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View Full Version : Linguistic Analysis of Alta´r - Auditore



vorenus73
02-28-2011, 10:02 AM
I have an MA in Linguistics, and foreign names always appeal to me. For those who don't know, Linguistics is basically the science of Language. How does Language work, evolve, etc. It doesn't mean I can speak 15 languages, it is more general.

From my understanding of this game, the DNA memories are passed along in the Y-Chromosome, from father to son. Just like our last names. Anyway, it is clear to me how the name "Auditore" was chosen by Ezio's ancestor, it is an absolutely plausible evolution of the name Altair. I know that "Alta´r" was his first name, but it has been the case with many immigrants throughout history that when the family moves, their new surname in the new country comes from the first name of the father. Or a descendent with "Alta´r" in his last name was the one who moved to Italy. We still do not know everything about the end of Alta´r's life.

The letter "l" is a tricky consonant. Depending on how strong it is in a language, it can easily change to a vowel. The Spanish pLaza and the Italian pIazza refer to the same thing, except the second sound has is an L in Spanish and a vowel in Italian. We get the word "savage" from the French "sauvage" which comes from Latin "salvaticus" or "silvaticus." Notice the "L" in the Latin became a "u" in French.

We have the same thing with the L in Altair. It becomes a vowel, a "U." AL - > AU.

The next letter, the "T," becomes a "D" in Auditore. T and D are incredibly similar sounds. The only difference is in voicing. A "D" is basically a "T" which includes the use of vocal chords. These two letters flipflop all the time in linguistic evolution. So we have ALT -> AUD

The next is A -> I. Without going into too much, I will just say that vowels are the most unstable sounds in language evolution (compare an American accent to a British one, and that is the same language!) and so A to I is no stretch at all, especially when it comes in a syllable that is not heavily stressed... and it is not in either of these names. So here we have ALTA -> AUDI

The next step is a bit tricky. It requires something called epenthesis. There is something called Phonotactics which is basically the sound rules of all languages. In this case, the phonotactics of Italian do not like the "a´" of Alta´r. So Italian epenthesizes a consonant, in this case, T, between the "a" and the "i." Then the "i" changes to an "o." So we have ALTAI -> AUDITO

Then comes our "R," which remains stable. ALTA´R - > AUDITOR

And as we all know, 99% of Italian names end in a vowel, so we add the "E." ALTA´R -> AUDITORE.

Now, I also know that "Auditore" is an actual word in Italian. Oftentimes with immigration, a person will make his name fit in with the language of his new country, and pick an already existing name or word in that new language. This happened with my last name, it was changed by my German ancestors to a similar English word... and phonotactics guided that change. That could also be the case here, if so, I would argue that the process I outlined above did take place, perhaps subconsiously, perhaps in a matter of seconds, without the thinker being able to spell out the rules or process. Most of us do not know what phonotactics are, but when we try to pronounce a foreign name, we exercise the principles subconsciously. This happens with us all of the time... it is why sometimes we KNOW that something in our language sounds right or sounds wrong, but when asked for an explanation, we can't do it.

I apologize to the 95% of readers who were bored to tears with this, Linguistics is one of those subjects that most people find boring, but a small percentage find it fascinating. I suppose my point is that I am happy that Ubisoft employed a linguist who used these principles to decide Ezio's last name.

itsamea-mario
02-28-2011, 10:16 AM
Auditore also means 'listner' (or something similar)
As in the one who will listen to minerva's warning.
And one distinct problem in what you said, the name Auditore was invented by Ezio's great great grandfather, and for all we know he had no idea that he was descended from Altair.

I like your analysis though.

vorenus73
02-28-2011, 10:27 AM
Originally posted by itsamea-mario:
Auditore also means 'listner' (or something similar)
As in the one who will listen to minerva's warning.
And one distinct problem in what you said, the name Auditore was invented by Ezio's great great grandfather, and for all we know he had no idea that he was descended from Altair.

I like your analysis though.

"Listener" is another good reason why "Auditore" is chosen. However I believe that if Altair was not so linguistically similar, Ubisoft would have picked a different name.

We do know about Ezio's great great grandfather, who built Monteriggioni... Mario says he is "full of secrets." I think he did know his ancestry. But also we are never told he was the first of the family to come to Italy.

ThaWhistle
02-28-2011, 10:35 AM
i seem to think the connection is purely conincidental. The two words may sound vaguely similar, but they do have completely different meanings.

itsamea-mario
02-28-2011, 10:35 AM
Out of curiosity, have you been into the Auditore family crypts?
there are writings telling of how he came to italy (i think with marco polo) and his wife was killed while at sea. He ended up in italy, and using money left to him pretended to be a noble under the name Auditore.

Not to say you're wrong, Ubi themselves may have used a linguist to make the name, but the story explains it differently.

rawrsmitch
02-28-2011, 11:59 AM
Though the name does seem to have evolved. You started out as Alta´r ibn La-Ahad which means something like Eagle Nobody's Son. Then you had Ezio Auditore di Firenze, Eagle Listener from Firenze. And then there's Desmond Miles which means Soldier from the World. See what I'm getting at here? It looks like it went from belonging nowhere, to belong somewhere, and then soldier of the world. :O

AMuppetMatt
02-28-2011, 12:15 PM
Regardless of the reason Auditore was chosen, I for one found that really interesting. Cheers vorenus http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

vorenus73
02-28-2011, 12:27 PM
Originally posted by AMuppetMatt:
Regardless of the reason Auditore was chosen, I for one found that really interesting. Cheers vorenus http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif Thank you!

vorenus73
02-28-2011, 12:32 PM
Originally posted by itsamea-mario:
Out of curiosity, have you been into the Auditore family crypts?
there are writings telling of how he came to italy (i think with marco polo) and his wife was killed while at sea. He ended up in italy, and using money left to him pretended to be a noble under the name Auditore.

Not to say you're wrong, Ubi themselves may have used a linguist to make the name, but the story explains it differently.

I haven't been into the family crypts. How do I get there? All I know of Altair's history is from the Codex writings in AC2. I have beaten all 3 games but not with 100% completion... I spent more time double assassinating random guards than reading thru the info found in the side quests. I read everything from the Codices and the Brutus journal but other than that I unfortunately passed on a lot of the background stuff, especially in AC2.

Regardless, I don't think this information nullifies my theory. The info can work together. How did he choose "Auditore" or more importantly, how did the Ubi developers decide that would be the name he would take? Or maybe I just want to think I figured out something haha. :-)

vorenus73
02-28-2011, 12:37 PM
Originally posted by rawrsmitch:
Though the name does seem to have evolved. You started out as Alta´r ibn La-Ahad which means something like Eagle Nobody's Son. Then you had Ezio Auditore di Firenze, Eagle Listener from Firenze. And then there's Desmond Miles which means Soldier from the World. See what I'm getting at here? It looks like it went from belonging nowhere, to belong somewhere, and then soldier of the world. :O

That is interesting... I see the derivations there and how they got their meaning. I would say that des-Mond might mean "of the world" rather than "from the world," but otherwise, I agree, that is a really interesting take.

I don't in the least like that Ubi basically makes my religion (Catholicism) look like pretty much the worst thing to happen to humanity, but I do love that things in this game are tightly woven together and have many layers of meaning.

Krayus Korianis
02-28-2011, 01:15 PM
Originally posted by vorenus73:
I don't in the least like that Ubi basically makes my religion (Catholicism) look like pretty much the worst thing to happen to humanity, but I do love that things in this game are tightly woven together and have many layers of meaning.

They haven't made ANY religion look bad. They made the Borgia's look bad, which to tell you the truth, they did it to themselves.

Alta´r, Ezio and his family are all Atheists. Either way, the games are good.

ThaWhistle
02-28-2011, 01:29 PM
id say agnostic or just flat out irreligious is more like it, as ezio originally was confused and thought minerva was an actual god

vorenus73
02-28-2011, 02:13 PM
Originally posted by Krayus_Korianis:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by vorenus73:
I don't in the least like that Ubi basically makes my religion (Catholicism) look like pretty much the worst thing to happen to humanity, but I do love that things in this game are tightly woven together and have many layers of meaning.
They haven't made ANY religion look bad. They made the Borgia's look bad, which to tell you the truth, they did it to themselves.

Alta´r, Ezio and his family are all Atheists. Either way, the games are good. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Pretty much every bad guy, from the Templars to the Borgias to the book-burning priests and cardinals you have to kill, are all badguys. The real Savonarola was not the maniac he is made out to be in the game. Yeah he was pretty extreme but not as bad as in the game.

The one goodguy Catholic I can remember was that priest in Forli who we later find out got exiled somewhere because he was a drinker and liked to get it on with women.

The whole philosophy of the game is that religious leaders use religion to blind people and control them. It is obviously the vibe among the game creators and their philosophies make their way into the game. It is all throughout Altair's codex writings and is a common theme on many of the missions.

The truth is, it makes ALL religions look bad, especially Catholicism, since the Catholics are always involved with the Templars. To a certain degree it makes Islam look just as bad in AC1, but the only religion of significance in AC2 and ACB is Catholicism.

I'd also say that the Assassins are more agnostic than anything else. I think an athiest would deny the possibility of powerful / magical things like the apple, or the god-like powers of Minerva and Juno.

If they wanted to be neutral towards Catholicism they could have had at least some good Catholic characters. Granted, at the time, many high ranking Catholic clergy was at the height of corruption, but it paints a picture as if they were ALL bad and complicit with the Borgias. After Rodrigo Borgia died, the new pope refused to say Mass for him, he said it was a sin to say mass for the damned. And he removed Borgia's tomb from St. Peter's (where all the other popes are buried) to the Spanish church in Rome. This is never mentioned.

Despite their "multifaith" statement before the game, the whole message of the game is that religion is a bad thing.

It is an incredible game, like nothing else I have played, and I love it. I don't remember being more hooked on a game since I got my NES 20 years ago. But I'm not going to pretend that it is neutral.