Mâvarinû: a Guide to Pronunciation
of Mâvarin, Mâton and Fãrnet do not speak
English. Mâvarinû dialogue has therefore been
translated into contemporary American English, with idioms converted to
their nearest equivalents. Formal or archaic language is used to
denote the more formal speech patterns of the selmûn people and
others. Proper names (mostly places and people) are
transliterations of the original Mâvarinû. The
circumflex (^) is used in many of these spellings due to its visual
resemblance to the actual accent mark in the written language of
The short rule for
pronouncing Mâvarinû names is that vowels are nearly always
short unless they are accented (â, û). This is, of
course, an oversimplification, but reasonably accurate.
An exception, however, is found in the stressed first syllables of some
proper names, where the accents are nearly always omitted. Dana,
for example, would be pronounced Dâna, the same as in the English
name Dana. Shela is pronounced Shêla, which is the same as
the English name Sheila. However, in the selmûn dialect, it
is more correctly Shâla, as their vowels are somewhat different
from those of conventional Mâvarinû. Natives of
Mâton speak Mâvarinû except in magic incantations,
for which they use an arcane language called Lopartin.
Details of the pronunciation of individual letters in Mâvarinû are as follows:
A is prounounced three ways depending on accenting
and placement within the word. When the syllable is stressed
(Ra´ ni), it is pronounced as in the English word hat. When
accented (Mâvarin), it becomes a long a, as in major.
Occasionally, a stressed a (Masha, Fayubi) is pronounced as if
accented. When neither stressed nor accented, as at the end of
most feminine names (Fiba, Jerela), it is pronounced with the schwa
sound or short u, as in the American name Bubba. In
Fãrnet, the ã is pronounced as in father, except before
r, troublesomely enough, when it becomes ah-air. Fãrneton
is a more difficult and annoying language that
Mâvarinû--almost as difficult as English.
E (Selevar, Rithe) is usually pronounced as in pen,
unless accented (ê). However, sometimes in proper names the
accent is implied by the letter's placement in a stressed syllable, as
it Shela (see above). In most cases it is best to assume the
vowel is short.
I is usually the same as in hit, except at the end
of a word, such as in the masculine names Farni, Li, etc., when it is
pronounced like the ie or y in English names and nicknames (Bobby,
O is pronounced as in hot (Lok, Lokvi) or as in
Boston (Fost), depending on what word it is in and who is pronouncing
it, being subject to regional accents. It becomes a long o, as in
phone, when either accented (Lôven) or followed by l or r (Pol,
U is pronounced as in tune (Tuli,) except when
followed by n (Lunder), where it more closely resembles the oo in
wood. When accented (Mâvarinû), the letter sounds
more like the French pronunciation, as in the French pronoun tu.
This uncharacteristic sound appears mostly in a few older words.
B, D, F, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, V, W, and Z are all pronounced the same as in English.
C (Carli, Macni) is always “hard,” as in
candy, never “soft” as in cent. Ch is always the same as in
G (Gathmak, Genva) is always “hard,” as in gun, never “soft” as in George.
There is no Q or X in Mâvarinû.
S (Suri, Madsen) is always “soft” as in the word
soft, never “hard” as in the word always. Sh (Shela) is always
unvoiced, as in English.
T is always pronounced as in time, except as part of
th (Gathmak, Rithe), which is always unvoiced, as in think, never
voiced as in the.
Y (Fayubi, Darya) is pronounced as in yellow.
There are few examples of
the language of Londer to be found in the books, except in the names of
Londran characters. The language shares some common history with
Mavarinu, but is different enough that Prince Talber understands
virtually no Mavarinu when he first arrives. This is because the
language of Mâvarin is an amalgam of Londran, Parsais, Mugalan,
Seldan (the original language of the selmûn people), and even a
bit of Lopartin.
Lopartin is the ancient
language used in Mâton-style spells. It is to
Mâvarinû and Londran approximately what Latin is to English
– a source language, but far removed from contemporary usage. One
magical aspect of the Lopartin language itself is that it resists
translation by magical means, and must be learned more or less by
rote. However, it is fairly easy to determine the meanings of
short spells from the context of their use. A simple example of a
Lopartin spell is as follows:
Leavar wener espar = reveal and reactivate spell.
However, it should be noted that for the convenience of the translator
and transcriber of these books, and for the safety of readers, the
actual Lopartin words in various spells have been replaced by nonsense
words based on a combination of Latin and English. In the example
above, two of the words are basically anagrams of English words.
The idea here is to give the flavor of the language, and yet avoid any
possibility of actual magic being encoded in these pages.