Megan and Cueball meet three Beanies and she asks for help, as she was previously attacked by an animal (frames 2662, 2663 and 2664):
- (Megan to Beanies) Hi. We’re from far away, and my leg is hurt. Can you help us?
- (Beanie1) dZL’ Ub?
- (Beanie2) dA’J ,d 7X W’N NUq’?
On the forums, the speculation is that the first Beanish sentence is either a general greeting like “Hello” or a sentence such as “I don’t understand (you)”, while the second is understood as a question such as “Do you speak Beanish?”, “Where are you from?” or “How/Why did you get here?”. Any hypothesis must consider that the two groups (Megan/Cueball and the Beanis) had already seen each other from distance (when Megan shouts at them, calling their attention) and that no Beanie seems to be carrying anything.
There is not much to discuss about the language at this point. It seems very dense (agglutinative, perhaps?), and one of the words of the second sentence seems to be used again later. If the first sentence is indeed a greeting we cannot make much of it, as greetings are notoriously formulaic and can change wildly.
Regarding the second sentence, and considering what happens next, I believe that it is indeed a question, but the pointing arm of speaker suggests that he is actually referring to the injured leg of Megan, and I speculate that W’N NUq’ means “your leg” or “leg yours”.
Which brings us to the next moment, frame 2668:
- (Cueball) Huh. (Megan) Ok. Umm. (shows wound)
- (Beanie2 to Beanie3) 4M 374’WS A347W’9.
An important sentence, because some frames later we will learn that 374’WS A347W’9. is probably translated as “medicine”, “magic cream”, “leg potion”, etc. Given its length and the middle space, which suggest two words, it is likely a noun phrase made of a noun and and adjective — and as we learn from the map of the Mediterranean basin later on, Beanish seems to postpone modifiers. My hypothesis is that the first word is a noun and the second the adjective, maybe with a question mark, an imperative mark or something alike. In fact, the sentence suggests that the initial 4M is either an imperative, translated as “get/fetch (me/us)”, or something like “(I/we) need”.
In the comic, Beanie 1 examines Megan’s leg and talks to Beanie 2 (frame 2671):
- (Beanie1 to Beanie2) ZL’ 32g27’L U 4″‘ ZLgq,.
We have a complex sentence, speculated in the forums to mean “this looks serious”, “I have never seen that before”, “Looks like a leopard attack” (or “keyboard” attack, from XKCD lore) or “At least, nothing is broken”. Morphologically, we should note a double ZL- prefix (assuming that the language is written left-to-right), which in the first case is a ZL’ similar to the first word in the first sentence (dZL’, which would make d- the prefix).
Moving on, frame 2676, where Megan asks what Beanie 1 is putting on her leg and he asnwers:
- (Megan to Beanies, pointing) That. What is that?
- (Beanie1) 374’WS A347W’9.
I already said that 374’WS A347W’9. seems to means “healing cream”, a noun phrase made of a noun followed by an adjective, and this dialog seems to confirm it. It is important to notice that, as we can safely assume that Beanie 1 understood Megan’s question, the fact that there is no visible change in the morphology or syntax of this noun phrase suggests that the language does not express cases (as it happens, for example, in Latin), being similar to English. (of course this is based in the hypothesis of the meaning of the first sentence, and is not even considering that the language might be ergative). It also suggests that the language allows the omission of subject and verb when they are implied, once more like in English.
The next Beanish sentence is in frame 2697, when Megan and Cueball are at some Beanie camp or barracks. Before going to sleep, one of the Beanie speaks to Megan:
- (Beanie, ushering into hut) Lg2 4’L
A short sentence, probably something like “(Please) feel at home/Go to sleep” or “We are going to sleep”, thus either an imperative or a simple description in the indicative. The initial 4- in the second word could suggest an imperative, building on our analysis of 4M, but it is not more than a guess (especially given that, even without a statistical analysis, we can state the 4 is likely the representation of a vowel or a common sequence of phonemes). In this case, it could be an imperative in the first person plural, something like “Let’s us all sleep”. It is of course also possible for it to be just a “(have a) good night” — which, however, is actually an imperative.
We now move to the important “I think I learned a word” sequence, frames 2706, 2708, 2712 and 2713 shown here:
- (Beanie, pointing to cup) 42bJ.
- (Cueball) 42bJ.
- (Beanie) X,c! 42bJ!
- (Cueball to Megan) I learned a word. I think. (Megan) Oh?
- (Cueball to Megan) 42bJ. “Water”. Probably.
- (Beanie) 4bJ.
- (Cueball) Or “drink”.
While most people assume that the translation is indeed “water”, as I accept given that a similar word will soon be used in the drawing scene, the initial 4- could, once more, indicate an imperative confirming the translation of “drink”. One way to please both sides is the valid hypothesis that “water” and “to drink” are related in Beanish (as, for example, a “drink” comes from “to drink” in English).
The dubious word here is X,c! which the forums translate as either “yes” or “no”. Both hypothesis are valid, but the body language of the Beanie and the general tone of dialogue make me favor the “no” hypothesis. A very similar word, probably with a single vowel or sentence mark change, will figure later.
The next scene is the dialog with the drawings, where the “water” word returns (frames 2727, 2728, 2734 shown here):
- (Cueball, drawing sea) 42bJ.
- (Beanie) dXbg ZL’ 34’6? ‘MN’b AN7 42’ W3? q9 AQXb 2’9b, 342bJ?
- (Cueall does not understad, Beanie scratches his/her head, draws in the sand)
- (Megan) Yes! The sea is rising!
- (Cueball) Why is that happening?
- (Beanie2, appearing) NS’2 L’29g A’N 37cNA. (Beanie1 draws Bighair) (“……… castle.”)
- (Beanie 1 draws)
- (Megan) – They are going somewhere…
- (Cueball) – …and want us to come, too.
A dialog that works almost as a Rosetta stone, as the long Beanish sentences seem to be translated in drawing and understood by Megan and Cueball.
The dialog starts with Cueball repeating the “water” word, this time with no correction by Beanie. As he understands that Cueball refers to the sea, 42bJ. is indeed probably a noun that can be used to refer to the sea, or that at least does not need a lot of thinking by a native Beanish speaker (imagine a native English speaker having to undestand that a “to drink” utterance by a foreigner means “the sea”).
When Beanie1 explains that the sea is rising, his last word is 342bJ. an obvious variation of 42bJ. The prefix 3- could mean just anything (might be a plural or collective, “the waters” or “the seas” as we know the end of the story, might be a way to refer to “the sea”, it could be a verb “to water” meaning “to increase the amount of water…), but reinforces the idea that 42bJ. means “water”. It also suggests that 3- might be a common prefix, and thus
- 374’WS, ffor which our best hypothesis is “cream”, might be derived from an unseen 74’WS
- 32g27’L would likely be a noun, perhaps in the plural (claws?)
Some other elements might end up being valuable. We have a second word in the same sentence with what could be the 3- prefix, 346? , we have a new instance of ZL’ (which now seems to be a common word, such as a preposition or a pronoun) and we have a new word starting with d- which also starts to look like a prefix and might indicate a language that prepones most of its information (which would not be the tendency of a language that puts adjectives after nouns, as we assumed, but at the same time is not uncommon).
In the sentence of Beanie2, probably “we are (now) going back to the base/castle”, we have a new word with the 3- prefix, 37cNA which will be later repeated. As the meaning of the sentence is pretty clear and the last word is probably a noun serving as object, and as the language seems to use the SVO order common to most European languages (is Beanish, in fact, just the development of natural language, perhaps French?), we can try to parse it as NS’2 (subject, likely a pronoun such as “we”) L’29g (verb, likely an indicative of “to go”) A’N (preposition, likely “to” or anything that indicates movement towards) 37cNA (object, likely a noun,, possible a plural one), but this is pure speculation.