Sarus, srs or the shadow tongue, is the language spoken by the YuYu.
The language utilises the 7 notes of the musical octave, and as such it can be written with notes and played on a musical instrument, in addition to being written in glyphs, Latin text and spoken. The word "Sarus" itself (written as srs) means "language" in Sarus. If the syllables are converted into numbers, sarus/srs spells 525.
- 1 History
- 2 Grammar
- 3 Numbers
- 4 Septaglyphs
- 5 Behind the scenes
- 6 Trivia
- 7 External links
Sarus are spoken by the YuYu, the cross-dimensional shadow people known stealing people from various worlds as they sleep, and bringing them to their shadowy realm to work as slaves.
The roots of Sarus lie in the 7 notes of the musical octave: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti which can be abbreviated to just one letter each: d, r, m, f, s, l, t
Those are the letters of Sarus, called syllables. Every Sarus word is a combination of one or more of those syllables. There are seven 1-syllable words:
- d, r, m, f, s, l, t
After those, we move on to the 2-syllable words, of which there are 49:
- dd, dr, dm, df, ds, dl, dt
- rd, rr, rm, rf, rs, rl, rt
- md, mr, mm, mf, ms, ml, mt
- fd, fr, fm, ff, fs, fl, ft
- sd, sr, sm, sf, ss, sl, st
- ld, lr, lm, lf, ls, ll, lt
- td, tr, tm, tf, ts, tl, tt
Next come the 3-syllable words, of which there are 336.
Sarus words are written as a combination of any of the 7 syllables. Example:
- s - this is a 1-syllable Sarus word that means 'if'.
- drt - this is a 3-syllable Sarus word that means 'create' or 'make'.
- tl - this is a 2-syllable Sarus word that means 'cannot'
Sentences are written just like in most other languages, with a space separating the words, like so:
- dms t ft frf - today is very windy
The language of Sarus is a very limited one, but it is not limiting. One important rule is that there should not be two or more words that mean the same thing. The vocabulary of Sarus is based some of the 1000 most common English words, a huge percentage of which are synonyms or words very similar to others. In Sarus synonyms do not exist. For example, the words strange, weird, bizarre, odd and queer all mean pretty much the same thing, so in Sarus there is just one word that expresses them all: mrf.
Certain words are also mixed where it's logical and works in context:
- d = no, not, don't, isn't, won't
- dms = day, today
- smd = night, tonight
- mrf = weird, bizarre, strange
- rfm = small, little
There are some overlapped definitions in Sarus. Examples:
- heavy - light - dark. In English, the opposite of heavy is light. The opposite of dark is also light. Therefore, heavy and dark share the same Sarus word: srf.
- gentle - rough - smooth. In English, the opposite of gentle is rough. The opposite of smooth is also rough. Therefore, gentle and smooth share the same Sarus word: fml.
Incidentally, the latter example also has a double-up definition, meaning that the Sarus words fml and lmf each have multiple definitions:
- fml = gentle, smooth, clean
- lmf = rough, dirty
Therefore to say in Sarus that the texture feels rough, is the same as saying it feels dirty. Usually the context helps. If someone is on a boat and the sea is choppy, and they were to say: "l ltm m lmf dms", it's highly likely that it would be understood in context as saying "the sea is rough today", and not "the sea is dirty today".
Sarus, being heavily based on Solresol, have 7 "syllables" in the entire vocabulary. Those are the 7 major notes of the musical octave: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti.
Words in Sarus comprise of one, or a combination of several, of the syllables. For example, three syllables Do, Re and Mi when strung together become the Sarus word “doremi”, which translates as ‘the same’. The major obstruction with Solresol was that words needed to be separated by gaps. Therefore, when spoken or played on a musical instrument, any phrase was a stop-start affair, sounding very disjointed. This also made the language very slow, making it cumbersome and inefficient as a language for everyday communication.
The pronunciation system of Sarus is similar to certain other languages by using something similar to syllable stress. The first syllable of every word (called the Prime Syllable) is stressed slightly. Furthermore, the prime syllable is pronounced a little differently to other syllables in the same word. The combination of those two rules make the start of each word easily recognisable, so that by using this method, words may be spoken without gaps separating them. The pronunciation for the seven syllables when used as a word's prime syllable are:
- Do – pronounced ‘doe’
- Re – pronounced ‘ray’
- Mi – pronounced ‘mee’
- Fa – pronounced ‘faa’
- So – pronounced ‘so’
- La – pronounced ‘laa’
- Ti – pronounced ‘tee’
All other syllables in the word, called Latter Syllables are pronounced differently. All latter syllables are pronounced with their vowels replaced by an ‘uh’ sound. Therefore, all latter syllables in a word are pronounced as follows:
- do – pronounced ‘də’
- re – pronounced ‘rə’
- mi – pronounced ‘mə’
- fa – pronounced ‘fə’
- so – pronounced ‘sə’
- la – pronounced ‘lə’
- ti – pronounced ‘tə’
A Sarus word in its entirety is made up of anywhere from one to 5 or even 6 syllables. For example, the word faedmir means ‘almost’ and consists of the syllables: Fa, Do, Mi, Re. Fa is the prime, and do mi re are the latters. This word is thus pronounced as follows: Fadəmərə (faa-duh-muh-ruh). When spoken, the ‘ə’ of the final syllable may be dropped. Not only does this streamline the word, but it also makes the ending recognisable: Fadəmər (fa-duh-mur)
The syllable ‘Re’ can become difficult to pronounce when it appears twice in a row. For example the question “Am I coming?” translates as follows: Rerə Dorə Rerədə. To make this easier, a double ‘re’ makes use of the consonant ‘k’. The second of the two is changed to ‘kə’, so that 'Rerə' becomes ‘Rekə’. Therefore, the above question "Am I coming?" is much easier pronounced: Rekə Dorə Rekəde. But there is still a double 're' between Dorə and Rekəde. When the sentence is said aloud, the latter ‘rə’ in Dorə is followed closely by the prime Re in Rekədə. To combat this, whenever necessary, 'k' is is used for the problem, however the 'k' consonant cannot be used on a prime syllable, so with this change and the final syllables dropped, the sentence is pronounced as: Rek Dok Rekəd.
The use of 'k' is for pronunciation purposes. When writing the abbreviated form of Sarus words, for example "ssf dr rmtr" (give me permission) the double 'r' remains. When writing, there is no k in abbreviated Sarus. Sarus words contain various combinations of vowels amongst the consonant syllables. Those vowels are inconsequential to the meaning as the language is based on the solfege syllables D R M F S L T, and so they alone are the important parts of the word, and essential for correct translation. Therefore, “remitur” means the same as raemytir, romutar or even rhymethehour. Each of those words contain the exact same Sarus syllables in the same order: RMTR. The vowels in a word are merely padding.
Getting the syllables correct is important, because this is the skeleton of the word. Apart from speech and writing, Sarus can also be translated to colour, melody (being based on the 7 notes of the musical octave) and hand signals for deaf people.
The world 'l' (the) in Sarus is used for the singular definite article. English words like "A and "An", which is indefinite articles, do not exist in Sarus. To say "boy", one says "dsl". To say "The boy" one says "l dsl". And to say "A boy" one also says "dsl" (simply "boy".)
The word 'la' in Sarus is simply for the definite article, not for the indefinite article. 'la' means "The" and nothing more. It does not mean "A" or "An".
Sarus is not the only language to not have indefinite articles. Asian languages, while having indefinite articles, do not have definite articles for example ("A", "An", or The") and it is all understood by context, and so it is in Sarus with the indefinite article. Examples:
- Sarus: l lsd t ltt.
- Literal: The girl is beautiful.
- English equivalent: The girl is beautiful.
- English slang: That chick is hot.
- Sarus: lsd t ltt.
- Literally: Girl is beautiful.
- English equivalent: A girl is beautiful.
- English slang: Some chick is hot.
The definite article changes the subject from just a random thing out of all that exist to the particular thing that is being referred to.
Plurals for Sarus nouns are expressed by adding another syllable to the end of the word. But it can't be any old syllable. The "pluralize" syllable used depends on what the final syllable of the singular word is. The pluralizing syllable will be whatever comes after the final syllabe of the singular word.
- tooth = mds <- - singular
- teeth = mdsl <- - plural
The pluralizing syllable is l because it comes after s (d, r, m, f, s, l, t).
Triple syllables are never used in Sarus. So ddd, rrr, mrrr, tttf, etc. don't exist. There are many words in Sarus that contain double syllables though. Using a standard syllable to pluralize (for example, just adding d at the end), would give a triple syllable in every word ending with dd. For example, rdd (edge), rddd (edges). This goes against the 'no triple syllable' rule. So by making the pluralizing syllable dependent on the final syllable of the word, there cannot be clashes, or rule-breaking exceptions. If t is the final syllable of the singular, then d will be the pluralizing syllable. Overall, in all 4 syllable nouns, if the last two syllables are consecutives, then the word is a plural of something.
A few examples of verbs:
- tmd - play
- rrl - speak
- rmm - see
In line with the rule about suppressing synonyms, in Sarus, the verb "to be" and its variations "am", "be", "is" and "are" is reduced to one word 't'. For example, the phrase "I am good" is the same as "I be good", "I is good" and "I good". Generally in Sarus, for simplicity "I good" is used. If someone asks "Are you good?" or Rr dm ms, someone would reply "be" or 't'. This is also an example of how/why 't' is used to also mean "Yes." If someone isn't good, they would reply "not" or 'd'. Examples of 't' covering several similar means:
- I am big
- dr t mfr
- It is there
- df t lm
- We are loud
- dt t sdr
- She is clumsy
- ds t mmf
Verbs such as 'go' can be turned into 'going' by putting 't' before it. This literally means 'be go' but translates as 'going'.
- drr - go
- t drr - going
- -- - --
- fdt - eat
- t fdt - eating
- - --- -
- mdt - walk
- t mdt - walking
Reversing a word in Sarus generally reverses the meaning. However with most of the question words, there is no opposite so reversing the word changes the meaning to another question word.
- fr - when?
- rf - where?
- -- - -
- rm - what?
- mr - who?
The exception here is 'why?' whose opposite is 'because'.
- rs - why?
- sr - because
This is the only question word whose opposite is not another question word.
Questions that begin with the question prefix 'rr' generally call for a yes/no response. In Sarus, 'be' and 'not' are used to mean 'yes' and 'no'. Examples:
- Question: rr dm t drr - you be go? (are you going?)
- Answer: t - be (yes I am)
- -- - -
- Question: rr df t ml - he be here? (is he here?)
- Answer: d - not (no he's not)
Another way to answer is to confirm/deny the question:
- Question: rr dm rmm dr - you see me? (do you see me?)
- Answer: rmm - see (yes I see you)
- --- -- -
- Question: rr dm mrr df - you have it? (do you have it?)
- Answer: d mrr - not have (no I don't have it)
Answering negative/affirmative in this way is not possible when the other question words are used, such as 'where have you been?' or "what are you doing?". Instead the question words require a more explanatory response, rather than a simple yes or no. Examples:
- Question: rf dm t drr - where you be go? (where are you going?)
- Answer: dr t drr lm - I be go there (I'm going there)
- or, more simply
- Answer: lm - there (I'm going there)
Questions in Sarus must use a question word. A question word can either be what, why, who, etc, or it can be the question prefix, 'rr' (pronounced 'rek'). If there is no question word or question prefix, it is just a sentence. Unlike in English where we end our questions with a question mark, in Sarus we put 'rr' at the beginning. This prefix is the difference between a sentence and a question:
- dm t drr - you are going.
- rr dm t drr - are you going?
- - -- -
- dr t fmd - I am late.
- rr dr t fmd - am I late?
- -- --
- ml - here.
- rr ml - here?
The question prefix is not necessary when another question word is used, such as 'who is there?', or 'when are we going?'
The command or suggestion prefix, 'dd', is used to turn a verb into a command or suggestion by placing it at the beginning of the word. A command is simply "DO IT NOW!" Placing 'dd' in front of the verb 'frt' (like) and adding 'dr' (me) afterwards gives:
- Dd frt dr - LIKE ME!
It works the same with the future prefix 'll' (will):
- Dr ll frt dm - I will like you
In order to encode a verb with the past tense, the past prefix or passive participle 'tt' is placed before the verb, like so:
- sml - break
- tt sml - broken
- rrm - do
- tt rrm - done
The past prefix is also used to turn a noun into an adjective or superlative form, like so:
- ms - good
- tt ms - best
- sdr - loud
- tt sdr - loudest
- fl - more
- tt fl - most
The word 'tt' can be used by itself to mean "most".
Future tense is encoded by placing the future prefix or future participle, or 'll' in front of the verb. As with 'tt' the word 'll' also have its own meaning by itself, which is "will". The future participle can also be used to encode a noun, like so:
- t sml - The break
- t ll sml - The breaking
The number system in Sarus is very straight-foward:
- d = 0
- r = 1
- m = 3
- f = 5
- s = 7
- l = 9
- t = +1
In order to indicate that the word is a number and not an ordinary word 'sts' (number) is placed in front of the number and 'dd' at the end to indicate the end of the number, so "I saw 347 people" becomes: ss dr rrm sts mmts dd drlt.
By adding 't' to a digit, one can keep counting higher:
- d = 0
- r = 1
- rt = 2
- m = 3
- mt = 4
- f = 5
- ft = 6
- s = 7
- st = 8
- l = 9
However t = +1 to a digit and not an entire number, so t cannot be used with d, l, or itself, as it breaks this rule, and therefore the following numbers do not exist:
Examples of legit numbers are:
- rtm = 23
- rtmt = 24
- mmtfffl = 345559
- lld = 990
- rlsr = 1971
- rlstmt = 1984
Written Sarus utilises a set of unique glyphs called 'septaglyphs' or 'heptaglyph', words derived from the "septagon" and "heptagon", words for a 7-sided mathematical figure. Each glyph stands for a word rather than a syllable. Septaglyphs are constructed from a septagon figure with a centre point, and with the 7 syllables d, r, m, f, s, l and t going clockwise around the outside points. This 7-sided figure is the basis for Sarus septaglyphs, but it is only a guide shape and is not drawn when actually writing Sarus.
Guide to septaglyphs
Behind the scenes
- The language was developed by Adam Phillips specifically for use in the Brackenwood universe. It utilises the solfège musical notes as syllables and was inspired by "Solresol", a conlang created by Jean Francois Sudré in the 19th Century. When developing the language Phillips downloaded lists from the internet of the 1,000 most common English words and based it on them. The language can be learned and spoken and has its own glyphs, known as septaglyph. Lessons are available on Adam Phillips' website, on the Sarus section (see external links below.) A lot of new vocabulary was developed through the help of online users on Phillips' forums.
- Phillips' original idea of Sarus was for the language to have been adopted for universal communication by the ancient inhabitants of Brackenwood, before they mysteriously vanished. This was later retconned.