A Prog Rock song in Ithkuil

Author: Scott Hamilton  /  Category: Conlanging

John Quijada, who I think is one of the grandmasters of modern conlanging, has posted a video for his progressive rock song Ozkavarkúi (lyrics).

The lyrics are in the conlang Ithkuil, and they are sung by David Peterson, creator of languages for Game of Thrones, Defiance, Dominion, The 100, Thor: The Dark World, Star-Crossed, Penny Dreadful, and an ever increasing list of other nifty things.

What makes this exceptionally cool, in my opinion, is the fact that Ithkuil is one of the more exceptional conlangs out there. It’s not intended to act like a natural human language. It’s a philosophical language designed to reflect more aspects of human cognition than natural languages do, and reduce the ambiguity that is common in language.

Here’s what I think is a great example of it, taken right from Quijada’s introduction to the language:

Tram-mļöi  hhâsmařpţuktôx.
On the contrary, I think it may turn out that this rugged mountain range trails off at some point.

That’s two words for a 19 word English sentence. It’s all built off of a single root for ‘mountain’, and includes tones (like in Mandarin Chinese) and word stress that has specific meaning to the words.

The morphological analysis of the lyrics for the song (in the link to the lyrics above) is just insane. It looks like there are all sorts of shades of meaning in the lyrics that the English translation does not quite encompass.

As you can see, Ithkuil is quite a singular language, which is why this video has extra helpings of awesome. It’s a full artistic work based in a language that is incredibly unique, and honestly is not the sort of language project I’d have expected music to come from.

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