Trying to create a constructed language

After staying up far too late last night and working hard on a chapter that I’m not too sure about, I decided to take a little break today and work on one of my languages. I created it largely to provide a way to name things, and maybe also give little chunks of quotes in certain parts of the text. I think I may have gone overboard, and it’s still far from anything having enough words to really say anything useful. I call the language I’m working on today Lotath. That’s the name of the language, not the folks who speak it. For fun, I’ve translated part of quote that appears at the very beginning of my story into the language it would have been spoken in.

The quote:

It would seem the enemy has been defeated utterly, yet in my bones I feel this war is not yet over.

The quote as it would have been spoken in the formal Lotath dialect:

Teziz sukai sedira fefoilta pelfrot lë níza, joza nathaijis däinjol injol nos tukil kami olír kolth joza pellethost

Here is what it breaks down to:

Teziz [it would seem] sukai [the] sedira [enemy] fefoilta [were/have been] pelfrot [state of defeat/defeated] lë níza [to the finish/completely/utterly], joza [yet] nathoiljis [in the bones] däinjol [of mine] injol nos [I do] tukil [feel] kami [this] olír [war] kolth [is not] joza [yet] pellethost [in a state of being done/over].

It really looks like this language is just a string of random letters someone decided to call a language. However, it’s more than that. Just to point out a few elements that are probably not at all obvious, and to show it’s more than just a string of random letters stuck together:

To start, the word fefoilta comes from the root word fota (is). the prefix fe means immediate past, the infix replacement of the o in fota with oil makes it plural formal, straight plural would have that infix replacement as ai (where ai is pronounced the same as the i in island). In this example, ai doesn’t appear because it’s the formal dialect. If you look at the word nathoiljis you could replace the oil with ai, and make it a non-formal version of the same word. The application of formal/non formal depends on the context and dialect. In the common dialect of Lotath, oil would only be applied to things of specific significance. This is in the same way English speakers might add a ‘the’ in front of certain pronouns to designate uniqueness. Think: The Mountains – you hear this a lot in context. If we were to apply the Lotath rules, it might read Moilutains instead. The formal dialect would generally apply the oil all the time for plurals. In the history of this world, the formal was first, and as the language changed, the formal only came to be applied in very specific circumstances, which resulted in the usual application of the infix ai for most plural, leaving oil and a singular counterpart ol as infix modifications for specific, important things or people.

The application of possessives is demonstrated here as well. In the case of the word däinjol, we have the male possessive prefix (da) on the formal male word for I (injol). The owner of a thing, follows that object. So to say something like Dave’s bones, it would be: Thaijis dadave in Lotath. In the case of däinjol, the a and i are pronounced separately, which is why I’ve got the diaeresis above it. Otherwise, ai would be pronounced as described earlier, and indicate a plural (pronouncing it this way would probably sound like nonsense actually).

I picked a fairly poor example to demonstrate conjugation, as this language has dozens of conjugations. However, the one example I’ve got is the use of injol nos. The closest equivalent is something like ‘I do’, but can also be use in instances where English would have ‘I am’.

So, anyhow that’s a brief intro to one of my languages. I just thought I’d share it because I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s hard to really give a good idea of what I mean by a fairly fleshed out con-lang without a demonstration.



2 thoughts on “Trying to create a constructed language

  1. efrussel says:

    Very interesting, and creatively done!

    I don’t mess around with language creation too much, myself–I’m afraid I don’t have the etymological background to do it up right, and when I do it always winds up being way too Latinate for school (or, um, okay, maybe things CAN’T be too Latinate for school, but you get what I mean). I’ve been farting around with it a little, lately, but I still need to create a story for my language–these’d be some very particular people, their expression for ‘it is beautiful’ translates literally as ‘I like it most of all similar things’.


    • Dave S. Koster says:

      Thats super cool. I started in nearly the same place with mine. The language, geography and history were way more developed than any story concept I had. Still are, i think. My language does suffer badly from being structurally a lot like any indo-european language. Not that I really know much about it, my background in language is largely limited to computer programming. For me the thing that makes it feel foreign is this concept of infix modification, which I learned about second-hand from some anthropology course my wife had taken some years ago. I really liked it and had to find a way to use it. I like your concept of for your people, i feel like that example gives major insight into what sort of folk they might be.


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