sample sentences to be created, but not much more. There is no set grammar.


It is immediately obvious that the language is based on English, as it has the equivalents of the articles. However, only the pronouns for “I”, “you” and “they” are present, even though all the forms of “to be” exist. Further, the language lacks the equivalent of “will”, as in, ‘the modal verb used to express future’.


It is unknown how to pluralize the nouns – six plurals are given, but they differ: brorn-brorna and rath-ratha show the –a suffix, while ilharess-ilharessen show the –en suffix; gol-goln has the –n suffix, and the same suffix is present in rivvil-rivvin, so why isn’t it rivviln? And haszak-haszakkin only adds to the confusion.


Some words lack the other sex equivalent (e.g. jabbuk “master” but no word for “mistress”). There are the words for “better” and “best”, but no one for “good”; for “more” but not for “most”. There is a word for the elves of the surface, but no word for the drow themselves. Further, there are no numerals greater than “three”.


Many words have more than one meaning. A relationship can be noticed between some of them (alur – alurl and kyorl – kyorlin being some of the most obvious examples). Faerbol and belbol are examples of blending – see faerl and bol or belbau and bol, respectively.


Some other words are clearly related, such as abbilabban, or bauthbautha. There is also some sort of relationship in maglust – ust; also, Quarval-sharess and valsharess. The exact relationship is, unfortunately, not known.


The most common letters (not counting the digraphs mentioned below) are: A (51%), L (51%), R (38%), N (31%), U (27%), I (25%), E (25%).

The exact counts are as follows:

A – 74/145 = 51%; B – 19/145=13%; C – 2/145=1%; D – 22/145=15%; E – 37/145=25%; F – 4/145=2%; G – 16/145=11%; H – 9/145=6% ; I – 36/145=25%; J – 3/145=1,5%; K – 9/145=6%; L – 74/145=51%; M – 6/145=4%; N – 46/145=31%; O – 26/145=18%; P – 1/145=0,5%; Q – 6/145=4%; R – 55/145=38%; S – 28/145=19%; T – 17/145=11%; U – 40/145=27%; W – 4/145=2%; V – 9/145=6%; Y – 12/145=8%; Z – 6/145=4%.


There are several digraphs: “gh” in elghinn; “kh” in akh, khaless; “ph” in phalar, phindar, pholor, phuul; “th” in bauth, bautha, colbauth, darthiir, dobluth, honglath, inthigg, inth, iblith, ilindith, lueth, luth, natha, noamuth, oloth, orthae, quarth, rath, rathrae, talinth, thalra, talthalra, thalack, tuth, yath (and related words); “sh” in elamshin, valsharess (and the related words); “zh” in zhah, zhaun, zhaunil, zhin. Also, there is the “ae” digraph, as in belaern, faer (and the related words), orthae, rathrae, wael, waela (possibly also in streea and streeaka).


It is not known if these represent a single sound or two. However, the elgg-elghinn pair suggests the former – probably it is a way to mark palatalization (softening) of a sound. Still, it remains a guess whether “th” is pronounced as in English or is it supposed to be palatalized t.

Double consonants are common – double b in abbil, abban, orbb; double g in elgg, inthigg, kulggen, ogglin, ssinssrigg; double k in haszakkin; double l in cahallin, llar, llarnbuss, malla, qu’ellar, yathtallar; double m in mrimm; double n in elghinn, plynn, ultrinnan; double r in z’orr; double s in dosst, dosstan, ilharess, khaless, ssinssrigg, ssussun, uss, usstan, usstil, valsharess, vel’uss, zress; double v in jivvin, rivvil.

Double (possibly long) vowels are less common – double i in darthiir; double e in sreen, streea, streeaka; double u in phuul.


Nothing is known about the pronunciation, although judging by the presence of several things common in English spelling – “ck” in thalack, the aforementioned “th”, “sh” and “ph” – it is identical or similar to the English pronunciation. The only thing that throws a wrench in this theory is haszak… and the “sz” digraph. To pronounce it “s-z” would be inconceivable, it is much easier to assume that it is pronounced like “sh” is in English.


An interesting fact is that the letter Q is present only in a word-initial position and is always followed by U. All words starting with E begin with “El-“. All the words starting with F are related and all begin with “Faer”.


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