Professional language creator David J. Peterson has taken to Tumblr to lay out some of the grammatical rules for The 100‘s Grounder language.
The 100 isn’t doing anything halfway; the CW series has hired language creator David J. Peterson to come up with a fully functional, original language for the Grounders, a branch of humanity which has survived on Earth following a nuclear apocalypse.
When the inhabitants of the Ark space station return to Earth a hundred years after the war, they believe they are alone on the planet. But the Grounders never left, and have created a tribal, bilingual society where its warriors speak English, yet its people speak “Grounder.”
Series creator Jason Rothenberg has previously described the language as a form of Creole English, which has evolved over the course of the three generations where Grounders have lived alone on Earth. He has also stated that the official name of the language is Trigedasleng.
Since the Grounders and their culture will be playing an increasingly significant role in season 2, the language has now been fully developed by Peterson, who also famously created Dothraki and several other languages for Game of Thrones.
Before this week’s The 100 season 2 episode, we only had scattered bits and pieces of Grounder speak, which some eager fans attempted to use to figure out the grammatical rules of the language.
Peterson advised one particularly keen fan to wait with their analysis until more of the language had been heard on screen, but after Indra (Adina Porter)’s lengthy Grounder-speak monologue, Peterson has been a bit more forthcoming about the language’s construction.
On his Tumblr page, Peterson has given a lengthy response to a fan in which he lays out some basic ground(er) rules for pronouncing the words correctly:
So far all that there is is what you see/hear in the show. I imagine eventually I’ll put stuff up here. There was some interesting stuff today… (Or yesterday.) Indra had a big line, for example:
Taim yu drag raun, taim yu ge ban au. Oso souda lok em veida tro op fou bilaik emo hon emo sobwe op. Pas daun, em bilaik—
That’s “If you fall behind, you get left behind. We must find the raiding party before they reach the tunnels. After that, it is—”.
If you take a look, you should be able to figure some things out. In effect, the Grounder language (called Trigedasleng) is an evolved form of English. All the words in the language come from English; the grammar and pronunciation’s just changed a little bit (and the meanings of words).
The romanization system I devised should be relatively simple. Most letters are pronounced the same way every time; those that aren’t should have pronunciation differences that make sense to English speakers. (So, for example, voiceless stops like p and k are aspirated in the same places they’re aspirated in English and not aspirated in the places they’re not.) The vowels are the most different. Vowel pronunciation goes as follows:
• A, a = [ǝ] at the end of a word; [æ] elsewhere
• E, e = [ɛ]
• I, i = [i] or [ɪ] (no distinction anymore)
• O, o = [ɑ] or [ɔ] or [ʌ] (no distinction anymore)
• U, u = [u] or [ʊ] (no distinction anymore)
Combinations of vowels are pronounced pretty much like adding one sound after the other, so ei is pronounced like the “a” in “gate”; ai is pronounced like the “i” in “time”, etc.
The vowels are the trickiest bit. All the consonants should be pronounced just like they are in English. The only differences, I think, are that th is always pronounced voicelessly, like the “th” in “think,” not like the “th” in “that,” and d is pronounced like a tap [ɾ] in between vowels.
It’s a fun language to use. At this point in production, the actors have really gotten the hang of it, and they sound great. As we move on, we’re going to hear more and more of it. Hope you enjoy it!
Any language enthusiasts out there hoping to become fluent in Grounder speak? If so, we hope this will help you out! Hopefully Peterson will be able to offer more advice and examples soon.
‘The 100’ season 2, episode 4, ‘Many Happy Returns,’ airs next Wednesday at 9/8c on The CW.
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