Kobold language

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Not to be confused with the terrible programming language.

The Kobold language is one of the languages the player will come across. This language is used in-game for the names, groups, and civilizations of kobolds.

Kobold is governed by different rules than the four main languages. Kobolds have the UTTERANCES creature token, which means their language has no pre-defined vocabulary. Instead, the language consists entirely of proper names built by hard-coded rules, which are detailed below.

Kobold-language words do not actually have a proper English translation; however, Kobold-language objects and individual kobolds will maintain the same name over time.

Alphabet and Graphemics[edit]

The letters of the Kobold alphabet are:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Majuscule forms (also called uppercase or capital letters)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U Y
Minuscule forms (also called lowercase or small letters)
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s t u y

Of these 21 letters, six (A, E, I, O, U, and Y) represent vowels, while the other fifteen represent consonants.

Peculiarities:

  • The letter h only appears in the digraphs sh, th, and ch.
  • The letter n only appears in the digraphs ng, nk, and in, and the trigraph rsn.
  • The letter y only appears in the digraph ay.

The letters Q, V, W, X, and Z of the ISO basic Latin alphabet do not occur in the Kobold alphabet.

Letter Frequency[edit]

Based on a sample of 120 kobold names, the approximate letter frequencies can be established:

Letter Frequency
a 7.8%
b 4.7%
c 0.9%
d 3.6%
e 4.2%
f 2.4%
g 4.3%
h 3.6%
i 8.6%
j 1.5%
k 2.9%
l 10.8%
m 1.9%
n 2.7%
o 4.9%
p 1.3%
r 8.1%
s 11.4%
t 3.6%
u 9%
y 1.9%

Phonotactics[edit]

The Kobold language has 16 distinguishable consonant phonemes, forming the phonological consonant inventory:

Labial Dental Alveolar Post-alveolar Velar
Nasal m [m] n [n*]
Plosive p [p], b [b] t [t], d [d] k [k], g [g]
Affricate ch [t͡ʃ], j [d͡ʒ]
Fricative f [f] th [θ] s [s] sh [ʃ]
Approximant r [r]
Lateral l [l]

*The phoneme represented by n likely has the allophone [ŋ] before g and k.

Syllables[edit]

Kobold has three kinds of syllables, primary, secondary, and final. Every word is composed of one or two primary syllables, zero to two secondary syllables, and one final syllable. Words must begin with a primary syllable, end with a final syllable, the penultimate syllable must be a primary syllable, and all others must be secondary syllables. Therefore, the following structures are allowed:

No. of syllables Structure
2 syllables 1-F
3 syllables 1-1-F
4 syllables 1-2-1-F
5 syllables 1-2-2-1-F

Primary Syllables[edit]

Every primary syllable is of the syllable structure C1(C2)V. C1 is mandatory, and can be one of many consonants; C2 is an optional approximant, which can be either r or l; and V is a vowel.

  • The allowed consonants for C1 are: b, d, st, sh, s, t, th, ch, l, f, g, k, p, and j.
  • The allowed consonants for C2 are: r, l, or nothing.
    • Exception: The consonant cluster ll is forbidden.
  • The allowed vowels for V are: a, o, u, ay, ee, and i.
    • Exception: The digraph vowels ay and ee can only be present in the penultimate syllable of a word (if this is also the initial syllable, it is still allowed).

Secondary Syllables[edit]

Every secondary syllable is of the simple form CV. C is one of a handful of consonants, and V is a vowel.

  • The allowed consonants for C are: b, d, l, f, g, and k.
  • The allowed vowels for V are: a, i, o, and u.
    • Note: All secondary syllables use the same vowel as the first syllable.

Final Syllables[edit]

Every final syllable is of the structure CR. C is one of several consonants or consonant clusters, while R is a rime that is limited to one of the four endings -is, -us, -er, or -in.

  • The allowed consonants for C are: m, r, ng, b, rb, mb, g, lg, l, lb, lm, k, nk, ld, d, and rsn.
  • The allowed rimes for R are: is, us, er, and in.
    • Exception: The rimes er and in are not allowed if the penultimate syllable's vowel is ee or i.

Note that the consonant C is likely not meant to actually begin the final syllable, but rather to be appended to the penultimate syllable. For example, the kobold name Krudulugrilgus would be enunciated as Kru-du-lu-gril-gus, not Kru-du-lu-gri-lgus.

Vocabulary[edit]

As mentioned above, Kobold has no set vocabulary, being formed entirely of procedurally generated proper names. The shortest possible words would be 5 letters and 2 syllables, like sober. While nothing known about the rules of the language limits the length of a word, the longest observed word so far is the personal name stribikistreersnis at 18 letters and 5 syllables.

Inspiration[edit]

D4Dwarf.png This article or section has been rated D for Dwarf. It may include witty humour, not-so-witty humour, bad humour, in-jokes, pop culture references, and references to the Bay12 forums. Don't believe everything you read, and if you miss some of the references, don't worry. It was inevitable.


Toady has said in an interview that the kobold language was created in imitation of his and Threetoe's childhood language developed to speak to cats. (BlindIRL interview, 2020/06/11, [1] )