Inventing languages

Cheetah studying cat language

Note: “Possession” was the working title for Pawns of Zier.

Cheetah studying cat languageLearning languages isn’t always the funniest thing in the world, memorizing new words and what not, but creating them is always a blast. (As is knowing languages, once you’ve done that memorizing bit, but I digress…)

Lately, I’ve been working on the fictional languages in Possession. I already had one language in place since before, but Zier is a melting pot of cultures, so I had to figure out various influences. (And by “in place”, I mean I had the basic sounds, words and grammar there, not that I’ve got a complete dictionary, pleasant as that would be. 🙂 )

One thing I always do when making up languages is consider words for things that are unusual about the culture. For example, the Acoi, the nomadic plains people who conquer Zier, have two different kinds of marriages, and thus two different words for them. Or there’s the pretty strict division between civilian and military branches, and the hierarchy within them.

Not everything needs to have an invented word though, or even if it does, I don’t always use it. I don’t want the text to be too littered with strange words and concepts that need to be explained, and you can do a lot with just plain English. For example, it’s always fun to figure out how people relate to magic, and how they might refer to it. The Acoi speak mostly of energy, and its relation to Ahv, the divine. The Zier Houses speak of magic and second sight.

In the end, not a lot of these invented words make it into the book, but if nothing else it helps me visualize the various cultures better. And, did I mention how fun it is? 😉

Plus, bonus, it’s great for inventing character and place names!

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