‘Conlangs’ Category Archives

12
Aug

Hëw Nestirez – The Rën Language

by Geckat in Major

I mentioned Rën in my last post, but here is its official unveiling as a work-in-progress.

Rën is a project I am extremely passionate about, as my spiritual and philosophical exploration has been an enormous drive for me these last few months and with Rën I feel I’ve found a way to express that through conlanging.  In January of this year, I started looking more seriously into the Sikh religion as a solution to the emotional and spiritual crisis I had been feeling for months, and in March I attended a local gurdwara (Sikh temple) for the first time.  It’s since been a crucial lifeline for me and has opened up an entirely new world of thinking that I hadn’t had the opportunity to consider before.

God in Sikhi is described with incredible poetry, often as a set of apparent contradictions that, when studied and considered, create a solid idea in the mind of an ultimate being that is both transcendent and immanent in its creation, and indeed, that nothing exists, and nothing happens, that is not part of that God.  It’s a sort of idealistic monism, that everything we identify with, everything we’re attached to, and everything we interact with on a daily basis is a kind of illusion, and the truth is simply that everything is God — and as rational beings, we should seek to realize and internalize this notion.

I found this idea intensely fascinating and inspiring, and I’ve sought to create a language that removes the illusory barriers between people, between people and other creatures, and between all consciousness and the “ultimate consciousness” of reality/nature/God.  The lexeme Rën can refer to any being, including/particularly God, and is the only animate noun in the lexicon. It lacks all other animate referential pronouns, instead preferring to use morphological markers to label and refer back to persons in discourse, dropping the strange loop of the first person, and the “other-ness” of other persons.  If we look at this in a hesitantly Sapir-Whorf fashion, it would require the speaker to view all animate entities, including themselves, as interchangeable and therefore equal.

Like Taðýric, Rën is highly synthetic, and words that aren’t inflected with case can stand alone as sentences, and unlike Taðýric there is a complete dearth of particles.  Person, however, is infixed with nuclear vowels, and the elimination of a fairly large class of words means that stems can be shorter.  This should make the language appear ponderous but not long-winded.

If the nature of an individual needs to be made clear in a fashion that a noun would usually denote — for example, if the subject is a doctor, or a cat — the aspect of that individualness can be made clear with verbs.  For instance, “The doctor smokes cigarettes” might gloss as “heal.1 smoke.1” or “He heals.  He smokes.” The irony is still made clear without the other implications of doctorhood (ie education, wealth) being made explicit in the language used.  An animal may be more complicated, but still uses the same paradigm: “The cat was sleeping and then she bit my arm” could gloss to “sharp-tooth.1 claw.1 sleep.1 arm.IN Rën.2.OBL bite.IN” (in which the oblique, at this moment, works as a possessive case) or “She has sharp teeth, she has claws, she sleeps; to him there is an arm, it is bitten.” It doesn’t make the species explicit, as there are plenty of things out there with sharp teeth and claws, but it does present the creature in question in a violent manner as preamble to the event itself (although it could just as easily talk about the teeth and claws after the fact, to ditch the suspense and instead emphasize how it must have hurt!).  It also doesn’t make it explicit that it was my arm that was bitten, as the concept of “my”, of attachment in general, is foreign to Rën.

It’s a strange concept but I’m having a ton of fun with it and I hope I don’t run into too many pitfalls in working it out.

13
Dec

Taðýric Abugida

by Geckat in Conlangs, Fonts and Keyboard Layouts, Major

Taðýric finally has its own writing system.  It took me a few tries to find something I liked, but finally I realized I need some sort of aesthetic commonalities between all these glyphs.  The commonality I went with is a little radical, but none of the strokes are allowed to curve upwards.  The result is something that looks to me like a lawn of twisted grass, or to others like rows of dancing ghosts.

The abugida is something of a cross between an abugida and a syllabary, as the glyphs for syllables with /e/ and /i/ as their nuclei are slightly irregular: Rather than consistent diacritics, certain strokes in the base glyph are doubled.  I therefore needed to create both a font and a keyboard layout.

Here is the result!

This is my translation of Hávamál 93-95.  I think it was worth the hours of effort.

14
Oct

Hávamál 93-95

by Geckat in Conlangs, Fonts and Keyboard Layouts, Major, Site

I finally decided (tentatively) on a text to translate.  It has a couple different persons, some neat moods and reflexivity, various places for case or adpositions to be applied, and a little aspect (but no tense).  It also happens to just be a really nice few verses.

I’ve gone ahead and translated it, and then also typed it out in the latest version of the Sehali script.

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9
Sep

Swadesh List

by Geckat in Conlangs, Linguistics, Minor

So here’s the deal: I haven’t been working on languages as of late because I’ve been working on natural ones.  Very gradually learning French, trying to pick Swedish back up, picking up German a little too to amuse some new friends I’ve made.  But I’ve also still been hard at work on what I’m doing here.

Anyone perusing my projects will notice that while I’m fairly good at getting the grammatical stuff that I need down and all that good stuff, I’m absolutely terrible at actually coming up with words.  Indeed, there are some projects where I’ve formulated the phonology, got some solid phonotactic rules down, figured out how the syntax and morphology work, what grammatical systems are in place, churned out numbers and particles and then…wait, you need words to have a language?  Dang.  Eh, I’ll do it later.

I do this in language learning, too; ask me anything about Japanese grammar and I’m your textbook, but hell if I can remember more than fifty words in it.  So I’m trying a different route in my art: I looked around for a while for a list of words that essentially every language should have in some form.

Of course there are the Swadesh lists, but those tend to be rather short, contain a lot of grammatical terms like pronouns, and generally be unsuited to the purposes where the language in question is of, say, a race of bipedal lizards with no teeth.  And then there are frequency lists, which can be much longer, but again, lots of grammatical words, and also lots and lots of culturally, geographically, and technologically specific terms, which also makes them unsuitable.  In both cases, they tend to be culturally biased.

So I’ve gone out and painstakingly created (see: still creating) my own big long Swadesh list.  At the moment it has 754 words, and is made up of me taking the 1,000 most used words in written English, Chinese, Swahili, and Arabic, omitting all the synonyms, grammatical words, names for animals, technologically specific, geographically specific, and culturally specific terms, armed with my knowledge of Blackfoot, which loves its derivation and compounding, to omit unnecessary words.  So far it’s quite well-appreciated in the conlanging community and should, once filled in, make for a language that is about 60% “complete”.  That is, you can speak it and say whatever it is you want to say about 60% of the time, with most of the rest of the stuff being reliant on the technology, culture, and geography that your conculture may or may not have.

Have a look.

4
Sep

Elder Scrolls Online: Runic Syllabary

by Geckat in Conlangs, Minor

It’s not exactly common knowledge that the runes one uses in enchanting in The Elder Scrolls Online are actually made up of a syllabary, but a couple people before me have noticed this and done what they can to figure out which lines mean what.  A few weeks ago, I took the time to draw up a nice little chart.  Not a huge deal, but hey, it’s something, right?  As for original projects, I’m working on something very slowly that should help me come up with worthwhile words to translate.  More to come!

11
Jul

Zhuori

by Geckat in Conlangs, Major

I’ve been commissioned by Elmer Johnson to create a language for a novel he is intending to write.  We are collaborating on it, and thusfar it has a diphthong-heavy phonology and a relatively regular abugida.  Have a look.

7
Jun

Sehali Alphabet

by Geckat in Conlangs, Fonts and Keyboard Layouts, Minor, Uncategorized

So a week or two ago, I spent sixteen hours straight (that’s right: not even a bite to eat or a sit to poop) in a flurry of creativity to create the Sehali alphabet.  It’s my first completely original alphabet in a rather long time, and it’s quite complex, working as a kind of composed syllabary, like hangul (Korean script).  I’ve got it working nicely in tandem with the keyboard layout, which has changed a little to accommodate it.  Don’t worry, though: it’s still full of all those dots and macrons and diaereses and circumflexes above and below everything to make it look like some sort of weird topsy-turvy agglutinating Vietnamese when written in Latin.  I’m only just now writing a blog post about it, and the language still has a slim vocabulary, but I’ll celebrate by translating this blog’s title into my new lizardy script:

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29
Apr

Ta’agra Collab

by Geckat in Conlangs, Fonts and Keyboard Layouts, Minor

There is a phenomenon one tends to experience when he or she reconstructs fictional pseudo-conlangs or incomplete conlangs into working conlangs: often times, you aren’t the only one doing it.  This can be both a problem and a boon: a problem because it means there are different people with different interpretations who disagree with you and if you’re overly competitive like I am you feel like you are vying for some sort of conlang control, with the goal being the fanbase adhering strictly to your reconstruction; and a boon because you can collaborate with people if you can get over your competitive ego.

I am going to attempt to do exactly that.  About a year ago, Ra’Zakhar & Kiarash began work on what they have dubbed The Ta’agra Project.  They’ve been nice enough to credit me on their front page, but they have also taken some deviations from my rendition of the Khajiiti language, and have added many of their own words to the Ta’agra lexicon.  Despite this, we believe we can work together, so expect to see more and more Ta’agra coming that should, WITH OUR POWERS COMBINED, become that sought-after be-all of a fan language.

Sure, Justin, you always say you will be working on things, but what have you actually done?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Apart from my struggles to convince my new collaborators that Ta’agra has case prefixes (the evidence just keeps pouring in, come on, guys!), one major stride these two have taken is to start on an alphabet.  Now, I’m not too fond of alphabets: they’re rare in the real world and because of this they take the immersion right out of a conlang.  But these two have an interesting philosophy that I often forget to include, and that is that this is a fan language.  A language for fans.  Not for linguists, not for the .01% of people in the world who would consider writing songs in Na’vi, but for people who like the Elder Scrolls franchise and think it would be neat to be able to, say, write their own name in Ta’agra.  They’re not going to be able to do that if it’s done in an abugida (much as it pains me), so an alphabet it is.

And to show my good intentions, I have started on a font for said alphabet based on the glyphs they already invented with a couple modifications and additions of my own.  It’s just got the letters so far, but check it out.

Wish us luck!

6
Apr

Sehali

by Geckat in Conlangs, Major

Started another conlang tonight, because I was inspired. Time to see what happens when we have progressively assimilating secondary articulations across consonants — in three levels.  This will be another addition to my Ipakha project.

Sehali (Sehali: Sä̗hāli) [sʲaˈħaˌlˠi] is a language spoken by reptilian people of the same name. Nomadic, the Sehali are known variously as raiders, traders, and slavers, although make their home mostly in the Miuxleb Plains, controlling major tradeways between the Copper Mountains and the Great East Plateau.

31
Dec

New Title!

by Geckat in Conlangs, Minor, Site

Except not!  It’s pronounced the same, I just decided I really don’t like /ɕ/ as a distinctive phoneme in Taðýric.  It’s just too noisy, so instead I’m having it only appear in palatalizing environments (ie before /i/).  Fun with phonotactics.