Latest | Categories | Top | Blog | Wiki | About & TOS | Imprint | Vision | Help | Fractal Generator | Futurist Directory | H+Pedia

Creating Languages


(Olli) #1

So, I’ve recently been creating quite a few languages for my worlds, and I would rather like to create some languages for this project. If you would like a language made, just give me a few details, and I’ll be happy to help!


Genius thread! I like languages very much.

I speak English, French and German, a bit of Malay, recently I’ve learned Esperanto and I’ve looked into Latin and Ancient Greek.

What I love most are their differences and quirks.

In Esperanto you can easily build your own words with suffixes. For example, “lern” is the stem word for “learning”.
lerni = to learn (verb), because “i” is the ending of infinitive verbs
lerno = the learning (noun), all nouns end with an “o”
lernanto = pupil, because “ant” means it’s a person doing something, like learning
lernantaro = class, since “ar” is about groups and collectives.
lernejo = school, because “ej” is a suffix that creates places, literally this means “learning place”
lerneja = scholarly, the ending “a” is for adjectives
lernejestrino = female principal, “estr” is the boss of whatever and “in” is for the female gender
lernlibro = college textbook, “libro” means book and you can just glue the words together

Many languages assign genders to nouns in a very pointless way, so that in French, f.e. brothers, humans, cats, palaces and the Sun are male, while women, sisters, baguettes, revolutions, France and the Moon are female. In German, those two celestial bodies’ genders are inverted, while a girl is genderless. English used to do this too, now only the three 3rd person singular pronouns remain of the “genus” system.

Latin has it, too, but it’s more hated by school pupils for it’s casus (case) declensions. The relations of nouns to each other change with their endings. For example my name in nominative (answers to “Who?” and usually is the subject of a sentence) is “Hadrianus”. “Hadrianus sum” means “I’m Hadrianus”. In the genitive (“Who’s?”) it becomes Hadrani. “Equus Hadriani” means “Hadrianus’ horse”. In the accusative (it’s the object in a sentence usually) my names becomes “Hadrianum”, so “Katia Hadrianum amat” means “Katia loves Hadrianus”. If you’d call me in Latin, you’d yell “Hadriane!”, that’s the vocative. There also are the dative (“to whom/what?”) and ablative (“from whom/what?”).

The language you use changes how you think and interact.

For example:
Because of the genus, in French, if you talk about somebody, you have to specify the gender of that person in pronouns (il for men and elle for women) and adjectives. In Malay it doesn’t matter, there’s only the pronoun “dia”. So a Malay speaker is more likely to get confused about whom or what you talk.

German has three “yous”, but they have nothing to do with genders. Usually, “du” is used for friends and children, “Sie” for most people and “Ihr” for those of high authority. “Sie” is also the pronoun for a singular female person or noun and for everyone in the plural. “SIE fragen SIE, um SIE zu finden” means “THEY question HER to find YOU”. Only verb conjugations and contexts make clear what “sie” means, nevertheless, native German speakers can get confused about it.

Then there’s a Native American tongue that lacks words for numbers, you can just say “few” or “many” and such. This means they could never develope maths until their langauge developes or they learn foreign ones.

What I think about constructed languages:

Like I said, I speak Esperanto. It was created by Dr Ludwik Zamenhof in 1887 to serve as global lingua franca, many people enjoyed it until WWII but nowadays only few use it, likely there are about 2 million people who can speak it, but only 500K active users.

Because I’m a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, I came into contact with “fictional” languages (it’s a dumb name because the languages themselves are real). I have a book about Quenya and Sindarin that the Elves from Tolkien’s fantasy novels use. They are few of the languages from work of speculative fiction that actually work (somehow), at least there people who speak those two. But most of them possess just a basic and incomplete grammar and a very small vocabulary.

Since some time I play with the idea of an own constructed language, but haven’t done anything yet.

(Olli) #3

It’s always nice to meet someone else who enjoys languages. I, personally, speak English and French, learning Russian and Swedish.

I’m not a huge fan of genders in a written language, for example, in my first language (a proposed language for the prehistoric period) I completely ignored them.

This is somewhat close to the French “tu” and “vous” in witch tu is children, friends and family, and vous is strangers, teens, higher power, or elders (even if they are your friends.) Vous is also used as the plural “you”.

I too have researched a bit about the Quenya and Sindarin languages, along with other languages from Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
The problem with making languages, is that you will likely never have a word for every word, yet if you were to have a word for every word (English word, that is.) you would have a big messy English copy, just with new grammar and ways of forming the words. So when I make my languages, I make the words as I need them, and sometimes I make a word related to said word, and use a derivation system to acquire it, because it’s important to not have the same words as English, and doing this takes time!

Well I strongly recommend that you do! It may seem daunting, but it depends on what you want it to be, you could make it simple, and have only the words left after an afternoon, or you could be overly complicated, and take several years. It’s your choice!


Many feminists hate them. In French and German, they always add female suffixes like -e and -esse or -in to male nouns that describe people, often in a very confusing way that makes some texts hard to read. Others make up new articles and pronouns.

I think the “genus” is a nice gimmick. I find it funny that it exists.^^

Though arguably, those different third and second person pronouns can create some complications. For example, there are those who identify as neither male nor female (what I think is kinda strange… but well, let them) and have a problem in French where there are only il and elle, German has the neuter gender, but it’s associated with unanimated things. And sometimes it’s hard to guess the age of a person so you don’t know if it’s more appropriate to use tu/du or vous/sie.

(Olli) #5

Like « Elle est belle, et montre si tant de gentillesse. » and « Il est beau, et montre si tant de gentillesse. » with gentillesse being invariable, (gentil + -Esse (in posession of)) not with gender, but belle and beau vary with the gender. But eventually you learn to tell the difference!

The idea of a neutral gender word is actually quite a good one, if you are willing to use genders in the first place!
In French, for the tu or vous thing, if you don’t know the person, you use vous, simple!


French descends from Latin which has three genders (male, female and neuter). But over the time, when Vulgar Latin evolved into the Romance languages, the neuter gender disappeared by being absorbed into the male one.

Did you know that the gender system had nothing to do with genders at it’s start? At first, the neuter (nouns ending in m) included actions together with their contents and results, while the female one (nouns ending in a) was for derivations with complex meanings and abstractions. The male gender (nouns ending in s) included everything else.

Over time, the habits evolved to create names for newly invented things out of m nouns by describing what they do and use a nouns for women to be poetic. By a logical fallacy, people started to think that if names of things where m words and women are called by a words, then m words are for things and a words for women, therefore they are like them, which means unanimate or female. All other nouns (s words) must’ve been for men, then.

At least, that’s what I’ve understood from several texts and articles about the topic of the genus. It’s very complex.
According to that, the evolution of the genus also had something to do with the fact that Proto-Indoeuropean (from which most languages in Europe and many in the Near East and India descend) didn’t distinguish between nouns and adjectives at first. Also, before genders (male, female, genderless) it distinguished between living and inanimate.

(Michael Hrenka) #7

Multiple ones. Huh, that must have been a lot of work. What motivated you to create your own languages? What are your worlds about? Do languages play a particularly special role in them?

What project do you mean exactly? Fractal Cosmos?

I think what would be interesting to explore how one can approach a world in which technological telepathy and empathy is commonplace can be wrapped into worlds that make those more direct interactions as clear as possible. It would be nice to have terms for different kinds of communication forms:

  • Thinking privately
  • Thinking privately, but allowing others to listen to them
  • Thinking privately, but broadcasting those thoughts in a particular area
  • Thinking privately, but broadcasting those thoughts in particular interest groups (that would be something between spam, Twitter, blogging, …)
  • Thinking privately to one other entity, but deliberately excluding all others, with the intention that the interlocutor does the same
  • Thinking privately to one other entity, but with the possibility that others may listen in
  • Thinking privately to a select group of entities, but excluding others

… and so on. There are so many possibilities. It’s hard to map those in our current language concisely. What may be easier than developing a whole new language would be to expand English with new worlds, suffixes, prefixes, and such.

Another idea that’s fascinating, is that every culture will eventually develop its own languages that reflects its ontology and the core ideas. Communication between different cultures may become increasingly difficult as those languages and their underlying ontologies diverge. A meaningful translation would probably need to translate the concepts found in one culture specific language to a network of concepts expressed in a kind of universal onotology / language.

When you consider that a single concept can translate into a network of concepts in the universal language, and that a single world can stand for many different concepts, according to context, and that you would need to do the same for both languages between which you want to translate, it quickly becomes clear that you can forget about the idea of translating one word in one language into a single world in the other one. With sufficiently divergent underlying onologies in both languages, you only turn concepts into networks of concepts and try to get a best fit in the target language of choice, but that would be a dramatic and dangerous simplification. What really needs to be transported is the network of concepts expressed in the universal language. This network of concepts is actually transported in the class of communication protocol I call “netcast” protocols. That’s totally not how translation or languages usually work, so that process is hard to map onto any natural or artificial language.

But if you want to live a simple life in a world dominated by highly advanced artificial general intelligences, and you don’t have the mental capacity, or patience, or AI augmentations, or whatever to engage in netcast-like communication, you need to use something like conventional (or artificial) languages.

I wonder whether artificial languages, or at least attempts to create them, will become more popular in the future, once we reach a decent level of abundance and cultural re-diversification (as opposed to merging into a singular global culture). After all, the creation of new languages should serve definite purposes. Which purposes are these?


Esperanto was created by Dr Zamenhof to serve as global lingua franca, the thing that English essentially is since the end of World War II. It didn’t take off because of the rise of English after World War Two.

Volapük, invented by Johann Martin Schleyer, had the same goal. But it was very confusing because of the use of many short single-vowel words that sound similiar but have totally unrelated meanings and Mr Schleyer egoism, since he saw Volapük as his property. Later, Esperanto took it’s place.

Lingwa de Planeda aka Lidepla is meant to be something like this, too, but it’s creators themselves know or don’t believe that it will become world language.

Lojban was intended to allow people to think more logical, now some advocate to use it in computers. It’s very hard, I believe it’s course book has 600 pages.

Ivrit, the modern version of Hebrew, which went extinct as living language at one point, should reunite the Jewish people after Israel was founded. I don’t think if it’s truly a invented language since it’s based on sacral Hebrew. At least, it was successfull, something that can’t be said about most other constructed languages (if it is one of them).

Weltdeutsch, a simplified version of German, was also meant to become a lingua franca because Imperial Germany (not the Nazis) believed to win WWI and become foremost global power.

The first well-known intend of a constructed language was Solresol, where you can talk with music. It was invented solely for artistic purposes or what you can call it, for “fun”.