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".