Beginner's Conundrum

If you're new to these arts, this is the place to ask "stupid" questions and get directions!
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Sabe
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Beginner's Conundrum

Post by Sabe » Mon 13 Aug 2018, 05:18

Okay, I am basically a newborn in the realm of linguistics, and I'm stumbling through like a six and a half ton elephant trying to pick up the slack where I think one of my favorite films and comics missed a great opportunity, Black Panther. I think it was really cool hearing Xhosa, but the nerd/fanboy in me was really hoping for a Wakandan conlang. So, months back, before the release of the film, I started work on such a task. However, I have no background in linguistics, barely an understanding of terms and phonology. But I also really want to do this. The last few days I've put some more work into it, chosen a word order(which, I'm such an amateur I hadn't stopped to figure that out and had gone right to forming words or roots, well trying to find them).

At the beginning, I had a great bias in favor of the Lake Turkana location of Wakanda. So I started by deciding it would be an Afroasiatic language. More research I did, it seemed a really good idea since Wakanda's foundation myth, according to Jack Kirby's run, dates to 10,000 BC and proto Afroasiatic would have been spoken at the time. Using google to try finding roots, I found a list that looked like I could make out names like Wakanda from. And when I did it, even after fixing word order, the meaning is quite apt(place where the rock fell).

But I've recently begun to doubt where I started from.

For one thing, I'm having one heck of a time forming dora milaje with the corresponding meaning of 'adored ones'. For another, I was curious what the indisputable facts about Wakanda say about its location and therefore, its language's most likely family. Taking a look at the present and past ranges of animals depicted as living in Wakanda, its most likely along the border of the DRC near Lake Edwards. Which would mean Bantu speaking peoples. After this, I invented a story of Afroasiatic speaking people arriving in the region about 10,000 years ago, displacing and replacing the previous inhabitants, discovering the vibranium meteorite(or witnessing it) and naming the place Wakanda. Later, an early group of Bantu speakers moved into the area and assimilated, including their language, with isolation occurring sometime soon after this. With those events, Bantu language elements can sneak in and fill in where maybe the Afroasiatic can't form a word or account for other features.

But am I doing this right? I'm new at this, I've never made a language before ever, let alone taken on a task such as this. I'm not a linguistics student in the sense that I'm taking classes for it. I've seen a few videos on youtube, I've read about language, I think etymology is utterly fascinating. Do I need to go take some classes on the subject before doing anything else(possibly necessitating scraping everything I've done and starting over?)

This is a really cool hobby, and I'd love to join the community that expresses such creativity, while also indulging my other interests. Any help, all help, or advice, etc., it would be appreciated.

EDIT: If it would help, I could supply a list of the words/names that I can't find in other languages with online translators that come out to mean the same as the given translation? As well as the other two known African languages spoken in Wakanda
Off the top of my head:
Wakanda
Jabari(one of the tribes of Wakanda, regardless if the count is 18 or 5, Jabari are always one of them. Mountain dwellers who think the rest of Wakanda is being irresponsible with the gift of Vibranium. There's also a substance called Jabari wood that they use, hard as steel, Jabari Land is also what the land they occupy is called. If that information is somehow relevant.)
Dora milaje(given translation: adored ones, given pronunciations: DOR-ah muh-LAH-jay.)
Hadari Yao(given translation: walker of clouds. Also specified as being in an old Alkamite tongue, Alkama fields are a region of Wakanda.)
Hatut Zeraze(given translation: Dogs of War, given pronunciation: Ha-too Sir-ah-say.)
Nyanza(given translation: lake. I know this is a Swahili word, but the translation I find is fields.)
Taifa Nagao(given translation: Shield of the Nation, it is the tribal council of elders, advising the king in day to day operations.)
Damisa-Sarki(given translation: The Panther, actual translation from Hausa, Leopard-King)
Mena Ngai(no given translation, but refers to what was originally called the Great Mound, the Vibranium meteor covered by their ancestors to protect it.)
Kimoyo(given translation: of the spirit. I know its bantu, but can't find anything not connected to the Black Panther comic giving me this translation.)
Aja Adanna(can't find a translation to this but seems to be a spiritual role.)

In case it also helps anyone help me where to go or start or provide any tips at all, I'll also need to construct names like this.
Bashenga(the first Black Panther, living in 10,000 BC so the most ancient of known names)
T'Challa
T'Chaka
M'Baku
N'Gassi
N'Baza
S'Yan
B'Tumba
Azzuri
Nanali
N'Yami
T'Shan


the other two known languages spoken in the nation was Yoruba and Hausa, Swahili words sneak in occasionally, as do Rwandan.
Last edited by Sabe on Mon 13 Aug 2018, 19:44, edited 1 time in total.
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eldin raigmore
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Re: Beginner's Conundrum

Post by eldin raigmore » Mon 13 Aug 2018, 08:37

I applaud and encourage you. Sorry I can’t advise you; I’m too ignorant.
Sabe
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Re: Beginner's Conundrum

Post by Sabe » Mon 13 Aug 2018, 18:03

Ignorant how so?
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Re: Beginner's Conundrum

Post by eldin raigmore » Mon 13 Aug 2018, 19:07

Sabe wrote:
Mon 13 Aug 2018, 18:03
Ignorant how so?
I don’t know enough about the subjects you are asking questions about, for any of my comments to be helpfully informative.

If your questions were about other parts of linguistics, I might be able to say something helpful/informative/worthwhile; but I know much less about African languages and African cultures and African peoples than you apparently do.

If you were wondering “What if Saami were a Bantu language?”, I’d figure wild speculation was in order; and I can do that: but that’s not what you asked.

If encouragement counts as help; well, I can do that!
Sabe
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Re: Beginner's Conundrum

Post by Sabe » Mon 13 Aug 2018, 19:48

eldin raigmore wrote:
Mon 13 Aug 2018, 19:07
Sabe wrote:
Mon 13 Aug 2018, 18:03
Ignorant how so?
I don’t know enough about the subjects you are asking questions about, for any of my comments to be helpfully informative.

If your questions were about other parts of linguistics, I might be able to say something helpful/informative/worthwhile; but I know much less about African languages and African cultures and African peoples than you apparently do.

If you were wondering “What if Saami were a Bantu language?”, I’d figure wild speculation was in order; and I can do that: but that’s not what you asked.

If encouragement counts as help; well, I can do that!
I honestly only know about African culture what I've picked up working on this conlang and being a Panther fan(which is to say, I don't feel like I have learned much at all). I'm a white kid who feels like he lives as far from Africa as you can get. But I love the material and feel like this language is something that's missing.

But thank you, sometimes encouragement is what gets someone through the day!
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Re: Beginner's Conundrum

Post by Kehgrehdid » Tue 14 Aug 2018, 02:53

I think you are doing just fine. It is a common, almost expected part of the language creation to adjust as you go along. You seem to have done a lot of base word gathering to build an initial framework, which will help set the direction of the sound of your language. As far as "am I doing this right," especially for a language being created for your own pleasure, as long as it is developing in ways you like, you are doing it right. You could find out later that early choices have set you up for inherent contradiction in your lang, but resolving those is part of the fun and challenge of working with a language and making it your own. If you want a resource to help you consider various aspects of language to make yours more complete, the Language Construction Kit is one book I found helpful years ago, but it is far from the only source. I even learned a good deal of linguistics just lurking here.

As far as specifics to your lang, somehow "Dora Milaje" seems to my ear to have more of a Spanish-based phonology, so if it is one giving you special trouble, perhaps make it a loanword? Though I would understand, with how reclusive the Wakandans are, if you decided to reject loanword altogether. In terms of names, it seems that many are structured C'CVCV. Perhaps the initial consonant is based on place in family, with T for oldest son, and dropped for someone disowned, estranged, or of unknown parentage? Pure speculation on my part, but see what you like, keep it, and change the rest until you do.
Keep up the good work and have fun!
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Re: Beginner's Conundrum

Post by Keenir2 » Tue 14 Aug 2018, 21:20

if it helps any, one of my local libraries has an introduction to the various languages of Africa (arranged by chapters about tones, non-tonal languages, vowels, nasals, etc)...I could borrow that and answer any questions you have of it
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Re: Beginner's Conundrum

Post by eldin raigmore » Wed 15 Aug 2018, 03:04

Keenir2 wrote:
Tue 14 Aug 2018, 21:20
if it helps any, one of my local libraries has an introduction to the various languages of Africa (arranged by chapters about tones, non-tonal languages, vowels, nasals, etc)...I could borrow that and answer any questions you have of it
Or post the titles, authors, and publishers or series-titles, and let them look it up for themself in their own local library 📚.
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Re: Beginner's Conundrum

Post by Trailsend » Fri 17 Aug 2018, 00:10

Sabe wrote:For one thing, I'm having one heck of a time forming dora milaje with the corresponding meaning of 'adored ones'.
As Kehgrehdid mentioned, loanwords are one way to get words with atypical phonotactics into a language. This can be an easy dodge, because if necessary, you can posit that the term was borrowed from some other ancient language, itself your own invention, which no longer exists. (Precisely because this trick is such a blank check, you don't want to overuse it. It's not very satisfying, usually.)

If getting the phrase to mean "adored ones" is tricky, another common maneuver is to have the phrase in fact mean something else, where the desired meaning is just the least-clunky translation. For example, maybe "dora" is close to a proto-root meaning "high" or "tall", so you have "dora milaje" more closely translate to "those at the height of favor", with "adored ones" being the smoother, more commonly used translation.
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Re: Beginner's Conundrum

Post by Sabe » Sat 18 Aug 2018, 05:40

I thought Id posted this before, but I guess my net cut out too soon.

I appreciate the effort behind the initial book offer, but I agree with elden raigmore, it'd be easier and more efficient to have the books in hand myself.


@Trailsend: Yea, I'd tried a less literal translation. Though I went with just the meanings behind the roots of "adore". I failed to be so imaginative with translation though! Will have to keep that more in mind. I'll give it a try though with that and similar translations.

Regarding loan words, how many various ways can that happen? There's things like trade, and assimilation of two populations living together in one place. But what else could lead to those? Prisoners of war? As much as I am not a fan of Hudlin's run on Panther, his Panther book did depict Wakanda repelled the Romans, even the Knights Templar during the Crusades. Could thee have somehow been a language exchange during these conflicts?
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Re: Beginner's Conundrum

Post by eldin raigmore » Sat 18 Aug 2018, 22:15

American English has all sorts of loan-words from countries where American troops have served, including many countries that were never colonies, never conquered, and never neighbors. Most were also never major trading partners; though it’s probable nearly every country has had at least some trade with the USA.

The same might be said of e.g. British English, modulo the fact that they’ve had more colonies and more conquests.

(If anyone disagrees with me, they might be right.)
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