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Created by Blizzard Entertainment
Date 2005
Setting and usage Video Game
Ethnicity Trolls
imaginary / virtual language
Sources Jamaican Creole
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)

Zandali, also known as Troll, is the native language of trolls. All Trolls in World of Warcraft live in the fictional world Azeroth and are able to speak Zandali, which is based on their ancestral tongue. Some Trolls have descended so far into barbarism that they have forgotten to use it. To be able to talk to other races of the Horde in Azeroth, many Trolls started to use Low Common as their mother tongue. The name Zandali is based on the Isle of Zandalar, which is the native country for the Trolls.

Background Information[edit]

With World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment has made a very successful attempt to create a world which is virtual and therefore fictional. These types of worlds, so called Secondary / Virtual Worlds, enable the recipients the following:

  • to be part of an almost living, constantly changing (virtual) world,
  • to be able to customize their own character (also known as an avatar),
  • to solve riddles or quests and
  • to interact socially with other people worldwide.

These types of games are called: MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). But not only the interaction with other (human) players or non-human players (Non-player characters) is one key factor of MMORPGs; the virtual world has to be authentic and represent a coherent and real world to a certain degree. The better and the more realistic this representation is, the more it will be accepted by the player base.

For the Trolls in World of Warcraft, the designers of Blizzard Entertainment "borrowed" a lot from Jamaica of our real world. Not only the island, where the Trolls are living, with its palm trees, white sand beaches and blue lagoons, is based on Jamaica. Even the mother tongue of the Trolls is influenced by a real world role model: Jamaican Patois, also known as Jamaican Creole.



Accounts of basilectal Jamaican Patois postulate around 21 phonemic consonants[1] and between 9 and 16 vowels.[2]

Jamaican Consonants[3]
Labial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ1 ŋ1
Stop p   b t   d 2   dʒ2 c3   ɟ k   ɡ
Fricative f   v s   z4   ʃ (h)
Approximant ɹ j w
Lateral l

In comparison the consonants of Zandali.

Zandali Consonants
Labial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Stop p   b t   d c k   ɡ
Fricative f s   z (h)
Approximant j w
Lateral l
  1. Consonant /ɲ/ and /ŋ/ do not exist in Zandali and will be replaced by /n/.
  2. Consonants /tʃ/ and /dʒ/ do not exist in Zandali. They will be replaced by /ts/.
  3. Consonant /c/ will be replaced by /k/ or /s/, depending on the word. /ɟ/ does not exist in Zandali.
  4. Consonant /z/ is only used as the plural-s.

Other phonetic distinctions or similarities:

  • /ð/ and /θ/ do not exist and will be replace with /d/ or /t/
  • Examples:
    • think = /θɪŋk/ turns into /tɪnk/
    • them = /ðem/ turns into /dem/
  • Zandali has no dark-l /ɫ/, instead the /ɫ/ is replaced by /l/.
  • The status of /h/ as a phoneme is different to the one of Jamaican Patois: There are no Western varieties like /hiit/ 'hit' and /iit/ 'eat'. Zandali is closer to Eastern varieties of Jamaican Patois, where the presence of /h/ in a word is in free variation with no consonant. The result is that the words for 'hand' and 'and' (/an/) may be pronounced /han/ or /an/.
  • The usage of voiced stops in Zandali is the same, as it is for voiced stops in Jamaican Patois:
    • Implosive whenever in the onset of prominent syllables (especially word-initially) so that /biit/ ('beat') is pronounced [ɓiit] and /ɡuud/ ('good') as /ɠuud/.[1]

Vowels of Zandali. The same as in Jamaican Patois Harry (2006:128)


Zandali exhibits, as Jamaican Patois, two different types of vowel harmony:

  • Peripheral vowel harmony: sequences of peripheral vowels /i/, /u/, and /a/) can occur within a syllable.
  • Back harmony: /i/ and /u/ cannot occur within a syllable together.
    • Exception: /uu/ and /ii/ are allowed but /ui/ and /iu/ are not).

The following tables will show some of the vowel-shifts which are very common in Zandali. All examples are based on the phonetic transcriptions of words used in British RP.


Vowel RP Zandali
/ɔː/ /wɔːk/ /wak/ walk
/ɒ/ /wɒt/ /wat/ what
/æ/ /cæt/ /kat/ cat
/eɪ/ /feɪs/ /fes/ face
/a:/ /fa:ðə/ /fada/ father
/eɪ/ /deɪ/ /deɪ/ day
/a:/ /la:f/ /faf/ laugh


Vowel RP Zandali
/e/ /get/ /get/ get
/ɜ:/ /sɜ:v/ /sev/ serve
/ɪ/ /prɪti/ /prɪti/ pretty
/i:/ /ti:/ /tii/ tea
/e/ /bred/ /bred/ bread
/ɪə/ /nɪə/ /nɪa/ near
/a:/ /ha:t/ /haat/ heart
/eɪ/ /heɪ/ /heɪ/ hey
/ɪə/ /bɪə/ /bɪa/ beer


Vowel RP Zandali
/ɪ/ /bɪt/ /bɪt/ bit
/aɪ/ /faɪə/ /faɪa/ fire
/i:/ /bi:n/ /bɪn/ been
/aɪ/ /taɪ/ /taɪ/ tie


Vowel RP Zandali
/ɒ/ /lɒt/ /at/ lot
/əʊ/ /nəʊz/ /nos/ nose
/ʌ/ /kʌm/ /kam/ come
/u:/ /mu:v/ /muuv/ move
/ʊ/ /wʊmən/ /wuman/ woman
/əʊ/ /rəʊd/ /rud/ road
/oʊ/ /toʊ/ /to/ toe
/ɔɪ/ /bɔɪ/ /boɪ/ boy
/əʊ/ /səʊl/ /sol/ soul
/u:/ /mu:n/ /muun/ moon


Vowel RP Zandali
/ʌ/ /kʌp/ /kap/ cup
/ju:/ /ju:/ /ju/ you
/u:/ /fru:t/ /fruut/ fruit
/u:/ /blu:/ /bluu/ blue



The tense and aspect system of Zandali is similar to the one of Jamaican Patois. In Zandali, there are basically no morphological marked past tense forms corresponding to the English -ed and -t. There are three preverbial particles: "wen", "gon" and "stei". These preverbial particles are no verbs. Like the infinitive in the English language "to be", they cannot stand alone.

  • Usage:
  • The form of the verb remains unchanged.
  • Example: "to walk": "walk", "walking", "walked" in [[English] is just "wak" in Zandali.
  • "wen" = "-ed" form or "did". Past Tense
  • "gon" = "will". Future (going to and will)
  • "stei" = "is __ -ing". Progressive

  • Examples:
Zandali English Tense
/Hi wak/ /He walks/ Simple Present
/Hi wen wak/ /He walked/ Simple Past
/Hi gon wak/ /He will/ is going to walk/ Future I Simple
/Hi stei wak/ /He is walking/ Present Progressive
/Hi wen stei wak/ /He was walking/ Past Progressive
/Hi gon stei wak/ /He will be walking/ Future I Progressive
  • The auxiliary verb "to have" does not exists in Zandali and as result of that, there are no forms of Perfect tenses (i.e. Present Perfect Progressive).

Pronominal system[edit]

Instead of the four-way distinction of person, number, gender and case, as the pronominal system of Standard English, Zandali does not have the gender or case distinction. There isn't even a distinction between the singular or plural version of "you".

  • I, me =/ai/ / /mi/
  • you, you (singular) = /ju/
  • he, him = /im/
  • she, her = /im/
  • we, us = /wi/
  • you (plural) = /ju/
  • they, them = /dem/

The indefinite article "a" and "an"[edit]

The indefinite article "a" / "an" does not exists in Zandali.

Drop of the preposition "to"[edit]

  • Usage of "to" for describing a location
    • Example: /Ai wak Ogrima/ = I walk to Ogrimmar. (Capitol of the Horde in Azeroth)

  • "to" + Infintive
    • The "to" is replaced by /fo/ = "for"
    • Example: /wan fo du / = "want to do"

  • To talk about a reason, just drop "to" and use a comma:
    • Example: /Ai niid fo wak Ogrema, get kwest/ = "I need to go to Ogrimmar to get the quest".

  • The only place "to" exists is in /yustu/ = "used to".


  • /no/,/nat/ and /nomo/ are used as present tense negators with different functions:
    • /no/ is used to negating a verb.
    • Example: /Ai no stei Ogrema/ = "I' not in Ogrimmar"
    • /nat/ is used to negating an adjective or noun
    • Example: /Da trolls nat bed/ = "The trolls aren't bad"
    • /nomo/ is used to negate "there is" / "there are"
    • Example: /Nomo pigz in da faam/ = "No pigs at the farm"
  • /neva/ is a negative past participle.[4]
    • Example: /Ai neva wak ogrema/ = "I did not walk to Ogrimmar"


Zandali is a fictional language highly influenced by Jamaican Patois. The language only exists during spoken cut scenes of the MMORPG World of Warcraft or in written form as quest texts. Therefore, it is a non-standard language and there is no official way of writing it.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Devonish & Harry (2004:456)
  2. ^ Harry (2006:127)
  3. ^ Harry (2006:126–127)
  4. ^ Irvine (2004:43–44)


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External links[edit]