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.



Made up names

On my first project, not a fantasy, now long dead – and good riddance, I wanted the names of people and places to be foreign. I mean, it’s not necessary for them to be, plenty of fantasies use regular or regular-like English names, and those work just fine. But that’s not how I wanted to approach it, and maybe that’s stupid, but it’s the writer’s prerogative right? So, for that first project I slammed together a bunch of letters and called them names. The result was a bit of text that was unreadable to anybody and had no consistency nor did it make the world feel like the world was full of unique cultures, which is what I wanted. I feel like I’ve read fantasies where the approach was to just put together some random letters until a name was achieved, and in those cases, I wish they’d just used regular English names.

When I started my current project, I still wanted to use names that weren’t like English. So, I started researching, with two goals in mind 1: Develop a language with just enough depth to let me name things. 2: Make sure that language follows conventions easily recognizable and readable to an English speaker. I spent hours, well weeks and weeks really, learning about language. Naturally, I also spent a lot of time studying the famousest of constructed languages, trying to learn what Tolkien did and how. Since I’m not a linguist, I recognize whatever I attempt will still fall rather short of the mark, but it’s a zillion times better than what I had before. Anyhow, in the process I learned a lot and managed to come up with a pair of nearly passable con-langs that gave me enough to name everything on the map and people.

As with anything I work on though, it didn’t stop there. I kept going, building alphabets (check this place out: and complex rules for speaking the language. Between the case endings and made-up words in the second language, there are around 3500 words to pull from. The first of the two languages has considerably fewer words, but provides enough to translate short quotes, which is a fun thing to add into a story. I’m still working on them here and there, mostly when I’m trying to procrastinate. In retrospect, the best thing to have done would have been to learn a second language, and take that experience into the development of a con-lang. You learn loads about ways to deal with conjugation and sentence construction very rapidly. Of course, six or seven years ago when I started this, there wasn’t such a thing as duolingo on your phone, and so it would have been a lot harder than it is now. In the end, the only reason to have these is to rarely interject them into the story, and give some consistency to names, so perhaps it’s all wasted time, but I enjoy it as a creative outlet nonetheless.