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    How To Speak Old Ponish

    For those who don't know, I'm a massive language nerd and I spend a lot of time researching conlangs (constructed languages), studying new grammar patterns and create my own languages time to time. When I first heard Old Ponish in MLP, I was hooked. I decided that, if no one else was going to, I'd spend time developing it in to a usable language for MLP fans to learn. Over the past 3-4 days, with

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    46 comments · 12,043 views
Nov
8th
2017

How To Speak Old Ponish · 6:38am Nov 8th, 2017

For those who don't know, I'm a massive language nerd and I spend a lot of time researching conlangs (constructed languages), studying new grammar patterns and create my own languages time to time. When I first heard Old Ponish in MLP, I was hooked. I decided that, if no one else was going to, I'd spend time developing it in to a usable language for MLP fans to learn. Over the past 3-4 days, with the assistance of a friend, I have been studying the sentences already given in the show, working on grammar structures and coming up with viable vocabulary. If you don't yet know what Old Ponish is, here's a brief description:

Old Ponish appears in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic season 7. It is an ancient language used by ponies used for writing official documents and journals alike. Sunburst states that he owns a copy of History of Equestria written in its "original Old Ponish", Twilight also translates some Old Ponish sentences found in Starswirl's journal. Using the sentences that Twilight and Sunburst already translated, it has been discovered that the language shares a resemblance to Old English and has Germanic roots. A deep analysis can be found here: https://www.fimfiction.net/blog/770210/a-study-in-old-ponish. I have used this analysis and my own knowledge of Old English and German to attempt to expand upon this language's grammar and vocabulary in the most realistic way possible.

While working on this language, there were two main things on my mind: simplicity and authenticity. I was wanting this language to sound and feel realistic, like a language that would have been used 1000 years ago. But I also understand that the majority of the people who are learning this language would be learning it for fun and don't want to learn lots of complex grammar rules, so I have attempted to find the right balance between authenticity and simplicity.

If you do not wish to read all of the grammar and why I chose it, feel free to scroll to the bottom where I will have some example sentences and their translations. I think this language is simple enough for you to pick up the grammar just by looking at the example sentences.

How I Chose The Vocabulary
This is a big part of how the language feels, in order to make this language feel as authentic as possible, I researched the etymology of English words and studied its Old English, Middle English, Proto-Indo European, Old German and Modern German translations then decided what the word should sound like.

For example, the word for "sky" is influenced by Old English "scio", Old High german "scuwo", Old English "scua", Proto-Indo European "skeu-", Old Norse "skuggi" and more. Taking in to account what this word used to sound like back then, I decided to use the word "sua" for sky in Old Ponish.

The other challenge is to not recreate Old English. At times, this language sounded too much like English, Old English or German, so there are some words that I made up and decided that it sounded nice to took its ancestry in to account but changed it more. Remember that this is a conlang, I want it to feel authentic while also being creative with it, like when the creators of the word used grimneck for the word "base" and firgendork for "mountain" even though they have no connection to their translation at all. Doing this helps keep the language fresh and fun, making it sound like a constructed language and not like another English.

If you have any recommendations for changing the existing vocabulary or adding vocabulary, please leave it in the comment section :)

Verb Conjugations
In the phrase from the tv show "hlight foresetten plight", the word foresetten is interesting because it shows a strong English, yet German, resemblance. The prefix "fore-" is common in English, such as "foreshadowing" and "forward", and the word setten has the suffix "-en" which makes it seem like an infinitive case verb with Germanic roots. This is the only verb officially in the tv show so we can't see what kind of conjugations it has, due to this, we have decided on three basic verb conjugations for regular verbs:

I/me = -e
You (singular), he, she, it = -est
We, they, you (plural) = en

To make this simple. If you are the subject of the verb, the -e ending is used. If you are not the subject of the verb and the subject is singular, the -est ending is used. If you are not the subject of the verb and the subject is plural, the -en ending is used. Examples:

ight emme = I eat
yu emmest = You eat
thar emmen = They eat

I felt that these conjugation rules were the best fit between simplicity and authenticity. For irregular verbs that do not end in -en (such as gaet which means "to go"), no conjugation is used. Examples:

ight gaet = I go
yu gaet = You go
thar gaet = They go

Tenses
Tenses are very simple in Old Ponish, you simply add a preposition to the verb. If there is no preposition, then it is assumed that the verb is in present tense. Examples:

ight emme = I am eating
ight de emme = I will eat
ight gen emme = I did eat/I have eaten

Possession
Possession is fairly simple to understand, you just change the pronoun a little. Examples:

ighth horan = My horn
yuth horan = Your horn
herth horan = His horn
hith horan = Her horn
daeth horan = Its horn
ouzer horani = Our horns
uncer horani = Their horns

If the possession is an object, you use the preposition a to indicate possession. Example:

del grimneck a foala firgendork = the base of Foal Mountain

Plurals
Plurals is fairly easy. To turn a noun in to a plural, add the -i prefix. If the noun ends in a vowel, add a -si prefix. This grammar rule doesn't quite fit with Old English, Modern English or German, but it sounds nice and I figured if anyone had a better idea then they can leave it in the comments. Examples:

horani = horns
foalasi = foals, fillies

Questions
Creating questions is really easy in Old Ponish. Here's a quick demonstration: Take the statement that you want to make a question of, let's say yu ar kallest which means "you are healthy". To turn the statement in to a question, you remove the adjective and add the appropriate adverb to the start of the sentence. This sentence then become vi yu ar?

Other Notes
Why don't you use the words 'am' and 'is'?
We decided that it is not required as a preposition. In terms of a verb, Germanic languages tend to not use prepositions before verbs if it is in the present tense. So instead of saying "I am reading", you simply say "I reading" and it being in present tense is implied.

When describing objects, even though Old English and Germanic languages do use the verb "to be", we thought that it wasn't required and would make the language easier if it weren't there. Even though it doesn't make the language quite as authentic, I decided that since we're making this language more complex than English in some areas (like verb conjugation), we should also make it a little less complex in others to balance it out. Plus, not using "am" or "is" just feels nicer. This can obviously be changed if enough people want to, none of my grammar of vocabulary is set in stone.

The only time the verb "to be" is used is when it is there would normally be no verb, noun or adjective following a pronoun. For example, I would say ight gaet toward Ponehenge which translates to "I am going to Ponehenge". In that sentence, we left out the am because it's not needed and present tense is implied if there is no preposition to the verb. But, I would say vi yu ar instead of vi yu because there is no other verb, noun or adjective following the pronoun.

In Conclusion
The grammar and vocabulary I have come up with is just a starting point, I would love for this language to become a community project so that we can all collaborate on Old Ponish and get it to a point where it can be used for basic communication. If you have any questions relating to any of the grammar or vocabulary choice, or you wish to contribute to this language in any way, feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

If you would like a place where you can discuss Old Ponish and help with its development, please join my discord server: https://discord.gg/NxerkEy

All of my vocabulary is in a google sheets document, you can view it here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ITWn0SSmksJ6LVe3c4ItDtqdgdHJqES58iv13079sTw/edit?usp=sharing

Example Sentences (with pronunciation)
Hello, how are you? = Halla, vi yu ar? (https://vocaroo.com/i/s1FIWSqsDRK5)
I am good, thank you = Ight kalle, thakka (https://vocaroo.com/i/s1Py1gLkm4aL)
I am going to Ponehenge = Ight gaet toward Ponehenge (https://vocaroo.com/i/s10MCFBPZ4Kw)
Reward requires risk = Hlight foresetten plight ([url=https://vocaroo.com/i/s1RGg0WXQrJS)
I require your horn = Ight sette yuth horan (https://vocaroo.com/i/s1Ky7mi2wXyM)
He is a stallion = Hert stallo (https://vocaroo.com/i/s1fx7RJYcpmw)
She is going to work = Hin gaet vargfum ([url=https://vocaroo.com/i/s1wdfB2v2vu0)
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic = Ight Min Poni: Rijanaft Sael (https://vocaroo.com/i/s1shvMmkGcaA)

Report TimeLoad · 12,043 views · #old ponish #language
Comments ( 46 )

Oh.

Oh dear god.

I-I Y-You just- I- have nothing to say. This is sheer brilliance at its finest. I applaud you for your intellect, persistence, dedication and whatever good virtues that stand for scholarly stuff.

Wow. Just wow.
Blog posts like these are the reason I think there needs to be a featured blog post feed.
Much respect, sire.

4720184
Thank you very much!! You don't know how much your comment means to me. I have spent 20+ hours working on this, fretting over every little detail. I'm so glad someone likes it :)

As I said, this is meant to be a community project. If you want to input on the grammar and vocabulary, please do so! I'm hoping for this language to reach a level where it can be used for basic, everyday conbersations. My ultimate goal is to be able to translate some of the most popular fim fiction in to Old Ponish just for fun, but we're a while away from that haha

Bruv
This is the best thing. Absolute beauty right here. As someone who's very bent on being detailed with worldbuilding and making sure what I'm doing feels like a real thing, this is making my socks roll.
10/10

Very cool. Given this a couple passes now and I really appreciate the effort you've put into this. I'm not as deep into linguistics as I was several years ago, but I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops :)

Yay, world building!

I made an account here to tell you that this is some incredible autism. I wish I were as advanced as you. It brought a tear to my eye.

Most impressive. :pinkiegasp:
But I have a question (I'm not at all into languages, so it might sound silly), is there (or will be) pronunciation exceptions/rules where a letter would be pronounced different? Or explain to me two different letters with same pronounce (yep, I talk about 'c' and 'k' :twilightblush:).

On more private topic, interrogative pronouns sound funny to russian ear.

4720566
There probably will be some rule exceptions, there already is one. The word "foresetten" is pronounced "for-setten" and that 'e' in the middle is silent. I guess Old Ponish will have similar pronunciation rules as English, but I'll try and make sure that's it's obvious how to pronounce each word. I might put a "pronunciation" column on the right of the vocabulary with the IPA.

You're looking into this too hard.

Just study the subtitles on horse videos.

4720644
Haha, so philosophical

4720462
One of the things I love so much about MLP. Despite being a show originally targeted towards children, it has a pretty deep lore. And now it has its own conlang :)

I noticed on the spreadsheet that unicorn/alicorn is listed as unikeran/alikeran in the vocab section but referenced as unihoran/alihoran in the prefix section. If horn is to be horan, I think the latter makes more sense.

If I didn't overlook any examples, I think the next thing that would be useful to determine a standard approach to nouns and verbs that are closely related.

For instance, a suffix to imply someone is a person defined by a designated action. I'm only familiar with modern English and German (I realize you're potentially more familiar with German than I am, but I'll still walk through my logic for those that aren't), but both modern languages use the -er suffix resulting in worker and Arbeiter for the verbs work/arbeiten or helper and Helpfer for help. But I'm unsure how useful that is as this is primarily based on the older languages. Do you think it be too similar to use the -er suffix?

Also, some related nouns and verbs are the same in the modern versions of the languages as is the case for Essen (food) vs essen (eat) or "a walk" vs walk. Would it make sense for food in Old Ponish to also be emmen? Or should it have a unique suffix, or should the repetition be avoided altogether? Actually, specifically in regards to emmen (which I assume was derived from the Germanic root), it might be fun to alternatively use something like grazen (to graze) as it gives it a fun, equish connotation. Inversely, while I imagine gaet is probably derived from something like gehen, gaet already works incredibly well as it sounds like "gait"; I thought that was super cool haha.

Lastly, in regards to specific words I'd like to see added, stars, town, day, night, book, and forest would be nice nouns to add. Happen, know, teach, learn, read, visit, and see would be useful verbs.

Cheers, keep it up.

4720977
Thanks so much for the reply, I'm going to need all the help I can get. In terms of adding suffixes to turn verbs in to nouns, that is exactly what I've been working on for the past 4-5 hours. I've been researching both modern and ancient languages, trying to understand how our current suffixes came about and what to use for Old Ponish. I feel like there's some verbs where you could just use it as a noun and not change it (for example "alfen" which means "to help"). I think saying "ight sette alfen" (I require help) is perfectly acceptable.

In terms of turning words like "help" in to "helper", I've been trying to decide between a few options. I was thinking adding a suffix to the end of the infinitive of the verb ("alfen" to "alfener" and "gaet" to "gaeter"), or removing the -en and adding the suffix for regular verbs ("alfen to "alfer"). I'm also not too sure about the -er suffix, it feel just a little too similar. I found out that Proto-Germanic used "-ari", Swedish uses "-are" and Latin uses "-ary" so I was thinking maybe "-al"? It's not too similar, but not widely different and easily shows resemblance to its roots.

In regards to "alikeran" vs "alihoran", a friend and debated over this for a couple hours and came to this conclusion: "alihoran" is more logical, but "alikeran" just sounds cooler. We also had the debate over whether "alikeran" and "unikeran" would have evolved more or less than "horan", and we couldn't figure out, but the historical reasoning between the differences is that both "keran" and "horan" have the same etymological ancestor and diverged due to the natural evolution of the language.

About turning "emmen" to "grazen", I'm totally down for it, it sounds great and I love the pun. If you haven't already noticed, the word for "to speak" in Old Ponish is "naeg" which kinda sounds like "neigh" :P Just something I thought I'd throw in there. Also, join my Old Ponish discord server, would be easier to collaborate with real-live messaging: https://discord.gg/qfbfK8

All the yes

This could be the Klingon of our fandom! If you do this, I will learn it! Write an Old Ponish dictionary and grammar guide just like Marc Okrand did when he invented the Klingon language; follow his example. We can practice it in Old Ponish threads on /mlp/.

Oh gosh, this could be so much fun!

you got your own page on 4Chan lol. keep up the great work!

http://boards.4chan.org/mlp/thread/31330712#p31330712

Dae vargest. Ight am mest saelvol.* Thakka, rijan.

*Since sael is holy or spiritual, I thought maybe the adverb would be a good way to say "happy" or "pleased," since you don't seem to have any word for that yet. In a broader sense "at peace/ in harmony with something."

Fascinating work, and your simplicity's a lot friendlier to non-linguists than the sorts of designs found in toki pona or Esperanto. That said, your Discord invite's expired.

4721952
That's exactly what I plan to do. I'm working with a few people to translate A Tale of Two Regal Sisters in to Old Ponish. Once we've finished that, I want to get the vocabulary up in to the hundreds and then publish a book, probably titled "An Introduction to Old Ponish" where it covers everything you'd need have basic conversations. And I'll probably make a website with a dictionary because it's going to keep changing and evolving so there's no point publishing one thing just yet.

4721968
I'm currently working on more general-purpose words. Currently, there's a bunch of words that need to be added like "good" and "bad". Although I do like your creative thinking :) Glad you could check out my post

4722040
That's one of my primary goals; keeping it simple. I understand that the people learning this language probably aren't polyglots so keeping it simple, yet practicle, is my aim for this language. I'll update my discord invite link now

Wow! This is amazing!
If you need any help, I might be of some use. I'm a vocal performance major who just happens to have dabbled in the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet for singing in other languages. I could totally help you out with the symbols and I might even be able to compose a song in old ponish!

The discord link is expired, but please post a new one! I'd love to take part in this!!

4723809
If you'd like to compose songs in Old Ponish, that'd be awesome! I updated the Discord invite link so jump on and we can talk about this further. If you want, you can write your lyrics in English (or whatever language you're most comfortable with) and I'l translate it over to Old Ponish. You just have to remember the context of Old Ponish (being 1,000 years ago) which means they won't have words for a lot of modern ideas and technology.

4724041
I would like to help with this. I'm a linguistics student myself, and this is fun and fascinating. The discord link is expired again, you need to make it a permanent invite instead of a temporary one, but let me know when it's updated and I'll join as soon as it's up.

4725044
I updated the link and set it to not expire (didn't know that was an option, thanks for pointing it out). Join in on the fun!

You bring hope to this fandom. Continue.

Is there any way we could get the current dictionary in JSON or YAML format? I'd like to start playing with the stuff that's available. I even suggested two different formats for the dictionary on the /mlp/ thread:
{ "translation": { "lang": "en-US", // either grouped together as one big object "words": { "but": "vut", "del": "the", "horan": "horn", "min": "my", "min": "my", "my": "min", "the": "del", "vut": "but" }, // or separated by category, with metadata that applies to the category // appropriately "conjunctions": { "but": "vut", "vut": "but" }, "articles": { "the": "del", "del": "the" }, "nouns": { "horan": { "gender": "n", "translation": "horn" } }, "pronouns": { "min": "my", "my": "min" } } }

4729585
I could definitely turn everything in to JSON, if you plan on creating a translator then I can also provide you an updated list of my grammar too. Honestly, I haven't read every single comment on /mlp/ due to how many there are. I'm going to write an 'Old Ponish Update' post really soon so make sure you look out for that too.

I shall learn this, and confuse everyone that hears me speak it. XD

4770753
You're not too late, not at all, you're actually pretty close to the start. The version of OP talked about in this post was the first version, I'm currently working on a complete overhaul to come up with the better and improved second version. If you want to help out, feel free to join my discord server :)

Posted at the "Study in" page. Oddly no one seems to have considered that it might just be amateurish Old English. My analysis of the fragments we're given suggests that it is. While new vocab and grammar might need deriving for words and concepts that didn't exist 1200-ish years ago, it's almost certainly not a conlang.

Sorry, I feel like I might have rained on someone's parade here, but I'm an amateur OE fan due to reading so much Tolkien. :P

4824168
I've been told by many people that it's most likely an "amateurish old english", but I'm having fun creating this conlang and I'll continue to do so as long as there's others that want it. Guess we'll see what happens in the future with OP, whether it comes up more in season 8

4825590
Yeah, conlangs can be fun. Tying to my earlier comment, though, just don't pull a Tolkein and completely restructure the thing when it's really far along. :P

First off, epic work, this is awesome. I am wanting to GM Tails of Equestria with a few friends, and I am probably doing more research than ever needs to be done, that leads me to my question. Would it be compatible with this? https://www.deviantart.com/fonypan/art/Pony-Font-with-Alternate-Numeric-System-479764485

This reminds me so much of Old English and Old Norse, are you going to use Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, and dative case?
Do you think they would also use gendered nouns and verbs? As I believe you do use some Old English basis, and I can imagine that happening. I noticed you were scared of it turning into Old English but you could still create those conventions without delving too closely, granted the cases and genders sound different. Are you also going to look at how it's said? Like the way that speech migrates? This is all really interesting and I'd love to see how you do this. Keep up the good work!

If you ever decide to join Timelord’s Discord server, make sure to not join a server recommended by a user with the number “#5749”—never less, join a server by the name of “Nawi Ponhenge.” This server recommended by “#5749” is the worst server I have ever joined. However, only a few of the members are nice, but the majority of them are not. Now, the language is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, and the individual managing it is very awesome. In fact, I would like to thank her for helping me out throughout this experience. Thank you, Hyreia; you are very understanding. If you’re interested in the language, I would highly recommend downloading the PDF from the projects main website, which the PDF is made and managed by Hyreia herself.

As a language nerd, I must look into this. This looks really cool and I may even help out with this.

So here is a question: what would Modern Ponish look like? We know it would be a Germanic language, possibly a West Germanic language, since Old Ponish apparently has cognates with Old English and Old German. Would a Brit, Dutchman, or German be able to understand Modern Ponish or would it be a completely separate language?

5151554
While I have an idea how a language's sounds can change, i don't feel I can give a definitive answer on what Modern Ponish sounds like. At least not for now. I think a German and an Englishman would both recognize enough words in Modern Ponish they'd pay attention and try to communicate. I think the Englishman would have more trouble with Old Ponish but I think Modern Ponish would start to sound really familiar. Especially if he was familiar enough with other Germanic languages (there's a funny amount of North Germanic influence always trickling into our conlang. Mostly because 'it sounds similar but cooler' I think. )

For Ponish, we imagine the greatest influence on it was the cultures the unicorns and pegasi brought to the language. For the most part Unicorn (French) and Pegasi (Latin,Greek) influence didn't push out the German influence at all. In the server where were building the language we try to French and Pegasi under 20% each because of how much influence the Earth ponies had in trading. And typically only when it's something they would have dominion over (science,art,technology or weather,war,storytelling). The other factor is simplicity. In-Universe, we're treating Old Ponish as a Lingua Franca centered around the Unicorns and Pegasi wanting trade and the earth ponies have the most food and raw resources. Because it's a trade language that became an official language, it's grammar was greatly simplified from what I've been calling "Ancient Ponish" (the language the Earth ponies spoke). Out-Of-Universe, this gives us a great excuse to have a pretty simple grammar (essentially what TimeLoad laid out here but expanded upon in the same spirit).

Feel free to flip through our dictionary and grammar for Old Ponish yourself to feel what you think: Old Ponish Project Home

If you'd like to come chat the Discord server invite is always open!

5163671

I think the Englishman would have more trouble with Old Ponish but I think Modern Ponish would start to sound really familiar.

So could Modern Ponish be identical to English, making it more akin to something like the Scots Leid or Shakespearean Original Pronunciation?

For Ponish, we imagine the greatest influence on it was the cultures the unicorns and pegasi brought to the language.

It is also my head canon that what is now Equestria was once ruled by Earth ponies. Out of curiosity, where did you come up with that?

5163681
More distant than Scots to English but not totally unintelligible.
Nothing about this is final. I didn't even finalize my translation of the song into Old Ponish. But for curiosity-sake here's my attempt:
Google Doc My Past Is Not Today I can not promise this is what what Modern Ponish might inevitably look like if our group did such a thing. I didn't give sound change enough thought but I put together something to give you an idea for what Modern Ponish might sound like.

It is also my head canon that what is now Equestria was once ruled by Earth ponies. Out of curiosity, where did you come up with that?

Equestria itself was founded by the three tribes according to the Hearth's Warming Play. None are native apparently. Earth Pony language in our server had such a dominant role in the language because they were the main trading partners for the Unicorns and Pegasi: they had most of the food and raw resources! So you can bet they picked up some Earth Ponish to insure close relationships and the best deals. Therefore, when it became time for the tribes to talk, the Unicorns and Pegasi found that the common denominator between the three tribes was the basic, broken Earth Ponish they knew from said interactions. More about that is here: Dictionary Foreward

I hope this quenches some of your curiosity! If you want to talk more live or with the group, the Discord invite doesn't expire!

You said e was when you are the subject, est was singular, and en was plural, but in the phrase you got that from hlight foresetten plight, the translation is singular reward favours risk. Reward is the subject. It favours risk, so should en then be singular and est plural instead?

This is a really cool

Gosh darn it all, I so wish there was a way to favorite blog posts into my fimfic library.

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