Excerpt with a fictional language

Discussion in 'Original Works' started by S.J. Faerlind, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    For MNB: an example of use of a fictional language. Mostly, I pirated English grammar (though there were a few modifications) with word-substitutions. I used several ways of getting the reader around the unfamiliarity of the language. Sometimes the words were directly defined by either the characters who spoke them or by bracketed text. Sometimes the meaning of the word could be inferred from the text around it or by the context in which it was used. An example of this would be a description of the way two old friends would greet each other and having one call the other "friend" in the fictional language. Some of the characters were also telepathic, which came in handy for translating when the leaders were speaking to their own people in an assembly. As a safeguard, there was also a lexicon in the appendices in the back of the book.

    This excerpt comes from the main characters seeking sanctuary in the lands of a tribal desert people. Some of the tribal folk speak the language the main characters do, but they also have their own language, culture and naming traditions. The main characters have just offered the desert tribes a deal in exchange for sanctuary and they're waiting to see if it will be accepted.


    “We will discuss your offer,” Bavan assured them. With that the sheertennal rose to their feet and strode purposefully into the adjoining cavern. Tarsh followed behind them.

    “What happens now?” Teryl asked Padric curiously.

    “They will discuss the negotiations with the women, all will vote and they will then return to inform us of their decision,” Padric replied.

    “Will they say yes?” Teryl asked, his thoughts grim at the prospect of a negative decision and their resultant hasty departure. Anarion eyed the torch nervously. Its dimming glow told him they didn’t have much time left.

    “We shall have to see,” Padric replied, unconcerned. “There have been many times they have surprised me with the results of their negotiations. I have had both good surprises and bad ones in the past.” He eyed Anarion and Inarra seriously. “Have a Translocation portal ready to open, just in case. Bavan knows of the portals and that we can use them to escape. They will take their time, announcing their decision just before the torch fails.”

    Inarra shivered and Anarion reached through the Link to Teryl, feeling the whitestone his Link-brother now wore around his neck. It was much too heavy and awkward for him to wear but was the perfect size for a Gryffin necklace. Reaching through the Link he could now command the colours of the white river as surely as if he had his own hand on the Stone. The knowledge was comforting.

    The deliberations did seem to take a long time and Anarion fretted over the torch. Finally, the sheertennal came back into the cavern and stood across the fire from them. Bavan stepped forward.

    “The clans of Warosthenne will shelter you for the agreed upon price,” he intoned formally. Anarion and Teryl shared a feeling of profound relief and Padric smiled and nodded gratefully at his friend. The torch sputtered out and Inarra gasped in dismay, her eyes flicking fearfully to Bavan. He smiled warmly at her and Anarion was reminded of Tarsh whose face held the exact same expression. “Have no fear lady Inarra,” Bavan told her gently. “You are now breldil danar Warosthenne. In your tongue that means “allies of the people of the western tribe”. Our truce is over and our alliance has begun. The light of the fire has illuminated wisdom in our hearts for us this night. Make your people ready to meet the danar, for come first light they shall be able to cross the border and be welcomed into our lands.” He turned to Jurel. “We are honoured to ally with the Gryffin as well Grelat Joorel. I look forward to getting to know them and enjoying the benefits of our association.” Lastly he turned to Anarion. “Our tribe has welcomed you with your people Anarion del Graydon del Sharra, but I also welcome you personally as a son. Your father was a very special friend to me and I hope to get to know you much better in time. Perhaps you would like to hear some tales of what I knew of your father?” he asked kindly.

    Anarion shuddered, remembering how sorry he had been after asking Padric about Graydon and how Jurel had told him he would never have trusted the man. He had already decided that ignorance was preferable where his father was concerned. Unable to think of a way to refuse Bavan’s offer politely and unwilling to lie to him, he merely said, “I thank you for your welcome and I too look forward to getting to know you and your people.”


    Can you guess at the meanings for all of the fictional words in that excerpt?
     
  2. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    hmm, very interesting, and I have seen the use of fictional language like this. sadly I can't say for sure what the words themselves mean, though I would assume that they are titles of some sort.
     
  3. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    I thought it was clear right from the start that the sheertennal is a kind of council, I'd say the ones leading the tribe. Warosthenne is obviously the western tribe. I like the way you used the foreign words in this passage - even when you don't know their exact meaning, you understand enough to be able to follow, and it also sparks your interest a bit. :)

    One question though (and please apologise if I'm a little pedantic for asking this :D): You said you 'pirated' (your words! :p) English grammar - I assume you are talking about the sentence structure/word order. One thing I noticed, however, is that breldil danar Warosthenne, which translates to “allies of the people of the western tribe”, neither uses inflections nor prepositions to mark the genitive case ("of the people" - probably danar? - and "of the Western tribe"). I understood the word (or the form) Warosthenne as being in the nominative case, as in "the clans of Warosthenne" (as, with the preposition "of" you wouldn't need a genitive inflection). Now the question is whether I'm overanalysing this (as this is one of the few times that I can actually use the stuff I learned at university :D), or whether breldil danar Warosthenne is simply a fixed term which doesn't require inflections or prepositions to mark any cases, or whether you might have missed this.
     
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  4. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Firi, you get the gold star for definitions and for constructive linguistics criticism!!! :)

    MNB: please take note of Firi's post. It beautifully illustrates the point I made in the other thread that if you use some ancient, obscure language in your writing and don't really know it inside out, backwards, and upside down, some expert will point out your mistakes to you. I didn't even pirate the grammatical structure of English (which is my native language) accurately enough to fool someone with training in linguistics. Imagine how tough it would be to try to use a language you aren't all that familiar with in a story?!?!?!
     
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  5. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    that just means I must practice and really work on my language, though I personally don't care for the grammatical setup of the English language.
     
  6. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    YAAAY!

    So, guys and gals, if you need any help, just let me know. :cool:
     
  7. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    will do!
     
  8. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    help is always appreciated when it's needed