Worldbuilding Language | How To Create A Fantasy Language
Creating a fictional language for your fantasy world can up your worldbuilding by a ton!
There are countless benefits in creating a fictional language, ranging from making your world more unique, to allowing you to use your own language to solve some of the possible issues, such as naming characters and places.
Your own fictional language allows you to create that depth in your world and make it really stand out from the crowd.
But making the actual language is a challenge. If you want to create a language that doesn’t sound like some random sounds put together, it takes a lot of work.
Thus, today, I’ll share some of my experiences with you so you can start creating your own fictional language!
Creating The Foundations
The foundations are the most important thing when it comes to creating your language.
The foundation of your language includes gramma, the sounds of your language, and the basic words you need to get your journey started.
Thus, let’s start with the gramma.
The first thing I suggest you choose is the order of your words. (SVO, SOV, OSV, etc)
English is written in SVO, meaning Subject Verb Object. He eats an apple is a very simple sentence, but you can make it more interesting by changing the order of the words and really getting creative.
For my own fictional language, Charital, I kept SVO as my word order simply because I wanted to be able to write sentences in the same way as I would write normal English. This makes the writing faster, but don’t let it discourage you from really doing something strange and creative!
You should also think other structures, such as articles.
In Finnish, there are no “The, A, An,” which might seem weird to English speakers, but it really makes Finnish stand out as a language and might serve you as a source of inspiration. Did you know that Tolkien himself used Finnish when he created the elvish language?
I kept articles in my language because I want to use them in the creation of different titles and so on, but you can erase articles altogether, thus, turning “an appple,” to just “apple.”
Keep in mind that I’m not a linguistical doctor. I’m just a writer who created his own language and shares his own experiences and tips.
Those are just some of the basic gramma things you should figure out before you proceed, for it will be a bit harder to change the foundations after you’ve built a house on top of it.
Choosing Your Sounds
This is something you can focus on for a long long time. I know I did.
The way I proceeded at first was to go on Wikipedia and start going through all the sounds a human can make.
The process of choosing your sounds is an intriguing one, for there is a lot of room for creativity!
You can really make your language sound a certain way by choosing the right combination of consonants and vowels. You can focus on consonants, making your language sound more ‘hard’, or you could focus more on light consonants and more musical vowels.
The options here are limitless!
Do keep in mind that you shouldn’t go too deep on this. I used to just pick those sounds I found intriguing and putting them into my own chart.
If you’re not sure about the sounds, just pick the ones you feel are necessary to get you started. You can always add more later, though sometimes it might prove to be a bit harder than you’d like.
The Basic Words
After you’ve chosen your sounds, it’s time to start creating some basic words.
The most important words could be things like greetings, basic objects and descriptions.
When I first started out with my language, I created a list of everyday words such as, “Hi, he, she, they, us, you, tall, big, small, short…”
You get the idea. The goal here is to just get you started on creating some words.
And the process of actually creating your words are pretty simple. You just take your consonants and vowels and start mixing them together. You could think of this as a puzzle, the sounds being the pieces.
Do note that if you want to go deeper in grammar and such, you could make different laws such as, “The descriptive words always start with a vowel,” or something like that.
After you’ve done your basic words, it’s just a matter of creating more and more, expanding your vocabulary in a steady phase.
If you’re writing your novel at the same time, it might be helpful to add words as you need them.
For example, I needed to create words for “darkness,” and “lord,” when I was naming a deity in my world.
This kind of way of creating might be a bit easier because it might feel a bit exhausting to create words that you are not really using.
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Creating Your Writing System
This is also a pretty intriguing step with a lot of options and room for creativity!
You could make characters for every sound, create a more symbolical language like Chinese or Japanese, or maybe your language isn’t written at all?
I cannot give you any other advice than to just trust your gut and do what you feel like doing. There is no right or wrong way, for every language is different.
One thing to note here is to consider the context. If you already have builded your world a little bit and are creating this language to spice things up, it might be helpful to think about the people who will use your language, for different kinds of people with differing levels of technology usually use a different kind of writing system.
If you need some help with worldbuilding, I’ll link you a few helpful posts you can read after this one to really kickstart your own fictional world!
For my own language, I created different symbols as letters. I drew a different symbol for sound A and so on, which allows me to write as I would normally write.
Before I made this decision, I tried to create a more symbolic language, but I found my artistic skills to lack the capacity to actually pull that off. Sad times.
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Using Your Language Creatively
After you have a vast vocabulary, a writing system, and gramma rules in place, you will finally get to start having fun with your language.
The best thing about a language you’ve created is that you can start naming characters, places, and basically anything with your language.
Think about Mordor. Mordor Means “Black Land” in Sindarin and “Land of Shadow” in Quenya.
Mordor is a memorable name and place. It’s much more unique of a name than a simple “Land of Shadow,” which shows you the power your language can give to you.
It creates more depth and turns your world more colourful. Think about it. In our real world, the places are named by the people who live there, thus, it doesn’t really make sense that every single ancient race in your world has named all their holy places in English.
One thing you could also use your language is spells.
I wanted my fantasy folk to be close to the roots of Finnish mythology: Kalevala.
In Kalevala, Väinämöinen uses poetry and songs to cast spells. He plays his magical instrument Kantele to summon winds and do all that kind of cool stuff.
I wanted my wizards to be the same way, thus, I put extra focus on making sure my language sounds interesting, so when my character chant their spells, it really sounds mystical and powerful.
These are just some things worth considering when creating your language. I didn’t go too deep in these things, for every point I made here deserves their own article to be explored perfectly.
Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed this post and found some kind of clarity and inspiration for your own worldbuilding journey!
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Some helpful links: