One Month, One Language

So, I’ve decided to begin my career as a conlanger. When I was ten I spent hours making up long lists of case endings for different noun declensions, because the only other languages I knew of were either from the Romans or Tolkien. I then decided to take a long break, in pursuit of lesser things. I considered making some constructed languages in University, but couldn’t be bothered for reasons I’m still not entirely sure of. However, over the last six months I’ve been very active in the Na’vi community under the name Taronyu, and I’ve managed to successfully learn Na’vi, my first learned constructed language. Recently I’ve stumbled upon the first remains of Dothraki – discovering a conlang without having all of the information for it must be a similar experience to coming across a skeleton encased in a cliff. And, while tapping away at the slow sandstone of the internet, I realised I might as well take some time to build a language myself, since it sounded like a fun idea.

So that is where this blog comes from. You may have guessed what the plan is: in one month, I want to build a workable conlang. I’ve set a parameter on time to stop myself from taking months to come up with a half dozen words – I want this to be fast, rough, and ugly work, to be refined later. I’ve not created a conlang before, so this will be an experiment in what not to do, and what to do.

My ending goal is to have: a workable grammar, in which I am able to express any (or nearly any) thought, even if that involves very clever manipulation (This means I want a complete, workable syntax and morphology); a lexicon of over 1,000 words – that’s thirty words a day, but I think I’ll manage, because that’s not 1,000 roots; a working amount of  conversational phrases, which includes idioms; a workable theory of who speaks this language, where, and how the language affects their view – this will grow as time goes on, of course. The final test will include a translation of Genesis 11:1-9, a poem, a song, a short story of over 500 words, and a conversation.

My hope is that I will not be creating this language alone, but that you, o Reader, will comment on anything you find interesting, unsettling, amusing, linguistically disgusting, worth noting. If one person learns this language with me, I will consider this a success. If ten people try and use one word, I will probably still consider this a success, so no pressure. But it would be great to get feedback.

As I go along, I will post one post about this language a day, work or no work, sickness or health, and each post will exceed 500 words. This I promise. Secondly, I promise to answer any question asked of me about this, no matter what it is. Thirdly, I promise that I will note not only things about the language, but about the process of creating it – what is difficult, where I make mistakes, and what this project can say about constructed languages.

So, let’s recap, to make it completely clear what this is about. End Goals:

  • A 99% workable grammar
  • A lexicon of > 1000 lexemes
  • A working amount of colloquial and conversational phrases and idioms
  • A socioanthropological description of the language group

Promises:

  • to make 1 post per day >500 words, for 30 days.
  • to answer every question asked concerning the language
  • to write about the process of creating the language (not included in the 500 words)

Final Test:

  • Translation of Genesis 11:1-9
  • A song
  • A poem
  • A short story of over 500 words
  • A sample conversation

Now, who’s willing to read for twenty minutes or less a day? (That is to say: who’s with me? (Which is to say, Let’s go! (I start – tomorrow, most likely. Perhaps tonight.)))

-Richard

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20 Comments

  1. Posted August 3, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Totally with you, I’ll learn bits and pieces of it, enough that I can write to you in it, and can’t wait to see how it comes out. This will be really helpful as well to see it’s creation in my own languages that I’m going to be creating soon for my supposed book.

  2. Posted August 3, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Do I detect a certain influence already, by the images you’ve chosen to put at the top of the page?

    • richard
      Posted August 4, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Yes, you may. Although I may change those, as more is described.

  3. Posted August 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Bring it, good sir broseph. This should be fun!

  4. Posted August 3, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    I cant wait to see how this develops. I will be lurking and reading the posts. awaiting the post about phonetics. 😀

  5. Kayrìlien Rolyu
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    So now all you have to do is choose between three vowel lengths, tonality, or ejective consonants, right? Right?

    Just kidding, I know you’ll come up with something really cool here. What a great idea, dude!

    ta Kayr

    • richard
      Posted August 4, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Ha-ha-ha. No, there will be no ejectives, probably no vowel lengths. There may be tones, though, not sure yet. 😀

  6. Posted August 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Tone! tone! tone!

    What about creaky voice? Nasalization?

    In my own languages I tend to be very boring with vowels, apart from being fond of two- or three-tone systems.

    • Posted August 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      I believe I covered these in my most recent post. This one also has a three tone system, which I was going to do before you mentioned it.

      • Posted August 31, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        I’m not easily impesesrd but you’ve done it with that posting.

      • Posted September 24, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Grade A stuff. I’m unquestionably in your debt.

  7. Delaney Fish
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    This is a great idea. I’ll be following along!

  8. Nyx
    Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Sounds interesting! I can’t wait to see what kind of crazy stuff you’ll come up with.

  9. Posted August 4, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing idea! I’ve heard of sci-fi writers and filmmakers enlisting people to create unique languages for their characters and I’ve always wanted to know the gritty details.

    I’ll certainly be checking back to follow your progress! Good luck!

    • Posted May 7, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Well I guess I don’t have to spend the weekend fiignurg this one out!

    • Posted July 8, 2016 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      aku plak ada kawan macam izreen ni.salu nak mesej ngan aku.aku dah rasa dah yg dia mcm syok kat aku tapi aku x suka.nak terus terang, takut kecik ati. so, aku cuba busykan diri untuk elak dia.so, adakah aku macam BOTAK?aku hanya layan dia as a FRIEND tapi dia ingat aku bagi respon, so aku suka la kat dia. adeih…

    • Posted August 26, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      For French, the 2000 edition of "Collins Robert Concise" renders "to get down to the nitty-gritty" as "passer aux choses sérieuses" [= moving on to more serious/important matters], while the 1986 Harrap's renders n-g as "(fin) fond (d'une affaire)"[= getting to the bottom of something]. Either could be appropriate depending on the context.

  10. Plumps
    Posted August 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    You didn’t set a date to start… What happens if you break the chain? What’s the ‘punishment’? 😉

    Etrìpa syayvi! – how would you say that in Llárriésh?

    • Posted August 6, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      No, I didn’t. But I started three days ago. If I break the chain, I better have a damned good reason. I can’t forsee it really happening, though. Although I do spend an awful amount of time one this. 😀

      Hmm. I don’t know about Etrìpa syayvi. I don’t think that the speakers of this language believe in luck, though. We’re gonna have to wait and see.

    • Posted August 31, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      That’s a crekjarcack answer to an interesting question

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