Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Brainstorming a Fantasy Language

From:John Mietus <sirchuck@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 7, 2000, 0:39
This recent discussion on Gender and classification got me thinking, and I
thought I'd throw some of my rough ideas out here and see what percolated.

In developing my fantasy world, I've been thinking about my version of the
faerie races and what/how they would communicate (they're essentially
earth-bound souls who clothe themselves in magic rather than flesh). Since
they are creatures of magic, I want their language to reflect that -- in
fact, their language, as interpreted by humans, will be the language *of*

Since I want something of a pseudo-Celtic/Druidic feel, I've already decided
on magic being a balance of forces, especially the four classical Elements
(Earth, Fire, Air, Water), with Spirit thrown in as well. And it occurred to
me that these five Forces of Magic could also be the five Genders used in
the Faerie language. And perhaps they're also used in verb conjugation.

So my definitions for each Gender are:

Earth = Static, or Stable. Nouns. Things in the physical world. Passive,
rather than active.

Air = Active, Chaos, Verbs. Things in motion. Use these two to define
Verb/Noun deviations and physical world.

Fire = Destruction/reduction. Violent emotion. Use to describe decreasing
quantity, negative comparison/connotations, etc.

Water = Creative. Positive comparisons, pleasant connotations. Use these two
for adjectivial deviations and emotions.

Spirit = Abstract/Mental/Conceptual.

Now, before I got serious about conlanging, what I used to do was make a few
words for each language to give myself an idea of how I wanted the language
to sound and look, and the Faerie (I called them Vianor) were no exception
-- I have maybe 30 names or so that are supposed to represent their speech.
Like Tolkien's Quenya, the words have a lot of front sounds, a lot of
labials and nasals and approximates. One thing I noticed today was that all
of the words I had that were supposed to have a negative connotations had
fricatives, while none of the positives did (with one already obvious
exception). So I've decided that fricatives are *extremely* unpleasant to
the Vianor, and that the "v" in Vianor is actually a plosive <b>. Also, I
noticed far more voiced consonants than unvoiced, so I'm going against
natlang convention and plan to reverse the frequency.

The consonant structure therefore goes something like this:

Stops(S)   Nasals/Approximates(N)  Fricatives(F)
b  p            n   m                v  f
d  t            l   y                s  z
g  k            r   w                h  x

What the significance of grouping them like this I've yet to determine.

The vowels (same five as in Spanish), meanwhile, are linked to the Genders:

Fire = i
Water = u
Earth = o
Air = e
Spirit = a
Base = @

So, a root -- that is, an overall group of concepts -- would be formed as:


And then words built off that root would be based on which vowel you use.

E.g.: n@r = being
    nor = creature
    ner = to live
    nur = immortal
    nir = mortal
    nar = soul

Affixes could then be applied to further modify these:

a-nor (spirit/mind+creature) = thinking creature, sentient being

be-anor (modifier indicating action + thinking creature) = First People

Or something like that. I think I would have a bit more spiritual
significance to that be- prefix, but what yet I can't decide.

Meanwhile, verbs will be conjugated in tenses based not necessarily in past,
present, and future but rather beginning, ongoing, and ending. I think their
sense of time, being virtually immortal, is askew and therefore the past,
present and future are all one tense to them... I may tie this in with the
three divisions of the stops: all d/t consonants are ongoing, all the b/p
are beginning, all the g/k are ending.

Anyway, this is just a rough idea. What do you think, sirs?