Conlang

I’ve been dabbling in conlangs since I was 10 years old (although I didn’t call it that until I discovered the Brown conlang listserv, Zompist, and Langmaker, years later). As I learned more about linguistics, I abandoned projects with hundreds of hours in them (worn binders placed lovingly on a shelf), and moved on to build something more naturalistic, more un-English, more exciting.

 

ngewshay

Ngewshay has a rigid VSO word order, and little true inflection. A series of prefixes indicate various “cases” but these are used primarily on nouns other than the subject or object. Noun suffixes express numbers, “few” or “plural,” and possession, honorifics, and diminutives. Verb prefixes indicate tense (and there is a wide range of tenses to choose from!) and simple vs progressive. It features a base-8 number system and a regular phonetic alphabet.

Ngewshay is an integral part of an upcoming project called The Plant Guide, which is a series of illustrations of imaginary plants, labeled in Ngewshay, and translated into English in the margins.

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Meoka

This language features a nominal case system with three grammatical genders, verbs that conjugate for tense, aspect, and mood (but not person, gender, or number), a vertical writing system, and a long vowel sound that is usually expressed as a falling tone. The word order is somewhat variable, but certain conjunctions dictate adjacent verb positions. It uses a dozenal (duodecimal) number system. I aim to make it more compact that Ngewshay, more clear and specific, but more importantly, the dictionary will be more nuanced and naturalistic.

There is a project attached to this language, too. I can’t help myself. It is shaping up to be a fair bit more narrative than The Plant Guide, and it will feature dreams.

Until I really dig into that, I have occasionally been illustrating a journal entry or writing a poem:

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BOSA

Bosa is still developing, but it will feature a couple quirks about tense and about word order (ANADEW? I don’t know!) that will set it apart from other languages I have tinkered on over the years. Most syllables will be CV and the size of the pronoun table is already getting a bit silly. Good times. If I end up doing a project that uses this language I have a hunch it will end up being folk-tales, folk-songs, and/or a book of proverbs.

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