Frequently Asked Questions
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
Besides, using Primal is fun! See our
Community section for more information on
I heard someone say that Primal was just a code. Is Primal really
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.
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
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
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.
(the actual language)
(used in the tutorial)
|wee lur-ma-mee wih k'lulf
(found only in the 1st ed. dictionary)
|Wy lrmamy Wi kululf.
(used to type the font itself)
|Wy ,lrmamy Wi kulUf.
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
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
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
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
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.