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Old 02-16-2010, 06:04 PM
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RedEyeSky RedEyeSky is offline
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Narn dictionary I've been working on

Hi, I just joined because I've been working on a Narn dictionary, and I wondered the following:
  • is there already a substantial Narn language dictionary anywhere that my googling didn't turn up?
  • would anyone here be interested in commenting on the work I've done so far? My work so far is below - and I'm specifically interested in canon uses that contradict a meaning I have given, or words and terms that I have missed out.
It's not, I rather regret now, all complete with Wikipedia-esque sources for each word: I began this as a casual intertest, and most of it was put together over many bored hours from numerous online sources, many I think referencing the RPG manuals, which I don't have, and other published works of that kind. I only have the 9 Boxtree series tie-in novels, and DVDs of the series.

But none of the words have been made up completely by me, and the meanings have been attached because they seem correct in at least one context elsewhere.

To backtrack on every meaning and find the source would take this from the realm of "fun hobby" into "painful chore" - so I'm hoping if I've got something there that contradicts a canon interpretation elsewhere, someone will point that out, as opposed to me being able to demonstrate my sources for each word. This is a flaw, and I'm posting here before I compound it any further.


Anouri û a precious metal
Bas û warrior, soldier
Bin - sneaky
Bok û fields, fertile land
Breen û meatballs
Burella û wind catcher (used to trap moisture û they rot quickly)
Chur û physical enjoyment
DÆ û female, mistress, matriarch, first
Dag û carrying, carrier
Dak - middling, progressing towards, in progress
Dakka û cowlike animal
Dar û sky, canopy, covering, tent-like
Darka û righteous, obligation
Dath û acceptance, pacifism, weakness, surrender
Davu - sorry - apology
Deyr û bringer
Dru û lost, mad, bereft of virtue
Du û night
Dul - sleep, dream
Eth û essence of, smoke
Fitlop û goatlike animal, eaten on feast days
Frazi û lightning, storms
GÆ û Divine, godhood, godhead (in personal names, indicates person follows a religion)
Geketh û chesslike strategy game, escalating take of pieces by skill and stealth
Gorith û righteous force
Goth û legion, army
Halak - compassion, just treatment
Ini û kill
Ja û home (specific to a person's own house)
Jak û head of a household
Jareth - defender
Ka û body
Kal û strong
Kan - war
Kar û oath (taken in relation to the People) from root Kha
Karith - guardian
Karn û art, artist, entertainer
Kha û the People, aka Narns
Kini - killer, one who kills
Ko û no, denial, not, resistance
Kos û rule of law, justice
Lan û life
Lon - spirit (of a thing or person)
Lorn û joy, ecstacy, heaven
Loth - proceed
Lukrol û meaty stew
Makur û knives, daggers
Mitlop û tripe dessert with berries
N' - male, father, final
Na û honour of, honourable, proud
Ni û strong, strength
Nic û hammer, strong tool
Nok - patriarch
On û solitary ferocious animal
Pa û death
Phroomis û ritual dish of your enemyÆs skin
Q' - world, realm of, material being of
Quan û the divine/Kha interface, like the state of transfiguration in Earther theology
Ri û exchange, payment, service, duty, what is owed
Ree û water, also in metaphors of water-like
Ron û eliminate, decimate, destroy utterly
Ryddi û sherry-like drink
Sha û warrior, righteous killer
Sho û drawer of blood
Shon û blood in an honour situation
Shrack û expletive - anger, disgust, surprise
Shtag - shut up
Silsop û cake-like bread
Sol - leader
Stat û barracks
Suk û beginner, new
TÆ û rising strength, growth, progress
Ta û highest, best
Tagro û sweetish alcoholic drink
Tak û very, excess, superlative
Tar û life
Taree û strong liquor, analagous to whiskey
Tchot û be silent, caution*
Tehn û explore
Tesh û map, mapmaker
Thalen û type of tradition
Thenta û many
Thentus - allied
This - hireling
Tok û fight, battle
Tokti û martial art
Tol û literally, stopper û used for soldiers
Toleth - knot
Toth û eternal, order of things, order of society
Tyrpa û frozen dessert
Tza û actual blood, gore, wounds
Uarthonn û disease
VÆ - soul
Val û piglike animal, meaning often servant, "animal of", not always derogatory
Var - wanderer
Vin û of
Vopa û skilled, right way, excellent
YÆ û eternal
Zhen û sir/maÆam, addressing a superior*

*Jan, re your script notes on this in the post below, I'm staying with this one - see the edit on my post below.



* I've made a few leaps on the meanings for some words - though none I think fly in the face of credibility. I love B5 and have over the years come up with a few theories about Narn psychology, culture & worldview, and I've used those to inform my choices where meaning was otherwise ambiguous.

* I've left out, for the most part, the endless apostrophes that seem to be all over alien words in all sci-fi, as they don't represent actual glottal stops in most cases, which is what they're meant to be. There is to my mind no more need for an apostrophe in Kha Ri as spoken by characters in the series than there is for the Earther term car wash. They're only truly correct in my opinion (open for rebuttal) for single letters such as G', N' and so on.

* One single site I found says that Kha Ri (Narn governing council) means "the voicing", when my interpretation of it as kha = "the People" (aka Narns) ri = "contract, duty" fits better with the fact the resistance leaders after the first occupation called themselves the Kha Ri - "the People doing their duty/giving payback" (firstly to the Centauri, then later to their citizens)...

And also my meaning doesn't utterly contradict "the voicing" (think of the Earther term "Spokesman" which we all know means more than a man who speaks) - I did also at some point find a few places that backed my own interpretation, but again, sadly didn't think to note them at the time I began this.

* I found scripts online at but Narn words don't seem to be rendered, such as the scene in S1 "Midnight on the Firing Line" where G'Kar and the Narn weapons advisor have a brief exchange in their own language, so I've worked phonetically there (such as the last entry, Zhen, which is how the advisor seems to address G'Kar).

* For the rest, I've either disassembled names taken from Narn military terms found online and cross-referenced them with what I had already, extrapolated from names used in the series and books (not by relating them just to characters in the series, which would be ridiculously limiting - but which seems popular on some sites...) or generally tried to untangle implied meanings found elsewhere.

If you've read this far, thank you! - and any constructive comments or criticism would be most welcome!

"Chance favors the warrior."

Last edited by RedEyeSky; 02-18-2010 at 01:28 AM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:52 AM
Triple F Triple F is offline
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Interesting. If there’s college courses on Kilingon, then why not a Narn dictionary.!? ; )

I imagine Jan, or one of the others, has a better memory than me when it comes to something like this.

Didn’t jms hint at one point (very early on) that there was a chance he’d get some type of linguistic experts in to design alphabets and key words for some of the races. I’ve no idea if that happened or how far it got.

And, (I can’t remember his name off hand) someone working on the show had put together a document detailing the history and culture of the main races, there was talk of it possibly being published at some point.

I also vaguely remember someone talking about a Minbari dictionary.

I also vaguly remember there was something else about messages or jokes being typed up in the alien languages that appeared on props used in the show.!!??

Sorry, I can't provide much more than vague memories. . . . . . . . . getting old! ; )

Last edited by Triple F; 02-17-2010 at 02:55 AM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 04:43 AM
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Jan Jan is offline
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Hi RedEyeSky, welcome!

I'm amazed. I never thought there was so much of the Narn language available anywhere. Nice work!

If your terms were in the actual episodes, I'd be happy to look them up in the scripts. A few things right off:

In Deathwalker, Na'Toth declared "It is Chon-Kar. The Blood Oath."
The words from "Midnight" are "Zhen davu" (narnish apology) and "Shtag" (shut up). The parentheticals are in the script to give the actors the subtext of what they're saying.

The 'scripts' you found don't seem to be any more than rips of the closed captioning.

I've never heard of the linguistics experts that TripleF refers to but there were some concept art samples of (at least) Minbari that appeared in some of the script books. The one on-screen joke I know of was also Minbari where the 'ceremonial' shirt that Vir wore once when he was returning from Minbar had "Aloha" written on it in Minbari.

Larry DiTillio did compile a document about the cultures of the various League races and it appeared in one of the 'Other Voices' script books. I don't remember much in the way of language notes but I'll take another look if you want.

And finally, when you're dealing with B5, the question of canon will always come up. I understand what you mean about it being a chore, but you might want to develop a quick key to denote the sources of some of your terms.

If you can point to the examples you want checked by episode, I'll check the scripts for you.

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Old 02-17-2010, 06:13 AM
Triple F Triple F is offline
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Re: the coat of's a little tidbit...we had to
make up an entire alphabet for most of our major races (and I've been
gradually building up a dictionary here and there for languages). So
they came and asked if they could embroider something in Minbari on the
shirt Vir's wearing when he comes back. I said sure. Did I have
anything in mind? No, not really.

So I'm on the set that day, and I see the embroidered shirt, and
I ask what these five letters spell, since I don't offhand read Minbari
yet. He looked up at me and smiled. "It spells out ALOHA."
Does hint that a dictionary (of sorts) was maybe partially put together as words cropped up in the show. Wonder if he kept it at all.

As for and early mention of getting someone in to design the alphabets. Might have noticed it in an interview, though itÆs equally likely that I just imagined it. Though IÆm pretty sure *somone* mentioned that things like hall signs did translate to locations in the station, etc. (like the Aloha thing above). Bugger knows û to much reading to late at night. ; )
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:18 AM
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Macbeth Macbeth is offline
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And let's not forget our Narn Opera from Parilament of Dreams

I'm thinking of thinking of calling her right
after my afternoon nap.
I'm thinking of thinking of sending her flowers,
right after Bonnie gets back.
So many fishies left in the sea,
so many fishies - but no-one for me...
I'm thinking of thinking of hooking a love,
soon after supper is done.

Any idea how to say it in Narnish?

(Narnish sounds very Tolkien - kinda like Rangers)
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:07 PM
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Ranger 6 and 7/8 Ranger 6 and 7/8 is offline
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welcome RedEye,

I would definitely welcome a B5 linguistic of any type. Narn would be definitely interesting as would a Minbari. We did get some Pak'ma'ra in the show..though that would be a problematic translation.
I would definitely get into a audio version of your Narn, and have some contacts that could possibly do a podcast of it when you get to that point....if your interested that is..

Good work
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alien languages, dictionary, narn

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