My commentary to the TOL dictionary

The TOL dictionary contains 521 words, including the original 145 – that is, 376 words were added. Those are enough for simple conversations. There is a list of proverbs and sample phrases included. Also, the dictionary introduces clear, understandable grammar – which is quite obviously based on English. There are some simplifications, however. No irregular verbs exist save for tlu “be”. The past tense forms are also used as participles – similarly to English.

The past tense suffix and the progressive suffix are all clearly described and based on the original set of drow word. A similar case occurs with the suffixes of the comparative and superlative forms. Also, the 3rd person sing. suffix and the derivational suffix for the adjectives are introduced. The missing personal pronouns (uk “he”, il “she”, ol “it” and udos “we”) are introduced. The reflective and possessive pronouns all follow the schema set by the original pronouns.

The words jalil “female” and jaluk “male” are introduced. They allow the creation of the male suffix –uk and the female suffix -il, although another female suffix –ess (derived from the original words valsharess, ilharess) is used. This way, nearly all words have an equivalent for both sexes.

There are several recognizable word families.

For example, the words describing the kinship (dalhar “child”, dalharil “daughter”, dalharuk “son”, dalninil “sister”, dalninuk “brother”) are all related. Inbau “have” and inbal “get” are obviously related, as are indar “similar” and indarae “opposite”.

The indar-indarae pair also suggests that the –ae suffix is used for negation. The theory is strengthened by the qua’l-qua’lae pair (“agree” and “disagree”), both derived from qua’laelay “argument, confrontation”. Note that English language has negative prefixes, not suffixes – it proves that the Drow language is not merely word-swap.

The original word mrimm “key, guide, inspiration” has given rise to an entire family of words – mrigg “to inspire”, mri’kul “lock” (from mrimm and kulg “block”) and possibly also mrimm d’ssinss “female lover”.

The word mzild “more” allowed the creation of mzil “many”, mziln “additional”, mzilt “much” and, obviously, mzilst “most”.

There is an entire family of words centered around oloth “darkness”. It is comprised not only of olath “dark” and Har’oloth “Underdark”, but also ol’elg “to assassinate” and ol’elghinn “assassination”, olplyn “thief” and olplynir “steal”. The latter four could also be related to olist “stealth”.

There are a lot of words derived from orthae “holy”. Not only is orn “will” among them (obviously also related to yorn “creature/will of Lloth”), but also orlenggin “sacrificial altar”, orshal “sacrificial chalice”, orvelve “sacrificial dagger” (from velve “blade”) and cha’ol “incense” (from chath “fire”).

There is a family of words related to rath “back” – the original rathrae “behind”, but also rath’argh “cowardice, dishonor” (from sargh “valor”) and consequently rath’arg “coward”; also, rath’elg “to backstab”, from elgg “to kill”.

Ssinssrigg “passion, lust” – possibly the best known drow word – has also sparked its own family. The word ssinss “seduction, allure” is probably an example of backformation. The words ssin’urn “beautiful”, ssinjin “sweet”, ssin “beauty” and ssinssuurul “music” are all derived from ssinss, consequently. Of course, we mustn’t forget mrann d’ssinss “male lover” (the meaning of mrann being anybody’s guess even now) and mrimm d’ssinss “female lover”.

Individual word formation can be traced in many cases. I will only consider some of them.

The word al “well” was backformed from the two original words alur “better” and alurl “best”. The verb khal “to trust” was backformed from khaless “trust”. In an inversion, the nouns kyon “care” and kyona “carefulness” were formed from kyone “careful”. The word ogglir “to oppose” was backformed from ogglin “enemy”.

The word doeb “out” has served to create several words – do’bauth “escape”, do’suul “outside”.

The word a’quarth “commission” is a composition of a “by” and the original word quarth “order”. Elg’cahal “to poison” was formed from elgg “to kill” and cahallin “food”. Similarly, jiv’elgg “torture” comes from jivvin “cruelty” and elgg “to kill”. Also, sarn’elgg “to punish” is a combination of sarn “beware” and elgg “to kill”.

In yet another case, og’elend “traitor, heretic” is derived from ogglin “enemy” and elend “tradition”. The word beldro “to create” was formed from belbau “give” and dro “life”. The word thalack’vel “ambush” is probably derived from thalack “war” and velve “blade”.

Ne’kales “distrust” and ne’kalsa “smart, distrusting”, while obviously related to nelgeth “to forgive” and nelgetha “forgiveness”, seem to be the corruptions of nau khaless “no trust”.

Noalith “neutral” seems to be related to noamuth “lost, unknown”.

Practically all the question words begin with vel’- and are formed with a noun – uss “I” in the case of vel’uss “who” being the only exception. The other words are as follows: vel’bol “what” – bol “item”; vel’drav “when” – draeval “time”; vel’klar “where” – k’lar “place”. Vel’bolen “which” is obviously related to vel’bol.

The word jala “any” was backformed from jal “all” and is a staple in the equivalents of the English “anybody”, “anyone” etc. Similarly, the negation words like naukhel “nobody” all contain nau “no”.

Apostrophes are frequently used to shorten the new words, and they are dropped in-between two original words, as a way to conjoin them. The shortening usually happens to the first word of the compound. Some examples are: cha’ol (from chath and ol), do’bauth (from doeb and bauth), jiv’elgg (from jivvin and elgg), mri’kul (from mrimm and kulg), og’elend (from ogglin and elend), Qu’abban (from Qu’ellar and abban), uln’hyrr (from ulnar and hyrr).

Note that the apostrophe does not have to be used, as Ulathtallar (from ultrin and yathtallar) or Veldriss (veldrin and jabress) contain none. Also, the use of the apostrophe does not always imply shortening (see a’quarth, dro’xun for example).

In some cases, the reason for the placement of the apostrophe is a mystery, as in s’lurpp, tagnik’zur, waerr’ess, zik’den’vever. The same is true for some of the original words, for example, z’hin and z’har.

Double consonants, as in the previous dictionary, are common and also the new words have them. For example, double r in elghinyrr, waerr’ess, hyrr and the related words bluthyrr, uln’hyrr. Also, double s in elg’caress, el’insrigg, suliss, waess, waerr’ess. Double g is also present, in el’insrigg. Two completely new additions are present in a single word xxizz – double x and double z. Also, there is a double p in s’lurpp. There is a new double vowel introduced – double u, as in suul and related words.

The most common letters – [to be done]

Source: TOL dictionary


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