Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sehora - Beginnings of Selmari

Sehora. This is my word, I created it many years ago and it is a big part of why Selmarea exists (and its language Selmari) and what got it started. Sehora was a word created by me and now used regularly by my mother and me to describe the scent of the rain after a long period of dryness.

For as long as I can remember I have loved the smell which comes with the first drops of rain after a long period of dryness. My mother has always taught me to appreciate and marvel at nature and I grew to love the scent which made us forget the dryness and pause for a short time, turning our faces to the lovely scent which came along with the start of the rain. I always feel relaxed when that moment comes and if it's been dry for a while and begins to rain I stop what I'm doing, if only for a few moments, and for a short while the world around me pauses whilst I drink in that scent.

Given that I live in Australia it is often quite a dry place to live and so it is not uncommon, particularly in the summer months, for that scent to emerge when the rain begins and as I grew older I became frustrated that I couldn't describe it. It was one of the first times I remember having something I wanted to name but couldn't because the word didn't exist. Given my frustrations and love of the scent it's no surprise that when I began creating my own language (I had no idea it was an official trend nor that it was named conlanging at the time) it was only natural that I create a word for that first. And so I did and 'sehora' ('se' as in 'second') was born. Somehow it had that soft sound which the scent always induces for us, for we always stop when we smell it, pausing until we've drunk in the lovely scent and turned our faces to the cool wind whilst we try to smell it even more, and yet it sounded like the Sahara desert, invoking that dryness which was now gone, forgotten at least for that moment.

At first the word was strange, uncommon, and felt odd to say, like trying out a new language phrase you've learned and fearing you'll get it wrong. Now, at least to my mother and I, it is as natural as saying 'hello'. We use the word easily, thankful to have something to describe something we both love, adding it to the dictionary in our phones so we can send a text and not have it "corrected" to something else.

Personally I like the word a lot better than the official one which appeared in a Dr Who episode several years ago (oddly enough also created by an Australian). Somehow 'petrichor' doesn't invoke the same feeling and makes me thing of petrified wood, somehow missing the life that seems to be emerging when the rain comes after that time of dryness, nature drinking in the water the same way I try to drink in the smell which accompanies it. It's probably an ego trip but we'll stick with mine. Sehora will be my word from now until the day I pass from this earth (hopefully not for many decades) and it will always hold a soft spot in my heart. Thanks to that word Selmari was born and even if I never create another word in my whole life I will always have that link and that secret description I can share with my family and friends.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Syntax Rules & Selmarea the Country

Ah my linguistics class is heaven. :) I've been learning recently about Syntax, the structural rules which allow endless combinations of sentences. I now have another tool to try and have my language make sense. Another way to make the language as realistic as possible.

You know I joined a group recently for conlangers and get to talk with a bunch of people who don't think I'm a weirdo. But there's something I don't get. I've often heard that people are on to their 3rd created language or something similar. It makes no sense to me because the more I know about a language the more complicated I realise one is. In fact each time I learn something new about language in my Linguistics class I add a year to how long this project is going to take me. At the moment I'm at almost a decade. I wonder what their languages are like and how detailed people are.

It makes me wonder...someone once said that constructed languages fail. Well perhaps it is because they didn't think about it enough. A language needs two things as far as I can see. A necessity for that language and the ability to express yourself. Without those I can easily see one failing to take hold.

Ok...on to my country. I've been working recently (in the very limited free time I've had) on coins and money. And I've just realised I should explain about Selmarea before I go on. Like Australia and America Selmarea has two major styles in history. Before they met others from the world and after. Before it was a lovely, quiet, respectful society (and that is how the language is being designed). After it is similar to other modern countries with some major exceptions.

Now that I've explained that the money...modern Selmarea has money like any other country and I've had great fun designing it. Have you ever looked at a coin or a note? The notes in particular are SERIOUSLY complex pieces of paper (or plastic) and the detail on them is amazing. I've got a basis for my notes and coins and all that is left now is to create the designs electronically, something which is making me really, really good at PhotoShop.

I've put a few designs up on the 'About Selmarea' page so have a look and do tell me what you think.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Deciding on Words & Sounds

More language posting. :)

The more I do this project the more I think about language. Recently it's been the sound of my language. Languages I've discovered have difference sounds to them. For example one language might use lots of 't' and 'k' or one might use a lot of vowels, Italian comes to mind. My language...well I'm trying to make it softer than English but it's really quite difficult. As a native English speaker I don't want my language to be a close of English with a few different words. The idea is that my language is spoken more slowly and carefully than we speak English. The word 'thoughtfully' comes to mind. To that end I've tried to create a softer language but all I keep coming up with are 'k' words.

It's quite amusing really and very fascinating to see what happens when I create a new word. Mostly it's created and a use is found for it later. Certain words sometimes jump out at me when I'm looking for something. Amiera was one such word where it's meaning felt like it was destined for it. It now means beautiful. However sometimes I just can't seem to find a word which suits the English equivalent. Two odd examples are 'mother' and 'hello'. I've had several different words and none seem to fit.

This project has been such fun to do so far. It never occurred to me in a million years that I would be trying something so bizarre. I've found it's no different to learning a language either. Time is needed for any sort of fluency (possibly more because I don't have the time I want to work on it and I often change my mind) and I find myself constructing the same sentences I've seen on cards from when I was very young. I've seen cards from when I was about 6 or so, just learning to write, and I've caught myself trying to write those same sentences now in my language.

My language...such a strange thing to write. Not something I ever saw coming in my life but I don't care. This is such fun, so creative and exciting. It's never wrong because it's my language. The rules are mine to construct and break as are the words, grammar and pronunciation. In my mind this is my ultimate project. For no one can ever tell me it's wrong because it's from and for my mind only. Such an ego boost. :D

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Grammar & Proving a Point

In my last post I pointed out the close minded attitude of some people regarding CONLANGing. I still think the person is an idiot for not keeping an open mind and to prove her wrong I've been working like a beaver.

Grammar however continues to be my most difficult task. Being someone not taught a lot of grammar at school I find it difficult to interpret my own language's grammar, English of course, let alone create my own. My ever patient mother is getting used to my random phone calls saying "Mum, explain "is" to me." I've almost got "is" but tenses continue to be a point of debate between us for although she isn't interested in doing this we both love debating language and I fail to see the point to the 12 tenses English has, having only 3 and contemplating a fourth.

Structure is another issue. English grammar is infinitely complex and the more I study it the more impressed I feel not only at those learning it as a second language, for whom I feel intensely sorry, but for the millions who learn it's complexities without even realising it. It makes me realise how incredibly sophisticated the human brain actually is.

I will, of course, keep going. I am enjoying this project WAY too much to stop now and as my linguistic university classes continue I get more and more ideas about my own language. My Anthropology and politics classes too help me to understand human behaviour and culture, adding to the colour and expression.

That is what I believe people fail to take into account. Language isn't just abut a bunch of words. It's about expression of common things. Abstract things like Love and Death and pain and the sense of something bigger. Perhaps one day we'll evolve beyond the need for words but for now I'll try to take all these things into account and it will help me make my language better by the day.

Now it's late so I'll finish by my first sentence of Selmari on this blog: Jimero alesami*. Or sleep well. :)

*Literally "peacefully sleep" but effectively it means "sleep well".

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Created Languages

I had a linguistics tutorial today. My tutor, a PHD student, told me that constructed languages always fail.

Man am I pissed off. Even if it's true, and I REALLY don't believe it is, how could she be SO closed minded? If we all thought like that we never would have crawled out of the ocean! Just because it hasn't been done, doesn't mean it can't be! I'll bet the Wright Brothers (the plane guys) didn't have her attitude.

And has she even heard of CONLANGing?

I was complaining to my Mum, who is incredibly patient at my jabberings of this project, and she asked me why I began this in the first place. Now I'll admit she was right. I began this project as a hobby. However it's more than that now. Of course I want people to speak it. I want to speak it. Nothing would make me happier and prouder than walking down the street and hearing someone speak MY language.

At the moment however I'll settle for people not dismissing this stuff as a waste of time. Even if it's never spoken by anyone I've learned more about language in the last year than I had in the previous 10! It's not a waste of time and I DEFINITELY don't think it's impossible to create a language that can be spoken. It may not be mine, although I really hope it is, but I reckon someday it will work!

Take that tutor!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Language & Culture

I had a thought recently. I love language and I don't understand people. I like the idea of using language to understand people.

I've been arguing with my Mother, whom is thankfully willing to talk about conlanging, that my language, although constructed by me, is a real language. She's been saying that because it's been created it hasn't evolved. I don't agree. My language, like any conlang, evolves daily. Every day a new word is added. Every day I think of something else I wish I could say that English doesn't have the words for and every day I think about how a sentence in Selmari might be said.

I think that the way we speak reflects the internal moods of a society. I've often wondered why an area of the world which so much apparent unrest (I say apparent because I don't pretend to know everything about a country or a culture) has such a lovely, flowing script. And to that I am referring to Arabic. Japan's history on the other hand, particularly it's polite nature, seems vastly different and it also has a very unlikely script.

Now as I said I don't pretend to know everything, or indeed very much, about Japan's history or the history of the world Arabic speaking countries. I only observe. However I do know English as a language and I see English changing as is our culture and values. Swearing for example has become much more prolific in recent years. I can't imagine what my Grandfather (who was born in 1892!) would think of the world's language if he were alive today. He was born in the time of Gas street lamps and horse and carriage and I suspect would be shocked about the world in general however I am thinking solely of the language being used today.

When I was in school I wasn't taught any grammar. I remember spelling tests and vague information about similes and metaphors and personification but that's about it. When my mother was in school she was taught grammar. In fact the "Grammar" Schools around, such as Sydney Grammar School, were named as such because they taught grammar.

I'm not sure where all of this is leading but to be honest I find it fascinating. I see the world changing in a way which makes me feel quite sad. We have high levels of violence and obesity, hate crimes and graffiti, murder and depression. I think our language is reflecting our sadness, fear and depression and I believe I have a topic for my honours' year at Uni when I eventually get to it.

I realised recently that the first sentence I was trying to write in Selmari was "I love you". The same first sentence I learned how to write. In conversations with my mother and others we've assumed that language evolved through trying to express things such as directions and using it to hunt. ie "you go that way and I'll go this way". I am re-thinking this notion. I think language evolved because we wanted to express things you can't express through sign or grunts. Someone said things like 'hello' and 'goodbye' which is probably true but I think it was the emotional like 'I love you'.

I like this idea. I love the idea that language evolved in early humans because we wanted to express the most powerful emotion of all. Love has even been known to conquor our survival instincts (like someone rescuing someone from danger) and it seems like a beautiful idea for us to want to say it.

Next semester I take anthropology and I can't wait. I want to study people and their relationship to language. Not the fussy grammatical side of things but the human element to things and particularly the script. For like our way of speaking our way of writing has also changed in the last 50 years or so. I'd like to know why and I can't wait to find out.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Words, Sounds and Problems

Trying to think up new words is really hard I've discovered. Finished Uni exams so I finally have time to think about it and I'm stuck. Problem is that every time I work out enough words for a sentence (which sound like ones written by 3 year olds ie. 'I love you' etc) they sound stupid and I can't work out why.

I've listened to some other Conlang projects online and they sound quite good. I don't get why mine sounds so....I'm not sure. Forced? Stumbling? Just plain weird! My word length is varied, I've gotten some words which have the right letters to have the softer sounds but it still sound dumb.

Part of the problem is I can't get the inflection. When we speak our voices rise and fall naturally. English has more variation than some languages and Italian has even more than English. I need that but I can't find it. I can't find the rhythm.

My mother, who thankfully doesn't want to have me committed for doing this and is even willing to talk about it, said a sentence the other day. I'd told her the words of course and she said them as if she were speaking English. She got it! I'm TOTALLY jealous! How come she could say it and I couldn't? The only good thing was that when she said the sentence it sounded quite decent. Not perfect but decent.

I'm trying to get a softness, a thoughtfulness to this language. The idea behind the language came about because I write for fun. I have dozens of stories now and probably thousand of pages. I created a culture and I thought it would be fun to create a language for that culture. I wanted the language to match the culture however and this culture is quite thoughtful, doing things carefully and deliberately rather than quickly. At some point I hope the language will match however for now I'm quite enjoying this project. I keep thinking how totally cool it would be to walk down the street somewhere and hear someone say something in your language!