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The Linguistics of Trigedasleng language. Trigedasleng is a constructed language (conlang) developed by David J. Peterson for use on the CW show The 100.

Development Edit

Trigedasleng is an evolved form of Modern English; however, the lexicon and grammar have shifted to be relatively unintelligible to a speaker of Modern English.[1]

Trigedasleng developed partially due to natural linguistic drift, but also because there was a pressure for the Grounders to develop code-terms and euphemisms that their enemies, particularly the Mountain Men of Mount Weather, could not readily understand. For example, instead of calling their leaders "leader" or "chief" or "commander", a leader became known as a heda (from the Modern English "head"—in the sense of "head up" or "lead"—and the suffix -a which is equivalent to the Modern English "-er") They may also call the leader Heda as a decent from Becca Pramheda (Becca First-Heda) the original grounder commander. When "Heda" is used alone, it indicates the current commander. When it is paired with other nouns or adjectives it can indicate a different leader. Warriors still learn Modern English so that they can understand and eavesdrop on their enemies.[2]

When David J. Peterson developed Trigedasleng, he devised a phonetic writing system to use in the show's scripts and to better reflect the changes from Modern English to Trigedasleng. For example, the first person personal pronoun "I" retains the same pronunciation in Trigedasleng, but is spelled ai in the scripts. This writing system, however, is not used in-world; the Grounders are no longer literate and have no writing system.[3]

Trigedasleng underwent extreme phonological simplification during its descent from English, resulting in numerous homonyms. For example, sis has several meanings depending on its context:[4]

  • means "to help" and comes from "assist"
  • sis...op means "to grab"; the particle op differentiates it from the first meaning
  • as a noun, sis can mean "sister" but can also mean "six"

Many words, including all auxiliaries and modals listed below, have the exact same meaning as they do English, there is no real change.

  • The majority of words are pronounced only slightly differently from English. Many pronunciations are found in most English based creoles and in 21st century American English dialects. In most of Trigedasleng, it is the limited or expanded usage that changes, with little semantic or phonetic difference. Etymologically, this indicates a mix of code making and some slang.
  • A large minority of Trigedasleng words and phrases have significant changes from English by abbreviating words to be unintelligible to the English speaker, or by forming phrases using the unique Trigedasleng grammar. Both indicate code making. This is enough to significantly change its spoken form.
  • Much of the grammar and some vocabulary may also have arisen organically in tandem with code forming.

Trigedasleng is not a linguistic creole, but a descendant of Modern English alone,[5] and while it may share similarities with AAVE (African American Vernacular English), those similarities are not intentional.[6]

Pronunciation & Writing Edit

Trigedasleng doesn't have its own writing system.[5] The bits of writing that have survived the last 97 years are incomplete and have probably been passed down from warrior to warrior along with English. The writers of The 100 asked Peterson to use a simplified spelling system for the scripts, instead of using more English-like spelling rules. The table below illustrates this romanization system for spelling and pronouncing written Trigedasleng words:[1][3]

Vowel Sounds Like Notes
A, a apple short A [æ]
A, a ** sofa ** schwa [ə]
Ai, ai bite long I [aɪ]
Au, au cow "ow" [aʊ̯]
E, e get short E [ɛ]
Vowel Sounds Like Notes
Ei, ei eight long A [eɪ]
I, i kid OR machine short I OR long E [ɪ] or [iː]
O, o law OR son short U OR short O [ɔ] or [ʌ]
Ou, ou wrote long O [ɔʊ]
U, u rude long U [uː]

** only when its the last letter of word

Consonant Sounds Like
B, b bad
Ch, ch chop
D, d  dock
F, f fate
G, g goat
H, h hate
J, j jump
Consonant Sounds Like
K, k keep
L, l look
M, m made
N, n near
P, p pelt
R, r red
S, s slice
Consonant Sounds Like
Sh, sh shark
T, t talk
Th, th think
V, v vice
W, w wild
Y, y you
Z, z zoo

Trigedasleng does not use the letters C, Q, or X.

Grammar structure Edit

Verbs in Trigedasleng have the biggest differences from English of any part of speech. Trigedasleng verbs have two parts: the verb root, and one of eleven satellites. Some verbs, like auxiliary and modal verbs, don’t have or require satellites. Many verbs have different meanings depending on the satellite.[7]

The main difference from English is the frequent use of satellites. English also has them but it is not required for the majority of English verbs.

Satellites Edit

Most verbs have a satellite that directly follows the direct object, if one is present; if a direct object is not present, the satellite follows the verb. Satellites precede indirect objects and other phrases that follow the verb. There are eleven satellites present in Trigedasleng (op, in, au, we, of, raun, daun, klin, klir, thru, taim). Some useful guidelines for satellites follows:

  • raun: used for base-transitive verbs when used intransitively, and replaces op or in.
  • op: typically to be attached mostly to concrete verbs (verbs for doing and acting on the physical world), whereas in is more likely to appear with abstract verbs (verbs for things like thinking and saying and hearing, which don't really act on the physical world as much).
  • klin: connotes/denotes finality and has very special use.
  • klir: indicates purity, safety, clear of something. Special uses.
  • au, we, daun and taim: all seem to be used in places where their English origins ("out", "away", "down" and "time") would be used.
  • thru is used to connote/denote continuation or progressiveness (kik raun "live" versus kik thru "survive").

Verbs without Satellites Edit

Not all verbs have a satellite. According to David J. Peterson, verbs having to do with agent-initiated motion or causation, performative verbs, and auxiliary/modal/function verbs don't have satellites. They can co-occur with satellites, but that typically changes their meaning.[8]

Auxiliaries & Modals Edit

Auxiliary and modal verbs are used in a variety of ways. Mostly, they form tenses (as listed below), but there are other ways to use them. The future tense, for example, is also used for “in order to” phrases (ai don fis em op na sis oso au “I healed him to help us”). Trigedasleng also fails to distinguish the perfect tense, and instead uses the past tense: ai don fis em op “I have healed him.”[9]

All auxiliaries and modals listed here are currently pronounced this way in English dialects of the late 20th and early 21st century, which itself spread from English based creoles back to English in the 20th century.

  • Present: no auxiliary:
    • ai fis em op = "I heal him"
  • Progressive: ste
    • from English "stay"
    • ai ste fis em op = "I am healing him"
  • Past: don
    • from English "done"
    • ai don fis em op = "I healed him"
  • Future: na
    • from English "gonna" ("going to")
    • ai na fis em op = "I will heal him" or "I can heal him"
    • The future tense marker na can also mean "can" or "could".
  • Passive: ge
    • from English "get"
    • ai ge fis op = "I get healed" or "I am healed"
  • Modal: beda and souda
    • from English "better" and "shoulda" ("should have")
    • yu beda fis em op = "you ought to heal him" or "you should heal him"
    • yu souda fis em op = "you must heal him"

For the most part, Trigedasleng doesn't distinguish between indicative and subjunctive moods. Hypothetical or conditional clauses are formed using bilaik (see above).

Pronouns Edit

  • ai = "I/me" from English "I"
  • yu = "you" from English "you"
  • em = "he/she/it" from English "him" or "them"
  • osir = "we/us" (excludes the listener) from English "us-here"
  • oso = "we/us" (includes the listener) from English "us-all"
  • yumi = "you-and-me/you-and-I" from English "you-me"[10]
  • yo = "you (plural)/you all/y'all" from English "you-all"
  • emo = "they/them" from English "them-all" (note that this sounds like "em-oh", not the pseudo-Goth clothing style Emo, which would be spelled imo)[11]

Trigedasleng makes no distinction between the third person singular gender forms (he, she and it). Trigedasleng pronouns also do not distinguish between subjects and objects. Trigedasleng does make a distinction, however, which is not present in English: oso vs. osir. Oso is an inclusive pronoun, meaning it includes the person the speaker is addressing. Osir is an exclusive pronoun, meaning it excludes the person the speaker is addressing.[12] A third "we" pronoun, yumi, is used to exclude everyone except the person the speaker is addressing, and literally means "you and I" or "you and me".[10]

To illustrate, let us say that Gustus and Nyko and Lincoln are on a patrol and are ambushed by some enemies. Gustus is knocked unconscious in the fight, and when he comes to, he asks what happened. Lincoln might say "Oso don ge jomp op" ("We were attacked")—meaning that all three of them, including Gustus, were attacked. When they return to camp, Nyko is called upon for his healing expertise; Gustus might then say to Lincoln "Yumi souda gyon au gon heda." ("You and I must go to the commander.") They make their report, and say of the ambush, "Osir don ge jomp op"—meaning that Gustus, Lincoln, and Nyko were attacked, but Lexa was not, as she was not with them.

Possessives Edit

In Trigedasleng, possession is formed by adposition; in other words, the pronoun or noun to whom another noun belongs just sits next to the thing being owned:[13]

  • yu gonplei = "your fight"
  • ai stegeda = "my village"
  • Leksa swis = "Lexa's knife"
  • gona java = "warrior's spear"
  • emo honon = "their prisoners"

And so on. There are a few possessive pronouns, which are formed by adding -on (or -n) to the existing pronoun:

  • ain = "mine"
  • yun = "yours"
  • and so on

Nouns & Adjectives Edit

Trigedasleng does not distinguish case (subject/object) or number (plurality) with its nouns.[9] It also lacks articles (a, an, the). Plurality can be emphasized using emo or by specifying a number of a thing, but usually plurality is determined by context. Such changes are a frequent feature of dialects as well as creoles. They happen rather quickly in the English speaking world and language change in general.

Adjectives in Trigedasleng precede the nouns they modify, as in English. The phrase gouthru klir (safe passage) is an exception, possibly because adverbs follow their phrases, as they do in English. It may simply be a result of the parallel with gouthru klin, which sounds similar but means "to commit suicide".


Trigedasleng enjoys a three-way distinction between demonstratives and spatial adverbs: here, there-near, and there-far.[14]

  • disha, dison, hir = "this"/"this-one"/"here"
    • These three refer to things that are "here" or very near to the speaker/listener.
    • disha gona = "this warrior"
    • dison laik ain = "this one is mine"
    • ste kamp raun hir = "stay here"[15]
  • dei, daun, der = "that"/"that one"/"there"
    • These three refer to things that are "there"; that is, they are distant from the speaker/listener but still within visual range or not extremely far away.
    • dei gona = "that warrior"
    • daun laik yun = "that one is yours"
    • set raun der = "stand there"/"wait there"
  •, daunde/daun-de, ouder = "that"/"that one"/"over there"
    • These three refer to things that are "yonder"; that is, they are very far away from the speaker/listener.
    • dei tri-de = "that tree way over there"
    • daunde ste kwelen = "that one over there is weak"
    • gyon au ouder = "go way over there"

Phonological differences for each sound are similar to English based creoles, but the words have changed in a different way, and are closer to English words.


All are exact pronunciations and meanings, the same as they are currently used in American English dialects.

  • And: en
  • But: ba
  • Before: fou
  • Because, for: kos
  • But, except: sef
  • Or: ou
  • After: pas
  • If...then: taim...taim

Relative clauses can also be embedded in sentences using bilaik, which has no English counterpart. David J. Peterson explains bilaik as a "general subordinator",[16] meaning that its English translations are many and varied. It can mean "who" or "which" or "that" depending on context.

  • Gona bilaik ai don fis op ste klir. = "The warrior [that] I cured is safe."[9]

bilaik is similar to a language feature called the subjunctive and so can also be used to introduce a hypothetical or conditional clause:

  • "Oso souda lok em veida tro op fou bilaik emo hon emo sobwe op" - "We must find the enemy patrol before they reach the tunnels."
  • bilaik is used here because the event in question ("they reach the tunnels") has not yet happened and can be prevented.
  • bilaik should be thought of as preceding an indefinite event in the future that may or may not happen, one that we would normally just use the present to refer to in English.
  • A simple explanation of the subjunctive might follow thus; let us take the phrase: "If/when the commander dies, her soul is given to the next" - "Taim heda wan op, taim em keryon ge ron op kom neson" This does not use the subjunctive as it is describing what normally happens in a given circumstance, however, consider this alternative phrase: "If/when the commander dies, the people need/require her soul to be given to the next" - "Taim heda wan op, kru gaf bilaik em keryon ge ron op kom neson"
  • As we can see from the above, the people need this to happen as it is part of their religion, however the subjunctive is used as it is not certain that it actually will.

Bilaik directly translates to the English be like, and is pronounced the same. It is used in various northeastern American dialects, including but not limited to AAVE, widely used in NY. Semantically it is the same. Grammatically, its current uses in English are similar, but not exactly as Trigedasleng uses it. (Trigedasleng mostly uses it subjunctively, sometimes it does use it in the present, and English does as well, but English mostly uses it in the present tense for facts or opinions).


  • From, of, until, with: kom
    • from "come"
    • ai laik Okteivia kom Skaikru = "I am Octavia of the Sky People"
  • Against, at, because, for, on, to, upon: gon
    • Ai laik Heda. Non na throu daun gon ai. = I am the Commander. No one's gonna fight for me.
  • Regarding, about: hashta
    • ...Gouthru klir hashta yu soujon, kom taim oso fali kom daun gon graun-de. = "Safe passage on your travels until our final journey to the ground."
  • Until: na kom, kom taim
  • On, under, into (locative): ona
    • Teik em set raun ona tri. = "Put him on the tree."
  • Near, around, next to: raun
  • Without: thau[17]

Example Sentences (broken down) Edit

  • Yumi na teik won sonraun au? - "Will you take a life with me?"
    • Yumi: pronoun, from "you" + "me", means you and me.
    • na: auxiliary verb, from "gonna", indicates future tense and means can, could, or will.
    • verb, from "take out", means seize or eliminate.
    • won: adjective, from the phonetic spelling of the number one, means one.
      • won can also be used as the article "a".
    • sonraun: noun, from "sun around", means life.
    • notes:
      • The word-for-word translation would be "You and me will take one life?" When smoothed out (sense-for-sense translation), it is "Will you take a life with me?"
      • While means seize or eliminate, teik with a different satellite would have a different meaning. For example, means accept or allow.

Proper Names Edit

In Trigedasleng, names are not translated, only transcribed. They are pronounced the same as they are in English, but when written as part of a Trigedasleng phrase or sentence, they are typically written out using the phonetic romanization system.[18] Below are a few character names from the show:

BellamyClarkeOctavia Raven Lexa LincolnNyko Gustus
Belomi Klark OkteiviaReivonLeksaLinkon NaikouGostos

Numbers and CountingEdit

Trigedasleng's number system is inherited from English, so the bulk of the changes are mere respellings to comply with the romanization system developed by David Peterson.[19]

1 won
2 tu
3 thri
4 fou
5 fai
6 sis
7 sen
8 eit
9 nain
21tweni won
22tweni tu
100 honet
200tu honet
300thri honet

Cardinal Numbers are put together the same way they are in English: irregular numbers up to twenty, followed by tweni won, tweni tu, etc. Large numbers also follow English rules: tu honet fidi fai (255).[20]

1st fos
2nd seken
3rd thot
4th fot
5th fit
6th sison
7th senon
8th eidon
9th nainon

Most ordinal numbers, with a few exceptions, are simply the cardinal number + -on, except multiples of ten (+ -t), one hundred (no change), and powers of ten (+ -et). As with English, ordinals that have multiple components (24th, 112th) only have an ordinal at the end (tweni fot, honet twelon).[21][22]

Notes and Trivia Edit

  • This language was made by David J. Peterson, who also made the Game of Thrones Dothraki and Valyrian languages. He claims that Trigedasleng is an a posteriori language based on English. He also says that he got his influences by studying pidgin and creole languages, "but [he] was probably more influenced by [his] recent read of Heine and Kuteva’s The World Lexicon of Grammaticalization more than anything else."[23]
  • The official spelling in the script is phonetic, meant to reflect the pronunciation shifts which occurred in the Grounder language. However, Marie Avgeropoulos had difficulty at first, so language creator David J. Peterson made a transcription using more Modern English-like spelling, instead of the phonetic system: "I like Octavia come sky crew, an' I gaff go-through klin."
  • Octavia misspeaks when Lincoln is teaching her in "The 48", saying gouthru klin which translates as "commit suicide" but derives from something like "final passage".[10]

See Also Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Peterson, David J. (November 6, 2015) “Any more info about the language online?” '
  2. Peterson, David J. (January 5, 2015) “Why did the Grounders create a new language?” '
  3. 3.0 3.1 Peterson, David J. (January 18, 2015) “Full pronunciation chart” '
  4. Peterson, David J. (January 9, 2015) “"'Sis' means both 'six' and 'assist'?"” '
  5. 5.0 5.1 Peterson, David J. (February 16, 2015) “How did the Grounders develop a language in only 3 generations?” '
  6. Peterson, David J. (December 2, 2014) “Inflection is similar to AAVE. Was this on purpose?” '
  7. smallerontheoutside Tumblr & enoughtotemptmeTumblr ({{{date}}}) “Trigedasleng Dictionary. (n.d.)” '
  8. Peterson, David J. (February 23, 2015) "Not all verbs have a satellite."
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Peterson, David J. (December 19, 2014) "How are tenses formed in Trigedasleng?"
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Peterson, David J. (December 10, 2015) "How does Trigedasleng grammar differ from English?"
  11. Peterson, David J. (March 17, 2015) "Pronouns and their derivation."
  12. Peterson, David J. (December 4, 2014) "Are 'we' and 'our' the same?"
  13. Peterson, David J. (January 16, 2015) "Possessives and possession."
  14. Peterson, David J. (March 11, 2015) "Demonstratives."
  15. Peterson, David J. (March 10, 2016) "stay here"
  16. Peterson, David J. (December 24, 2014) "What does 'bilaik' mean?"
  17. "see also: the in-depth course for learning Trigedasleng on"
  18. Peterson, David J. (January 1, 2015) “"Are all names spelled out phonetically?"” '
  19. Peterson, David J. (Dec 28th, 2015) “Trigedasleng Numbers” '
  20. Peterson, David J. (Mar 11th, 2016) “Trigedasleng counting/number system.” '
  21. Peterson, David J. (May 12th, 2015) “what the word for 'second'” '
  22. Peterson, David J. (Jun 17th, 2016) “ordinal numbers” '
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