Supergirl Episode 313
Supergirl Episode 313: "Both Sides Now"
At a climactic point in the episode, the two opposing Kryptonians, Supergirl and Purity, exchange some heated words in Kryptonian. For those that don't speak Kryptonian it was probably a fittingly dramatic climax to the confrontation; for those that do, though, it bordered on the comical side — questionable word choices, incorrect word order, nary a verb conjugation to be found. It's a good thing that they included translated subtitles or I never would have been able to figure out what they were actually trying to say. Yeah, grammatically, it was that bad.
Shameless plug: this is why the show could really use my help with translations and pronunciation.
Purity starts off by (reportedly) saying: "The three will walk across the land, and the blood of the weak will water the world." What I could make out was: /nim bao tahn chao nahn raoghis nim zhahgehv/ — the last word trailed off quite a bit, but after several listenings I'm pretty sure I got it right.
- /bao/ → /:buahn/
- The colon (:) represents a letter in Kryptonian, the pre-nasal consonant. It's a little unique in that it will only ever appear in front of another voiced consonant at the beginning of a word (or at least at the beginning of a root stem) and its pronunciation is determined by the consonant that follows it, but it's still a consonant. What was pronounced as a one-syllable word, "bao", should have been the three-syllable word, /:buahn/ ("mmm-boo-ahn").
- /raoghis/ → /raogrhys/
- I've noticed that the actors tend to pronounce /y/ as "eeee" when it should always be pronounced as a short lax vowel like the y in "Krypton" or the i in "pit".
- I can't blame any English speaker for 1. not knowing how to pronounce /grh/ when they run across it (IPA:
[ʀ]), or 2. not being able to pronounce it anyway. The sound is a uvular trill (you can find an audio sample on the Wikipedia page for uvular trill). The actors are doing more of a velar fricative, which I think is perfectly passable.
- /zhahgehv/ → /zhgehv/
- This one is really minor, but there shouldn't be a vowel between /zh/ and /g/. To think of a similar situation in English, imagine if someone pronounced "ski" as two syllables: "sah-kee".
Moving on to the actual translation is another matter — it's a mess. Literally, it's something like: "will be to walk land and be strength will be world". Like I said, without help I would have had no idea what they were going for. The number three doesn't even appear in the sentence. Another thing to point out in all of these is that Kryptonian has a simple conjunction, /chao/ ("and") which is only used within a clause/sentence. A different set of conjunction words are used to join clauses together (which is what they needed here and below); this is clearly indicated in the online dictionary, I'm just sayin'...
Here's a real translation into Kryptonian (with a little bit of liberty on the English to make it work better in Kryptonian).
Adapted from Supergirl, Season 3, Episode 13 (2018)
Supergirl's lines were much easier to hear and follow... maybe Benoist is getting a little more comfortable with doing Kryptonian? The lines were subtitled as "Rao defies you. I defy you. And I will bring you low." Here's what I heard her say: /rao rryp udoliv/, /kahp rryp udoliv/, /chao kahgir fah/.
- /rryp/ → /rrip/ → /rraop/
- The /i/ in the word should be a tense vowel, "eeee" — /rrip/ rhymes with "keep" (not "rip").
- A Kryptonian speaker would only ever use the gender-neutral form of pronouns in the given context. So really the word should have been /rraop/. Using the gendered pronouns in this context just makes everything ... weird.
- /kahp/ → /khap/ → /khuhp/
- /kh/ is not a hard (plosive) "k" sound as in "bake", but a soft (fricative) "kh" as in "J.S. Bach".
- /khap/ rhymes with "cap" and "chap" (not with "cop" or "chop").
- The Same gendering comment as above applies. The word should have been /khuhp/ (rhymes with "cup").
- What makes the sentence even weirder is that with the combination of (trying) to use the gendered pronoun /khap/ ("me"), what was actually said was /khahp/ which is the masculine form.
- /kahgir/ → /kehgier/
- Breaking the word into its syllables, /kehg/ rhymes with "peg".
- The second syllable, /ier/, rhymes with "air". The /i/ before any other vowel is pronounced like the y in "you".
The translation here is no better than the other. Literally you get something like: "Rao you to rebel/sin", "me you to rebel/sin", "and move down". I have no idea why they put the verb at the end of the first two sentences, it makes no sense in either Kryptonian or English. The third sentence has neither subject nor object. Why?
To be fair, I didn't have a word for "to defy" before writing this. I have created it now for this translation.
Also to be fair, when you need to adjectivalize/adverbize an adposition in Kryptonian, you have to prefix it with /su-/, which I don't have anywhere on the site at the time of this writing, e.g., /fah/ ("I went down the ladder.") vs. /sufah/ ("I fell down.")
Here's a real translation into Kryptonian of Benoist's lines (again with a little bit of liberty on the English to make it work better in Kryptonian).