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New World Language, Numbers And Alphabet Dilemma

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Tim Tim, Feb 1, 2015.

  1. Tim Tim

    Tim Tim Dreamer

    Greetings And Salutations One And All,
    I am in a bit of a conundrum. I am two chapters into this work but finding it hard using the newly created language and alphabet. Should I explain what the words are or mean in the storyline or just create an index or something. There is a dictionary but I don't want to include that thing in the first book. It's too much and growing. I guess what I am asking is what's the best way to incorporate an entirely new language (system) into ones work without having to repeat what you've just said every time. Hmm.
    Posted Most Sincerely
  2. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    For my two cents don't include a bibliography / index. As a reader the last thing I want to do is to be removed from a story to have to look up a word I don't know. And neither do I want to be sitting there puzzling over a word. If you've reached this stage, I'd suggest you've gone too far and you need to cut back on the new language.

    Cheers, Greg.
  3. Tim Tim

    Tim Tim Dreamer

    Thanks and you're right. I will cut back a bit. Use it only when it is needed to explain old world artifacts, peoples, ruins, etc...
  4. Letharg

    Letharg Troubadour

    I agree with psychotick, nothing breaks immersion more then having to go to an index to look something up, be it word or character.
  5. Folderol

    Folderol Scribe

    I agree with everyone, too. For what language you do use in the story, it's best to come up with a way to explain it in the text.
  6. Tim Tim

    Tim Tim Dreamer

    Maybe like Vri Curan Xupar caballs in fire and death. (The Crimson Wizard returns in fire and death) and just go on with the story?
  7. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

    In my opinion, if your alphabet/numbers/language isn't crucial to the story I'd either cut it or severely limit it. I guess there's an audience for this kind of thing (I'm thinking of Klingon, but I don't really have a good picture of the scene) But I personally don't care about language systems. I always skipped Tolkien's digressions into different languages.

    So, see me as part of your readership and make your language system more simple and limited so it can be a natural part of your story. Otherwise, you'll be wasting words on someone like me.
  8. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror


    In a way, if your story is set in a world far removed from ours, with it's own language, etc, then you're basically translating the whole story into English from their language anyway.
  9. Tim Tim

    Tim Tim Dreamer

    How about using the words to decipher, let's say magical spells on artifacts or entryways etc... but not as a common theme throughout.
  10. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    I use different languages at times in my book series because I have one character who is fluent in different languages. Anytime she has to speak a different language there is always others present who she need to translate of summarize what was said. Use it enough to be interesting, but not too much that it becomes tedious.
  11. Tim Tim

    Tim Tim Dreamer

    Thanks, that's really good advice. I like language creation and would be a bit put out to have to set it aside. However the translator idea is great. Thanks again and good luck in all your endeavours. I will check out your web site.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  12. Terry Greer

    Terry Greer Sage

    I agree with most of what's been said, however , there's a little known author called Tolkein that specialized in putting together detailed worlds, cultures and languages for his stories - including made up alphabets. (Same goes for George RR Martin).

    There's nothing wrong with it and it adds to depth - BUT - it shouldn't be done for commonly used words and phrases elements in the story (especially for things we already have good names for) or it will become tedious real fast.

    I'd suggest keeping this powerful and valuable tool for the important stuff.
  13. Ky2015

    Ky2015 Acolyte

    I completely agree with Terry. Use the language for proper nouns, spells, etc. Ceremonies are a good place. And, in that case, you can provide translations or a way to decipher.

    Here's the deal, though. Don't be lame about your language creation. If you are going to do it... KNOW how languages work. Spend the time studying another language with similar structure. Or, come up with one on your own. But, there needs to be grammar, lexicons, etc. Don't do it halfway and just come up with random words as you need them. You could, but it won't draw me to anything authentic. In which case, it's just as good to put it in English. In other words, you want to use a language to create depth and detail, not to sound cool.
    Russ likes this.
  14. Tim Tim

    Tim Tim Dreamer

    Greetings and yeah that's what I have been doing. Letters (joteer) on weapons of special power, spells, entry ways into ancient wherever and so forth. I have studied J.R.R. Tolkien extensively as well as many other writers that utilize such skills and not only is it fun in the creating process (a bit tedious at times) but it attracts a large audience. Thanks guys for all of your help. Much, much, appreci...,appreci... In your service Tim Tim

    PS: So far I have 1,364 words in the dictionary and growing. There is an alphabet/vowel system as well as a numerical system and lettering system. Further I am up to the creation of twelve maps for the world complete with indexing, etc... Continents on the world are many and so the creation of the several maps will be time consuming but I have been creating maps as the stories develop. What is anyone else doing as far as world creation? I ask because I enjoy talking about it.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
  15. Velka

    Velka Sage

    Bloody hell. I got a headache just reading about what you've done. I've made up 3 words and have a half-assed map drawn on the back of a google-maps print out.
  16. SM-Dreamer

    SM-Dreamer Troubadour

    See, that's one of those things where it depends. I love being immersed in the world - both during reading and after. I like being able to have the language and letters available to me. Not as something I have to have in order to read and understand the story, but certainly as a bonus that allows me to go further in depth.

    Plus I'm the weird person that will sometimes use conlangs to write things out on her nails, so... :p
  17. e r i

    e r i Scribe

    I am also creating a world where different languages are important. I'm a linguist in training, so I actually like that nerdy language structure stuff - but it's moments like that I think it's worth remembering the difference between a con lang (constructed language) and a story lang. A con lang is more for the puzzle and enjoyment element of the language system it's self, while a story lang is all done in the service of the story. I can get carried away thinking about all the details in the language(s) I'm creating, but at the end of the day, it's self-indulgent because the reader isn't going to care.

    I think it's worth making explicit why you are wanting to create this language in the first place. For me, I decided that the language is really only created for the generation of people and place names, and when necessary, to create dialogue to show the "foreign-ness" of different peoples in the story (I "have four languages", and the theme of the story is about intercultural (mis)communication. So having characters think "oh gosh, that's a foreign language" and actually have a foreign language so the reader will sympathise with the character is a move that aids the theme of the story). If this language doesn't serve the purpose of your story and theme, I would say really keep the foreign language stuff at a bare minimum.
  18. spectre

    spectre Sage

    Use the power of the lexime. Only advice I can think of at the moment although another term is dangling on my mind as well. It's in the psychology dictionary, but in short it's a provisional letter in the sense that the sound of a letter provides emotionally and intellectually. For instance the letter 'S' makes me think about air, or shame (like tsk, tsk). The lexime to consider though is that it isn't merely the sound, it's the combination of sounds as emotional and intellectual interpretation feeds into them. Everything has a basis so when I wrote 'foreign' language into a beginning for a work, I somewhat modeled it after a lot of real languages. I didn't think it was a bad idea either because then the reader might see some aspect of reality and interpret it, and even if they thought the idea was originally corny then in the end as they saw maybe their hunches were right they might interpret the language and get a cultural sense of the language itself.
  19. Russ

    Russ Istar

    Creating fictional languages is a lot like walking on a tight rope wire, it looks really cool and is very impressive but very few people can do it safely and well.

    Tolkien was a master but his background was near perfect for doing that kind of work.

    You need to be able to do two things well, one construct a language in a realistic way, and two get just the right amount of it into the story to make it interesting, but not too much to make reading the work like taking a language course.

    Someone like eri probably has the skills to pull if off. But if the goal is successful publication it might be one of those "don't try this at home things" or at minimum a very advanced technique.
  20. Laurence

    Laurence Inkling

    Which authors other than Tolkien have you guys studied?

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