Creating a Language For My Books

(I'll try to keep the language jargon to a minimum, but when I get to the technical aspects it'll be hard to avoid. A quick search will tell you anything you need to know.)

Creating a language sounds time-consuming and complicated. I'm sure many people have gone in-depth and created some awesome languages.

I had enough to focus on, so I went about developing a new language in a way that was painless, quick and fun. There could be holes in my approach, but at least there's a sense of structure, and hopefully a sense of authenticity.

The thing that helped me the most was my knowledge of French grammar and words (neither of which is perfect, but I know enough). I knew I wanted to make a language that looked like it sounded beautiful.

One point before I move on: This language isn't finished. It's constantly evolving, and you'll see why very soon.

I called it Válkian, the old language of the land of Válkia where Aundes Aura and Knives in the Shadows take place.

I began with three words. Astan, the word for 'family'. Carmios and carfios mean 'mother' and 'son', but these are more of a dialect. In young Luka's nomadic clan, the astan is all one big family -- all the mothers and fathers are thought of as parents of all the children. The women are all mios, and all the boys are fios. But if a parent and child have a strong bond, they add car- to the front to express this.

At this point I had just a few words, almost floating in a vacuum.

Because of the traditions of the clan, Luka knows both the Common Tongue and Válkian. The next time Válkian makes an appearance, Luka sings a song. This meant coming up with quite a few new words, and it was clear I would need to quickly work out the language's grammar before I could go on.

I had two approaches to coming up with words. The first one was to come up with a word that looked good and made sense. The other approach was to start with the French word, then mess around with the letters until I had something I liked. Sometimes it'd be completely different when I was done.

Every time I come up with a word, I add it to my 'dictionary', which has the translations of English words to Válkian, and Válkian words to English.

My approach to the grammar was to make it as simple as possible, while covering the necessities of language. The first thing I did was make all verb endings the same. In English you have:
I make
You make
We make
He/She makes
They make

The equivalent in Válkian would be this:
I make
You make
We make
He/She make
They make

After doing that, I only had to change the endings to show tense. I came up with some basic rules for tense, which could also inform other tenses. For example, things that "had happened" could be formed by adding the word for "had" before putting the past tense verb. 

Let's take a look at the rules I have so far.

-an - infinitive
-as - present tense
-a - past tense (perfect tense)
no ‘a’ -i - future tense
no ‘a’ - present continuous

"ne" – makes a negative phrase

Put into action, it looks like this:

fiorman - to run
Fal fiormas - He runs; He is running
Fal fiorma - He ran
Fal fiormi - He will run
fiorm - running

Fal ne fiormas - He doesn't run; He isn't running
Fal ne fiorma - He didn't run

Without going into the many other quirks of Válkian, what I've shown above gives the language a pretty strong structure that makes it easy to come up with words and slot them in.


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