Do you wanna build a language? Part 1

  • Do you wanna build a language?

    Come on lets go write one

    It will be a lot of fun

    Writing what you want

    And speaking it out loud!

    You don't need to know much

    About what you want

    Just try and you'll succeed!

    Do you wanna build a language?

    Come on lets go write a language

    Just you and me

     

    Good day everyone! After the successful launch of the Gruun language, I have received a number of messages asking how I came up with such a concept and how others whom are interested in doing the same, might go about it. I’m not writing this blog to go through any sort of “correct” way on how to create a constructed language (I personally believe there are multiple ways so my way might not be the same for you), so this blog is merely to demonstrate how I formed one and few of the steps that I’m doing to constructing the next one.

     

    Thinking about creating your own language can seem rather daunting. You need several parts for it to properly work but as I have stated before and will keep stating, it is a lot like baking a cake. You first need to gather all the right ingredients and then put them together before you can have your mouthwatering deliciousness. And if you are willing to work at it, not be afraid of making mistakes, braving through something that not everyone is interested in, than you will become successful. My mantra has always been “do what you want because you love it” and that is why I continue doing it. I still make mistakes even after working on conlangs since 2006. It happens but I put my pride aside, study up, read, and keep working. Never give up. b(^-^)z

     

    With that being said, let’s jump into how I’m creating the first part of the newest language-- Etryan.

     

    Unlike Gruun, where the language is comparatively simple, I took Etryan on with a different mindset. I had to put myself in their place, asking myself, “If I were an elf, how would my language sound? What would it be like?” If you know anything about elves, complexity and beauty is apart of their culture. They strive for something quite elegant which is what I kept in mind.

     

    When I first started, I was given only a few words to work with, examples: urru, fal, myryrs, etryan. I counted all the individual phonemes, the smallest unit of sound in a language, and tallied up everything that I had which came out to be around 22. This was actually super helpful because in Gruun, I started with only 8 phonemes. I had to contact Vhalen to make certain that what I was hearing and saying was correct because the English letter of “a” can sound like /a/ or /a:/ or /ɒ/ or / æ/ (I think you get to picture.)

     

    With that, I charted out everything but I had to be exact in what I wanted. It came out to be something like this (This is subject to change*):

     

     

     

    Now this is called a phonemic orthography, which is an orthography (system for writing a language) in which the graphemes (written symbols) correspond to the phonemes of the language. I highly recommend that if you want to start a language that you start here with an orthography. I’ve known individuals who like to start at the syntax and vocabulary but for starters, I recommend at least charting out the phonemes that you would like to use. Do note that if you want to get a good grasp of this, you’ll need to learn the International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA.

     

    IPA is a must if you want to make sure that your reader or those interested in your language, knows exactly how your language sounds because different letters in English, example “a”, can have multiple pronunciations. This can be challenging at times and even I mess up. (whoops!) What I normally do is keep a copy of the IPA so that I can go back to it for reference. It’s a lot to learn and can be confusing at times but just stick with it and make sure you use Lord Google. A lot of times I forget how to properly express a phoneme but I have an audio library that I made on my computer with all of them. My roommates thought I was insane when they heard me recording myself but it’s a great place to start. (Here is a helpful IPA chart that is flash based. http://www.yorku.ca/earmstro/ipa/ )

     

    Now I can go on and on in more depth about IPA and the differences between phones, phonemes, and allophones and all the goodness but for the sake of this small blog, I’ll just keep it simple. I highly recommend you have fun with this part and like I said before, don’t be afraid to make a mistake! It happens but make sure you reach out to the community (or even myself) for help and guidance. I never went to school for this. It is just a fun hobby that I do but with some time and practice, anyone can write a language like Gruun or even better!

     

    Thanks for reading this small blog. I decided to end it here so not to bombard you with information but I’ll work on the next blog and release it as soon as I can. For further reading, I suggest you check out the Language Creation Society (LCS) at http://conlang.org which I'm a member of. They have a good start and a forum willing to help anyone interested in conlangs. And if there is a big enough interest, maybe we can get a conlang section going and discuss different ones.

    Till Yonder! b(^-^)z

6 comments
  • Miserere
    Miserere It's "tarb"
    April 19, 2014 - 2 like this
  • Sparkling
    Sparkling So it seems highly plausible, but I'm going to ask anyway... did you also study Quenya and Sindarin?
    May 8, 2014 - 2 like this
  • Miserere
    Miserere I have along with many of the other conlangs. It's beautifully written and I know many strive to get similar results. I'm currently in the process of building a whole language tree with in-depth history and lore. You'll be able to follow the progress on...  more
    May 9, 2014 - 2 like this
  • Sparkling
    Sparkling I wrote a small PC flashcard ap for Quenya, with a few Sindarin words in it too. My son picked it for his foreign language one year. We had trouble finding an easy-to-use Elvish language curriculum so I created my own. We would like to release some more...  more
    May 9, 2014 - 1 likes this