Thoughts on Writing – Developing a Fictional Language – The Immortals’ Language (Choosing the Sounds)

With Wind and Words now complete, I’ve been thinking about the next story in the series (along with a short story set in Reveratch, a completely different region of Cirena).

One thing I’ve determined is that Ancient Cirenan needs to play a role in the story. The problem?

I’ve developed the Cantingen language, and a few odds and end words from Cirenan, but nothing extensive.

Making matters more complicated, Cirenan is supposed to be something like English… a mixture of languages that isn’t entirely consistent. This means that, whereas I can easily create a new Cantingen word when I need one (I even have a list of words that fit the language but don’t yet have meanings, specifically for this purpose), I can’t do that for Cirenan. At least… not on the scale that I’m going to need for the next story. Not until I have an idea of what languages are going to influence it.

As such, I’ve been thinking about the different languages which will influence Cirenan.

There are three that I can think of in particular:

  1. Cantingen – (This is one of the original languages of that world, though it wasn’t as consistent in ancient times as it is at the point where The Wishing Blade series picks up. More prevalent on the southern coasts.)
  2. Immortal – (The language of the humanoid wolves and bears which inhabit the immortal realm. There would be several variations of this dialect depending on the region and what kind of creatures are using it, but the primary one that will influence Cirenan is the variation based on the wolves. More prevalent in the northern and western regions)
  3. Litkanston – (This is the language that developed in the southern regions of Cirena. I haven’t explored this one yet).

Thankfully, I already have a pretty good handle on the Cantingen language, since it’s the basis for word magic (and featured prominently in the Stone and String series).

Now, thanks to developing some of the details regarding Reveratch, which sits on Cirena’s northern border and shares space with the Immortal Realm, I’ve started looking more in depth at the language of the immortals. I haven’t come up with an official name for it, so, for now, I’ll simply call it the immortal language. (Sorry… all my creativity is currently being directed to developing the language, not naming it).

The first thing I did was try to consider what things were important to the immortals, and which immortals would be represented.

The immortal realm is fluid, meaning that different places are not always next to each other at the same time. Oral storytelling to preserve memories (and thus, how to get from one place or another), is important. My focus is primarily on the wolves, who share a similar language with the bears (Bears are important to Reveratch). The wolves’ belief system is also a bit different from that of the Cantingen people, and varies from group to group. In general, though, they do not worship Madia/Madiya (and some may even see her as an affront to Karewalin), and while they see Listhant-Nsasrar as a creator, he is not the only creator of their realm.

That is what I started with, though those details may change as I continue to develop their world.

Ultimately, for creating the sound of the language, I started with the main “immortal” name I already had: Nsasrar. Anything I constructed for this language needed to be able to accommodate his name.

So I moved on to deciding which sounds I wanted to keep, and the representations using the English alphabet for each.

I got a bit of inspiration from looking at one of the Inuit languages, in that (at least according to the article I was reading), you could signify a short vowel by only using one, and a long vowel if there were two of the same vowels. (I could totally be wrong about this, though, and I need to dive back into the realm of internet research to find that article again).

I ended up with this for the immortals’ language:

  • i (sick)
  • ii (eye)
  • a (sack)
  • aa (aid)
  • e (bed)
  • ee (weed)
  • o (soap)
  • uu (moon)

There is also “u” (uh). However, it is only shown before a consonant, or if to represent its occurance after the “uu” sound.

The reason for this is that a single consonant, by itself, will automatically have the “uh” sound added (though it is not emphasized).

For example, Nsasrar sounds like “Nuh-sas-rar.”

(Eventually I need to relearn IPA so I can use a more specific way of designating sounds).

I also determined that an apostrophe will break apart words, indicating when a sound should stop.

For example, “amaa’a” is pronounced “ah-may-ah,” with a bit of a harder stop between “may” and the second “ah.” The second “ah” recieves more emphasis that it would if it had not been seperated. (Also, this way we can see that amaa’a should be pronounced “ah-may-ah” instead of “ah-mah-ay.”

This is different from the Cantingen language, which uses the apostrophe to designate “of” and has a hard “c” sound.

For example:

shodo’charl (stone of passage) is pronounced “show-doh-kuh-charl”

These are differences I’ll have to remember as I swap back and forth between working on the different languages.

Next I decided on the consonants for the immortal language, and I specifically wanted ones that I could picture being growled, barked, or yapped (with a little room for imagination).

This was my resulting list:

  • c
  • ch
  • cr
  • d
  • dr
  • g
  • h
  • l
  • m
  • n
  • r
  • s
  • v
  • vr
  • w
  • y

There is one other consonant: “q” (sounds like: “kwuh”) but it is specifically reserved to mean “I.”

Now, those may change as I develop the language, but that’s my starting guide for developing words.

I’ve already made a few determinations about the organization of sentences, how words change when paired with other words, and a starting point for the indication of tense and interrogatives, but those are still very much in development.

For now, I’ll leave you with a few of the words and a sentence I’ve translated thus far.

I – q – (kwuh)

drink – dramer – (drahm-air)

cold – uuanuu – (oo-ahn-oo)

milk – novo (no-voh)

quickly – vree – (vree)

I drink cold milk quickly.

translates to:

Dramvreeq novauuanuu.

* * *

If this interests you, let me know, and I may go into more detail about how I’m actually trying to put the sentences together later. For now, I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s