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Summary Details

Query:   Sum: 8.797 Language identification
Author:  Mark Mandel
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Genetic Classification

Summary:   In LINGUIST #8.797 I asked:

> An acquaintance of my daughter's writes:
> ===================================
> Identify this language please?
> "Idolem urodo iatu a wi rot
> Ukufu kush onuoy nehawuoch
> Etia di ukoik ura nakurah
> Enadu yoimi nnesar urugem
> Eteako ich atak
> Ureatu tso oodah
> Amia wibo koro yonneie"
> I think I have a pretty good idea of what languages this is *not* (not
> a Romance language, not Germanic, not Slavic, not Chinese, Japanese,
> Vietnamese...). Also, if it translates to something really corny,
> lemme know so I can stop embarrassing myself every time I sing it.

I received replies from five people, four of whom offered

Gregory F. Roberts <robertsg@gusun.georgetown.ed> and
Douglas Dee <Douglas.Dee@us.coopers.com> pointed me to a Web site
maintained by Nora E. Stevens,
www-personal.umich.edu/~nstevens/harukanaru.html ,
that shows the text and explains it as the reverse of

> Tori wa utai odoru melodi,
> Chouwa hen no shukufuku.
> Harukanaru kioku idaite,
> Meguru rasen ni mioyudane.
> Katachi o kaete--
> Hadoo o tsutaeru.
> Eien no yorokobi wa ima

Roberts adds:

> They are lyrics from a role playing game called the Final
> Fantasy by Squaresoft.

[And indeed, that is what the Web site is dedicated to. The main
page of the site
is titled

> Welcome to the Opera House
> Featuring the lyrics to the sweet melodies
> of the Final Fantasy series

and it gives lyrics in English, Japanese (Romaji), Portuguese,
Italian, French, and Saami, as well as many audio files of music
(without words).]

Leon A Serafim <serafim@hawaii.edu> also recognized it as
"Japanese written in mirror image."

The fullest response came from Tomoyuki Kubo
<kubo@fukuoka-edu.ac.jp>, who kindly gave me permission to quote
this response:

> It is the Esenapaj language,
> which is the mirror image of Japanese,
> with different word boundaries.
> The mirror image of this language is;
> Tori wa utai odoru melodii *
> Chou wa hen'you no shukufuku *
> Harukanaru kioku idaite
> Meguru rasen ni mi o yudane *
> Katachi o kaete
> Hadoo o tsutaeru
> Eien no yorokobi wa ima

(Asterisks added.) Apart from punctuation, Kubo's reversal differs
from Stevens's (which Kubo did not appear to be aware of) in the
starred lines. I am inclined to prefer Kubo's analysis, which I
infer is native while Stevens credits several other people for
help with her translations.

[* Damn and blast Indo-European obligatory pronoun gender! Just
because I don't know whether Kubo is male or female, I have to
contort my syntax to avoid specifying it.]

None of the respondents attempted to translate the text. I took
Kubo's version to a Japanese co-worker, who shook her head over
it and chuckled. "It isn't really coherent sentences," she said
[approximately], "and in some places it's ambiguous. It could be a
joke on someone trying to be pompous, but it sounds about as
stupid as a lot of Japanese lyrics." Here is my transcription of
her translations:

The bird sings and dances to the melody.
Butterfly blesses the metamorphosis
hoarding far memory
entrusting the body to a spiraling helix
changing shape
transmit the wave [or "undulation"]
eternal happiness is here

Thanks to all who replied!

Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : mark@dragonsys.com
Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02160, USA : http://www.dragonsys.com/
Personal home page: http://world.std.com/~mam/

LL Issue: 8.931
Date Posted: 26-Jun-1997
Original Query: Read original query


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