Category Archives: Conlanging

The Winding Road

Today I went on a bit of a winding road of world building and it all started because I wanted to make a soccer kit. Over-all the kit took about ten minutes to make and the world building took about four or five hours by my count. It involved conlanging, linguistics, some alphabet work, image manipulation, heraldry, and then eventually some soccer.

Let’s get a baseline.

Anyone who follows my profile on Wikipedia (if you do, wow, that’s uh… dedication…) will see that I often just “doodle” soccer kits there using the Wikimedia template for kits. In the last week I added six more:

These are meant to represent home and away kits for three nations from the world of my novels sped up to the “present” day (about 450 years after my novels). Why? Because it’s fun for me. The top two are Hadyrland, the country most of my novels are set in; the middle two the Union, which is heavily involved; and Steriou, which a couple characters have ties to.

Note: yes, the three shades of orange in the bottom two bothers the FUCK out of me.

The national sport of Hadyrland is Kémõ /keɪmɔ̃/ (Hurling) and the national sport of the Union is (in Hadysh) Wixgaħ /wɪxgaʁ/ (Cricket). I have these words because they are in my novels. I’ve even posted about Hadysh Hurling in the past.

But like in this world, just about every nation plays football, which is also the national sport of Steriou. And also like in our world, there is a big international organization that regulates the sport and organizes the world game between all the nations.

I wanted to make a realistic rendering of the Hadysh home kit, so that meant I needed certain details, like a crest. The crest would need some details too: shapes, colors, labels, elements. So for that I started with the crest of the Italian National Rugby team (they played today, so it was on the mind). It’s a simple tricolor crest with the initials of the national rugby federation on top and the name of the country at the bottom. Plus a little wreath.

So that’s where I started. Hadyrland’s modern flag is also a tricolor, though with horizontal bands of white, green, and black. This physically represents the nation, with its frozen north, forested center, and mountainous south. But to give this a bit of dynamism, instead of using three horizontal bands, I used a peaked design.

The Hadysh national coat of arms shows the white-green-black motif:

 

For the wreath I went with something that had berries. The Yew Tree is the national symbol of the nation, as well as being an important religious symbol for the majority of its citizens. So I found a vector of a wreath with berries and moved forward.

I got a banner and then things started going down hill…

So if you look at the Italian crest you see FIR – for the Federation of Italian Rugby (Federazione Italiana Rugby) and at the bottom a simple Italia, which I think most people can get without a translation. Well, I know the Hadysh name for Hadyrland: Volgamfyə /vɔlgamfjə/, but I am missing the “FIR” element. So I started working.

I started with the name “Hadysh Football Federation” and then reordered it into proper Hadysh (while still using English): “Federation Hadysh Football”. “Federation” is the subject, “Hadysh” is an adjective, and “Football” would need to be a genitive noun.

Then I open up my Hadysh dictionary. Which words do I have? Hadysh. That’s it. The adjective form is b̌olgē /bvɔlgi/.

So I have some work to do making up new words. Federation was easiest because it could be a concrete idea. In German the word for federation is Bund. This comes from the same root as “bind” in English, as in “bound together”, which a federation is – units bound together to make a whole. For “federation” I went with a simple word, like German: ya̋f /jaʊf/.

Two down, now “football”. Well, I can break that down into two units: “foot” and “ball” and then recombine them, which in Hadysh would be “ballfoot” with the foot being in the genitive.

Ooooookay…. for “foot” I went with bod /bɔd/, which is a reference to “pode” the Greek for foot. And for ball? ð̌aç /dðaç/. Little bit more work… the genitive for bod is bot (the genitive is usually word + (e)d, but if it ends with d it devoices to t). So the Hadysh for “football” is ð̌açbot /dðaçbɔt/.

But… but… we can take this further. So, oftentimes, words get adopted into a language from another language. “Football” is one of these words that often end up in other languages because it is easier to just adopt a new word then something up. For a bit of fun I decided that in Hadysh ð̌açbot would be the actual piece of equipment, while the word for the sport would come from Union Common, which is a distant relative to Hadysh. I don’t actually have two conlangs going so we needed to de-evolve the words ð̌aç and bot back to the last shared ancestor of Common and Hadysh and then re-evolve it forward to present-day Common.

Common is more like English in how it compounds words so in Common it would be foot + ball instead of ball + foot, so I decided it was best to do the two components separately and then recombine them.

I actually have a chart showing the genetic relationships between Hadysh and some of the other languages back to a language called “Proto Piylo-Tundric” which is the mother of many of the northern languages on the continent Sun-King and others take place on. Whole branches of these languages are extinct so I need to go up six steps and then down five.

Now, not every step is distinct, but it helped think about how the languages worked and this whole thing would come in handy later. Also, the question, why not Sterian for the language if that’s where the sport is most ubiquitous? Common is more of a prestige language and while the Union is not nearly as big as it once was, there are far more Common-speaking nations than Sterian or Hadysh combined.

So, “ball”…

Hadysh to Old Hadysh: /dðaç/ ➝ /ðʲaç/. The decision here was that consonants at the start of stressed syllables underwent sound changes akin to Gaelic/Russian where they could be palatalized before open vowels, unchanged before mid vowels, and labialized before close vowels. /a/ is back, so /ð/ becomes /ðʲ/. The implication here is that as Old Hadysh turned into Middle and then Modern Hadysh, this palatalized phoneme became it’s own sound /dð/ unrelated to /ð/.

Speeding up: /ðʲaç/ ➝ /dʲæç/ ➝ /ˈdʲæk.əl/ ➝ /dəˈkʲʌl/ gets us as far back as it needs to go, back to Old Piylean. Now it needs to move forward through time:

/dəˈkʲʌl/ ➝ /dəˈkʌl/ ➝ /dᵊˈkʌl/ ➝ /gʌl/ ➝ /gɔl/

And “foot” from Hadysh to Old Piylean:

/bɔd/ ➝ /bʲɔd/ ➝ /bʲɑd/ ➝ /bʲɑt/

And now from Old Piylean to Modern Common:

/bʲɑt/ ➝ /pɑt/ ➝ /pat/ ➝ /paθ/

You’ll notice that the word for “foot” has been significantly more conservative than the word for “ball”. This is because a foot is more significant to ancient peoples than a ball. So the word is preserved better. When you look at the ancient word for “ball”, it had two syllables. As it moves toward the present it drops to one with the Hadysh branch keeping the first syllable /də/ (which in its first step away from Old Piylean becomes stressed to /dʲæ/) and the Common branch keeping the stressed /kʲʌl/. The words /dðaç/ and /gɔl/ have nothing in common, but are related none the less.

So the Common word for “football” is /ˈpaθ.gɔl/.

So now I can come up with the acronym for the Hadysh Football Federation: YB̌P for Ya̋f B̌olgē Paþgold.

I will remind you, this entire exercise was for one of those three letters.

So now I can finish… making…

Fuck, Hadysh doesn’t use the Latin alphabet except when I write on the internet. In the fantasy world it would use it’s native alphabet. Luckily I have that alphabet, I just don’t have it digitized. So hang on.

There YB̌P at the top and Volgamfyə at the bottom. The crest is done.

Now I can put together that soccer kit.

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

That said, the longest parts were the image manipulations. Even though the linguistics takes up the lion’s share here, I played around with the vectors and the images far longer than I spent making up words. There was also a lot of background stuff with the linguistics, like filling in my dictionary with the new words and their declinations, which is important only to me.

Now will I make a crest for their dreaded rivals, the Sunrays out of Rannot?

 

Probably not.

No.

Cheers, everyone.

Bbvvggvgvgv

So over the last two decades I’ve had to come to the slow realization that not everything might be right in my head. I am guessing those of you who exist outside of my brain have had an easier, less painful time coming to that conclusion.

There’s a particular tick in my brain that makes a lot of things hard on me, namely the inability or dogged unwillingness to divide the rhetorical from the literal.

When presented a question, conundrum, or thought experiment – even when I know it’s rhetorical, when no answer is needed or even desired – I am compelled to answer it. Compelled. As in it often mentally hurts to not answer it, so often times I just answer it because it is easier.

Easy for them to ignore.

Easier for me to then leave it in the past.

It’s not necessarily something I want to do, but I do enjoy it in that way that one enjoys indulging a crave or an addiction.  Sometimes it very much is something I want to do, want to dive into, want to think about, because it satisfies my need to think creatively and to solve problems, no matter how ridiculous.

Here’s an example.

How does one pronounce “Bbvvggvgvgv”?

Well, there’s lots of ways to deal with this. I’ve talked about conlanging quite a bit on this site so you know we have countless options on what we can do.

We can, of course, read it off like a terrible acronym. Bee-bee-vee-vee-gee-gee-vee-gee-vee-gee-vee [bi.bi.vi.vi.gi.gi.vi.gi.vi.gi.vi].

We could invert that for some silliness [ib.ib.iv.iv.ig.ig.iv.ig.iv.ig.iv].

We could try to mix up the vowels a bit in either case, but the fun begins when you ask yourself “what does ‘b’ stand for?” What does b stand for? In English it’s almost always /b/ or some variant of it. Sometimes it is silent. But it’s not like it’ll ever be /t/.

Another question we can ask is “Are there diglyphs here?” Like ‘th’ or ‘sh’ not every letter is one letter, sometimes it is two. Is ‘bb’ a glyph? What about ‘vg’? Could that be a glyph? What sound could it be? What sounds are available? I mean, there are so many more sounds available to human language than just the ones English uses. From the Parisian “guttural R” to the lateral, dental, and alveolar clicks of isiZulu; there are significantly more sounds than one might expect.

So let’s go crazy.

My first assumption, is that without vowels, bbvvggvgvgv is written in such a way that the vowels are implied, potentially in such a way to create harmony or just that they are assigned in consonant+vowel pairs.

Regardless we aren’t given much to work with so in the end we can have a bit of fun with it, right?

I divided it out like this: bb-vv-gg-vg-vg-v. My initial thinking was that the repeated b’s, v’s, and g’s could either be repeated syllables or a diglyph. In all cases I went with diglyphs. In fact, I went so far as to also make ‘vg’ a diglyph because why the fuck not? This took a rather long word and make it much more manageable.

BB was pretty easy for me, I made it /ʙɑ/. /ʙ/ is a bilabial trill, which means you’re trilling the /b/-sound. It’s certainly a fun sound to produce (it’s like a kid making engine noises by forcing extra air through closed lips and making the /b/-sound). I chose /ɑ/ (like hot) because it was easier for me to make the transition from trill to back vowel and gave the word a darker, rumblier feel.

VV was a tad harder. There isn’t a trilled /v/-sound, but there is the flapped /ⱱ/. Flapping and tapping are when one articulator (in the case of /ⱱ/, the lower lip) is forced momentarily against the other (the upper teeth in this case). These articulators are the same for /v/, but they are held together until the vowel takes over. In /ⱱ/ this contact is momentary.

I then decided that vvgg was going to be a single syllable, so for gg I wanted a nice stop sound. Stops are sounds that require the complete stoppage of air and then the release of that air, like /k/, /g/, /t/, and /d/. For gg I went with /ɢ/ but as a rule for this non-existent language, at the end of a syllable it devoices to /q/. To bridge the two I went with /ɪ/, a tried-and-true vowel if there ever was one. This is the vowel sound in “bit”.

So we’ve gotten /ʙɑ.ⱱɪq/ so far.

VG. That’s an interesting sound for sure. Vuhguh. Vuhg, Vg. Weird. Doesn’t really sound like it’d work as a bi-articulated sound the way /k/ and /s/ go nicely into the /ks/ sound in “six”. But what if there was a sound that sort of encapsulated both? V- implies a non-silibant fricative (like /v/) and -G implies a uvular sound… Luckily there are two uvular fricative sounds, one voiced and one voiceless (/χ/ and /ʁ/ respectively).  if VG is at the beginning of a syllable it must be voiced, if it is at the end it must be voiceless (as per the rules above). So it’s either /Vχ/ or /ʁV/ or potentially /ʁVχ/.

But… just maybe… it’s actually articulated in such a way that it becomes its own vowel… sneaky sneak. There’s a symbol for this: /ᵊ/ which basically means “releases on an unstressed vowel”. This is basically how anyone says a consonant when trying to isolate it from anything else. You need a vowel in some form (or a demi-vowel but we’re getting distracted).

So we’re at /ʙɑ.ⱱɪq.ʁᵊ.ʁᵊ/. Looking nice and weird.

For the final v in bbvvggvgvgv I’m going to go old school.  It’s /v/, but in this mystery language, the last syllable is devoiced and must carry the secondary stress of the word. So that makes it /f/. And for a vowel? I went with /i/ (the vowel in see).

We need stress so, my pattern is second syllable is primary and the last syllable is secondary in words with four or more syllables. That gives us: /ʙɑˈⱱɪq.ʁᵊ.ʁᵊˌfi/ and smoothing it out a bit, let’s call it [ʙəˈⱱɪ:q.ʁə.ʁᵊˌfi:].

There you go. BBvvggvgvgv is pronounced [ʙəˈⱱɪ:q.ʁə.ʁᵊˌfi:].

Cheers, everyone.

Lexember #9 – ƿabál

Orthography is, in its simplest terms, how you write a language. You probably don’t think of it much, but the written word is in your face all day. It probably becomes invisible to you until confronted with the foreign. Arabic, Hindi, Cyrillic, Greek, Japanese, Chinese characters stand out because they are intrinsically meaningless to a non-speaker, or should I say non-reader. It takes time and effort to learn and eventually see through the new script. But we also rarely think about how even the same alphabet is used for different languages.

For instance, I’ve posted quite a bit of Irish on here. One of the things that makes Irish so strange and so hard to pick up is that it is essentially incompatible with the Latin alphabet. Some things are easy, like mór is pretty easy to figure out. It’s sort of like more in English. What about mhór? Can you figure out that it is like war English? Or are you stuck on that ‘h’ in the middle? What about Maidin mhaith? Maiden wath? What about “mazin wa”?

H does weird things in Irish.

Orthography is also important in translating, specifically in what is called transliteration. Transliteration is taking a language from its native orthography and putting it into a foreign orthography. When I post translations here it is always in two forms of Latin Orthography – the extended and the simplified (basically one that I use when able and one that is better compatible with reddit and this site).

Some languages are easy to transliterate. Usually because they use similar alphabets to ours. Take German, which uses an extended Latin alphabet. Fußball is easily made Fussball. Bäume is easily made Baeume. But what about Chinese? Or Korean? That gets a little harder.

Anyway, Hadysh is pretty easy to transliterate. It uses a very “shallow” orthography. That is to say most letters correspond 1:1 to letters. That isn’t 100% true, but compared to most languages it is. Today’s word is  ƿabál, which can also be written hwabail.  Both are pronounced the same, but I think that the first is significantly more concise.

What does it look like in Hadysh? It looks like this:

Lex_9_2

Hadysh is an alphabet in the truest use of the word. That means individual glyphs (letters) must be combined to create a syllable. This is compared to abjads (like Arabic), abugidas (like Tamil), and syllabaries (like hiragana).

In an abjad the vowel sound is often not written. In an abugida the vowels are marked, but often as a part of the consonants (think Tengwar if you are familiar with it). Syllabaries use a single glyph for each, distinct syllable.

Hadysh started out as a abugida but eventually transitioned to an alphabet (though can easily still be written as an abugida, and usually is for religious and ceremonial reasons). In-world the shift occurred  when writing became cheaper and more in-demand and then was formalized with the creation of the printing press. Basically it was easier to print words when you didn’t have to worry about the placement of vowels over consonants. That explains why vowels are simple (e.g. “=” for /a/ and “v” for /ɛ/) with much more complicated glyphs for the consonants.

Some sounds retain their old abugida versions. Diphthongs and nasalized vowels still appear over the letters “y” and “n” respectively. You can see a diphthong in the example above, the three apostrophes over the long symbol represent the /a/ and /ɪ/ sounds that make up the diphthong.

Like some alphabets it lacks a distinct “upper” and “lower” case.  There are also hand-written versions, though I have yet to work on a cursive script for the alphabet.

Anyway today’s word:

ƿabál (adjective) – gentle

I have chosen this word specifically for its use in a little translation fun I’ve had. I’ve translated the second-ish stanza of An die Freude, the words that go along with Ode to Joy.

Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

So here is An die Freude translated to Hadysh and in the long-form of Latin:

Lex_9

tshathwuzhac donazhulk

din thwoitaut sleid dzhukeguhad

adzhuzax hed pfau’s pfaucalren

um zhe threelin dzhuwelfezh hwabail

Cheers everyone!

Lexember #8 – Parental Units and Word Creation

A big question that is nearly always thrown at a conlanger, regardless of skill, is “how do you create vocabulary?”. After-all the whole point of Lexember essentially is to beg that question.

So how are Hadysh words created?

Mostly with me pounding away at a keyboard while consulting a “sound library” document that I keep in order to have some rules on what sounds can follow what other sounds. I also try to keep certain things in mind. Simple concepts generally have simpler words. Generally. Complex concepts generally have more complex or compound words.

We often don’t think about compounding as a way to build vocab, especially in English given we usually keep the words physically separated. The other day I was talking on a thread about “hyper specific foreign words” when I mentioned English has this too. For example, in English, we have a word that means “to go crazy because you’ve been stuck in your house too long because of bad (generally cold) weather” – cabin fever.

Crazy huh?

Hadysh, given that it is vaguely Germanic, also compounds many words. My favorite so far is Sofyūdršaled (Sofyuudrshaled) which literally means “drawing of the moon” but actually means “caricature”, the implication that the artist is drawing from a dream or bad memory.

Today I was translating the line “You really are an ass, just like your father” and the words that came up were “ass” and “father”. Hadysh usually creates gendered words with prefixes that mean “male thing” and “female thing”.  So “father” would be “male parent”. That means I’d have to come up with “parent” and then “father” and at that point I might as well create “mother” and once I’m that far why not create “papa” and “mama” as well.

After all, that’s what people actually say, right?

 

Astē (masculine noun) – papa

Dual – astēr, Plural – astēs

Object – astẽ

Genitive – astēd

Instrument – astẽ

 

Istē (feminine noun) – mama

Dual – istēn, Plural – istēnz

Object – istēn

Genitive – istēd

Instrument – astēn

 

Oh? And the line that started it all?

Ťęna ð̌é že ogẽ m du dap̌a̋stolgẽ.

Tseuna ddhei zhe ogen m du dapfaustolgen.

 

Enjoy guys.

Lexember #6 + #7 – Volžnixar + Umuga̋

I actually got around to Lexember yesterday, but the WordPress update caused a bit of a glitch on my computer. Today I’ll post two days worth of Lexember.

From yesterday:

Volžnixar (adjective) – human, mortal

It comes from the word žnixar which means “those of the land of death”. Because Hadyrland has a society split into the immortal elite and the mortal peasantry. Hopefully you recognize some of that from a previous post this month!

 

For today, ironically, is yesterday:

Umuga̋ (masculine noun) – yesterday

Dual – umuga̋r, Plural – umuga̋s

Object – umuga̋ẽ

Genitive – umuga̋d

Instrument – amuga̋ẽ

 

Umuga̋, ďox gen vožnixar.

Umugau, dyox gen vozhnixar.

Yesterday, I was human.

 

 

On a different note, I’ve been working on creating the Hadysh alphabet as a classier font. You’ve already seen a hand-written version, but now I’m working on a Times New Roman version that’ll look significantly better (I think).

Preview

Not quite finished yet, but it’s getting along. I might work on the nasal vowels (the last three symbols) so they are less “meaty” and more in line with the rest of the glyphs. Hopefully once that is complete it’ll be easier to type things out and post them here, which I’m sure is something everyone is interested in.

Lexember #3 – Mēl…za

Going to be brief tonight, spent a bit longer on this than I had hoped and created a number of words for a Hjalmar Söderberg quote.

Mēl…za (Weak, divided verb) – To seek, to look for
Mēlūv gen za ďel – I seek it
Mēliť ð̌é za ďel – You seek it
Malus gen za ďel – I sought it
B̌émēlūv gen za ďel – I am seeking it

Sentence:
Űpapaç uže ƿá fřid onďukẽ ť mēlaç ďal za gēnin ū em swilp̌in.
Oupapach uzhe hwai fhrid ondyuken ts meelach dyal za geenin uu em swilpfin.
(The soul shudders before oblivion and seeks connection at any price. – Soderberg)

Lexember #2 – Žnix

I know I said I wouldn’t do this every day, but consider this something for day #2. Eventually I’ll fall behind, aye?

It is important to recall that Hadysh is a conlang intended to be spoken by one of the peoples from my books, specifically it’s the  native language of two of the main characters – Rozenn and Einar. As such there are bits in a language that don’t always act logically or need to mean logical things, so that’s where today’s word comes in.

Today’s work is žnix (zhnix). I might drop the extended Latin and stick with the mobile-friendly version. Not exactly how I wanted this to work, but there you go.

Žnix (feminine noun) – death

Dual – žnixun, Plural – žnixunz

Object – žnixin

Genitive – žnixd

Instrument – ažnixin

 

Sentence:

Dū ďal mařa̋ẽ ť soƿupiçõ é volgamfyẽ l é žnixin.

Duu dyal mahrauen ts sohwupicho ei volgamfyen l ei zhnixin.

(There is love and life in Hadyrland, as in death; old Hadysh saying)

Lexember #1 – Haldr

I am not going to post for Lexember everyday, so sorry if you thought I was. I will try to post as often as I can, so don’t worry, but like with NaNo, I don’t exactly need the weight of another month-long project weighing down on top of me.

A while ago I posted about my conlang, Hadysh, and we covered some basic form and grammar that existed in the language. We also went over IPA and how to read the little squiggles that help us read a foreign language.

I scrapped all that work, so don’t count on understanding where I’m coming from now, however, this new iteration is just as much fun and just as crazy looking. I hope those of you who enjoy languages and learning languages will enjoy this as well.

I will provide translations for sentences, as in the past these will constantly be in flux, so while I desperately hope they remain consistent they might not as my ideas evolve and smooth out. This is a work in progress.

However; I will avoid breaking things down – maybe in time you can see the method to the madness, maybe you won’t. Grammar and quirks will get discussed in later posts, potentially in more detail.

Today’s word is haldr.

Haldr (masculine noun) – heart

Dual – haldr; Plural – halds

Object – haldẽ

Genitive – haldrd

Instrument – amaldẽ

 

Sentence:

Eb̌ažūv gen ž̯om hed agamaldẽ.

Mobile friendly: Ebvazhuuv gen dzhom hed agamalden.

(I love you with all my heart)