David, I'm interested in making a conlang for a race of Ogres, a la Tolkien's Elvish or a certain someone's Dothraki. I'm having a little trouble with the phonology, though. I feel like I'm putting too much into it. Or rather, when I started to make words I kept using too many of my decided-upon sounds. Shouldn't there still be some sounds that are clearly used more than others? And do you have any tips on making sure there aren't sounds that should be allophones rather than phonemes?
First of all, it’s important to make a fuss over every awesome pun-based Tumblr name that exists. Yours is truly exceptional. I dip my braid to you, sir.
Second, you can never put too much into your phonology. It has to work, and it has to work right. It should take some elbow grease.
Third, if I understand the problem right, are you running into this problem?
Etc.? A couple things can help that out. One is to use a random stem generator. I don’t use one myself, but if you’re concerned that your unconsciously biasing your stems and it’s not truly representative of your entire phonology, a soulless, steel-hearted machine can help you by showing you just what your phonology is supposed to be doing. It’ll produce a lot of stems that you look at and react to in horror, but it can only do what you tell it to do. Those horror stems are your children. Give them a home.
Another strategy (and someone which I’d recommend doing anyway) is keeping track of how many words you have starting with each phoneme. It doesn’t do anything for the randomness of non-initial segments, but at the very least by keeping track of it you can see that, e.g., you’ve got a bunch of words that start with /l/, and a bunch that start with /r/, but literally two that start with /k/, and one is a pronoun, and the other is the word “and”. The table will help remind you to spread the wealth around a little.
Also, if your stems are a little to “on the nose”, you can do what I force myself to do every so often. I come up with a stem that I think is absolutely perfect for “ocean”, and then, instead of giving it to that meaning, I assign it the word for “butt”. And then it’s canon (no takebacksies!). Phonaesthetics should play a role in there somewhere (every language has its own bizarre phono-semantic correspondences), but it need not everywhere. After all, most of the time the correspondence between form and meaning is arbitrary.
One of the easiest way to fix this, though, is to use the historical approach. Sound changes will give your vocab a unique character, and semantic change will obscure some of the original correspondences you created. It’ll produce a hot, frothy mess, which is precisely what natural language is.
So, that’s a start. As for your last question, there are no sounds that should be allophones. All of that is language specific. You can’t pull out two random sounds and know if they’re supposed to be allophones are not. Like in English, [tʰ] and [t] are allophones of /t/, but in Hindi they’re separate phonemes. And if we’re talking about /t/, [ɾ] is in the mix too, and how many languages is that an appropriate reflex of /t/! I mean, it’s not just English, but it isn’t all that many.
Thanks for the ask!
Adonis Bosso | Natalia Kills - Problem | Music Video
♫ Daai bra Anies hy’s n fokken gam bra ~
hey im a huge fan of the work you do on game of thrones. i was thinking about getting a quote from the first game of thrones novel in valryian so i was wondering how you would write it in valryian. the quote is: “Some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word.”
Okay, this isn’t the oldest ask in my inbox, but it is the second oldest. I’ve put this one off for a long time. The first time I saw it, I knew that I didn’t have half the words, but I didn’t want to rush it, because it’s a good quote. I’ve been creating the words (and related concepts) one a time ever since. I’m truly sorry you had to wait this long. I keep getting bogged down by work. Awesome work, but it means I have to prioritize. I know it’s not fun to be prioritized, though, so I’m sorry. :(
All right, let’s get into it. There’s an implicature here with “some”. That is, the “some” in this sentence is different from the “some” in “I see some dogs”. The interpretation, though, is a natural one, so I think I can get by using the High Valyrian word for “some”, which is mirre (which, apropos of an unrelated discussion I’ve been having over e-mail, uses the stem mir- in comparison [not that you’d ever need a comparative of it, lol]). We’ve got “old”; uēpa, and “wound” is derived from the stem that gives us “pain”, etc., and the word is ōdrio (different from ōdres, because it’s a specific pain, not a general sensation). “Never” is dōrī, “truly” is drējī, and “heal” is a fun one. Giēñagon is a word that means “to become healthy” or “to heal up”, but it refers to a human being. So if you were talking about yourself, you could use this verb to say you’re getting better after being sick. To use it impersonally, you have to put it into the instrumental passive, meaning the verb will come out as zgiēñagon. Thus, the first clause is:
Mirri ōdria uēpi dōrī drējī zgiēñisi…
The next clause could be done a number of different ways. For “and”, you could do sē, but I prefer sepār for this. “Again” is arlī, and “word” is udir. In English, “slightest” has a shade of meaning which I don’t think I want to encode specifically… I’d rather it grow out of usage. So for this I’d use “shortest”, which is mībāje. As for “at”, essentially what this is is an implied agent. There are a number of ways that you could express this in High Valyrian. What I prefer for this one in particular is using the ablative preposition hen—so “from the shortest word”. As for “bleed”, there is no single verb for this in High Valyrian. Instead, the expression ānogrosa nehugon—literally “to leak blood”—is used. Since the thing bleeding is inanimate, we will again need the instrumental passive, so it would be ānogrosa anehugon. Here’s what the full phrase looks like:
…sepār hen mībājȳr udīr ānogrosa anehussi.
As a final note, I used the aorist verb form here for both verbs to give the impression of timelessness. One could just as easily use the future tense. Using the future will give it less of a timeless character, though, and make it more immediate—more like actual advice about actual wounds. Here’s what the whole thing looks like all together, with a word-for-word gloss below and the translation below that:
Mirri ōdria uēpi dōrī drējī zgiēñisi, sepār hen mībājȳr udīr ānogrosa anehussi.
/some words old never truly heal, and from shortest word blood leak/
Some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word.
Again, I’m truly sorry this took so long. In general, the shorter/simpler the request is, the quicker I get to it. It’s not the fairest way to do things, but it’s my reality, I’m afraid. If you even remember that you asked this, I hope it serves you well now. Thank you for asking!
break time and a quick ten minute ode to that monster guy i love so much
Conlangs - Yes, they’re a thing
Conlang, it’s a word that you may or may not’ve heard before. Conlang is short for “Constructed Language” and it’s a real thing. Sindarin, Navi’i, Dothraki, Klingon, they’re all languages that people can really learn to speak and write. The phonology, grammar, and vocabulary have all been designed with human communication in mind, normally to mimic naturally developed languages.
So what does it take to construct a language?
The lecture above goes into greater detail. Conlangs can make a fantasy world much more like a reality.
I’m cleaning out my room and found a printout of a lexicon of one of my other middle-school conlangs lmao
Hey, Cam? I've been thinking about creating a language and I was just wondering what tips you have for what to do.
Great question. So, the thing about conlangs is that there is a giant spectrum of what you can do and what the rules might be or whatever. Because of this, there are very few universal tips or hints when it comes to this sorta thing. However, I’m gonna share with you a few of the things I try to do whenever I’m creating a language.
First, you want to figure out the ingredients to this recipe, and what sort of mixing bowls you’ll be using.
1. Write out all the letters you’re going to be using, how they are pronounced, and how often you’re going to be using them. It sounds silly, but it helps you figure out what your language will be like, and sound like. For instance, a language that predominantly uses Z, G, and TH is going to be very different from a language that mainly uses F, L, and B.
2. Think about how a sentence is going to be structured. Is the subject going to come first? Is the verb going to go last? For instance, “Kirigiri punched Togami”. In that sentence, the order is Subject-Verb-Object. “Kirigiri Togami punched” In that sentence, the order is Subject-Object-Verb.
3. Think about how each word is going to be structured. Are there going to be more consonants per word, like German? More vowels per word, like Swedish? Or maybe you’ll use pre-established syllables, like Japanese. What are they going to be like (Consonant-Vowel, Vowel-Consonant, Consonant-Vowel-Consonant)
Next, you’ll be getting into the fun part. Making the language itself.
4. Start with the pronouns. I always do this. Just sit down and write out your simple present tense pronouns. It’s a good ice-breaker, and you can sorta get a feel for how long each word is gonna be. Pronouns are pretty short. They’re meant to be, most of their function lies in being there so a long-ass noun doesn’t have to be. If a pronoun takes 6 syllables to say, maybe you need to go back to step 3.
5. Next, work on the verbs. Here is a list of the 25 most common verbs in the English language. Having those down can also help you figure out how long your words are gonna be. Keep in mind, these words are meant to be spoken conversationally by people on a daily basis. One paragraph should not take up an entire page. Keep your words medium sized at most. Unless your point, for whatever reason, is to purposely make the words long and tedious. Then go on ahead.
Now, the final, and longest leg of the conlang process: nouns.
6. By this point, you should have an idea of how your vocabulary words are formed. Are they just random combinations of the letters you selected back in 1? Do you have a system for how a word is made? You should have a basic understanding of how a noun is formed in this language of yours.
7. Think about the world that this language is spoken in. Do these people live in the desert? If so, a word for “fish” or “swim” might not be necessary Is it a primitive tribe? If so, words like “gun” and “cell phone” would just be useless. Try to find words that fit the world.
8. Now, you’re on to making the vocabulary. It will take a while and it will be tedious, but if you’ve got the strength and the stamina to see this language through, you’ll end up with a beautiful conlang that you could translate presidential speeches into.
I hope this helped, anon.
Harleen Quinzel a.k.a Harley Quinn and Pamela Isley a.k.a Posion Ivy.
I am going to flip my shit at the ableism in the captain america fandom right now. The way they frame Steve’s chronic illness and physical weakness in his backstory is SO CREEPY (and… fetishized?!), especially when they try to frame Bucky as his Keeper.
My own girlfriend is chronically ill (in remission, thank god) and at this point in time, in a state of physical weakness due to being cooped up in an unhealthy environment that won’t let her eat the food she needs, get the exercise she deserves, and controls her ability to leave the house and travel just to just like, get some fresh fucking air.
When she last visited me, she struggled to walk up the 4-block hill to my house a lot, had to rest and go slow, needed to sit down many times when we went out to the city or into town. She was scared of new foods and needed a safe place to try them because she’s unsure what will make her violently ill due to the actions of her family. She was overwhelmed and dazed (but also pleased and amazed, when she acclimated) by travel and transportation. She was tired a lot. She had to endure constant muscle aches and pains, and attacks of her chronic illness while she was with me.
Never infantilize someone with chronic illness. I did not watch her like some kind of creepy hawk. I did not prevent her from going outside. I did not shadow her movements beyond what was normal. I did not throw myself at her to be a crutch unless she asked me to, like to carry her bags when she got too tired, or to use the phone when she was too stressed.
People with chronic illnesses don’t need Keepers and to sexualize it is even creepier. They sometimes need assistance. But this weird gross ableist romanticization of chronic illness that results in people casually suggesting Bucky prevent Steve from doing things he wants to do because they’re “too dangerous” or even just joking about how fragile he is meaning he needs to put his whole life in someone else’s hands. That’s creepy. Imagine being prevented from seeing your friends or doing what you want because your significant other didn’t think you could handle it. That’s a really creepy dominance and control.
I just can barely deal with how offensive that is. Disabled people don’t exist so you can smother them with cooing and control their lives because they obviously are incapable. You want to know what’s amazing?
(caption: something super ableist from the photoset that’s making me mad)
According to this sheet, Steve survived catching scarlet fever and is living with asthma, high blood pressure, heart trouble in a time when medication and health care was only a fraction as effective as it is now, as guy without a bunch of money, an orphan. He survived contact with someone with TB and didn’t succumb. As far as I know, he wasn’t part of a union or a craftsman. He was a poor art student. Almost no social support.
Bucky probably wasn’t here all of these things. These are things Steve grappled with that he grappled with alone. Steve is hardcore as fuck and in that time period should have died like of half of these.
Stop fucking baby-fying Steve Rogers, he is a capable son of a bitch even when he wasn’t able-bodied.
Oh god that image WHY WOULD YOU WRITE THAT.
That list is part of the reason I kinda identify with Steve - because my own list looks rather similar.
i read this and immediately checked my own recent fiction to make sure i hadn’t done this.