If you’re a fantasy or science fiction fan, chances are you’ve definitely heard Valyrian or Dothraki on HBO’s Game of Thrones! David J. Peterson, the man behind the languages in Game of Thrones is also the creator of the languages used in The Dark World, Thor, Star Crossed and many more. His name is also one of the most recognizable ones in the constructed languages or Conlang community. Peterson has not only been raising awareness about constructed languages, but also about their quality. Here’s our guide on creating your own language:
1. Name your language:
The most important property in all languages is its name. You can make your own name for it by combining names of other artificial languages like Klingon and Valyrian or something completely new.
2. Come up with grammar rules:
For example, in the Dothraki language, the word ‘horde’ is ‘Khalasar’ and ‘hordes’ is Khalasari, making it easier to remember the plural, as the only difference is an added ‘i’ in the end. If you want to make it more complicated, you can add genders like German and French. For example, if it’s a male horse, Mat Fereder, and if it’s a female cat, Fet Kamaow.
But it’s also worth noting that certain languages, for example, Japanese have no plural words at all, so languages work differently, hence, it is important to experiment with grammar rules.
3. Consider basing your artificial language on an existing language:
For example, the Na’avi ( the language used in the movie Avatar) word ‘Rrta’ means earth, ‘toktor’ means a doctor, which means these words have been derived from the English language words earth and doctor, respectively. Basing your new language on an already existing one can make the process easier and help when remembering words as well.
4. Consider basing some words from other words you have invented:
For instance, if you invented the word ‘chocolate’ as chico, ‘drink’ as dkirk, and the word water as wterir, why not make the word ‘milk’ as dkerir, or cherir or even wtico, the options are endless!
5. Get inspiration from existing alphabets and words:
Also consider adding some non-Latin characters or even create the whole language based on non-Latin alphabets such as Arabic, Greek, Chinese, Armenian etc.
You may even take some words of certain languages, with alternation or none at all. For instance, the word ‘pen’ can be made into ‘penn’ or just ‘pen’. Using the dictionary or googling other languages can not only ensure that you aren’t missing a single word, but also that you come to know other new words that you can use.
6. Remember to keep track:
Make sure to keep track of all the new words in your language, preferably by writing or online.
7. Use your language:
Now that you’ve created your own language, start using it yourself before spreading it to others! Once you feel confident enough, experiment and expand:
– Teach your friends and family this new language; like linguist Dr. d’Armond Speers who spoke only Klingon to his son for 3 years. As soon as your friends and family understand your new language, communicate with them in it and be fluent yourself.
– Write a poem/story/novel in your own new language, like some of the fans of GOT have posted their poems in Dothraki.
– Translating a novel into your new language could be a lot of fun. It may even surprise you to know that Shakespeare’s hamlet has been translated into Klingon; a Conlang that appeared in Star Trek.
– And if you’re really ambitious, start setting the goal of helping those around you in becoming fluent in your new language. It may even become an official language of a country someday! If that seems too ambitious, it may help to know that Peterson participated in a competition held by the language creation society and ended up winning it with his 180-page proposal, which was later presented to the producers of, you guessed it right, Game of Thrones!
So next time you play around with words, just know that it may find its way to a world-famous series if you play your words right!
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