Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mermish 101

Mermish, the language of merfolk.  Having a common language helps to develop a feeling of community.  If the language is easy to learn, new merfolk in the community will feel more a part of the mermaid realm.

Authors have proposed a number of mermish dialects over the years.  If a community of merfolk are going to be able to communicate, they must all choose the same dialect.  In addition, if the dialect chosen is awkward or overly complex, few merfolk will end up using it.

Four mermaids meet in Second Life
The most useful dialect of mermish that I have seen so far is the one from The Secret World of Mermaids by Francine Rose.  This is the dialect used by the merfolk of Second Life, where two merfolk that have never met can exchange the greeting Tala (Hello), knowing that the other will understand.  The book contains only about 32 words and phrases, and only a subset get regular use.  This small vocabulary limits what you can say with the language, but this is seldom an issue. Note that the book preview on contains the page on mermish (p16) if you search there for the word 'Tala'.

Let's take a look at other dialects of mermish:  The Book of Mermaids by Patricia Saxton contains a dialect of mermish with 11 words given as an example. In this dialect, O-kee'-ya is Hello and Jai-quay' is Good bye. I find these to be a bit too awkward for regular use online or in person.

Mermaidia Blue lists a large number of mermish words on her website, Go Into The Deep.  This dialect is being used by The Santharian Dream, a free online role playing site.  An example of this dialect would be ~Lla~bi~dehffoo~ (She's sad).  In addition to being difficult to learn, I could not find a word for 'hello' in this dialect.

In Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs, the merfolk of the kingdom of Thalassinia speak English.  This is because the kingdom is located only about 45 miles east of Florida, USA.  It is said that other mer kingdoms speak the language of their human neighbors.  This allows the merfolk to barter with humans, trading fish for fruits for example.

In the J.K. Rowling novel, Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, mermish is mentioned, and it is said that Hogwarts headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, is able to speak it as are a few of the other wizards.  No examples of mermish are provided in the Harry Potter novels, but a Harry Potter related Wiki says of mermish, "Above water, it is composed of unpleasant, screechy noises."

Another website I have visited in the past, but can no longer locate, also suggested a dialect of mermish in which most of the words were extremely long and difficult to use.  Therefore, it appears that any merfolk wanting to learn a dialect of mermish use Ms. Rose's creation.  And so, I will now wrap up this discussion with these words...

Lusa Em, Sesmuna,
-Mermaid Cynthia
cynthia (at)


  1. no i wanted to learn how to speak it!!!!

    1. If you want to learn how to speak it, look up mermish dictionary.

  2. I want to learn how to say, "Turn me into one of your kind, so i can live forever in the beautiful
    ocean." So I can get the mermaids to turn me into a mermaid. 8D (I know it's unlikely, but my friend Kelly and my mom and dad say that anything is possible,so don't post mean comments about me.>:()

  3. I'm learning Mermish right now. I'll your a snippet and you could try to translate: Uk-uk Baovveche Bi Ffa Faaraarii. Translate it and let me know what I said.

    1. i translated it it is many merfolk are our family

  4. also if you are merfolk in secondlife feel free to add me there i am cersilla resident there

  5. I can speak alot f mermish and I will speak some now, love is Nulma pronounced(NOOL-mah)

  6. Dear people, I've spent the last three months on a book I'm writing. It is about the love between a pirate of the sea and a princess of the land, but since there's a war going on between the White Land's royal navy and the many pirate clans there's no chance they will ever be together.
    According to a legend, there's a mythical mermaid who has died of love for a prince of the land. A bond of love between land and sea was supposed to stop the war, but since the mermaid died this bond was broken. As some kind of ghost, she appears in the pirate's dreams and tells him a bond with the princess will save them. She speaks the following words:

    "Bound to the sea and the land, cursed to be forever apart, though a bond between two different worlds, will bring back peace to the White Land."

    Is there anyone out there who wants to help me translate this to Mermish? It does not have to be perfect. I'd be very grateful!

  7. Cynthia, my name is Tandigon and you know about my project. May I suggest that we try to create our very own mermish which will be easy to learn and speak.

  8. Im trying to find out how to say this in mermish. "My demons tried to drown me, but they didn't know i could breathe under water."