Monday, March 14, 2011

Etymonday: Crannogs and Conlangers

First, let me say Hail and Welcome to my new Thralls! I hope I can occasionally write something of some interest to you.

A now, a flash from the past:

(source) (I hated this game so much, but you know I'm going to buy it again.)

Re-reading A Game of Thrones I encountered this word 'crannog' which I guess I never looked up last time, because I didn't have any idea what it meant. (Here's the American Heritage version, via Wordnik: An ancient Irish dwelling or fort built on an artificial island in a lake or marsh.) So, no surprise it's an Irish Gaelic word, a welcome addition to the small family of Gaelic words in English: crag, leprechaun, shamrock, whiskey, bog, gob, brogue, cairn, loch, phoney, smithereens, and apparently, spunk. Go here and here for more.

While perusing the wikilands for infos about the HBO Game of Thrones production, my wife learned that a Dothraki language has been created. This, along with the event with the creators of Klingon and Na'vi we went to down to the college, prompts me to share with you all something that likely comes as no surprise: I have tried my hand at making up languages.

First, it was some Elven, back in '89. Inspired by The Lord of the Rings, yes, but also the Elven words in the Dragonlance Chronicles. I remember one from those books, shalafi, but all I remember from my own is the possessive suffix, -ki. All my notes from those days are long gone, he said through a sniffle.

In the Nine-Tays I wanted to write a noble-savage type books about orcs--I wanted to call it "soft-science fiction" because it would be all anthropological. Yeah, I'm kind of embarrassed for me too. Call it confessional time. Anyway, the lead was named Gorak Nannak-klu, the nannak-klu being the Orcish for "demon-heart" and the Gorak just sounding cool, despite being a real-world name. Google wasn't a thing back then. As for the language I origianlly wanted it to have creole prototype grammar (for the minimum work for me) but I also wanted it to have infixing, so then I gave up.

Not that I think that's very interesting. What I am interested in is YOUR made up languages. What languages have you made up? How long before you realized it was a huge Tolkien-esque diversion from anything useful in playing the game it was probably intended for? How deep are you in conlang? What do you know about the Language Creation Society? I promise not to ignore your comments this time!


C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

Actually, I'm making the players learn them if they want to speak the language well. I haven't had any yet, so I don't know how it'll go over, but...

Anyway, moving on. I've made Elemental Common, Tla'Mxi and Tolrian and Fae-speech.

Dictionaries so far:


Tel: The

Kriilnaar: Poison

Vani: Disc

Excerpt of writing:

Dlarvsha oln liktri kistar vlorok nalshiir humans tel Linwaer Aalkidru kal tel apsiir halktinalriin iln
Home to many things that prey upon humans the Linwaer Forest is the last remaining domain of
tel Linakata li Morilar. Ykla ulnsiim yokloth jauul Annwn Riiktaal, jsaln kal nilkien iln
the fey in Morilar. At its heart lies an Annwn Tree, which is responsible for the proliferation of
jasapaliiktro huuiln tliik.
eldritch creatures within.

--Sliin Kaitvor, Tel Linwaer Aalkidru
--Sliin Kaitvor, The Linwaer Forest


Tla; Wolf
Mxal: Run
Mxi: Runner
Aervi: Troll
Naedli: Hunt
Naedlis: Hunter
Naedlisan: Hunters
Tarki: Leader
Tarkin: Leaders
Hastri: Dead
Hastril: Dying
Haslirk: Undead
Kasdarlik: Fear
Nogghala (Nog-Guh-hala): Life
Trukslin: Not
Lorgghana (Lorg-Guh-Hana): You
Gihhik: I
Lahastri: Do

Sample sentence: Gihhik lahastri trukslin kasdarlik lorgghana (I do not fear you).

Elemental Common:

Rhuk: Fire Elemental
Earll: Water Elemental
Ghasstr: Earth Elemental
Jirruln: Air Elemental
Lakktiir: Fight
Lakktiira: Fighting
Lakktiiraani: War
Inaariitkkal: Peace
Holg: Death
Holgesun: Dying
Gloh: Life
Nusegloh: Living
Lkritii (Luh-crit-eee): Undead
Gorlak: Fear
Jaln: I
Hiktar: Not
Astarni: Light (As in "There was a great deal of light")
Astarnien: Light (As in "Should I light the the torch?")
Astarnia: Lighting
Astarnial: Lit, as in "He lit the candles"
Astarnialan: Lit, as in "A well lit room"
Rudkhaal: Candles
Draksheem: Lightning
Roodkleer: You
Loktiir: Do
Kraglorsh: Want (As in "Do you want to me to make something to eat?")
Guhhashkii: Need
Halktiir: Me
Luuktirn: To (As in "Do you want me to...?"
Laaktiirn: To (As in "This is to give to her")
Jaarkti: Make
Ehktu: Food (For an elemental this may be the same as "Fuel" in some cases but it is used as we would define "Food")

Sample sentence: Loktiir roodkleer kraglorsh halktiir luuktirn jaarkti ehktu? (Do you want me to make food?)


Dulakadir - Sleep

Nutagreen - Slaughter

Tulishadar - Hunt

Navaraseen - Kill

Lekatavoon - Eat

Talisinyor - Night

Nevesidar - Day

Cali'shalor - Queen

Tari'shalor - King

Davorindaer - War

Kadoradorageare - Death

Nesata - Life

Dunadoo - Armor

Tasiki - Sword

Boolaruun - Spear

Jaleempakeen - Dragon

Tasira - Bow

Doraquun - Sling

Lasheporud - Sewer

Deskasvoonadi - Dung-eater

Leespagina - Hunter

Ick the Ark said...

Thanks, C'nor. I'll bet having several languages goes a long way to making things feel immersive.

Who speaks Tla'Mxi?

Jesse Carter said...

Hey, it was the 90's, we all did embarassing things!

I've never constructed my own language, but I have dabbled in learning Klingon and Esperanto. I used to speak Klingon pretty well, but since it was never really used (except in my Klingon Punk band) that muscle atrophied and died.

Ick the Ark said...

JJ--Klingon punk, it's such a perfect match. that must have been fun--except for the Klingon being so painful to pronounce.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

The Tla'Mxi. I decided to name these for the group that speaks them, unless there's more than one, like Fae-speech or Elemental Common. That also relates to their cultural background - the reason they're named that is that it means Wolf Runners.

Telecanter said...

I'm late to this one, but language and writing systems was a huge draw for me in gaming.

I remember finding The Languages of Middle Earth in the child's section of the library and being simultaneously boggled (that something so complex was considered childish) and thrilled (that no one knew about it but me).

There was a great couple of articles in the Dragon that talked about using languages. You could make a chart with appropriate syllables and combine them to make words. I made an agglutinative Ent language (an orc hireling named in Entish was Reskketlek).

There was also an article on thieve's cant. I named several Gnomish thieves from that, one was Fyarbaral, meant oily fingers)

I designed a courtly language of my own meant to be spoken softly and not overheard, Nuum. I also designed an alphabet for Dwarvish runes based on Dwarvish objects-- lanterns, gems, hammers.

I scored an awesome little book on Esperanto in a junk shop once and thereafter a lot of the magic words and inscriptions in my world were made in that language.

Ick the Ark said...

Thanks, Telecanter. I might want to borrow some of your ideas myself.