Languages: What makes a language

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by PariahSociety, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. Languages: What makes a language

    There are 3 main ways to communicate between sentient beings: Speech, written text, and hand/body signals.
    This first guide will be about developing the spoken language of your fictional world. You'll find everything here, including grammatical gender, regional dialects, accents and slang and we'll even touch down on honorifics. Developing your language as a whole rather than tossing out a few scant words or phrases will better allow the reader to understand the very culture of the peoples within your world and not just how they give and exchange information with one another. Hopefully, you can get this across without teaching a whole new language, but give them the idea of how the communities are run and separated in the process.

    Part 1: Speech
    Section A

    Parts of Speech

    Yes, those annoying things you could never really remember in English class. Sorry to disappoint you, but every language needs them to be spoken or written, so making sure you understand them and their functions is the first step to making a language all your own. Here's a quick run-down of the important ones;

    noun- A person, place or thing/object. (Jimmy, store, pen)
    pronoun- He, she, it, them, etc.
    verb- An action word. (sit, stand, jump, etc.)
    adjective- describes a noun and answers the questions "how many?" or "what kind?" (sad, green, flirtatious)
    adverb- easy to remember, Ad-verb. It adds to the verb and tells you how the action is done. (Quickly, slowly) Usually, but not always ends in '-ly'. Though, not all words ending in -ly are adverbs, such as friendly, which is an adjective.
    preposition- You can literally think of it as position, or where one noun is in relation to another. (on, above, across)
    conjunction- joins clauses, sentences or words. (and, but, when)
    interjection- short exclamation, sometimes inserted into a sentence. (ouch!, Hi!, well)

    These are the basic eight types of words that are needed to form a language. Sure, when you create your own language you can add more parts of speech with their own functions that you have decided, but this can get confusing, so it's always good to touch base with the globally used parts of speech when you can.

    Now we get into the importance of thoroughly checking over the words you'll be creating. If you just randomly say one word means such-and-such with no reason for it, it'll be that much harder to remember. Keeping a certain rule for the words you make will explain why they go together in whichever way you chose them to. With this in mind, remember that your fictional language does not have to be put together such as English is to be translated into the same English phrase.

    Let's say your created language has a word t'sara, which means quickly. It would make sense that another adverb would somehow be similar to this word, such as quickly relates to slowly in having the last two letters the same. Whether it be that all your adverbs end with an a or begin with the prefix t' is up to you, but having these small similarities helps the language to be more understandable to a non-native speaker, such as another roleplayer would be.

    Let's test it out!
    Translate this English phrase into a fictional language, giving a small dictionary of the words you use of course, and why the words are written as they are. Feel free to use my made-up word t'sara and explain how it is an adverb as well as the reasons for the other words being what they are. (Noun, verb, etc..) Try not to make a word-for-word translation.. make up your own rules for the sentence structure and explain them to us!

    Sally ran across the room quickly.

    Good luck! :)

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  2. If you know it, you might discuss parsing words and syntax resulting from alveolar and nasal sounds
  3. Standard: [Sally] rapidamenti po' salla'na curreta/cucurrió. (The latter not as common, but acceptable.)
    Archaic: [Sally] rapidamenti por salla'na cucurrió/curreta.

    A brief blurb about the language:
    The one I worked on awhile ago is basically an aggregation of several languages I already know, with some grammar quirks and sound changes I thought of on my own. Because it's the Sylph's language in my made-up Luthena, a nomadic people, there are various dialects in various degrees of proximity to Latin or other languages from which I borrowed. The orthography correlates each letter to a sound. Apostrophes merely mean something was either appended to the word or part of the word's ending was cut off. An acute accent indicates unusual stress on the syllable in which that vowel is pronounced. Usual stress is on the penultimate syllable, with the exception of words appended with the particle 'na. With those words the ante-penultimate (third to last) vowel is stressed. "'Na" is pronounced as if a separate word, since it's a particle, and not an actual word ending.

    Rationale of Sorts:
    I put Sally in brackets, because, as I'll explain later, subject isn't always necessary in my made-up language. The order of the sentence is subject, predicate, verb. Though the word order's freed up, typical syntax places the verb at the end. With rapidamenti, meaning quickly, or more literally "rapidly," I borrowed a convention from a good few western Romance languages, in which they tacked on an ending ultimately deriving from the Latin mens, mentis, meaning (the/a) mind to indicate most adverbs. Por/Po' means through, though it can also mean 'for,' in the Spanish sense (for that [reason], for [insert number here involving price or span of time], even by). Salla'na means (a/the) room. Salla in itself has the ending -a, derived from Spanish, Italian, and Latin's ending of many feminine singular words (in the nominative case for Latin) with the letter -a. The word itself doesn't inflect for case, but does for number. Words that are feminine and end in -a would change their ending to -e to signify the plural. Thus, salle would mean (the) rooms. Notice the 'na in salla'na. 'Na indicates that it's the object of por/po', thus making it the object of 'through,' a preposition. Because objects are marked with the particle, the word order can change for emphasis. Moving along, curreta means (he/she/it/you formal) ran. 'Curre-' is the stem of the verb curreri, which means 'to run.' Tack a -t- onto this stem and you get the past perfect stem curret-. The personal ending -a, indicating the third person or a second person to whom the speaker wishes respect, is then tacked on. The second one I show, cucurrió, is a second form interchangeable with the first. It more closely follows Spanish, and sometimes Latin rules. In this second perfect tense, groups of verbs are divided by those that simply lose the vowel in their present stem before being conjugated, those that gain a doubled consonant, those that have the ending of 'yó' instead of 'ió' in the third person (verbs with infinitives ending in -eri and -iri, like Spanish ones ending in -er and -ir), then completely irregular verbs such as esseri (to be) and iri (to go). In this case, curreri gets not just present active infinitive ending -ri taken off, but also its present stem vowel. Then, since it is in the group to double the initial syllable, a cu- gets tacked onto the beginning. It's in this group not so much out of logic, but out of derivation from Latin's perfect form of the verb "cucurri" (I ran/have run). It gives the verb form a more archaic feel (to me at least). Spanish personal endings mixed with some Latin personal endings appear throughout this second perfect tense. -ió (he/she/it/formal you) gets tacked on to the perfect stem, and voilà, you have cucurrió! As you can see, with both tenses, there are personal endings present. This renders the mentioning of Sally, unless it's the first time the speaker's ever bothered to mention her, unnecessary.

    This grammar may seem somewhat cumbersome, but I've been studying Spanish for 6 and a half years now, and Latin for 2 and a half.
  4. I just love the non specific they in a Latinate verb
  5. Sally hish ts'ung trae'se miu aour.

    Hish: Ran (Sprang)
    Ts'ung: quickly (Fort)
    Trae'se: Across (Tvärs)
    Miu: Over (Över)
    Aour: Room (Rummet)

    Since I am not very skilled in grammar I have based most of my languages on real world grammar and so is true for Zaitran as well, I based the grammar on Swedish as it's my own language so I'm more at home with that and can more easily adapt it to my liking, some additions I gave the language is that the letters w,å,ä,ö doesn't exist and most if not all adverbs ends with -ng-. Spoken only by the Zaitra race this is the first language in Yuriaah and also the origin of all other langauges although now a days it is rare to hear and most languages have lost much if the likeness to Zaitran.

    The sentence in English - Sally ran across the room quickly - translated into Swedish would become - Sally sprang fort över rummet- but I think it sounds to stiff and to the point so I changed it slightly to - Sally sprang fort tvärs över rummet -. 'Tvärs över' would be the translation of the word Across adding an extra word and I removed 'The' as it isn't used in the same way in Swedish, we use 'Den' and 'Det' instead but often it isn't necessary as the word 'The Room' would normally just be said as 'Rummet' and not 'Det Rummet', although both are used, we also must think which of 'Den' and 'Det' should be used for a word.

    The word Hisha means 'run' and when you remove the -a- you get the past form 'ran'. Ts'ung, an adverb meaning 'quickly', that is similar to both 'fast' Ts'ua and 'quick' Ts'un. For Trae'se which is one word in spelling is actually pronounced almost like two words, pausing slightly between Trae and se. Miu is a word that is added because the language is based on Swedish, basically the word Across in English means 'Över' in Swedish but I think the translation of Across into 'Tvärs Över' sounds better. Aour meaning 'room' is quite simple as an added -t- causes the plural form 'room'.