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[C1,C2,C3,DS] Norn Bibble 
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The Nymph (Administrator)
The Nymph (Administrator)
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Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 7:24 pm
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Location: Illinois
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Post [C1,C2,C3,DS] Norn Bibble
Norn Bibble
In the prototype version of Creatures, whenever a Norn spoke, one of two babble samples was randomly played. Unfortunately, having the same two samples playing over and over again was driving everybody mad, so we realised a lot more work was needed! We decided to look for a way of converting anything the Norns said into sounds, in such a way that a) the words sounded like speech, and b) a word would sound the same every time it was spoken, and c) different words should have different pronunciations. Just to make life difficult for myself, I also added d) similar words should sound similar.

The first step was to record some speech. Luckily, one of the artists working on the game had something of a gift for making bizarre noises, so we gave him a script full of gibberish and recorded him babbling away. This was then chopped up into individual syllables, and electronically treated to give male and female voices. In the same session, we also recorded all of the Grendel noises, and the various whimperings and shivering noises the creatures make. Not bad for a day's work! The only sound we forgot was the Norn's snoring - that is in fact me, recorded at the last minute using my desktop microphone, and played at double speed. It was meant to be temporary, but it had the right feel, so remains in the game today.

Having been presented with a large collection of syllables, I went through them and decided whether they sounded like the start of a sentence, the middle of a sentence or the end of a sentence. Having established these groups, I let "nature" do the tricky bit for me. I came up with a way of using a random set of numbers to convert any group of three letters into one of these syllables. I then let these random numbers "breed" until I had a vocabulary that fitted all my requirements - all groups of letters had a corresponding sound, similar groups sounded similar, and I could recognise the starts and ends of sentences. I've glossed over some of the mathematics involved in that, but it's very complicated and tedious, so you're not missing anything there.

So, there you have it. Whenever a Norn says something, the letters are broken down into groups of three, and the corresponding syllables are played in sequence. Norns have a very small vocabulary, so in principle, it should be possible to learn to understand "Nornish" - I confess I've never had the patience, though I'd love to hear if anyone has.

Peter Chilvers

Thanks to all those clever (not to mention extremely patient) people who let Peter Chilvers know how they got on learning Nornish. Some of you can understand your Norns without looking at the speech bubbles, and some of you can even speak it! We can't get over the lengths people have gone to in figuring out the language, particularly the ingenious reverse engineering employed by "Daljit of NORN".

Here is a little "phrase book" from some of the words people have sent in:

Yes "chin-pa" · No "no-ho"
Toy "to-he" (or "hee hoo" ?)
Hand "Mah-rah-soo" (last syllable pronounced "zo")
Food "Doh-rah-soo" (same pronunciation as above)
Push "yah bay bee"
Run "Ching-so"
Drink "mah hoa hah"
Someone even picked up a bit of Grendelese: Hand "ash-a-mum'"

Shea Swissdorf has deciphered more Norn language and come up with the following list of Norn words:

Words to say what you are doing
Yow beh bee: Push
Yow bah bee go: pull
Mah he yo ga: right
Yow be pah: Left
Yo dee: Why
Chee fur fur dee: runNorn
Chee rob dee: rest
Mah dee: hit

Words for objects
Yah rah doh: Hand
Doh dih: toy
Doh rah dee: Norn
Oh he yo ho: plant
Doh fur dee: fruit
Doh rah doh: food
Beh beh fur bee gaa: Computer

Words for feelings
yow he rah dee: lonely
Mah beh beh gaa: crowded
Mah bee: sad
Ray fur coe: hurt
Moe he yo go hoe: Choking
Chee "bodily fluid" yo he gaa: Thirsty
Doh rah bee bay gaa: Stressed
YOw ho: Hot
Doh rob doh: cold
Ray ree rob coe: hungry
Ray rob pah: tired
Doh ee yo rob pah: sleepy
Yow "bodily fluid" rob dih: lonley
Chee he yo fur pah: scared
yo beh pah: bored
yo he yo poe: angry

Words for commands
Chee pah: yes
No ho: no Yo doh: what
Doh rah dih: Stop
Mah he doh: eat
Mah po heh: drop
Chee "bodily fluid" doh: run
Yow pah peh: look
Oh beh gaa: come
Yow gaa doh: get

Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:20 pm
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