Guilds & Mysteries #2: Gharonk Language

You can propose your article here.
Post Reply
Posts: 21
Joined: 29 Sep 2019, 20:27
Character: Camarluk

Guilds & Mysteries #2: Gharonk Language

Post by FPoPP »

Many old and classical MMORPG involved their player base with obscure secrets and challenging quests. Through many years of existence, such games were always evolving creating complex universes along with intricate lore… The continuous stream of new additions may create layers of narratives that are not completely understood or even solved by the community. The Gharonk Language is probably the prime example of such situation where the aura of fear of the unknown and mystery hit us and leave us confused. Let us delve into the obscure lore that no one was able to explain on why it exists and who uses it over the past 20 years.
The Gharonk lore was added during the famous update 6.1 in the year 2000, which added the Desert of Jakundaf in Tibia, before that in the game, the place was just a vast green plain. The desert itself is a bizarre place regarding the geographical location of it, being inserted right in the middle of the once known Mainland of Tibia, covered by trees and grass. The explanation for this extraordinary environment nearby the several forests, meadows and groves is partially due to weird supernatural causes, according to the game. Moving on, Jakundaf was added along with the once very popular “Desert Quest” a name given by the players, where you need to dig a hole in the desert and explore the dungeon down there.
The quest itself deserves a video regarding how charming and challenging quests are applied on classic old RPGs. I will focus this video solely on the part where you come across with a series of diaries not related to the quest, describing weird adventures with a growing sensation of uneasy as you advance to the last book. These books have no connection to the main quest of this area, the Desert Quest or any other lore in the game, or at least this is what many people believe…
These books are, by the way, found in a forgotten library in this dungeon, which makes the whole thing creepier. The Gharonk Journal Day 1 starts as this:

... On my journeys, one day I found a nice, little city. Not too many people lived there, and they spoke a strange language.
After trying to speak to some of it's inhabitants, I found out, that they call this language "gharonk".
In the next days, I will try to figure out, how this language works - I really wish I would understand what they try to tell me!

Well, on Gharonk Journal Day 2, the traveler starts to recognize more words of such dialect:

... On my second day here, I found out, that this language isn't that difficult to learn. The grammar seems to be a simplified but quite usual grammar. I try to find out some of the words. One day, after killing a lion, one of the inhabitants of the town returned, telling everyone: "Nag narat umog yargoth!" I tried to figure out, what the single words mean, but I had not enough time. Maybe I can do that later on...

At this point, you can only guess what each word might actually be. The slayed lion can be an indicative of this action maybe taking place in the desert. Let’s move on:

... On the third day in this city, an adventurer came back from his travellings. He looked like he hadn't had something to drink for days; his cloth were dusty and full of sand. I can only guess, what happened to him or which places he visited during the last days.
As soon as I saw him (I was the first to find him - what a luck, what a honor! Without my help, I think he would have died of thirst!) I tried to communicate with him, but he always just repeated the words:
"Orzog! Nag Orzog! Atul! Atul! Nag mob mula! Atul!"
I didn't know, what he meant, but it wasn't of importance at this moment.
After giving him something to drink, he recovered quickly. Maybe I try to talk to him again tomorrow...

For this Journal on Day 3, we get even more words of this language, with a thirsty dweller returning to the mysterious Gharonk speaking city. We may also theorize that he was probably on a journey that could be the huge desert dungeon itself.
Another valuable info is that we can assume that the dwellers of this place are humans or maybe humanoids at this point, since it feels that he was interacting definitely with humans so far.
But once again, you have no clue on what this is all about. Moving on…

... It's now the forth day here in this town. I wasn't able to find out, how the town is called, but that doesn't seem important to me. More important seems to me to find out more details of gharonk language. I found out that they use some words for some different but similar expressions. Gharonk doesn't seem to distinguish between the word for "I" (nag) and the words for "mine", "my", "me", and so on. That makes the language more simple, and I think it's always clear what it means from the context. Of course, that are only speculations, I'm not quite sure about it at all...

Well, that’s a bizarre turn for me. Why wouldn’t you be concerned on what is called the place that you are, especially if you want to know more about the place and the culture of the people living there? Again, the author is focusing on learning the language but only by now he discovered what “nag” means. This is probably an indicative of a less complex language, so maybe cracking the meaning of the vocabulary might not be that hard after all. Now going to the fifth book:

... Five days in this city and under these people, and I'm still not able to communicate with them.
But I do not resign - on the contrary, I get more and more interested in the language. I found out some more words, for example how they count: "umog" seems to be "one", and for each number more, they just put a "tu-" in front of "umog". Thus, five would be called "tutututumog". It doesn't seem to me as if they would have highly developed mathematics, but the way to count seems sufficient for them. I wonder, how they were able to build this town...?
Maybe an answer is, that they do not speak about numbers, but have short signs for writing them down.
It was surprising for me to find out they have a word for "zero", namely "mog". I hope to find out more in the next days.
Strangely, they use words for numbers in each context they use numbers. So, "umog" stands for one, but also for "once", "one time", "first", ...

All right, finally a bigger and a more detailed book about this lost culture. We learned how to count and also that they actually developed mathematical signs.
A very nice detail here that might reveal that the author is a man with a good degree of knowledge: Gharonk got a word for zero and surprised him. This is something relevant for anthropologists and historians that studies cultures. The invention of the number zero, surprisingly, was not something that was developed on most cultures with counting systems. The roman numbers are a good example of it. Mayans, on the other hand, had the concept of number zero developed.
There is also another good piece of information, where he is wondering on how such basic counting system made them able to erect a city, which probably indicated that they got a city similar to what we see on classic Tibia cities, as Thais or Carlin. Curiously, we can also guess by ourselves that this culture could also be a case where a culture dominates the region where other more civilized people used to reside. A good example would be what happened with roman cities after the Western Roman Empire decline.
And last, but not less important, is the fact that the words in this language might be only understood if you know the context of the phrase. As it was written, “umog” can be “once”, “one time” or “first”. If it is a case only for numbers and words related to quantities we can debate. But this is now even more evidence for me telling that the humanoids interacting with the unknown author are from a primitive culture.
And now let’s go to the sixth installment:

... This is the sixth day. It seems, the inhabitants start trusting me and begin to communicate with me.
I found out about colours and their words in gharonk.
"Red" means "narz", the word for "green" is "buzgob", "orolu" is "gold", "shura" stands for "blue" and "urbum" is the gharonk word for "yellow". Furthermore, I found out the words for "yes" and "no". "Yagla" means "yes", "glub" means "no", but it's also the word for "none", "not", and so on.
I just wonder why they keep on calling me "gar". Did they give me a name?

This is the richest regarding vocabulary. I am somewhat dismayed on why the author spent time with colors instead of going after verbs or pronouns… Nonetheless, we got now colours names.
More importantly, now we know how to build negative or affirmative phrases. If “glub” means “none”, “not” and so on, I would presume that “yagla” should be also the word for expression “of course”. And once again, we received a mysterious word out of it, which is “gar”. Since the language is Gharonk, I wonder if we could also theorize some significance to both words? However it is hard to know if the people out there are calling him “traveler”, “stranger” or simply giving him a nickname.
Moving now, to the last known entry:

... It's now my last day of the first week here. From day to day, I am able to talk more and better with the people living here. I like it, the people are nice, I get food and drink. The king, or I'd better say their leader, showed me his "throne". It's more like a place on the floor, where he sits when talking to his people. He pointed with his finger at this place, saying: "Nag mogurz, nag mogurz". I guess, it means something like "my place, my place". I found out many other words, I wrote them all down in a table. Maybe I'll teach this language one day to someone, who is interested in....

Sadly, this is the last book related to Gharonk in Tibia. The author makes a last effort trying to guess correctly on what could be the tribal leader phrase spoken to him and as he said, there should be a table with several information that the author, purposely, did not reveal on his diaries. It is somewhat curious that just like the Rosetta Stone, there should be a “Gharonk Table” in Tibia revealing a good number of words if the author managed ever to create such table.
Said that, due to the lack of information, we can only imagine on what happened to this author. And it is not looking good at all. In addition, I gonna explain on why I think that the author met a sad fate.

First, the Jakundaf Library only deals with obscure and dark books. So there is a chance that the author had lost his diaries. The last interaction is specially dark, because it gives the impression that he was interrupted during his writings at the city after day 7. If he was killed, captured or maybe there are more books to be discovered, it is up to you to decide.
On top of that, you have the odd feeling about reading a complex place that was never seen or heard outside of these books. Gharonk can be a city from the past of Tibia, and since we know that there are lions over there, like in the desert of Jakundaf, it can be a city that used to exist on this desert. We can’t rule out the possibility of it being a city on another dimension or even planet, which would be acceptable in Tibia.
After 20 years, the whole language, people and author of these seven books are a TOTAL mystery. The Gharonk language is useless to the Desert Quest, although it is the most popular topic in the Jakundaf Library along with books related to potions… And there is no other Quest in Tibia mentioning the language

There is no mention on why such amount of information would be developed to stay there lost and disconnected from the rest, with the exception that a blind NPC located inside the desert dungeon, called Nemal, tells you that his father knew this language. We can’t really tell by that if his father is the author of the diaries, but even more suspicious, is the fact that this NPC does not know that there is a desert above him. You can read more about this NPC on TibiaWiki:

And this is the most obscure language ever created on a MMORPG. Over the last 20 years, there is no indication about the race, place or time where such language would be used. It might be possible that there is a secret quest using it, or even a secret NPC that speaks this language and you need the books to communicate. There are many possibilities on what it could be
The whole language vocabulary and guesses assumptions are described on TibiaWiki. Thanks to TibiaWiki for making the books available and collecting this whole material with the guesses that you can make by logically analyzing it by your own:

Nag: I/my/mine/me
Narat: kill (maybe)
Umog: one/once/one time/first (additional numbers are defined by adding a tu- to the word. E.g.: 3 is tutumog)
Mog: zero
Yargoth: lion (maybe)
Narz: red
Buzgob: green
Orolu: gold
Shura: blue
Urbum: yellow
Yagla: yes
Glub: no/not/none
Mogurz: place or maybe throne
Orzog: Thirsty, dying or something like that (maybe)
Atul: Fast, quickly or help (maybe)
Mob: need (?)
Mula: Water/Drink (?)
Gar: probably something like "stranger" or "outsider" ?

But… What if that was a “hoax” inside the own universe of the game? Was the author of it Jakundaf itself, the scholar who in the lore of the game, studied the desert, being named after it? What are your thoughts for the most obscure and old linguistic mystery on MMORPGs until this date? Let me know in the comments what do you think.

Post Reply