How to Invent a Fictitious Language
With the GOP having broken rank against the United States Citizens and The Democrats and of course, Obama, inclusive of all the talk and language that goes with such a shift, we thought a well researched piece would be in order. No worries, the DNC is underway, so let’s see what the Dems have to create for us as well. Fact is, politicians in general seem to be making things up as they go along. I wonder if they knew exactly what they were doing to begin with. Here is is, straight from the archives of a linguist: My invented language called “Savaetriano”. This reads “Grui Mesa” Source: Taken by Keith DuBarry (KDuBarry03) Understanding Linguistic Relativity Inventing a fictional, or fictitious, language is daunting and can be very productive for any Science-Fiction and/or Fantasy writers. In my hub, Creating an Artificial Language for Fantasy , linguistic relativity is noted as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that depicts different words have different meanings in other languages. For example, the English word “snow” is just one word; however, in many Alaskan native tribes, there are twelve different words that can be translated as “snow.” With this in mind, for the sci-fi/fantasy writer, it is very important to understand what Linguistic Relativity is and how it may benefit you. In the picture to the left, I have given an example of my artificial language called Savaetriano [sah-vay-ee-tree-on-oo] and I give two different words. The language is read up-down then left-right. So, the first word is “grui” [groo-ee] in which can be translated, into English, as “great”. For my language, this word can also be translated into another English word, “Grand”. The second word reads “Maesa” [may-suh] and is only translated into one English word, “Tree.” If you choose to create a fictitious language, it is highly imperative to understand what words are translatable or not. If you choose to have a word, such as “Alabajiol” to mean “the great hills of God beyond the west mountains”, ensure that you make the meaning clear in your novel work so the readers will understand that one word in your particular artificial language means one sentence in English. Table 1: Phoneme examples Phonemic vowel Vowel Sound I (capital i) it æ at a bod i eat o oh e bade u boo Ɛ bed ə um ᴐ bought Understanding Phonemic Vowels If you are a native English speaker, it may be difficult for you to invent your own artificial and fictitious language because the English language only uses five vowel letters (/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/) to stand for many other vowel sounds. If you take a look at table 1, there are ten vowels that can be used to spell different English words. The Phonemic vowels are used in IPA (international phonemic Alphebet). Of course, there are numerous other vowel sounds (in my artificial language, I use twelve different vowels). The reason why English only uses five vowels is because the language is high contextual; this means that one letter can be used to make two or more different sounds. This is exactly why it is very difficult for non-English speakers to learn English. The letter /i/, in English, can be used to make sounds for these words: it and sight. The letter /o/ has more sounds it can make (in English): Oh, odd, to and ticktock. When you are working on a brand new language, it is definitely important to consider what, exactly, each letter sounds like. If you take a look at the picture that reads “Grui Mesa”, I followed the vowel sounds made on table 1 to spell the words out (both in English and in Savaetriano). Table 2: Phoneme Examples Phonemic Consonant Consonant Sound ʧ chi ʃ shy t to k cat f fame v vail g go ʤ joe d day Understanding Phonemic Consonants In IPA, there are numerous forms of consonants. There are different consonants such as alveolar (i.e. /t/, /p/, /b/, /d/) which are, more or less, stop consonants. There are other consonants such as fricatives (i.e., /z/, /s/, /sh/ [ʃ], /m/, /n/) in which can be sounded out. Another interesting form of consonants are affricates , in which are consonants that start off as an alveolar and ends as a fricative (such as the ch in chill in which is a combination of the alveolar /t/ and the fricative /sh/). In table 2, you will see that some common sounds in English, such as the /ch/ or the /j/, use completely different consonant letters in phonemes than in the English language. It is imperative that this is understood for say, in example, that you have a word spelled out as “facholim” but you want it to sound like “fak-hol-eem”, how will you spell that out? If you decided to spell it with the /ch/, people would pronounce it as “fah-chol-eem”, making the /ʧ/ sound. What you could do is, instead of using the /c/ letter, use the /k/ since it is used for the /k/ sound in phonemes. Savaetriano words: “Yanmori ehndiahs yotsavei, fiolsi esela, elvi vor dal morisei.” English translation: “Peace be with you, sweet child, let us go home.” Source: Taken by Keith DuBarry (KDuBarry03) Using Phonemes with Writing When you are incorporating your invented language into your novel or book, it is important to know not everyone understands phonemes . Yes, there is a number of people who understand and can read phonemes; however, to gain a wider audience of readers, it would be best to use “English” spellings of your words. For example, I created a word for the English “you” in which is “yanmori.” If you read the word without phonemes, you will probably read it as “yon-more-ee” because if the letter /i/ ends a word, ge