An Introduction to Conlangs

Hello again everyone. This is Koraki, AKA Damien Knight. Today’s Vlogmas talking about conlangs. Once more, before I get into what a Conlang is, I will give a bit of background about myself.

I have been writing since I was 8 years old like most school children who learn to write. At ten years old, I started writing fanfiction. I was an avid reader of just about everything I could get my hands on. I didn’t discover fantasy until I was about thirteen years old. This was when I stumbled upon The Elfstones of Shannara.

In Terry Brooks’ original novels, I don’t recall a conlang in it, but the TV show in 2016 featured the Druid language of Noalath. This language was created by Linguist David J. Peterson. The fantasy I came across next featured a conlang and that was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone By the terf who shall not be named. That conlang is Parseltongue.

For me though it was the Inheritance series, and it’s conlang known only as “The Ancient Language” that made me wish to create a conlang and write a fantasy novel myself. I was 18 years old at the time that I pulled out a notebook and handwrote an alphabet and dictionary for the world of Lysandus. Back then I had no clue I too was creating a Conlang.

With that long introduction out of the way: What is a conlang, anyway? Like my last video on orogenies, I will use the Merriam-Webster Definition. A conlang is “an invented language intended for human communication that has planned and cohesive phonological, grammatical, and syntactical systems.” Basically, a conlang is a constructed language.

I can already hear you now. “But Koraki aren’t all languages ‘constructed?’ Doesn’t this mean English is a conlang?” The answer is a resounding no. Both English and conlangs such as Star Wars Huttese are actual languages. The difference is English is a natural language evolved over time by many people where a conlang is usually artificially developed in a short amount of time. Constructing a conlang takes a lot of work too. I love etymology and linguistics, but the process has been harrowing for me. Conlangs, like any other language, have grammatical, syntactical, pronunciation and morphological rules. I am no linguist, I am an author and geologist (sort of) but while I have a special interest in linguistics, I do not have a degree in it.

What are conlangs used for? Well, one of the earliest ‘conlangs’ was used for writing hymns. I say conlangs in quotes here because we do not have enough details of Lingua Ignota to understand if it had all the things needed to be one. I will get back to this in a moment. In the 19th century, the conlang Esperanto was invented, intending to be an international language of commerce. Fun fact: this is the most widely spoken conlang in the world!

Let’s return to Lingua Ignota and partial languages. While a true conlang differs from a code such as Pig Latin or what we have of Lingua Ignota (An alphabet) you can still create a feeling of a new language in your writing. How? Easy use a naming language. Dotharki from the Game of Thrones started out this way. In my own novels, the Yenmi is also a naming language.

Naming Languages provides a small sliver of a language. It gives a fictional world a more fleshed out feeling without all the sticky rules. This is one reason most of my languages are naming languages rather than comprehensive languages. A comprehensive language being of course a fully constructed conlang.

Anyway, that’s pretty much the basics of what a conlang is. There are types and subtypes, but I am still learning about those myself. In the meantime, if ya’ll are interested in learning more about conlangs yourself a link will be in the description below. Thanks for watching and don’t forget to like and subscribe. Happy Writing ya’ll!

Sources

2YoDoINDIA. (2022, January 15). Languages which were invented from scratch: Checkout the list ⋆ 2YoDoINDIA. 2YoDoINDIA. Retrieved December 16, 2022, from https://www.2yodoindia.com/languages-which-were-invented-from-scratch/

 Bassett, A. (2022, April 20). How to make a language: The basics: Story tips: Campfire Learn. Campfire. Retrieved December 16, 2022, from https://www.campfirewriting.com/learn/how-to-create-a-language

Merriam-Webster. (2017). The surprising history of ‘Conlang’. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved December 16, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/conlang-meaning-origin#:~:text=English%20is%20a%20natural%20language,rules%2C%20and%20even%20morphological%20rules.

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Conlang. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved December 16, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conlang

The shannara chronicles. TV Tropes. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2022, from https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/TheShannaraChronicles

This entry was posted in Essays.

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