1. Ladaghast

    Ladaghast New Member

    Jun 17, 2019
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    Building Fantasy Language

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Ladaghast, Jun 17, 2019.

    I'm in the process of building a fantasy world from the ground up, and I'm trying to create languages for certain regions of the world. How would I go about building these languages while making them distinct from each other, while also avoiding appropriating obvious elements or words from real languages? Is it better to build a set of grammar rules for consistency or go just bare bones enough that the few sentences an elf speaks in their native tongue don't contradict each other? Would geography have any actual effect on the language?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!
  2. Night Herald

    Night Herald Malfunctioning clockwork person Supporter Contributor

    May 23, 2012
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    Currently Reading::
    "The Shadow of the Gods" by John Gwynne
    One way is to assign a real-world language or language family (or a branch thereof) to each of your fictional ones, and model it from there. There's no reason the end result has to closely resemble the language you started out with. Just pay attention to certain features. Do the words tend to be short and dense, or long with lots of syllables? Do they tend to be straightforwardly descriptive, or shrouded in convoluted etymology? Are there especial features like clicking sounds, rolling consonants, hand gestures? Is the spoken language harsh or lyrical? Is the language old or new? How did it evolve? Are there dialects? Is it kept "pure", or is it peppered with loanwords and constantly mutating? There are many things to keep in mind when designing a language.

    Depends on the needs of your story, and your needs as a writer. If language isn't a big part of the story, and you don't have any particular interest in or knowledge of linguistics, it might be best to keep it simple. If it's just, as you say, "a few sentences" here and there, there's probably no need to create a whole system of grammar.

    Well, yes. A language spoken by an isolationist nation/tribe/people (wood elves, say) would evolve differently than the same language spoken by a multicultural empire surrounded by dozens of surrounding nations. Language is affected and indeed shaped by everything, really.

    Best of luck with your languages!
    Stormburn likes this.
  3. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

    Aug 10, 2013
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    Prefixes, suffixes, infixes and grammar (in particular tense and articles).

    Basically decide on the number of possible word forms (and the exceptions to the rules) and keep a consistent word order.

    Eg. He ate the food, ate food he, foodate the him, he fooded etc.,. You can even have completely different lexicons for different social situations - languages on Earth like this actually exist (strange but true!)
  4. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

    Dec 19, 2012
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    Probably more general than what you're looking for, but I liked this a lot.

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