When beginning to make a conlang, where do you start?

If you're new to these arts, this is the place to ask "stupid" questions and get directions!
Post Reply
fruityloops
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed 04 Oct 2017, 03:09

When beginning to make a conlang, where do you start?

Post by fruityloops » Sun 08 Oct 2017, 04:00

So I'm gong to be making some conlangs for my world since I really need to stop relying on generators to make my words. I do wonder, when trying to make a conlang, what do I do first?
User avatar
Parlox
sinic
sinic
Posts: 279
Joined: Fri 10 Feb 2017, 20:28
Location: North-East Favorc shoreline, Suot village, the Saon.

Re: When beginning to make a conlang, where do you start?

Post by Parlox » Sun 08 Oct 2017, 04:08

My way of starting work on a new conlang is to start with phonetics. I will then give the language a orthography and a name, and will then move on to basic grammar(usually working on nouns and syntax, then verbs, then adjectives and adverbs, and so on). Once i have an outline of the grammar i will start to create a lexicon and test the grammar.

There isn't one right way to start.
My main conlangs are Podmåri, and Gwynwth.
i have several other smaller conlangs, such as Tänggorosepero , Makǔdorın, La Patagonê, and Nòvgraďà.
Along with a unnamed sign language, and multiple conlangs that are on hold.
User avatar
OTʜᴇB
roman
roman
Posts: 929
Joined: Sat 14 May 2016, 10:59
Location: SW England

Re: When beginning to make a conlang, where do you start?

Post by OTʜᴇB » Sun 08 Oct 2017, 12:12

Here's my process (YMMV):
  • Make a phonology, orthography, phonotactics
  • Pick a base word order and where on the isolating-polysynthetic line you want it
  • Start making basic grammar
  • Pick tenses, aspects, cases, moods etc. that you'd want to use
  • Integrate the above features into the grammar
  • Start covering extra things one at a time. These would be things like questions, quoting others, putting extra information within clauses e.g. I used Steve's hammer and Jeff's saw to build a shed at the end of Dave's garden. That last one can get complicated quickly
  • Once you're happy with your grammar so far, look into lexicon
  • Come up with a list of word roots to use
  • Assign characters or bits of word to each root
  • Start sticking them together somehow to make basic vocabulary. I start with words for everything in a Swadesh list
  • Stare at your grammar and lexicon for 2 weeks with no idea what to do next
  • Discover LaTeX and look into making a little textbook on your language
  • Spend 2 weeks learning LaTeX and start laying out this text book
  • Spend a month going through 20 different script designs for your language
  • Get so caught up on scripts and textbooks that you don't touch the language for 4 months
  • Come back after that and dislike half of what you've done.
  • Repeat from the start, stealing bits you did like from your previous work
:con: : Dijo
:con: : Language 8 (Reviving Dijo)

BTW I use Arch
fruityloops
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed 04 Oct 2017, 03:09

Re: When beginning to make a conlang, where do you start?

Post by fruityloops » Sun 08 Oct 2017, 13:23

OTʜᴇB wrote:Here's my process (YMMV):
  • Make a phonology, orthography, phonotactics
  • Pick a base word order and where on the isolating-polysynthetic line you want it
  • Start making basic grammar
  • Pick tenses, aspects, cases, moods etc. that you'd want to use
  • Integrate the above features into the grammar
  • Start covering extra things one at a time. These would be things like questions, quoting others, putting extra information within clauses e.g. I used Steve's hammer and Jeff's saw to build a shed at the end of Dave's garden. That last one can get complicated quickly
  • Once you're happy with your grammar so far, look into lexicon
  • Come up with a list of word roots to use
  • Assign characters or bits of word to each root
  • Start sticking them together somehow to make basic vocabulary. I start with words for everything in a Swadesh list
  • Stare at your grammar and lexicon for 2 weeks with no idea what to do next
  • Discover LaTeX and look into making a little textbook on your language
  • Spend 2 weeks learning LaTeX and start laying out this text book
  • Spend a month going through 20 different script designs for your language
  • Get so caught up on scripts and textbooks that you don't touch the language for 4 months
  • Come back after that and dislike half of what you've done.
  • Repeat from the start, stealing bits you did like from your previous work

Lol. That must kinda suck for you didn't it?
User avatar
Lambuzhao
earth
earth
Posts: 7143
Joined: Sun 13 May 2012, 01:57

Re: When beginning to make a conlang, where do you start?

Post by Lambuzhao » Sun 08 Oct 2017, 14:08

I haven't started an a priori :con: lang from scratch in at least 20 years (prolly more).

I would just start writing or recording some phrases that would be how it would sound.
Usually it would be as part of a prayer, or a reaction to an image I liked, or part of a song I knew, where I'd just start
singing along 'in tongues'.

Then, I would break down the utterance as best as I could into words/moræ.

I'd analyze it according to the context, figuring out word classes.

After a few trials, I'd start looking at the resultant words. Do they look like they have any affixes (especially ones that repeated in other words).

A little bit further, I start generating plasmodia of related concepts. Aggregations of related terms.

E.g.

In an utterance that included words for "mom" and "dad", what might 'grandparent' look like? What might 'aunt' or 'uncle'?

In a lyric "good or bad, happy or sad", what might be some adjectives for 'good sounding' i.e. 'mellifluous', 'harmonious', 'good smelling' i.e. 'fragrant', 'aromatic'. What would their opposites look like?
Pretty soon, I'll have whole nest of vipers entire breeding rookeries of nouns, verbs, ADJs, PRPs, CNJs, etc.


The actual phonology and orthography comes from creation-use-redaction-creation-use-redaction…

I don't think I ever started a :con: lang by just beginning with the way sounds are created.
I suppose that's useful, but to me, only in so much as it helps finalize the sound of the language, and help weed out
spurious phonemes or phoneme combinations.

I do not use wheat-paste or cellophane tape in the creation of my conlangs (anymore). [xP]

Still, I guess I'm one of the elder-fashioned :con: langers in the bunch.

I imagine, nowadays, I might put my years of linguistic grad school more to use in the process.
My process might look more like OTʜᴇB's flow-chart, which is impressive, and not the least daunting.
Anymore, I don't think I have the gobs of free time to build that way. But more power to those who do!
[:D]
User avatar
elemtilas
runic
runic
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat 22 Nov 2014, 04:48

Re: When beginning to make a conlang, where do you start?

Post by elemtilas » Sun 08 Oct 2017, 23:10

Alternatively, you could just write out a short text and figure out what it means...

tt.weste nmrre ttng.errtte ttng.srrte ttng.errme swe enmerre swe kkere-ett.tt
Image

If we stuff the whole chicken back into the egg, will all our problems go away? --- Wandalf of Angera
Porphyrogenitos
cuneiform
cuneiform
Posts: 134
Joined: Sat 21 Jul 2012, 07:01
Location: Buffalo, NY

Re: When beginning to make a conlang, where do you start?

Post by Porphyrogenitos » Mon 09 Oct 2017, 04:22

elemtilas wrote:Alternatively, you could just write out a short text and figure out what it means...

tt.weste nmrre ttng.errtte ttng.srrte ttng.errme swe enmerre swe kkere-ett.tt
Hmm...

tt.weste nmrre ttng.errtte ttng.srrte ttng.errme swe enmerre swe kkere-ett.tt

/tːwɨs.tɨ nm̩.rːɨ tːŋ̩.ɨrː.tːɨ tːŋ̩.sr̩ː.tɨ tːŋ̩.ɨrː.mɨ swɨ ɨn.mɨ.rːɨ swɨ kːɨ.rɨ.ʔɨtː.tː/

[tʰw̥ʊs.tʊ nəm.rːɨ tʰəŋ.ɨrː.tːɨ tʰəŋ.sərː.tɨ tʰəŋ.ɨrː.mɨ swʊ ɨn.mɨ.rːɨ swʊ kʰɨ.rɨ.ʔɨtː.ətː]

Phonology:

There is one phonemic vowel, /ɨ/ <e>. All consonants can be geminate. Word-initial geminate stops are realized as aspirates and devoice subsequent sonorants.

All sonorants, including geminate sonorants, can appear as syllable nuclei. A short epenthetic schwa is inserted before syllabic sonorants. Syllables with syllabic sonorants may not take a coda.

/ɨ/ is realized as [ʊ] after labiovelars and [ɪ] after palatals. A harmony process extends the realization of /ɨ/ rightward across a word, blocked by a consonant triggering the "opposite" environment, either a labiovelar or a palatal.

Certain unstressed clitics with no underlying vowel may be attached to the end of a word, taking an epenthetic schwa.

Morphosyntax:

I'm interpreting <.> as a morpheme boundary. I'm guessing that <tt> and <ttng> are some kind of determiner or classifier and are attached to nouns. The determiner each noun gets probably depends on some feature like number or case, or perhaps it varies by a lexical class of some kind.

<swe> is probably a particle of some sort, perhaps a conjunction?

I'm interpreting <-> as a morpheme boundary in a compound word. (I'm also going to assume that when two vowels are made adjacent due to compounding, a glottal stop is inserted.)

Since <tt.weste>, <ttng.errtte>, <ttng.srrte>, <ttng.errme> are presumed to be nouns, the other words that look like they could be "content words" (and don't have determiners) must be verbs. So <nmrre>, <enmerre>, and <kkere-ett> are verbs, the last being a compound verb. And even though <enmerre> has no marked morpheme boundary, I want to say it's an inflected form of <nmrre>, or at least related to it in some way.

<tt> might be a clitic of some kind modifying <kkere-ett>, or it might be modifying the sentence as a whole.

So the structure appears to be:

tt.weste nmrre ttng.errtte ttng.srrte ttng.errme swe enmerre swe kkere-ett.tt

det1.noun1 verb1 det2.noun2 det2.noun3 det2.noun4 conj verb2 conj verb3.verb4.clitic
Iyionaku
roman
roman
Posts: 1422
Joined: Sun 25 May 2014, 13:17

Re: When beginning to make a conlang, where do you start?

Post by Iyionaku » Mon 09 Oct 2017, 12:45

I have a quite standardized process I used for all of Caelian, Bath'aso and Paatherye:

1. State some overall goals
2. State general processes that occur altogether
3. Define a phonology
4. Define phonotactics and allophony
5. Nouns
6. Adjectives
7. Adpositions
8. Pronouns
9. Verbs
10. Define basic word order and some conjunctions
11. Start creating sentences
12. Go back to 5, revise everything in more detail (but always keeping up the general logic)
13. Start creating texts
14. Go back to 5, focus on peculiarities I have encountered
15. Go back to 5, add exceptions to make the language more salty

Language creation always feels a lot like making a sculpture - in the beginning the clay is very smooth and I can do whatever I want, but the deeper I have created it, the harder it becomes to change something.
Heaven and Earth, but I feel the color of the cake when you keep the Victoria.
I had a mantra on the moss and I had to go to bed.


Oh, and there is a [ɕ] in my name!
Post Reply