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Making your own language based off another?

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#1 xkime


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Posted 08 June 2017 - 10:15 PM

Hey guys! In Marie Lu's the young elites and in The Trisha books by Leigh Bardugo they seem to "create" different words in another language based off of a language that exists (Italian and Russian)

In my new novel I want to make a word for "little witchling" "Darkblood/Nightblood" And something to curse with (like our own curse words) but I have no idea what to do. Will someone help me out? Thanks!! I really like french or germanic. Thank you!

#2 KL Sanchez

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 11:38 PM

Creating words and languages is one part inspiration, another part fudgperation. No, the last is not a word. :smile:


If you're conlanging (building a whole new language), there's so many things to start from and build from that it would take a whole article to explain, but if you're just fudging up a couple words, then try mashing together words based on a similar concept in one or more languages, such as taking the first half from one and the second half of the other, and then fiddling with letters and vowels until you come up with something.


For example: "Night-blood" [English] "Nachtblut" [German] -> Naktblut -> Nahkblut -> Nahkbrud -> Nakkbrüe


Just as an example. If you do it right, the final word should look far enough from the original as to not be very much recognizable at all. Don't be afraid, either, to insert random accented letters to make something look more exotic; no matter how much you try, different people will interpret a letter a different way and pronounce it differently, so don't worry about accuracy. Take "schadenfreude", for instance; it's supposed to be "shod-en-froyd-uh", but most English speakers say "shod-en-froyd" without the ending vowel (which is silent in most English dialects).


A famous example of pure nonsensical wordcrafting was HP Lovecraft; he would mash up letters until they were nigh unpronounceable (Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, etc.). "Cthulhu" alone has dozens of pronunciations. A word doesn't have to be easily pronounceable to carry meaning. :cool:


And a swear is just a swear; you can make near any word into a swear. It doesn't even have to make sense (such as the Guardians of the Galaxy "d'ast"). "Mock you, man!"

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#3 Zaarin


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Posted 09 June 2017 - 10:25 PM

If you're interested in the fine art of glossopoetry (Tolkien's term for the craft, which he also called "the secret vice"), I highly recommend Mark Rosenfelder's The Language Construction Kit and The Advanced Language Construction Kit--both are excellent introductions to linguistics, with lots of useful information whether you want to create an a priori language (that is, a language that is wholly invented) or a posteriori (a language based on an existing language). I've done both, and each has its unique challenges. :) Wikipedia's linguistic articles are for the most part pretty good, too, though some give undue credence to fringe theories...

#4 Niambi


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Posted 12 June 2017 - 12:43 AM

Going along with the two posters above, I'd say if you're looking for a few words to substitute and add flavor to your novel go with the mashup.

Creating an entirely new language may not be necessary and takes time. Klingon took years to create and was based off of phonetics AFAIR. At the time, however, the Star Trek cannon was large enough to facilitate the need and add to the authenticity of a powerful alien culture.

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