Nov 4, 2012

The Art of Languages Part One

     So, I had a comment asking me to talk about my fictitious languages. Last night in bed, I decided I'd go with that and figure out how to explain such a thing. It's always come easy to me, really. I had this insane fascination with languages and people not being able to understand me. Took Latin for the first time when I was little. Had strange daydreams of my seeing certain friends and talking to them only in Latin.

      I never learned fluent Latin.

      Usually, when it came to languages, I stuck to the basics: Speaking words backwards or using Pig Latin. I dah eht tsom nuf gniod taht. Ustjay ayingsay.

      But let's face it. Those are too simple. Especially in writing. Out loud? You may have a chance of standing out. I tried getting my siblings to speak it. We never could understand each other--we all pronounced certain words differently.

      I always had the right pronunciations, though, you know? *rolls eyes*

      Since then, I knew I needed something more challenging. I'd sit with a notebook for hours, doodling out how I could make better languages. Oftentimes, my words came straight from the English language. I just changed or fixed them up. I'd rather not go all into my different processes, otherwise we'd end up with fifty books using the same ficticious language for our group of highly advanced cyborgs (*coughs* Not my story). However, I can give some tips.

      1. Make the unbelievable, believable.
      Fairly simple tip. I mean, that's just about everything in writing. All I'm meaning is, your words need some sort of realism to them. Not just and random string of hullabaloo. Sure, not every word is going to sound real. I don't ask you to do that. Just make some  believable. 

      In Latin, there are so many words that sound similar to their English counterparts: Poeta, verba, mater, etc. (actually, et cetera is Latin). But it also has so many words that don't sound familiar. Remember Nemo? I think of a fish in a Disney Pixar movie, or the saying: 'Finding Nemo.' How many of us would otherwise put two and two together that is means 'no one?'

      Throw in some words that have familiarity. It makes the language easier to understand overall. I won't lie. I've used the words 'Uhamnis' and 'Olocomitev' as words. Human and car, respectively. It's not some crazy, unbelievable mixture of letters. Uhamnis has that sound that without much explaining of the word, it can be understood. Olocomitev makes us think of a locomotive. Though normally a train, we still get the picture that it's a moving vehicle.

      2. Don't stress yourselves.

      Languages don't have to be complicated or clever. Oftentimes, I'll grab little shortcuts that give me pathways to many languages. Take any language of your choice. You have the internet. You have Google Translate. There are so many ways you can make languages out of them. I've never done this, but what if you blended two languages? English and Hebrew? Japanese and Swahili? Nothing has to be stressful. 

      3. Don't be afraid to experiment.

      Face it: Not every language you come up with will be the bombshell. While you don't have to worry too much about it (I mean, it's not like you'll be writing entire paragraphs of the language in your book), don't be afraid to experiment. Sit down with a notebook and come up with words for everyday usage. Don't be like me who always obsesses over getting the elements like fire and water out of the way. Honestly, take a movie line or some song lyrics, and write down what the words would be in your language. Oftentimes, they'll cover some simple, well used words that your brain just didn't come up with.

      4. Have fun.

      Now I'm being annoying. Everyone adds "have fun" at the end. Why did I do it? A. I don't want to stop writing because I'll have to get to work (well, actually, I have to get to work in a few minutes anyways). B. I'm having too much fun writing this. And C. It's important to have fun doing it! If you're not having fun, it's just going to be another mundane task that you shove past with the utmost speed, leaving spilt cereal all over the tile floors. If I didn't have fun doing it, I wouldn't have notebooks filled with languages that I can turn to at any time of need. I write fantasy. Languages for my different cultures tends to be a must. It's more realistic.

      Besides, what better way to answer a telemarketer call? Go foreign.

      Actually, if you're wondering if this is it, it's not. I plan to write a little more on the topic. I just don't have enough time to at the moment. I tend to only have time for a quick post most weekdays. Unless I wake up uber early. Please don't make me. I am not fond of early wake up calls.

      Have fun experimenting with your verbosity!

      -Silence K. Grulkey

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