Category Archives: Multilingual

Many countries, many conlangs

Some days ago, I started to translate the names of every single country in the world to four of my conlangs. It was rather a hard task… and a long one, there are so many countries out there! Nonetheless, it was a really interesting translation exercise. I also decided to include the names of the continental landmasses, some territories in dispute as well as the word for Earth itself. A full toponyms guide for alternative-word journalists 😉

I chose four conlangs which different ways o dealing with country names. The first one is Efenol. It’s based on Spanish, and so are its toponyms. However, many of them have been modified so much that it’s hard to recognize them (like Wân which bears little resemblance with “Uganda”). The second one is Inlush which, just as the former, is also based on an actual language (English), but sometimes with hardly recognizable results (who would say that Vanatu would end up being Fanwetó?). Then it comes Romanice. It’s a clearly Romance-based conlang and most toponyms are similar to those of other languages (Corea del Sur is also Spanish for South Korea, whereas Istati Uniti is almost Italian for US). The last conlang I chose is Tengoko, a mainly a priori language. Most Tengoko toponyms are based on the pronunciation of the name in the local language, with some exceptions such as Nuyem-Ryan’gek (Union Kingdom) for the United Kingdom.

(The list is after the read more tag)

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Happy 2012!

Happy new year! Some time ago (last year, actually) I made a post on numbers across my conlangs. Since then, I’ve made many other languages (it’s hard to believe Lindavor was my latest conlang in July!), so it’s time I updated that list. In that post I used a relatively low number as an example: 15. This time, I’ll go for a larger one… 2012!

Note: If a language uses a base other than 10, it will be indicated in brackets after its name.

Eiduul sul (Modern Aiedain), Eituul suli (Old Aiedain)
/ei̯ˈduːl sul/, /ei̯tuːl ˈsuli/
Analysis: Eidh (2) × tul (1000) + sul (12)

Yan-ey ayebi
/janˈnej aˈjebi/
Analysis: Yan (13) × ey (144) + aye (132) + bi (8)

BARTXE (mixed 6, 12 and 10)
Tsusuq suraŋ
/t͡suˈsuq suˈɾaŋ/
Analysis: Su (2) × tsuq (1000) + su (2) × ra (6)

Analysis: N (number), C (2) × V (1000) + M (10) + C (2) Read the rest of this entry

Christmas time

December, green and red, trees, snow (provided that you are in the North, others like me are trying to cop with Southern Summer’s heat!), stars, gifts, fireworks… oh, yes, it’s Christmas time!

And it’s also a good time to think of a word for ‘Christmas’ in our conlangs! However… would our conlangs’ hypothetical speakers even celebrate it? If they do, what would the etymology of their term be? Would it be a borrowing? If they don’t… would they have any similar celebration? Many cultures have celebrations associated with December Solstice, which would make an excellent excuse for a near-Christmas celebration (or at least one on a nearby date).

Options are endless! Fortunately, I’ve made a many conlangs, so I got the opportunity to play with many models 🙂

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Raise the flags!

An idea shared by fellow conlangers in our Facebook group 🙂

Flags are one of the most iconic ways to identify a language by just using an image. The French tricolor makes us think of the French language (even though Briton and Occitan are spoken in France as well) and Japan’s flag is the best symbol for Japanese. Of course, not all languages can be associated to national flags. For instance, Catalan and Basque can’t be represented by the Spanish flag because it already stands for Castillean Spanish. However, that could be solved by using regional flags, such as the Catalan flag and the Basque Ikurrina.

Fortunately, it didn’t take a lot of time for conlangers to figure that flags could also be used for constructed languages. Most auxlangs have their own flag. Esperanto’s flag with its verda stelo (green star) has long been one of the most widely used Esperantist symbols. But flags are neither exclusive to auxiliary conlangs, there’s plenty of artlangs with flags as well. Recently, I decided to follow those conlangers’ example and create flags for my languages ^^

As usual, I made many (where many stands for 48) 🙂

Here they are (given the large number of flags, I divided them in three images):

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The existence of a number of different scripts is one of the most interesting aspects of language diversity. Who hasn’t spend some time looking at foreign undecipherable alphabets and characters?

Not surprisingly, most artistic conlangers (those who would rather have a beautiful language than an easily learned one) eventually develop writing systems for their own languages, generally called conscripts (from ‘constructed-scripts’, the similarity with ‘conscription’ is merely coincidental). Constructed scripts aren’t exclusive of language inventors however, many have been made for existing languages. In fact, some well-established alphabets are known or supposed to have been made by a single person. These include Armenian (which I consider one of the most beautiful alphabets ever written), old Cyrillic, Korean Hangul and Cherokee syllabary. You can find high quality information on both naturally-evolved and constructed scripts in Omniglot (a website conlangers will surely get to like 🙂 ).

In my view, there are lots of benefits in creating a ‘dedicated’ scripts for a conlang. The first one lies in aesthetics, trying to make a conlang as beautiful as possible in its written form. Tolkien’s Tengwar is a well-known example of an alphabet which was definitely designed with aesthetics in mind.

Sometimes you’ll simply won’t be able to come up with a nice orthography for your language using  existent scripts. If you have a rather large number of phonemes and don’t want to rely on diacritics, obscure Latin letters (as ħ) and digraphs, a whole new alphabet may be an excellent choice.

Creating your own ‘design script’ also enables you to choose the most suitable way to represent your language’s phonology and morphology. If your conlang had only two vowels (let’s say a and i) it may have sense not to represent that phonemes as fully pledged letters but as diacritics or some kind of subtle transformation in consonants, so as not be forced to write them an absurdly large number of times.

Conscripts are also a wonderful way to improve realism. If your language is spoken in an entirely different constructed-world, it would make really little sense that it is written with an alphabet from Earth.

Of course, there are also drawbacks. Needless to say that you need some skill to make them (specially if you want to come up with pretty ones). Furthermore unless you are skilled enough to make a neat computer typeface, using your conscript on a PC will be a pain. Even though I’ve made a number of conscripts (which range from ‘quite good’ to ‘aesthetically disastrous’), I still usually write most of my conlangs with Latin letters as I find it easier, quicker and more comfortable. In spite of that, I’m nonetheless proud of my conscripts and I’d like to mention them briefly in this post:

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Lucky number 15: number examples

Number 15 as said and written in my conlangs. Firstly, this number in some conscripts:

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A star shines upon the hour of the meeting of … conlangs!

Elen síla lumenn’ omentielvo, A star shines upon the meeting of our ways.

Some time ago, I was looking for a phrase I could translate into my conlangs… all of them. As I’ve got quite a bunch of conlangs (up to 37), the phrase had to be short and simple, otherwise I would have needed to spend a lot of time. Apart from being short, I also wanted it to be somehow related to conlanging. After reading some of the Language Creation Society’s slogans, and several quotes from Zamenhof (the authour of the world’s most succesful auxiliary conlang: Esperanto), I ended up choosing one of the best known phrases in the main conlang of J.R.R. Tolkien. It was the Quenya phrase in the top of the post, which could be more accurately (though less poetically) translated as a star shines at the moment of our meeting.

Firstly, these are the translations to some of my conlangs in Scripts other than the Roman. Most of them are conscripts of mine, but there are some translations in other real-world scripts as well (as the Arabic abjad for Lyun, Futhark runes for Nystrr and Yanglish and Tolkien’s Tengwar for Spaele):

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