Primal Language


An Old Friend

What is Primal, and who uses it?
Primal is a written and spoken language with its own unique alphabet and sentence structure. Among humans, Primal is a common tongue for the "furry", "were", and "otherkin" communities. In a more general sense, it is a language of therianthropes: part-human, part-animal creatures, such as gargoyles, centaurs, and seraphim.​
Besides, using Primal is fun! See our Community section for more information on Primal speakers.​
I heard someone say that Primal was just a code. Is Primal really a language?
Yes, Primal is actually a language. Primal has its own words, which, in many cases, do not translate directly to counterparts in any other language. Primal has a unique system of grammar, similar in structure to Chinese. It is a syntax-based language in subject-verb-object format. Primal has its own alphabet, which is nearly invariantly phonetic. This makes Primal words easy to spell and pronounce once the alphabet is understood.​
What does Primal sound like?
This depends largely on the accent of the speaker. I used to maintain sound files embedded in the tutorial, but this was distracting more that it was helping, so they were removed. If a "human" accent is used, as described in the Advanced section of the Tutorial, most native English speakers will find that Primal sounds similar to English. This is because Primal is spoken rather slowly, and all of its phonemes are English-familiar.​
What does Primal script look like?
The following text in Primal says, "I can speak Primal fairly well." It is pronounced "wee lur-ma-mee wih k'lulf". (This image was taken from the Primalfont characters "Wy ,lrmamy Wi kulUf." at 18 point.)​
How does Primal compare to popular constructed languages, such as Klingon, Quenya, or Esperanto?
Primal has a larger lexicon and a more complex system of grammatical construction than either Klingon or Quenya, allowing for a much broader variety of linguistic expression than either of these languages. Esperanto is a more difficult comparison, because its extensive lexicon and development basis puts it on par with natural languages like English. However, despite its size, Primal stands up well next to other natural languages. Although its lexicon is small for a natural language (around three thousand words), Primal's unique grammatical construction allows the same words to be combined in a wider variety of ways than many natural languages.​
I have yet to find anything that I can't express in Primal, either more, or nearly as succinctly as I can express it in English. This includes complex phrasing such as quotations, subordinate clauses, and changing tense. On occasion, a noun may be missing from the dictionary. Missing words are listed in Errata.​
How hard is it for an English-speaker to learn Primal?
Primal is easier to learn than most natural languages (like Spanish or Japanese), and harder to learn than most constructed languages (like Klingon or Esperanto).​
The current version of the Tutorial makes it possible for anyone to learn Primal, but persistence is required. To better facilitate this process, the tutorial is divided into sections on grammar, vocabulary, and general phrases. If you don't want to learn the whole language, you can skip right to the Survival lessons and just memorize how to say common things. In that sense, you can begin speaking Primal today.​
Primal is initially harder to learn than constructed languages like Klingon. There are two reasons for this. First, its alphabet contains 48 letters, all of which sound different, so a little memorization is required. Second, Primal's grammar is more complex than Klingon, and very different from English. There are 148 essential grammar words in Primal, and most of these may combine in novel ways.​
The initial investment of learning Primal's grammar will allow a new speaker to express some very complex concepts, even if the speaker knows only a limited selection of nouns and verbs.​
I've seen the first edition of the dictionary, and I can't understand the words. It looks like it's written with English letters, except it's mostly consonants. How is this pronounceable?
I wrote the first book before I created the font. In an attempt to make the language familiar to people with experience in phonetics, I translated diphthong letters phonetically, and used g, c, w, r, and y as additional vowel markers. This was a mistake. In retrospect, I should have used extended letters with dialectic markings, like "ô", to represent Primal's abundance of vowels.​
For better or worse, the method I chose, called "pidgin script", is the version that the first edition of the dictionary is written in. Pidgin script is both difficult and unnecessary for English speakers to learn. The online tutorial uses actual Primal script, and features a pronunciation guide that is far more intuitive than the pidgin script.​
How many alphabet systems for writing in Primal are there, then?
There are four ways the Primal language can be represented in writing. To learn the written language, you only need to know Primal script. To learn the spoken language, the pronunciation guide is a useful supplementary tool. The font codes are necessary if you want to type in Primal font. I wouldn't recommend that anyone bother to memorize the pidgin script, however. When looking up words in the first edition Primal dictionary, refer frequently to pp. 8-10 and 153 for information on translating pidgin script into spoken and written Primal.​
Primal script
(the actual language)
Pronunciation guide
(used in the tutorial) wee lur-ma-mee wih k'lulf Pidgin script
(found only in the 1st ed. dictionary) Wy lrmamy Wi kululf. Font codes
(used to type the font itself) Wy ,lrmamy Wi kulUf.​
Has Primal changed much since the first book was printed?
Primal hasn't changed at all; I just find errors in the book on occasion. A few of the errors have been fairly large: one grammar word, two contractions, and several nouns were left out, one of the noun prefixes was not defined correctly, and a couple "this is how you do this" examples are completely wrong. There are also some minor formatting errors. The first book was produced on a tight timetable, and I didn't know Primal nearly as well back when I wrote it.​
The first edition book is more useful for its dictionaries than as a grammar guide (the dictionary portion is largely correct). The Tutorial is the current and canonical authority on grammar, and is the way the language was meant to be learned. For more on mistakes in the book, see Errata.​
May I use Primal in my story / artwork / game / etc?
You may use Primal without express permission as long as the amount of Primal in your work is small, and is not copied verbatim from the manual or website. If you publish something with Primal bits included, please contact me as a courtesy to let me know. I like to stay informed. I'd be happy to do a link exchange with you on our Community page.​
Please don't use pidgin script in anything. Pidgin script is deprecated (obsolete).​
Short excerpts of text from the book or webpage are allowed for review purposes only. If you want to copy or print a long excerpt of text from the book or webpage, or if you want to publish or sell something that contains a significantly large amount of Primal, please contact me first, and I'll let you know. I retain the right to change or revoke the above privileges at will and on a person-by-person basis, should irresolvable conflicts arise. So when in doubt, ask first.​
Did you really write this language all by yourself?
I produced and edited the book, and I maintain the tutorial. I also maintain copyright on everything connected to the language. I don't answer questions about where the language came from, though. I prefer to leave that to the imagination of Primal's fans.​
Can YOU speak Primal?
Yes, though not as well as I'd like. I'm a good grammarian, but still a novice speaker. I can readily understand most of a random conversation in spoken or written Primal. Actually constructing Primal speech takes me a little more time, and I look up nouns frequently in the dictionary.​
Interesting as I had not come across this language before. The communities that it is associated with may be part of the reason. Also interesting to see a language that is at the same time being used by social groups but is also copyrighted.
A few years ago I went looking for different languages at bequest of a discussion I was in. I found SECRAL and klingon but I never came across this one. I actually found this during a search into lycanthropes for another discussion I am in about werewolves and shape-shifters. When I saw it I thought it would be interesting to discuss it here due to so many budding writers and all.
I believe that manking has the ability to speak with all the animals on the planet. That the language is there but we have forgotten about it. It exists in everything that has eyes. It is not spoken but felt.