Understanding the language of the Churn by CZiY

Understanding the language of the Churn

By: CZiY
Last Updated: Jan 13, 2021
17 Votes
Build 1 of 1

Churnwalker

Build: Unspooling These Strange Syllables

Item Choices

Welcome Top

(First published: 03 April 2020. Last edited: 13 January 2021)

To celebrate the second anniversary of Clownwalker’s release (03 April 2018), welcome to Unspooling These Strange Syllables, my own take on understanding the language of the Churn. I first began this project in 2018, and it was on and off for a few weeks, then off—until I picked it up again recently. Here it is completed.

First things first. I’m very aware of the huge changes that Vainglory is going through, and I do realise that now isn’t the ideal time to publish this article. However, since today is an important anniversary for Churnwalker, I decided to follow through with my original plan and share it today. In my hopeful mind, if this article ever gains traction and makes its way onto the Vainglory subreddit, some time will have passed and things will have settled down a little.

I’ll begin this article with a warning. You may have seen other forum posts attempt similar feats, but this one is unique for two reasons:
1. I’m roughly two years late to the party.
2. Whereas others have directly attacked the meaning, I found the grammar much easier to tackle first. After that, the meaning naturally followed.

Because of this approach, I’ve only managed to translate around 53% for (close to) certain and made some guesses about a further 24%. This article isn’t short but I’d appreciate the company if you’d like to stay and, by the end, I promise that all the conclusions we’ve drawn up will feel reliable.

If anyone hasn’t read Churnwalker’s lore before, definitely take a look at that first—this article is nothing more than an empty suit if you don’t know the story. Even if you have read it, there’s no harm in re-experiencing Martim’s travels. Be sure to remember the name of this article though. I haven’t got a Hook & Chain to yank you back with afterwards! (Link to Churnwalker’s lore here.)

A few notes
—“The lore” will refer to all of Churnwalker’s canon lore as well as his alternate fate lore. “L1–3” and “L4” will refer to extracts from parts 1–3 of Churnwalker’s canon lore and extracts from his alternate fate lore, resp.
—“Churnish” will refer to what Martim calls “the Churn language”. I chose “Churnish” over “Churn” to avoid confusion with the Churn itself (and it’s also what Super Evil Megacorp internally called the conlang[1]).
—“English” will refer to what Martim calls “Gythian”, because Gythian seems to be the same language as American English.
—Throughout the article, I avoid using the argument that “in most languages, most adpositions/conjunctions are shorter than most nouns”. To me, it’s a convincing argument, but some other people might not like it as much.

Part 1: the not-Churnish Top

Let’s quickly get some words that aren’t Churnish out of the way. These are all placenames that appear in the lore:

Name Provided translation Name in origin language Literal translation
Shichi Shima Shoto Seven Islands 七島諸島* (Japanese) seven island archipelago
Les Côtes D’Olives Olive Coast les côtes d’olives (French) the coasts of olives
Horangee-go’t Tiger Peninsula * (Korean) tiger headland

*An educated guess based on the romanised name and translation provided. (The Korean text is inserted as an image because hangeul isn’t supported on this website.)

Now, without further Torment, let’s Trespass straight into the Churn!

Part 2: the certain Top

My starting point is a set of five confirmed Churnish–English translations. T1–4 (“T” for “translated”) are provided by Michael Brinkman[2], Churnwalker’s recording engineer, and T5 is provided by Sarah Arellano[3], “single living keeper of the Churn language” (she’s the creator). Here they are:

[T1] edu drovliz ikre skiv gekradaz all secrets are worth knowing
[T2] ov hehva the horror[4]
[T3] vl’ikra bedvost I will not be forgotten
[T4] ish vavad jid devkud welcome to death
[T5] ebbut ikre idat bivuz? where are my allies?

———

Let’s begin with T2, along with this occurrence of hehva in the lore:

[T2] ov hehva the horror
[L3] in that… hehva… ov hehva… that darkness

From T2, hehva either means the or horror. However, looking at the lore extract above, it can only mean horror because of Poplack’s Equivalence Constraint in code-switching. Even though the sentence contains some Churnish, it must still be grammatical in English[5]. Hehva immediately follows the determiner “that”, so it cannot mean the. Therefore, ov must be the.

01 ov the ART
02 hehva horror NOUN

———

The following extracts also provide us with direct translations of three other words.

[L3] What is the Churn but another… givav… what is the word in Gythian? […] world, that is the word!
[L3] [life] is… what is the word? Ve dlibu… a dream

We know from ov hehva that the article precedes its noun in Churnish, so ve must be the article in ve dlibu.

03 givav world NOUN
04 ve a, an ART
05 dlibu dream NOUN

———

Let’s work out the meaning of ikre by turning our attention to T1 and this occurrence of an ikre-like word in the lore:

[T1] edu drovliz ikre skiv gekradaz all secrets are worth knowing
[L3] I shall return to help topple the empire that discarded my life’s work, destroyed my name, and ruined my family. Ikra ov Churnwalker.

Note that in the lore, Churnwalker is treated as a Churnish word (it is italicised along with the rest of the sentence), so I will treat it as a loanword from Gythian.

Considering that L1–3 are excerpts from letters written by Martim to “the Guildmaster”, the tone used in them should be formal. Therefore, Ikra ov Churnwalker should be a complete sentence containing a finite verb. We know that ov and Churnwalker are not verbs, so ikra must be.

This makes it very likely that ikre is the same verb with a different inflection. The only finite verb in T1 is are, so that must be ikre. Further, the change in inflection must express a change in person for ikra to make sense in the second extract. Based on the repetitive use of “I” and “my” in the sentence before it, ikra must be the first-person singular form.

Two other unique conjugations of this verb appear in the lore:

[L1] Ebbet ikro ido?” it demanded
[L1] Astek givav ikri edu buvad bebu…

The whisper of the Churn uses ikro when addressing Martim and demanding his name, making that the second-person singular form. Ikri follows the singular noun givav so it must be the third-person singular form.

06 Churnwalker Churnwalker PR
07 ikra (I) am V
08 ikro (you-SG) are V
09 ikri (he/she/it) is V
10 ikre (they) are V

(At the end of this section, a table of ikr- conjugations is provided.)

———

We can look at T1 again to match up the remaining words in it:

[T1] edu drovliz ikre skiv gekradaz all secrets are worth knowing

From the sentence Ikra ov Churnwalker, we know that the predicative comes after the copula. That means that skiv gekradaz corresponds to worth knowing and edu drovliz, to all secrets.

The word gekradaz means either worth or knowing, and seems closely related to gekra and gekre, two other Churnish words that appear in the lore. The present participle knowing is far more likely to be inflected than the adposition worth, which pairs the former to gekradaz and the latter to skiv.

As for edu drovliz, we know from ve dlibu and ov hehva that the determiner in Churnish precedes its noun. This means that edu is the determiner and drovliz is the noun.

11 edu all DET
12 drovliz secrets NOUN
13 skiv worth PREP
14 gekradaz knowing PRESP

We can note that, so far, word order has been identical between Churnish and English.

———

Now we go back to the other two gekradaz-like words in the lore.

[L3] The speech of my birth no longer lives on my tongue; ida gekra ivi beu idat daxdaz.
[L3] And now it is rumored that I never lived at all! Ide velshibe ebbat ide vli gekre.

If gekradaz is the present-participle form knowing, then it’s reasonable to assume that gekra and gekre are finite forms of the same verb and that it has the same verb endings as ikr-.

15 gekra (I) know V
16 gekre (they) know V

(At the end of this section, a table of gekr- conjugations is provided.)

———

Next, we can tackle T4 by referencing an extract from Churnwalker’s alternate fate lore.

[T4] ish vavad jid devkud welcome to death
[L4] Isha vavad, shobez! Which of you darlings is the guest of honor?

Firstly, isha vavad appears to be a different form of ish vavad. In L5, isha vavad is separated from shobez by a comma, which tells us that it makes sense as a phrase on its own. Therefore, ish(a) vavad means either welcome or to death.

From skiv gekradaz, we know that adpositions precede their nouns[6]. So ish(a) either means to or is part of a compound phrase meaning welcome. As it’s more unlikely that the adposition to would have an ending, ish(a) vavad means welcome. Therefore, jid devkud means to death, and using the same fact about adposition placement, jid is the adposition and devkud is the noun.

17 ish(a) vavad welcome INTERJ
18 jid to PREP
19 devkud death NOUN

To address the -a ending in ish(a) vavad, its use may make the sentence more polite or warm, or place more emphasis on the phrase in a similar way to saying “I welcome you” instead of just “welcome” in English. Alternatively, it may be a dialectic inflection or something else altogether.

———

We can now have a look at T5.

[T5] ebbut ikre idat bivuz? where are my allies?

In L1–4, there are 3 occurrences of 3 unique ebbut-like words (ebbat, ebbet, and ebbut from vl’ebbut) and 15 occurrences of 6 unique idat-like words (ida, idam, idat, ide, ido, and idum); no other Churnish words we’ve seen have the same stem as bivuz. We so far have no evidence of noun cases existing, so ebbut and idat are highly unlikely to be allies. Therefore, bivuz means allies.

The sets of ebb- and id- words most likely correspond to interrogative words (eg where) and personal pronouns (eg my), in either order. We can see that id- words occur far more frequently than ebb- words, and that there are five sentences which contain more than one id- word. A sentence with two interrogative pronouns is much less likely to occur than a sentence with two personal pronouns so, considering word frequencies as well, idat must be my and ebbut must be where.

We should also note that although English distinguishes between dependent and independent possessive pronouns (ie the difference between “my” and “mine”), Churnish does not. In Churnish, the first-person singular possessive pronoun only has one form, idat. This can be seen in the following lore extract.

[L3] I will not stop my work, never. Ikri idat, e voda vl’ebbut.

When translated into English, it would be appropriate to write ikri idat as it is mine, instead of *it is my.

20 ebbut where INT
21 idat my, mine PRO
22 bivuz allies NOUN

———

To work out the remaining personal pronouns (id- words) in Churnish, we can look at the following lore extracts.

[L3] The speech of my birth no longer lives on my tongue; ida gekra ivi beu idat daxdaz.
[L1] Ebbet ikro ido?” it demanded
[L3] Ide velshibe ebbat ide vli gekre. No matter; ide vl’oede idam bastad.
[L3] Ide f’ijbre jid idam, one way or the other
[L3] Ikri ust edu beu idum; it is life, bequeathed to us in teaspoon sips until we step past the barrier of fear
[L4] Better to stay than be blown away, friends. Absto, ido oedo ikrad ahskadez ugui idam!

Idat is the possessive case of the first-person singular pronoun, so the shorter ida should be a more commonly used case. This would be either the subjective case (ie “I”) or the objective case (ie “me”). In the above extract, ida precedes the first-person singular verb know, so it must be the subjective case.

We can observe that Churnish pronouns take the same endings as the verbs; ido is the second-person singular form, agreeing with ikro, and ide is the third-person plural form, agreeing with gekre. The final extract containing ido is taken from L4, which repeatedly refers to a plural “you”. This tells us that ido is also the second-person plural form, and that -o likewise doubles as the second-person plural verb ending.

Idam has the affix -a and immediately follows the adposition jid, which makes it the first-person singular object pronoun[7].

Idum has the affix -u which we haven’t seen before, so it must be the first-person plural form. We can confirm this by looking at the sentences either side which contain heavy repetition of “us” and “we”.

23 ida I PRO
24 ido you-SG, you-PL PRO
25 ide they PRO
26 idam me PRO
27 idum us PRO

We can also point out that Churnish is a null-subject language, meaning that the subject pronoun may be omitted because the person of the subject can be inferred from the verb inflection. For example, the sentence (Ida) ikra ov Churnwalker, meaning *(I) am the Churnwalker, is written by Martim in L3 without ida.

(At the end of this section, a table of personal pronoun cases is provided.)

———

Before looking at the rest of the ebb- words, we can quickly mention apostrophes. Apostrophes have many specific functions in languages, the most common of which is to denote elision.

There is strong evidence that vl’ and v’ are the respective elided forms of vli and ve: In all of the Churnish sentences we’ve seen, the elided vl’ and v’ are never followed by a consonant, while vli and ve are never followed by a vowel. We also haven’t come across any other single-syllable words that could correspond to those elided forms. Therefore, it appears that elision occurs with either of these words when the following one has an initial vowel. Note that there may be exceptions or additional rules for eliding in this way.

———

There are two remaining interrogative words (ebb- words). I will address ebbat later, but we can quickly work out what ebbet means by looking at the following excerpt.

[L1] Ebbet ikro ido?” it demanded, and somehow I knew to respond, aloud, with my own name.

Here, ikro ido means are you, and it’s clear from context that ebbet means who. It’s true that “what” could also work here semantically, but responding with your name would not be a natural response to the question “What are you?”

28 ebbet who INT

———

Finally for this section, here are tables of ikr- and gekr- conjugations, as well as one for personal pronoun cases.

Note that the asterisks here mark unattested forms of a word. These are reconstructed from affixes that appear in the lore, but they may not be accurate and may not exist in Churnish at all.

ikr- (to be)
[1s] I
ikra
[1p] we
*ikru
[2s] you
ikro
[2p] you
ikro
[3s] he/she/it
ikri
[3p] they
ikre

gekr- (to know)
[1s] I
gekra
[1p] we
*gekru
[2s] you
*gekro
[2p] you
*gekro
[3s] he/she/it
*gekri
[3p] they
gekre

id- [personal pronouns]
subject
object
possessive
[1s]
ida
idam
idat
[2s]
ido
*idom
*idot
[3s]
*idi
*idim
*idit
[1p]
*idu
idum
*idut
[2p]
ido
*idom
*idot
[3p]
ide
*idem
*idet

Part 3: the not certain Top

For the findings we’ve made in the previous section, I hope that the process felt reliable and that we can feel reasonably certain about the results. This next part contains thoughts that I couldn’t find a way to justify rigorously, including some spontaneous ideas I had, along with others that I’m pretty confident about.

They aren’t arranged in any specific order, but next to each entry I've rated it between ⬡⬡⬡⬡⬡ (no confidence) and ⬢⬢⬢⬢⬢ (full confidence).

However, please consider this section as casual food for thought and not definitive fact, because I’m far from certain about any of it.

———

[L1] Ikro vli ve shavod.
[L3] Ide velshibe ebbat ide vli gekre.
[L3] Ikri idat, e voda vl’ebbut.

Looking at these, we can tell that vli is an adverb and, based on context and the fact that it’s the most frequently occurring Churnish adverb, I’d guess that it means not. This means that vl’ebbut probably translates to nowhere.

I’ll also guess that e means and, based on its length and where it is in the sentence.

(01) vli not ADV ⬢⬢⬡⬡⬡
(02) vl’ebbut nowhere ADV ⬢⬢⬡⬡⬡
(03) e and CONJ ⬢⬢⬢⬡⬡

———

Note that, as established earlier, ebbat is an interrogative word.

[L3] Ide velshibe ebbat ide vli gekre.

There are two clauses in this sentence, each containing ide paired with a third-person plural verb. (We don’t know if velshibe is a verb, but it definitely looks like it could be.) The repeated ide suggests that ebbat ide vli gekre is a free relative clause.

Since ebbat is no more complex than ebbut, meaning where, the translation should be an equally common relative pronoun that can also be used as an interrogative word. This rules out compound relative pronouns, leaving us with “who”, “whom”, “which”, and “what”. We already have ebbet as the Churnish for who, and I’d assume that “whom” also translates to ebbet. From the remaining two, I’d guess that ebbat means what.

(04) ebbat what INT ⬢⬢⬢⬡⬡

———

Coming back to apostrophes, we should address the f’ particle and the apostrophe in jid’hok. (By the way, my idea for jid’hok is my second-favourite part of this article!)

[L3] Ide f’ijbre jid idam, one way or the other
[L3] If it is a monster they want, then ikri v’ahskad f’ave.
[L3] Within the Churn there is no today and no… no jid’hok, and so there is no fear of death.

In the first sentence, we know that (f’)ijbre must be a finite verb because ide, jid, and idam are not, and the English portion of the sentence also doesn’t contain one. If we also consider context, either a future tense or subjunctive mood seems warranted in both of the above sentences.

These first two Churnish extracts have no common morphemes except f’, which suggests that ijbre and ave are both verbs and, when paired with f’, become either future or subjunctive. Unfortunately, if f’ is another example of elision, there is no way to know what the lost letter or letters would be.

As for jid’hok, it seems to be an example of another common apostrophe function, namely, separating distinct parts of a word to aid parsing. From context, I would guess that jid’hok translates as tomorrow or, more accurately, to-morrow, the older form of the word which was commonly used until likely sometime in the 20th century[8].

If this assumption is correct, then the apostrophe is there because writing jidhok without it, although not strictly wrong, might cause confusion. As Martim mentions more than once, “time flows at a different pace in the Churn”, suggesting that any Gythian concepts relating to time may not exist in the Churn. If someone is unfamiliar with the word, they might interpret it incorrectly or they might not be able to interpret it at all. The apostrophe clarifies that the word is jid (meaning to) + hok (meaning something else). Seeing as “there is no today” in the Churn, the concept of a morrow (ie a following day) probably doesn’t exist either, so hok as a word by itself could mean a lot of things ranging from “light” to “life”, if it means anything at all.

(05) jid’hok tomorrow ADV ⬢⬡⬡⬡⬡

———

[L3] If it is a monster they want, then ikri v’ahskad f’ave.
[L4] Absto, ido oedo ikrad ahskadez ugui idam!

The first sentence reads like it contains some parallelism, where if it is a and then ikri v’ (meaning then it is a) are parallel structures, so I’d guess that ahskad means monster.

Seeing as Churnish has no noun cases, I’ll guess that ahskadez is the plural of ahskad. This follows the pattern we have so far that plural nouns end in a “z”, along with drovliz (secrets) and bivuz (allies). Knowing this, we can find two other words that seem to be plural nouns:

[L3] The new Guildmaster has, after consideration of my work, refused to publish it, declaring me an obsessed madman. Stida evibez!
[L4] Isha vavad, shobez! Which of you darlings is the guest of honor?

Evibez and shobez look to me like plural nouns, so the next step is to work out why most of them end in -ez (ashkadez, evibez, shobez) while the other two end in -iz (drovliz) and -uz (bivuz).

The exclaimed stida evibez sounds like a curse directed at the other members of his guild, so evibez is probably a noun describing those people (something like “men”, “idiots”, or similar), and I’d guess that shobez means children. Looking at this, it appears that Churnish has a concept of animacy distinction, where nouns have a different plural ending depending on how “alive” they are.

It seems that animate objects (monsters, children) take -ez, with “ally” treated as inanimate. As for why “ally” takes -uz while “secret” takes -iz, there may be a further distinction among inanimate nouns between concrete and abstract nouns, where “ally” is classified as concrete while “secret” is abstract.

Of course, there may be an alternative explanation for -uz versus -iz, for example, that the “u” or “i” is actually part of the word stem, or perhaps Churnish has some kind of intentional “vowel disharmony” (which is pretty unlikely but, considering the chaos in the Churn, possible). We also can’t be sure what the singular forms of those plural nouns are.

(06) ahskad monster NOUN ⬢⬢⬢⬡⬡
(07) ahskadez monsters NOUN ⬢⬢⬢⬡⬡
(08) shobez children NOUN ⬢⬢⬡⬡⬡

———

[L3] The speech of my birth no longer lives on my tongue; ida gekra ivi beu idat daxdaz.
[L3] the Churn’s power rises through the soil, lurking beneath us all. Ikri ust edu beu idum; it is life, bequeathed to us in teaspoon sips
[L3] The whisper is my only companion, or perhaps ikri ust beu idam;

Here, the second and third extracts are very similar and both refer to the Churn. Considering that edu (meaning all) can be placed in the middle of ust beu, and that beu can immediately precede the personal pronoun idat, I’m gonna guess that beu means of and ust means inside. This results in two sentences which remind me of the clause “Soon it was inside my mind”, which Martim writes in L1.

(09) ust inside PREP ⬢⬡⬡⬡⬡
(10) beu of PREP ⬢⬢⬡⬡⬡

NB that by this point, we can be pretty confident that Churnish word order is close to identical with English and, when translating between the two languages, individual words have a one-to-one correspondence with few exceptions.

———

[L1] I heard the whisper insist, “Ikro vli ve shavod.” I am told that I responded, “Oeda vli stishad!” I do not remember this, nor do I have any understanding of this phrase.
[L3] And now it is rumored that I never lived at all! Ide velshibe ebbat ide vli gekre. No matter; ide vl’oede idam bastad.
[L4] Better to stay than be blown away, friends. Absto, ido oedo ikrad ahskadez ugui idam!

The verb oed- appears three times in the lore, and is followed each time by another verb with the -d ending. Neither occurs without the other, which suggests they serve a grammatical purpose together. I’d guess that oed- is the auxiliary will for creating the future tense. This might mean that the -d suffix creates the future tense form of the verb, or perhaps the infinitive. In any case, it seems that both the oed- auxiliary and the -d suffix are necessary for a future-tense construction, at least in the case of formal written Churnish.

(11) oeda (I) will AUX ⬢⬢⬡⬡⬡
(12) oede (they) will AUX ⬢⬢⬡⬡⬡
(13) oedo (you-SG) will AUX ⬢⬢⬡⬡⬡

Note that while I did already suggest that the f’ particle has either a future or subjunctive function, I still think the above is the most likely meaning and usage of oed-. Considering this, it’s either the case that f’ forms the subjunctive and oed- is used for the future tense, or that Churnish has two ways to express the future; I’d say that both are possibilities.

———

Now I’d like to quickly address an Excoundrel video[9] in which he said
TheSugarVenom herself actually confirmed that “odea vli stishad” means “I shall return” or “I will return”.
I had a look around the internet, and couldn’t find any evidence of this except the following[10]. I could be wrong, but Excoundrel seems to be referring to an exchange that Sarah had on Twitter where someone asked
Does "Oeda vli stishad!" mean something along the lines of "I shall return!"?
Let me guess: I can only wait and see? :)
and she replied with
You got it ;)

Now, here is the relevant lore passage again.

[L1] I heard the whisper insist, “Ikro vli ve shavod.” I am told that I responded, “Oeda vli stishad!” I do not remember this, nor do I have any understanding of this phrase.

It might be that Sarah did mean to confirm the guess, but this would personally surprise me because she’s otherwise been very deliberate not to reveal any translation clues outside of the provided lore. On the other hand, her use of a smiley face seems to be conscious imitation of the asker’s smiley at the end of Let me guess: I can only wait and see? :). Because of this, I’d be inclined to interpret her response as You guessed right: You can only wait and see ;), if only to be on the safe side.

Therefore, I propose that oeda vli stishad actually means something opposite to “I will return”. I say this because of what Martim has just been through. In L1, he describes that he’s “terrified” and “unashamed” of it, he describes his “fear” and “panic”, he describes the “painful buckling, a sensation like all of [his] bones breaking, folding in on themselves”. In the moment immediately after that experience, while his men are “[pulling him] by the arms to safety”, I personally wouldn’t expect him to be too keen on returning.

If we substitute in what we know (and what I’ve guessed) already, the whisper says (You) are not a shavod and Martim responds I will not stishad. I think shavod might mean something like “stranger” or “outsider”, conveying a message similar to “Stay, you are home” which is what the Churn whispers to Idris in his lore. Although stishad could very well mean something like “return” or “listen”, I’ll guess that it means stay.

(14) stishad stay V ⬢⬡⬡⬡⬡

———

[L3] I have learned to communicate with Churnbeasts using the Churn language… hush now, bast! Ikra dabdaz vist…
[L3] And now it is rumored that I never lived at all! Ide velshibe ebbat ide vli gekre. No matter; ide vl’oede idam bastad.

I’d guess that bast(ad) means stop, with bast as the imperative mood and bastad as the form used in a future tense construction. But please remember that there are many other possibilities for what it might be. For example, having “silence” (used as an interjection, noun, or verb) as the meaning of bast(ad) works equally as well in the two sentences, but I’ll go with stop for now.

(15) bast stop IMP ⬢⬡⬡⬡⬡
(16) bastad stop V ⬢⬡⬡⬡⬡

Another interesting thing here is the word order which differs from English in two ways. In the Churnish word order used by Martim, the literal English translation would be *they not will me stop. Here we see that vli comes before the verb that it’s modifying (which isn’t unusual for a language), but also that idam is in front of bastad (which I have no explanation for). As far as we’ve seen, these are the only two differences in word order between Churnish and English.

———

This next guess is my favourite in the entire article and the one I’m most proud of (but I won’t be too upset if it’s completely wrong).

[L3] The speech of my birth no longer lives on my tongue; ida gekra ivi beu idat daxdaz. Only by hand may I communicate in Gythian now
[L3] I have learned to communicate with Churnbeasts using the Churn language… hush now, bast! Ikra dabdaz vist…

We know from gekradaz that -daz is the inflection for the present-participle form of a verb, which means that dax- and dab- are probably verb stems, closely related to each other because they differ by only one letter. I propose that daxdaz means speaking and dabdaz means writing and that both words are onomatopoeic. I think it’s possible that the “s” sound at the end of dax- is associated with the sound of speaking, while the “b” sound in dab- imitates the sound of pen on paper (or whatever equivalent Martim uses to write).

(17) daxdaz speaking PRESP ⬢⬢⬡⬡⬡
(18) dabdaz writing PRESP ⬢⬢⬡⬡⬡

If this is the case, then daxdaz in the first extract carries a meaning equivalent to “spoken language” and ivi would mean something like “little” or “none”. However, what I can’t be sure about is the rule for forming the present-participle form. In gekradaz, it seemed that -daz was added to the first-person singular form of the word, but dax- and daz- don’t have the -a ending. It might be that they follow a different rule to gekr-, or they could just be bound morphemes that don’t have a finite verb form.

———

[L1] and the whisper said, “Astek givav ikri edu buvad bebu…
[R1] Jio? Ebbet astek?
[R2] We are aiming to fix this not the coming update but the one after it. (Fingers crossed). Av isha ovix! =)
[R3] F*ck is Milluk in churn language. Don’t ask.

Finally, we have R1 and R2 (“R” for “Reddit”) which contain Churnish sentences from the respective Nivmett[11] and SugarVenom[12]. Although there are no translations provided for these two, I think we can assume that both are grammatically correct Churnish sentences. Along with R3 from WorthyFoeChurnwalker[13], these are all collected from the official Vainglory subreddit. It’s worth mentioning that I haven’t seen any other Churnish words or sentences lying around anywhere else on the internet (and while I could have missed some, I will say that I’ve been searching pretty hard).

Looking at the extract from L1, the position of astek before givav suggests that it’s a determiner and, even before considering R1, I would guess that it’s the demonstrative this. However, if this is the case, I would have expected the sentence in R1 to instead be Ebbet ikri astek? (meaning Who is this?). I’m not sure why the ikri has been omitted, leaving the sentence with only an interrogative word and a demonstrative, but perhaps it’s permitted in informal Churnish. (Or maybe it’s just me being wrong with my guess.)

(19) astek this DEM ⬢⬡⬡⬡⬡

Jio seems to be an interjection expressing surprise (eg “huh” or “wow”), and although we’ve seen isha before in isha vavad, I have no idea what isha ovix could mean. There’s also nothing else in R1–2 that I can guess about. As for R3, I won’t even ask; there’s no need to discuss it here but I decided to include it for completeness.

———

While I have commented on many specific things, there is a lot that I haven’t even touched; I haven’t gone through and given an interpretation of each sentence that contains Churnish. The reason for that is the same as why I started with the grammar first: When dealing with the meaning of any word that isn’t a pronoun, there are always multiple possibilities for what it might be, and deciding on just one of those often feels like an arbitrary process.

For example, why should oeda vli stishad mean “I will not stay” instead of “I will not return” or “I will not listen”? To be completely honest, there’s no convincing reason for me to choose any one of those options over another. In fact, most of the words I addressed in this section could easily mean something completely different.

So again, please consider this section as casual food for thought and not definitive fact, because I’m far from certain about any of it.

Part 1 of this article aimed to gather all the information that we as a community have about Churnish, and to thoroughly go through everything we know for reasonably certain. Part 2 aimed to throw lots of different ideas together without any intention of convincing you that any of them are right, which hopefully gives you some inspiration for your own interpretations.

Closing Top

As I mentioned at the beginning, I first started this project two years, very soon after Churnwalker was released. This is actually my third attempt starting from scratch and definitely my most successful so far. I’m happy with the result.

Linguistics is one of my interests, but I don’t have any background in the field. I definitely won’t pretend that I’m right about everything I said, so it’s up to you to make your own judgements.

For now, I’m the most recent player to present my interpretation of Churnish, but I would like to acknowledge every player I can find who has also done the same before me:
—[22 Mar 2019] Aila: vgforums
—[28 Sep 2017] Excoundrel: YouTube
—[27 Sep 2017] IratePirate: vgforums, Reddit, (forums.vainglorygame)
—[16 Sep 2017] Skieblu: forums.vainglorygame

And here it is completed. I hope this article does justice to Martim, Sarah, and everyone else involved all those years ago!

To be honest, the sole purpose of making this VGFire account was to publish this article. Do feel free to use the Discussion tab for discussion, but please forgive me if I’m not around to reply to any comments. If you have questions, criticisms, or anything else to share with me, consider finding @churn.cziy on Instagram. I’ll be eager to reply whenever I find the time!

Top

[1]Google Drive (Twitter)
[2]Somatone
[3]Reddit
[4]The exact translation provided is The horror, the horror = Ov hehva… but I’ve assumed that the repetition in the English is a mistake.
[5]Academia
[6]Unfortunately, I have no argument for why to is a preposition and not a postposition in Churnish, except “adpositions are usually shorter than nouns” which I said I’d reject.
[7]While to takes the dative case (as opposed to the objective case) in some languages, idam is relatively common (appearing three times in L1–4) and the final attested pronoun case. Considering this, jid taking the objective case would still be more likely than Churnish having a dative case for pronouns but no objective case.
[8]Google Ngram Viewer
[9]YouTube
[10]Twitter
[11]Reddit
[12]Reddit
[13]Reddit

I’ll edit this article if I find any mistakes or have any style improvements to make.

(First published: 03 April 2020. Last edited: 13 January 2021)

Quick Comment (1) View Comments

You need to log in before commenting.

Quick Comment (1) View Comments

You need to log in before commenting.

VaingloryFire is the place to find the perfect build guide to take your game to the next level. Learn how to play a new hero, or fine tune your favorite VG hero’s build and strategy.

Copyright © 2019 VaingloryFire | All Rights Reserved