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TheLightLost
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PostSubject: Harpy wiki entry   Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:57 pm

After receiving lots of feedback to a journal in which I posed the question, "Why aren't harpies popular," I came to the conclusion that peoples' difficulty with the "harpy language" is one of, if not the biggest roadblock to seeing harpies used more. I don't think this should be a mandate for harpies and I think the wiki entry could probably be reworded to say that the use of harpy slang, or dialect, is common but it would not be strange to find harpies that don't use it at all. I used the term slang because I think it better fits the idea that this way of speaking should be considered informal rather than formal.

I've recently updated the bio for my character Gale and made it so that she actually struggles with the use of slang. Hopefully, this suggestion makes sense to people and the language issue won't be such a hurdle going forward for people who want to use harpies in story.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Edit: Copied and pasted from page 3 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



I hope this description will clear up some of the confusion surrounding harpies and the way they speak, making them more accessible for people who struggle with figuring them out. Proposed changes to the entry are in italics.



Harpies

Harpies are half-women half-bird creatures, with wings instead of arms and claws instead of feet. Many of them have feathers on various parts of their body as well, although this varies from one specimen to another. Felaryan harpies are usually giant, about 100 feet tall on average, but shorter races also exist. They are an all female species, mating with males from other races to reproduce. A harpy baby inherits a small amount of genetic material from her father, which goes into trait and features that donít alter her physiology as a member of her motherís species. Harpies are voracious and one of the top predators in the skies of Felarya. With their excellent vision and hearing, they can spot prey from extremely far away. They usually attack with a swift swoop, mouth wide open to snatch a prey on the ground. Being without hands, harpies are extremely agile with their mouth and tongue. They are known to play cruel games with their prey when hunting in groups, involving dropping and catching. Harpies from many different worlds are known for their sarcastic and mocking retorts, and Felaryan harpies are no different. As a race, theyíve had a long standing feud with the sphinxes, whom they see as little more than a bunch of full-of-themselves and self-righteous morons, and have fought several wars with them.

( Removed: They are prone to anger and often quarrel amongst themselves.
Why I think this part about anger and quarreling should be dropped: Well for one, itís not a trait that should be applied to an entire race of sentient creatures; itís more fitting for a bunch of primitive and unintelligent animals. Besides, harpy dialect is often used and itís supposed to be gestures of politeness, right? It contradicts the underlined portions of the entry that follows.)


Harpy dialect

Most harpies have the curious habit of punctuating their sentences with what would appear to be a threat or insult. They normally don't mean it at all though, it's just traditional for them to use insults and it would seem unusual if they didn't. That being said, not all harpies use this dialect to the same degree but for the most part the only time harpies will skip this custom is if they are in a hurry or if they have something very important to say and donít want their comment to be misinterpreted. Use of the peculiar dialect can range from often to rarely, blunt to subtle, and simple to complex. . For example, if a harpy wanted to say: "I wish to speak to your sister", she could add a threat, like: "Let me see your sister or face my wrath!" If the other harpy wanted to reply in a similar manner, she could say; "She's not here." then she might actually say: "Insolent fool! My sister has more important matters to deal with than speaking to the likes of you!"
Upon hearing that exchange, one might conclude that the two harpies are on the verge of killing each other, but that's not the case at all. The tone and construction of the sentence gives subtle information about its real meaning. Needless to say this habit contributes a lot to their reputation as being very rude in the eyes of other races. Aul Ne'kmu'm is a well know Harpiologist who dedicated years to decipher this dialect and its true meaning. Here are some of his observations.


(End of entry.
Removed: Some harpies are known to use extremely sophisticated insults with almost all the real information being in the tone of the insult rather than the actual words.

Why: Itís redundant.

I forgot, I also think the " it would seem odd or even impolite if they didn't" should be dropped.

Why: A harpy that doesn't use it as much shouldn't been viewed as impolite, just unusual.

Okay. Any thoughts? Itís not much but does this seem even the slightest bit better? Please feel free to correct my grammar or tell me Iím off my rocker. All feedback is appreciated.)


Last edited by Heavenless-star on Wed May 23, 2012 6:13 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : pasted proposed revision)
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:17 pm

I agree that the way they speak is a problem when I write Harpies. I find the language, where what they say is pretty much nothing but threats and just being rude all the time as needlessly complicated. Most of the time, I just punctuate their speech with insults and such when I find appropriate, otherwise it's a miracle I can understand anything they say with someone else pointing out what they meant.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:58 pm

Tone. Though tone is hard to write, difficult to express save for a skilled writer, but I think tone of voice is the Harpy Language's best friend.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:12 pm

I don't think you understood my point Bael.

Edit: ok, I think I know how to word what I'm trying to say. I've seen responses from people saying that it's too difficult to come up with good dialogue for harpies with the way that their supposed to talk. I don't think we should lead people to believe that there's something wrong with a harpy that doesn't throw insults and spew obscenities with every other word. My suggestion is that we call it slang rather than language so that people know that way of speaking is informal. Sure they often use it in heavy doses but not using it at all shouldn't be uncommon either.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:10 pm

Change one of a species' main traits because some people aren't creative enough to try using it? I just can't go by this.

I think the MAIN problem with Harpy language is that people over-think it. They sling insults around a lot, often in the place of complements. That doesn't mean they HAVE to cuss in a cartoonishly excessive manner every other word, or that you have to constantly come up with new insults. Harpies just have a direct, rough way of speaking. Just because someone is described as "foulmouthed" doesn't mean their entire dialogue consists of cursing. Cursing can be used in a casual, natural way, even if its applied a bit heavy.

You can't just change around a whole species because one aspect puts off some people. If we did that, then dridders wouldn't be able to inject other people their size with venom and suck out the soup, and slug-girls wouldn't have their penises anymore. You do not make a species less unique just to try and make it more accessible.

Quote :
I don't think we should lead people to believe that there's something wrong with a harpy that doesn't throw insults and spew obscenities with every other word

The fact that some people think that is what is required of harpies is exactly what I'm saying is the problem.

Harpies suffer from trait-exaggeration, just like nagas and dridders have. "Crisis is nice and friendly, so all nagas must be nice and friendly". "It says dridders have a mean-streak every now and then, and sometimes they don't like or trust nagas... so all dridders must be sadistic, cruel, evil and racist towards nagas". "It says harpies use a lot of foul language, and often use insults in the place of complements... so all harpies need to spew out south park levels of obscenities every other word to be normal".

Some people just cannot read a bio, read some common traits, and NOT take them to cartoonish extremes in their attempts to "get it right".

If anything, more people need to look at Belletia and the harpies in the mangas. Yes, they have a direct, blunt way of speaking... but they can talk to other species and hold a conversation just fine. Belletia doesn't spew out excessive amounts of obscenities every other word. Neither do the other harpies or her mother.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:06 pm

rcs619 wrote:
Some people just cannot read a bio, read some common traits, and NOT take them to cartoonish extremes in their attempts to "get it right".

As seen in the Star Wars extended universe. On a professional scale. Apparently, a race can only have one defining trait, in some people's eyes.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:11 pm

I'm not sure people are understanding what I'm trying to say. v_v

I was trying to say the entry can be misleading. I think I should drop this whole matter.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:54 am

Well what you were saying basically amounted to "I can't write the one thing that makes harpies stand out so can we remove that please?" If you want to make a harpy that doesn't curse too much, or nothing at all, you could do it and no one would judge you. Removing the harpy language entirely would make harpies lose what made them special and would just make them generic bird people, and even LESS interesting than before
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:10 am

Let's just drop it. I can't communicate my point. People are not understanding me.@
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:22 am

Let me translate what Heavenless-star is saying. As you can see in this entry, everything harpies say is completely different from their actual meaning. I would like to see you try to write a story, a 20 kb .txt file story at the very least, centered around only harpies, and follow the way the language is presented, without breaking your balls trying to come up with every single words that come out of their mouth.

What Heavenless-star is suggesting is that we TONE DOWN the language. Instead of each sentence they say having the exact opposite meaning, they tend to drop in insults, sometimes threats and others in their speech. This would make them a lot more accessible.

As for you Cliff, your point presents something else: there is an inconsistency between the way the language is presented in the wiki, and the way it is actually used. If anything, this is more of an incentive to make this language thing more precise. If the point of a wiki is to present a guideline or inform people, it must be accurate. If this "harpy language" was that they have a tendency to be very blunt and sometimes rude, this would be all simple and straightforward. However, that is not the case with the entry I posted.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:12 am

Shady Knight wrote:


As for you Cliff, your point presents something else: there is an inconsistency between the way the language is presented in the wiki, and the way it is actually used. If anything, this is more of an incentive to make this language thing more precise. If the point of a wiki is to present a guideline or inform people, it must be accurate. If this "harpy language" was that they have a tendency to be very blunt and sometimes rude, this would be all simple and straightforward. However, that is not the case with the entry I posted.

This is mainly what I've been trying to say. The wiki entry is misleading. Those... clever people who are creative enough to use it... are not using it in the way the wiki would have you believe it should work. It's misrepresented as a language when it's actually a colloquial dialect, or slang, and that's the way most people who think they use it well use it. Most people who read the wiki don't get that impression. Let's not say screw them, let's make the harpy way of speaking more accessible by calling it what it is.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:22 am

Heavenless-star wrote:
Shady Knight wrote:


As for you Cliff, your point presents something else: there is an inconsistency between the way the language is presented in the wiki, and the way it is actually used. If anything, this is more of an incentive to make this language thing more precise. If the point of a wiki is to present a guideline or inform people, it must be accurate. If this "harpy language" was that they have a tendency to be very blunt and sometimes rude, this would be all simple and straightforward. However, that is not the case with the entry I posted.

This is mainly what I've been trying to say. The wiki entry is misleading. Those... clever people who are creative enough to use it... are not using it in the way the wiki would have you believe it should work. It's misrepresented as a language when it's actually a colloquial dialect, or slang, and that's the way most people who think they use it well use it. Most people who read the wiki don't get that impression. Let's not say screw them, let's make the harpy way of speaking more accessible by calling it what it is.

So people actually FOLLOWING the wiki is the problem? Wow, that's a first. Most people never even seem read it before trying to write.

Anyway, the wiki doesn't really mean shit and a large chunk of it is old and out of date. Do whatever you want. It's not like there's really a canon to enforce, since everyone's personal "vision of Felarya" is just as correct as everyone else's according to Karbo. Squabbling over wiki issues is pretty much pointless these days, since adhering to anything in the wiki is entirely optional.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:33 am

Getting frustrated, are we? Believe what you want to believe, but the fact of the matter is, the entry on the harpy language seems to be contradictory to the way said language is actually used. As a matter of fact, YOU pointed out that Karbo himself does not follow it when writing his own harpy character. Shouldn't this be taken as a sign that this is not accurate?
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:50 am

I don't want this to become an issue about the wiki as a whole. I'm pointing out an issue with a particular entry that causes confusion and poses a problem for new people who want to create a character from one of Felarya's other "major races"
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:55 am

I agree with Shady. If people (even Karbo) doesn't follow the way it's presented, then something might want to be changed. However, Harpy Language is very difficult to get a grasp on, and this must be understood first, before we decide what to do. Something can sound nice or mean or affectionate based on tone of voice alone. You know that what you say, and how you say it, are two different things? If you say something obscene, but in a nice tone of voice it's either mocking, or feathering the real meaning.

I believe, at least I want to believe, that a tone of voice should be mentioned about how they speak, and what they say can be interpreted quite differently based on how its said, this would allow for their "foulmouthed" language to have insults and mocking tones.

As for "toning down" the language, how should we do that, I wonder? I'm actually serious there. I'm not sure how we'd tone it down, without making it sound like harpy language. Otherwise it'd just be like someone cussing like a sailor, and that wouldn't be another language. The interesting thing about "harpy language" is that its a language with common tongue, but the dialect is so weird, that it might as well be a different language, due in part to the profanity, and the harsh, forth-coming attitude most harpies have about matters, often speaking from their heart in the process. That's one reason why its so hard to get. There's a difference between a Sailor cussing, and a Harpy speaking. geek
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:05 pm

That's the problem Bael. According to the entry on the harpy language, their speech is nothing but a long-winded string of insults and threats, only meaning the opposite of what they said. However, almost none adhere to it. Therefore, it isn't really a language anymore, just a speech pattern seemingly endemic to harpies.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:27 pm

Archmage_Bael wrote:
I agree with Shady. If people (even Karbo) doesn't follow the way it's presented, then something might want to be changed. However, Harpy Language is very difficult to get a grasp on, and this must be understood first, before we decide what to do. Something can sound nice or mean or affectionate based on tone of voice alone. You know that what you say, and how you say it, are two different things? If you say something obscene, but in a nice tone of voice it's either mocking, or feathering the real meaning.

I believe, at least I want to believe, that a tone of voice should be mentioned about how they speak, and what they say can be interpreted quite differently based on how its said, this would allow for their "foulmouthed" language to have insults and mocking tones.

Bael, what you just described is slang, not an entirely different language. Harpy speech is commonly slang laden.


Archmage_Bael wrote:

As for "toning down" the language, how should we do that, I wonder? I'm actually serious there. I'm not sure how we'd tone it down, without making it sound like harpy language. Otherwise it'd just be like someone cussing like a sailor, and that wouldn't be another language. The interesting thing about "harpy language" is that its a language with common tongue, but the dialect is so weird, that it might as well be a different language, due in part to the profanity, and the harsh, forth-coming attitude most harpies have about matters, often speaking from their heart in the process. That's one reason why its so hard to get. There's a difference between a Sailor cussing, and a Harpy speaking. geek


In my mind, toning down the "language" means calling it slang. That one word could clear up so much confusion over the way harpies are typically known to speak. I know many people don't care to take the time to clean up something like this but I think it would be beneficial to the community to be clear about a significant part of this "major race's" culture.

It's not a language, it's slang and heavy use of it is common but it's not strange to see a harpy that doesn't use slang much or at all either.

Am I making sense?
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:30 pm

Or rather just call it harpy dialect. It's not really a different language, they just have an off-beat method of speech.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:04 pm

Yes, that's precisely why tone is so important.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:12 pm

I hope you remember that we are talking about how the alleged language functions in a non-AUDITIVE medium. It may be possible to get away with it in a visual medium, if you look at the character's expression. But in prose fiction, a non-visual and non-auditive medium, tone cannot be carried with nearly the same ease. Therefore, this whole idea that "tone is important" is utterly meaningless in literature, which is where the majority of people hit a road block when trying to write down harpies' dialect.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:29 pm

Not entirely. Describing in the wiki how their tone carries other meanings too, would help. It's not impossible to write about, just difficult, but anyone writing about Harpies would have a tough time. (they're not for the weak of heart, you know Razz) So we shouldn't just say "no" just because its hard to write about, y'know?

Besides you can always say in a dialogue "oh you didn't have to say it like that" or whatever suits the character speaking. You could also add in descriptions, but truth be told, I'm unsure how to write about tone.

Sacrificing a good idea for the sake of writers...
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:32 pm

It isn't about sacrificing a good idea. It is about correcting what seems to be a misleading interpretation of their language. The examples in the entry are very outlandish, and as a result, none use them, not even Karbo himself. As such, this alleged language is not a language. It is simply an incredibly odd style of diction. This isn't to mean that harpies aren't going to be blunt and rude at every opportunity they get.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:39 pm

Archmage_Bael wrote:
Yes, that's precisely why tone is so important.

Part of being blunt and direct is the tone of voice. Tone is important and it has the opposite affect that you're thinking it does because of the way the wiki says it is used. This is an example of the confusion that could be cleared up.

Edit: I'm sorry, now I'm confusing myself.

Basically, text has no tone so it's impossible to decipher the meaning of something said through a string of insults, much like Shady Knight said. Anyway, I don't really think this is going anywhere and I'm sorry for bringing it up.
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:15 pm

No its important, and I think we should all clarify. As long as no one starts yelling at each other I don't see the problem here. ^^
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PostSubject: Re: Harpy wiki entry   Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:32 pm

Here's my two cents:

The problem with this argument is that it is entirely focused on language. Yes, how they say something is very important. But what is being forgotten in this conversation is character's perception.

If harpy A speaks to harpy B, they know each other, their language, their customs, etc. So basically their conversations would seem normal to them. Yet, if Harpy A spoke to Naga A, no matter how nice the harpy is to the naga, their language will sound somewhat insulting to the naga. Plus, as established by Karbo, there is an in-universe perception of the harpy rudeness. Everyone in Felarya who is not a harpy and is not close personal friends with one, will for the most part perceive a harpy as being somewhat insulting even when they're not trying to be.

If I portray a regular harpy speaking with a non-harpy and neither are good friends, then I need to insulate that the harpy's language is abrasive. I have to do this because there is an understanding that the harpy's language is a bit insulting to the non-harpy.

Here's a real life example: "Swearing like a sailor." In most navy's sailors swear. (Shocking I know!) Sailors can use swear words in such a way as to be almost common place words. I heard on sailor use a couple cuss words over seven times in one sentence and we all knew what he was talking about. Basically, swearing in the navy (even if it's discouraged) is the culture. Swear words take on non-insulting meanings to the sailors. However, if a non-sailor were to hear two sailors talking and using swear words, their ears would melt off in embarrassment. They would be shocked at how dirty sailor's mouths were! In the end, if the person was in the culture, they would understand and not be insulted. If the person was not, they they would be highly likely not to understand and be somewhat insulted. ( "That god#$% mother f%^&*#$ has my f$%^&%$ wrench!" = "The new guy has my wrench." I heard that line a lot in the navy.)
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