Posts Tagged ‘Mantis’



by Geckat in Conlangs, Major

So, I’ve been playing a lot of a game called “FTL: Faster Than Light”. It’s an indie roguelike developed by Subset Games in which you command a space vessel with a mission to deliver vital information to Federation Headquarters. You deal with ships and colonies in distress, get attacked by pirates, slip through nebulae, evade erupting supergiant stars, engage in diplomacy, hire (and lose) crew, ship systems, weaponry…all while the huge rebel fleet is only a few FTL jumps away in hot pursuit of you and your intel.

It’s hellishly difficult most of the time, especially given its roguelike status — that is, there is no saving and reloading; if your ace pilot ends up being eaten by giant alien spiders, that’s your problem to deal with. Of course, though, what I always find the most enjoyable is the lore and text, of which there is a lot. I smiled, I laughed, I furiously threw objects, and most of all I came across two words — names — that are relevant to this blog.

Urggghtnag, a hunting clan.
KazaaakplethKilik, a dreaded space pirate.

These are, as far as I’ve seen, the only instances of foreign languages in the game, and both are of the “Mantis” race: a bloodthirsty insectoid species who specialize in boarding your ship and carving up your less exoskeletal crew members in melee combat. My first reaction upon reading these names was: those are absolutely absurd.  Three A’s?  Three G’s, even?  And a capital K thrown in the middle for good measure?

My second reaction was…I can totally make this work.

So, I’ve started to make this work: The Mantis language is now in my projects wiki, in which I churn out geminates, nuclear fricatives, click consonants, and a full three levels of phonemic vocalic length.  My first goal of creating a viable translation and gloss of those two names has been met: our hunting clan is now unofficially “The Great Thorax” clan, and the most feared pirate in the sector was christened “You Will Resonate In Glory” in typical synthetic language style.  I had particular fun thinking of examples of phonemic vocalic length: zhiKik “you yell” – zhiiKik “you negotiate” – zhiiiKik “you run electricity through (something)”.  What else would you need three I’s for but electrocution?  That’s what I thought, too.

I’ll continue to work on this and Taðýric in my spare time, when I’m not grinding out half-hour poems for the amusement of my friends — or, of course, having my crew shredded by giant geminating bugs.