1. sizemore
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    sizemore New Member

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    Creating a language to help a plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by sizemore, Jul 21, 2012.

    Hey everyone, I am brand new to the forum. Actually brand new to writing in general. I was actually inspired to write a novel from a dream I had and am too excited to let the plot go unwritten. I am writing a fantasy novel based on medieval times but without the magic and mystical beings. The language for my story is English but I want to incorporate an ancient language to give names to events and places. I don't want to develop an entire language, just a few words. For example, I have named the different Kingdoms and each uses a variation of "ra" in the name to represent land. "Rasol" is meant to mean Land of the Sun or "Braten" is Forrest Land.

    There are events and religious things I want to name from the ancient language but I am having a hard time coming up with how to do it. The main thing I want to use is a sporting event very significant in the culture. It greatly resembles a global sport but I can't call it that because typical sports do not exist. I think the ancient language, especially with something so significant in the society, would be the easiest way to name the sporting event.

    I am truly stumped by this. I'm not looking for anyone to name these things but rather for advice on how to come up with the words on my own. Like I said, I am a rookie to writing and really would be able to move my novel along faster if I can come up with a method to using this ancient language. I don't even have a name for the language, lol. Thank you ahead of time.
     
  2. Vanlande
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    Vanlande Member

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    Welcome to the forums! I'm fairly new myself.

    I'm not sure if this will help, but I thought of something that may help you out... When I was kid, my friends and I used to create our own "languages" to write coded notes in. They were basically easily decoded ciphers, but I actually got pretty good at it. I got a lot of my inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien and the work he did with his languages, so my first recommendation is to look into his works, specifically his work with runes and the Elvish language.

    Secondly, it's fairly easy to come up with one of those simple ciphers that will actually work for you. Take all of the consonants and separate the vowels and make each letter represent another. Like this:

    B C D F G H J K L M N P Q R S T V W X Z
    ---------------------------------------
    R F G L C D B H K N P T Q WS V M T X J

    A couple of letters work better staying the same, but the more you play with this concept the better it works. And do the same for the vowels (leave the U so the "qu" value stays the same, and Y is tricky so leave it too)

    A E I O U Y
    -----------
    E O A I U Y

    Now, you can use this to "translate" english to your ancient language. For Example"

    "Ryan" (my name) --- 'Wyep'
    "Stone"---- 'Svipo'

    Separating the vowels makes it so the words you come up with are still pronounceable. Like i said, play around with the combos to get better results. If you want any more pointers send me a message, and if this isn't really what you're looking for that's all good too! I hope it gives you some new ideas though.

    See you 'round.
     
  3. jane elliot
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    jane elliot Member

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    Do a little research in linguistics if you want the language to sound legitimate, and I agree that J.R.R Tolkien is a good place to draw inspiration from. Pay attention, maybe, to things like all the Latin roots and prefixes that populate the English language. For exmaple, anything with "geo-" in the name has to do with the earth, "ambi-" means "around" or "on both sides" (like "ambiguous" or "ambidextrous"), etc.. Personally, I find linguistics fascinating, so creating a few simple words based on a few simple made-up prefixes or roots or whatever should be fun and relatively adequate.

    Just a suggestion.
     
  4. Vanlande
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    Vanlande Member

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    Oh, Jane that reminded me. Sizemore, etymology might be something to look into as well. http://www.etymonline.com/ will give you some ideas that relate to what Jane was saying.
     
  5. Reptile Hazard
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    Reptile Hazard Member

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    Sure you can, but you have to be consistent with the words you're going to use. Like Jane and Vanlande suggested, you have to do some research before you go with it.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you don't have some knowledge of linguistics, your attempts at creating a language will be as delightful as the drunken slobbering Lothario looking for love at closing time.

    You're probably better off not trying to create your own kanguage,
     
  7. adampjr
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    adampjr Member

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    There are specific boards dedicated to conlanging, but here is a good resource for conlangers to get a sufficient handle on linguistic concepts: Language Construction Kit
     
  8. adampjr
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    adampjr Member

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    The above site goes into some different types of word construction.

    For example, English of course is language heavily involved in prefixes and suffixes - but its also largely grammatical (there is limited conjugations and case notation). Arabic, on the other hand, is all morphology. One word will often encompass teh pronoun, verb, voice, mood, and object. In Chinese, there is no conjugation or morphing of any kind, you have to say every word where Arabic might say the equivelent of 5 or 6 words.
    Furthermore, Arabic does certain changes to its root verbs to make other verbs and nouns in a somewhat predictable pattern. For example, the verb to study is related to "lesson" "school" "teacher" and the verb to request is related to "demand" "demonstrate" "student" (and "Taliban" for that matter).

    Once you get some word construction patterns down, you can create an extensive vocabulary based on a smaller base of roots. Once you get some syntax rules down, you can put them together into meaningful sentences.
     
  9. bsbvermont
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    bsbvermont Active Member

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    You might want to restrict your new language to a manageable number of words. They can get in the way of comprehension and/or a good story. Try to make it somewhat familiar so someone's 8th grade French or Spanish class might assist them in some small way. Example: if Arbut is the name of your forest, folks might be able to tie to arbre or arbol... I know this is euro-ethnocentric perspective, but if you're thinking old England, you might want to consider that perspective.
     
  10. sizemore
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    sizemore New Member

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    @Cogito Thank you for your immensely helpful response.

    @bsbvermont Yes, I am focusing on what you described. I wish to create just a few words, mostly nouns, to name things that would otherwise have an American or modern name. I received a bachelor's degree in Spanish and know enough Portuguese to where I am trying to base my words similar to how you described.

    I appreciate everyone's responses and the sites provided to me have been helpful. Thank you.
     
  11. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    There are medieval English dictionaries accessible through the internet, which might give you the twist you seek.
    Medieval sports, including the approriate terms, are also not difficult to find.
    HTH
     

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