Fictional languages

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by shlomi, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Unless you're a linguist like Tolkein, I suppose the simplest way would be to pirate the grammatical structure of an existing language and just make up word substitutions. In most cases I think you'd have to be careful to match the "feel" of the language with the races that speak it though. It would be jarring to read an eloquent-sounding language spoken by a race of beings that were barbaric/barely more than animals. With some exceptional creativity you might make something like that work but it wouldn't be easy.

    As a related aside, throwing some naming conventions (rules) into a cultural backdrop can be a nice way to add depth to a story and reveal something about the characters.
     
  2. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Also remember many authors never make up a language; instead they describe it .If your readers won't understand it and are not expected to translate it then having:

    "It was a melodic series of sounds, high pitched and smoothly flowing one to the next such that you could hardly hear where one word started and finished"

    Is pretty much the same as

    "Wassable tstestasa vorgo nashabatha"

    In fact the former can actually convey more information to the reader and more immersion than the latter.
     
  3. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    hmm, definitely stuff to think about, though I will continue trying to create a language I may not actually use it for more than names and whatnot
     
  4. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    You can also use it for common words where the reader can infer the meaning from the text around it, or define the words earlier in the story for the reader and then use them on their own from then on. It's a good way to create more cultural/background depth in a story, adding a unique flare to the "atmosphere".
    Besides, it is a lot of fun for the author to mess with this stuff. :D
     
  5. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    yea I'm not 100% sure how much I'm going to use in the stories I write. it all depends on how far into the language I can go
     
  6. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    How far you can go? You're the author...you can go as far as you like! :) If making up a language doesn't inspire you or seem to fit with your story, you'll figure that out pretty quick, I reckon. If you want an example of how pirating English grammar with a made-up language can work, I can post something down in the Scribe's house for you.
     
  7. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    I love but hate creating my language. I always find myself unintentionally going to a bunch of random sounds that don't really work, which is why it's taking me so long to really get behind it. I'm trying to find something that sounds semi believable but still foreign to every other language out there. and I would actually love to see an example, it might help
     
  8. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    OK ... I will try and post that example tonight in the scribe's house.
     
  9. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Done: Excerpt with a fictional language
     
  10. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    awesome. just out of curiosity, is that from something?
     
  11. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Yes... it's from a book.
     
  12. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    which book?
     
  13. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    SJ basically wrote what I wanted to post. :D I love me some lore in the stories I read, and fictional languages can be an important part of it. They just have to make sense (work as a language) and feel right - easier said than done, I know. :p

    That sounds interesting. What is the language used by McKiernan like?
     
  14. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    he's used old German, Japanese, English, I think he uses ancient Greek or something similar for his mages. and I don't know the rest off the top of my head, but it works rather well. I plan on doing something similar in certain situations, but with my created race I intend to make a language for them
     
  15. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I probably can't answer that in this part of the forum without getting in trouble. lol
     
  16. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    pm it to me. I'm curious about it. I must know
     
  17. Richard P Titus

    Richard P Titus New Member

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    My story environment was a remote, island kingdom who had developed its own civilization independent of influence from other civilizations. To suggest a unique culture, I created a number of words to give some flavor of a language specific to these people.

    The result -- some readers loved it, some readers hated it. Some people are open to the idea of new words, others say it distracted from the story. I put an interactive glossary in the (Kindle) book so readers would have easy access to the new word definitions. Still, some readers did not appreciate that, saying it was annoying that they should have to refer to a glossary.

    I'm sharing this experience with you in case it might be helpful. What's the moral of the story? Some of your audience will like neologism, some won't. At least, that was my experience.

    From my viewpoint, it was fun and challenging to invent words. Here's an example of one such word --

    phlazitz Meaningless imprecation or exclamation; approximate translation from Ancient Nibbish tongue -- "Volcanic fallout has ignited my hair. Would you kindly stamp it out?"

    Was the reviewers' real complaint that I had done a clumsy job of creating new jargon? Maybe. On the other hand, other readers were amused. Sometimes you go with your reviewers' feedback and other times you simply have to write according to what pleases you.

    The important thing is to have fun and be satisfied with your final product. After all, it's your creation and if you don't like the result, why create it in the first place.

    Have fun.
     
  18. Arkonian Doyle

    Arkonian Doyle Escapist

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    I think it's really impressive how certain writers designed their very own language. I'm thinking Tolkien, oh and I believe Christopher Paolini had one included in the Eragorn series aswell...no?
    I'm working on the religious side of my book now and I must say, I do envy those who succeeded making it all 'make sense'. It's more complicated than I could imagine.o_O
     
  19. Richard P Titus

    Richard P Titus New Member

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    Another example is Anthony Burgess' creation of Russian-based jargon in "A Clockwork Orange." I agree with Arkonian Doyle -- it's harder than it looks. Masters like Burgess and Tolkien make it look easy, but that, of course, is because they had mastered their craft.