Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Five Related Tongues: inspiration & spark

This post is Part 5 of a series to augment the Author's Manifesto available for free download. Start with Part 1 here.

This and other inspirations of mine are gathered in the Spark Directory for you to explore.

Find more linguistic content in my Language Directory.

In Part 1 of this series, I fell in love with linguistics. After constructing my Meri language, I had a template to invent the other four languages related to the ancestral tongue Ryunic. I tackled Thone, the language of the humans, next. To account for the different names of my human characters and their native regions, I compiled a list of sounds and started making language rules that would result in the correct pronunciation of those names.

Like with Meri, I embraced these inconsistencies and complexities as cool nuance that added realism to the language. With so much going on with the sounds of Thone, I had no room to impose a fatal flaw as I had with my previous languages. Instead, I embraced the link between humans and dark magic, evoking a writing system akin to the daemon language rather than the alphabet of Meri. In Thone, each syllable gets its own symbol, and the writing system doesn't differentiate between certain consonant pairs, such as /t/ and /d/, or /k/ and /g/.

Check out this Author's Manifesto for more of my inspirations!

After the Thone debacle, I chose to be more careful in how I invented the last three languages. For Ka'e, the tongue of the elves, I decided to use only lax vowels, despite the linguistic principle that any spoken language will try to help differentiate vowels by making some tense and some lax.

For the faerie language Kalrei, I decided to use only front vowels, though the same linguistic principle would drive a spoken language to mix some back vowels in with the front ones. To stave off the effects of this principle, I assigned tones to each of the faerie vowels to aid in differentiation. And though I had writing systems for Thone, Ka'e, and Kalrei, I opted to skip the creation myth translation entirely. Even now, I have no writing samples, just examples of single words written in each of the languages.

With four languages down, it was time to tackle A'lari, the tongue of the nymphs. At the time, the nymphs in my Tales of the Known World saga was completely illiterate, so I had no writing system to develop for A'lari. In many ways, this made the nymph tongue rather boring to me, and I spent very little time on it at first. For its fatal flaw, I opted to use only sonorants, a type of consonant including the liquids /r/ and /l/, the glides /w/ and /y/, and the nasal /n/.

Five consonants does not yield much variety for a language, so to boost the number of possible syllables in A'lari, I added three long consonants and provided for a multitude of vowels. There are nine short vowels and nine long vowels, and eighteen nasalized counterparts. There are two syllabic consonants, and a number of the vowels can take final consonants as well. In total, there are a staggering 967 possible syllables in A'lari, and they can be combined in a practically infinite number of ways.

That's it for this post! Up Next: Blending my languages into new dialects...

Download the Author's Manifesto here, or start your adventure below.

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