Making a Language


In the Holy Worlds forum, I was asked how I make languages. The following is my response.

Languages are hard to make to completion (although my lexicon manager will make that very different when I finish it), but you rarely need a ‘complete’ language. What I am going to do is give a short list of some things that make your language get off to a good start, and how to implement them. Please ask questions and start more threads about each piece as you do them! 🙂

First, you need to figure out what your language sounds like. So you need to first pick the sounds that will be in it. Believe it or not, there are a lot of sounds that you can put into a language, and you only need to do a few of them. Greek does not have a /j/ sound! So make a list. Some research will really help you do this part well. I might post a list of sounds in another thread.

Then figure out how those sounds are allowed to be organized in your language. Base it on syllables, not words. What consonant clusters are allowed (‘/t/s/’ might be, but ‘/d/r/’ might not), and where (‘/t/s/’ might be permitted only at the start of syllables, and ‘/s/t/’ only at the ends)? What vowels are allowed where, and in what combinations? Some languages are mainly diphonic, meaning that they mainly do words in a cvcvcv order (ka-ta-ka-na). Others, like English, allow a wide variety of syllable structures.

Then figure out where your grammar is going to be structured. Is it going to be primarily in suffixes and prefixes (like Latin), with practically no reliance on sentence structure, or is it going to be primarily sentence structure, or a mixture? This is the hardest part for me, and can be skipped somewhat if you are not aiming at a complete language. Mainly you just need to figure out what kinds of things you need to prefixes and suffixes for.

Then you can, if you haven’t already, make your writing system. This is the funnest part, and I tend to actually start with this. You can do it in a huge variety of ways, and you can really have a lot of fun with it.

Now you really have all you need to use the language. If you need a word or a name in it, all you need to do is create a word that matches the structure of your language. That is it! Now, if you want to continue making it into a full fledged language (so that you can write poetry in it, for example), you have only just begun. You need to finish developing your grammar, and then you need to build your vocabulary. This last is the hardest part, and I have never actually finished a full vocabulary. Again, my lexicon manager will make it much easier (I hope), and we will all soon be able to make our own full fledged languages!

I hope that answers your first question. Unfortunately, I am sure that I have made more questions than ever. And maybe I have even made some people made at me because they have a different way of doing it. That is fine, I would be glad to hear of other ways! I like mine, but that is because it is the only one I know about. 🙂

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes


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