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Lesson 1

Parseltongue is everything but simple, but it is very concise. Snakes will only give you the information they feel you need and expect you to read between the lines to understand them. This is what has led to the belief that they are being shady, or manipulative. In reality, that is simply how their language is built. Most sentences will be very short and consist only of the subject, object, and verb. The rest has to be pieced together based on the listener's knowledge, context clues, and loose interpretation.

Without being a parselmouth you will only be able to distinguish some of the sounds a snake is capable of producing, and thus will only be able to learn some of the more basic words and word forms. Furthermore, as there is no written form of Parseltongue, I will be attempting to describe it using the English alphabet, and some sounds will be lost in translation. Be careful when listening to our class snakes, as their speech will not match exactly to our classroom approximations.

Before we can start learning vocabulary, we must learn some basics about the language, such as the range of sounds that can be made. If you have questions about certain things, check the glossary at the end of the lesson for definitions of bolded words.


First, let's go over the range of sounds that are used in  this snakelike language. 
I'll be using a lot of fancy words to describe the sounds available in Parseltongue. They're defined down in the glossary if you get lost, but don't worry. The sound they make is more important than the term used to describe it, and knowing the term is not required for class, but will be extra credit.

Most words can be broken down into syllables including a plosive or fricative consonant and a vowel. Fricatives such as s, f, v, h, and  ʃ are often extended, producing that snakelike hiss often associated with Parseltongue. The lateral consonant is used only to shorten the 's' fricative, producing the shorter 'sl' sound rather than the usual extended Ssss.

The muted form of the alveolar trill and the alveolar nasal are other commonly used sounds in Parseltongue. 

Plosives: p, b, t, d, k, g

Fricatives: f, v, s, h, ʃ 

Lateral Consonant: l

Alveolar Trill: r

Alveolar Nasal: n

Vowels: a, e, i, o, u

Most typically in Parseltongue you get sounds by combining a consonant with a vowel. [Examples: fa, so, ʃa, ko.] But occasionally you may have to combine consonants to produce an affricate. This is typically done by combining a plosive and a fricative.

: ts, th, pʃ

Similarly, some vowels will be combined to form a diphthong.

: ai, ao, au, ei, ou

Sentence Structure

Parseltongue's complexity comes from having to constantly read between the lines to decipher meaning from a sentence. This thought process is what makes a snake seem so shady, because they will try to cater their speech to their listener.  This may make a parselmouth seem shady, manipulative, or crafty simply because they will transfer this thought process to any language they speak.

The better the speaker and listener knows each other, the easier it will be to convey meaning, as the speaker will better understand how to word things to get your message across. Likewise, the listener will better know the speaker's colloquialisms.

Furthermore, the sentence structure of Parseltongue is very basic and relies entirely on context. The actual spoken sentence is typically limited to a demonstrative pronoun, a subject, an object, and a verb. In that order.

If an adjective or adverb is used, it comes after the word it is modifying.

Demonstrative pronouns are almost always used in Parseltongue. This is to help clarify what the subject is. More detail will be given in the gender/number section. The only real exceptions are when talking about oneself or the listener. (Using 'I' or 'You' as the subject)

For example, the English sentence "That black cat ran away quickly."  becomes "That cat black away ran quickly."

Let's break it down individually.

Demonstrative Pronoun: That
Subject: Cat. The cat is the one doing the verb.
Adjective: Black. Describing the subject.
Object: Away. Object of the verb ran. That is where the subject is running to.
Verb: Ran. What the subject is doing.
Adverb: Quickly. How the subject is doing the verb.

Be careful. The object could also have an adjective! It would come right after it, and before the verb.

If you have questions on how to rearrange a sentence, you may ask on the discussion board. 
Either your classmates or myself will be happy to assist you. But be careful about asking for help on question on the assignment. It's allowed, but points may be removed. Instead, try asking about similarly structured sentences and applying the knowledge learned to your homework.


Parseltongue does not mark words for gender or number. Thus when speaking about someone else you cannot use 'she' or 'he.' Likewise, there is no 'they' or 'them' to note number.  This has led to the use of the demonstrative pronouns. Rather than using such words, it has been simplified to 'that person' or 'this person,' or you can use the person's name reduced to the sounds available in Parseltongue. 

Often gestures are used to clarify who is being spoken about. A snake may use their tail to point, or may flick their tongue in that direction. Humans typically just point or nod in the subject's general direction when speaking.

When referring to more than one of a subject, the number precedes the subject. But there is no plural form of a subject. Additionally, the demonstrative pronoun 'this' or 'that' is replaced by the number.
In the previous example, if we were talking about two or more cats we would simply state it as 'two cat black away ran quickly.'


As mentioned in the gender section, it's often much easier to refer to someone by name. However, a lot of human names do not translate well to Parseltongue. Knowing how limited the sounds are, you can reduce a name to its parseltongue equivalent.

The famous parselmouth, Slytherin, translates well. 

Other names, such as 'Snape' Get pronounced differently. 'Ssnahpeh' rather than 'Sneip.'

Others need to be spelled differently or truncated to be said in Parseltongue.

'James' might become 'Ganes' (Gahneys)

Knowing the sounds, it's not too difficult to turn your name into its Parseltongue equivalent. It's trying to recognize it when said by a parselmouth that is the hard part..

Sounds not used in Parseltongue

c - substitute k instead.
j - substitute g instead.
l - substitute sl instead.
m - substitute n instead.
q - substitute k instead.
w - substitute v instead.
x - substitute ʃ instead.
y - substitute i instead.
z - substitute s instead.


[PlosiveA speech sound produced by complete closure of the oral passage and subsequent release accompanied by a burst of air, as in the sound (p) in pit or (d) in dog]

[FricativesA consonant, such as f or s in English, produced by the forcing of breath through a constricted passage.]

[ ʃ: Esh. Ʃ (uppercase),  ʃ (lowecase). A type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. Sh would be its closest approximation in English, and you're welcome to use sh when writing your homework if it'll be easier for you.]

[Affricates: Consonants that begin as plosives but release as a fricative rather than into a following vowel]

[Lateral Consonant"L"-like consonants pronounced with an occlusion made somewhere along the axis of the tongue, while air from the lungs escapes at one side or both sides of the tongue.]

[Alveolar Trill: A consonantal sound more commonly referred to as the rolling r. In Parseltongue it is muted and sounds more like the approximant.. ]

[Alveolar Nasal: A consonantal sound produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract, articulated with the tip or blade of the tongue against the roof of the mouth, and voiced while allowing air to escape through the nose. Typically known as the 'n' sound.]

[Diphthong: Two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable.]


Expressions used in f

amiliar conversation rather than formal speech or writing. Informal speech. Slang or vernacular.]

[Demonstrative Pronoun: Distinguishes one subject from another. Examples: This, that.]

[Subject: The subject of a sentence is the main idea of the sentence. Who or what it is the sentence is referring to.]

[Adjective: A word modifying a noun or a pronoun. Color, shape, size, or quantity, for example.]

[Object: The part of the sentence involved in the subject's performance of the verb. For example: 'She read the book.' In this sentence, book is the object. It is what she (The subject) has read (verb)]

[Verb: Part of speech that conveys action or a state of being. To be, bring, read, run, exist, stand, etc.]

[Adverbs: A word that modifies a word that is not a noun. It typically describes how, when, or where. Example: Quickly, beautfilly, often.]