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Monday, August 13, 2012

I've written the final post in the ConLangs 101 series, ConLangs 101: The Primordial World Sea People, which covers the biological, syntactical, historical and cultural components of the languages I created for the Primordial World Sea People (PWSP) and their descendants. However, I've realized in doing so that I've tipped my hand more than I'd like in advance of the sale and publication of Twilight of the World Sea People. Also, strategically speaking, the post will have more impact and generate more interest in the book once it's published. So I'm holding it in reserve for now, with apologies.

In the meantime, I hope you've enjoyed the series so far! Here's what I've covered:

ConLangs 101: Introduction
ConLangs 101: A Departure from English

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In the third and fourth installments of this series, I discussed the biological and linguistic components of language construction. In this post, I'll be discussing the intersection between language and culture. The study of this relationship is called ethnolinguistics or cultural linguistics, which might be of interest to you if you want to delve more deeply into language theory. But my focus here is on conlang development for world-building, so I'll be offering you a more practical approach to the topic.

Building Language and Culture Together

Once you've built your species biology (if necessary) and structured your language, you'll need to begin pairing that work with your cultural world-building. You'll certainly want to create language around landscape, weather and family relationships, and you'll want to create idioms, colloquialisms, slang and tabboo words. You might also give voice to historical events which have become fixed parts of the language (e.g....

Friday, July 20, 2012

In this fourth post of the ConLangs 101 series, we'll be looking at the way language is communicated. I'll be using the terms 'immediate communication' and 'permanent communication' alongside 'speech' and 'writing' by way of description, since this series is designed to aid in the construction of both human and non-human languages, and I don't want for your imaginations to get stuck in the easy or familiar. I'll also be discussing the importance of building relationships between your language systems and providing you with a few more resources for your own conlang development.

Immediate Communication (Speech)


Morphology is the study of word structure and inflection1. In brief, inflection is the means by which the singular word cat becomes the plural word cats; the suffix -s is added to the...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

This third post in the ConLangs 101 series is intended to introduce you to the biology of sending and receiving communication as it relates to constructed languages. I'll be covering speech production and reception along with other biological mechanisms capable of participating in the communication process. I'll also be introducing you to the Primordial World Sea People, the ancient species from which my World Sea People, Twilight Sea Old People and Day Sea New People descend.

Sending Communication

Speech Production

Let's start with speech, the most common method of sending communication signals among human beings. We're putting the cart before the horse a bit here, since the very first organ involved in speech production is the brain. But I write about the brain below, so we'll table that discussion for now. Instead, let's take a look at the apparatuses involved in human speech production and how they work.


Monday, April 23, 2012

This second post in the ConLangs 101 series is intended to help English monoglots begin to think outside the structure of English-language communication. It isn't comprehensive by any means, but I hope that by the end if it you'll feel a little less dependent upon your mother tongue as you begin to experiment with language construction. You polyglots will have already internalized many of these concepts, but I hope you might be encouraged to range even farther afield with the languages you construct.

The Cultural Foundations of Language

In Gàidhlig, there is no verb 'to have'. Rather, personal belongings are 'at you', diseases are 'on you' and while you're permitted to use possessive pronouns to discuss your body and your blood relations, there is some ambiguity about whether or not it's all right to do the same when referring to your spouse. A few examples:

Tha leabhar agam.
(Literal Gàidhlig)...

Monday, April 9, 2012

I'm an intermediate Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) speaker with a background in Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic) and Cymraeg (Welsh), both medieval and modern. I've interviewed professors of linguistics and researchers in bioacoustics for the sake of the constructed languages in the Petals of the Twenty Thousand Blossom series, and I've done a fair bit of reading in linguistics on my own. I love language, I love creating languages for fiction and I love it when authors bring linguistic diversity to their work. So I've decided to participate in that process by consolidating some of what I've learned, some of what I've enjoyed and some of what I've created into a series of blog entries about constructed languages with writers in mind.

Over the next few months, I'll be adding new entries and linking them to the expanding Table of Contents below. This series can also be identified by the unique 'conlangs101' tag at the...