Friday, March 25, 2011

Using Language - FFW

Thanks everyone for your input on critique partners - and for so many offers to be my critique partner! I appreciate everyone's generosity. Between a new critique partner or two and my test readers, CassaStar's sequel has a chance!

Today is another edition of Fantastic Friday Writers! I invite your to check out my Fantastic Friday Writers partners, as we have some new members - Elizabeth Mueller, Anastasia V. Pergakis, J. D. Brown, Deirdra Eden Coppel, M. Pax at Wistful Nebulae, Jeffrey Beesler at World of the Scribe, Charlene A. Wilson, and Andrew Cooper. I’m sure their take on this subject is better than mine!

Languages

I decided not to create a new language for the world in CassaStar. I didn’t feel it was necessary.

I did have to create alien names, though. Science fiction names can be complicated and a challenge to pronounce, so I tried to keep them simple: Bassa, Trindel, Hanner, Ernx – bonus points to anyone who knows how to pronounce that last one. Sound it out – it’s easy!

I also had to make a decision on ‘colorful language.’ I’ve been around fighter pilots – they know how to cuss! Should I use earth terms or make up words? (Like Battlestar Galactica’s frack.) I don’t like to cuss (much) so I settled on one, low-offensive word: damn.

If any of you are creating a new language, let me know how you’re doing it!

And I am taking an extended weekend away with my wife (so she doesn’t disown me next month during the A to Z Challenge) so I may be scarce for a couple days. I'll try to check in - after all, I never go anywhere without my iPad!

72 comments:

salarsenッ said...

Firstly, enjoy your extended weekend with your wife. Those weekends are too few and far between.

I've not created a new language for a character. It does sound like fun, though. Hmmm...Maybe galactice babies with forked tongues?? What would they sound like?

Laura Pauling said...

Somewhere there was this awesome post about how to make up a language, but unfortunately, I can't remember who wrote it. It was a year ago I saw it.

Personally, I don't like made up swears but writers do it. Have a good weekend!

J. D. Brown said...

Oooo, alien names! I haven't had the pleasure of trying that yet. :)

Talk to Ana or Elizabeth or Charlene about making up new words. ;)

Anastasia V. Pergakis said...

Great post Alex! You may think the rest of the group writes better than you, but I love your posts.

You made a good point about 'colorful language'. Some people use it and some don't and that's important when creating characters and dialogue too.

li said...

I wouldn't even know how to start to create a new language; the first book that jumps to mind is "Watership Down", where the author made up words for a rabbit language and, somehow, the words just seemed right. I think adding even one or two "new" words enriches the reading experience. As for cussing, even if one is relaying a "real life" exchange verbatim, it can get rather tedious. I find endless cussing boring for the most part.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Have a wonderful week-end away Alex after all we can't have your wife disowning you. I have recently come acros Deirdre Eden-Coppel after she very kindly gave me an award, how she came across my blog I have no idea.I found her blog very good.
I myself am going away overnight Tues/Wed next week to see Danny Boy a bit nearer home this time.

Take care hope you have good weather,
Yvonne,

Melissa said...

In my fantasy world...there are eight ancient people who saved them....so they take their names in vain when they want to cuss.

Liz P said...

Creating a language for your novel can be a huge undertaking. I've opted not to do this for my fantasy, however my characters do technically speak a non-English language. Thus many names, including cities and other places names, are derived from words in their language (even if I don't actually have a language set in stone, but rather an idea of their language). I pepper in some other words to try to pull the reader in just a little more, but else language is really not a focus.

Liza said...

Thanks for the links and I like all the names, especially Ernx.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

oh, I really do enjoy reading books with made up words. It seems to make the world come to life more. (loved it in Firefly) Though, I wouldn't have the creativity to do it myself.
Is it Er-nix?

Have a great weekend!

Libby said...

iPad's are addictive and I'm in love with them. Enjoy your weekend!

Helen Ginger said...

"Damn" is not much of a curse word. I think you should take the cue from Battlestar Galactica and create your own word.

Have a great weekend and leave your iPad at home. (Advice from the wife's POV.)

Mary Vaughn said...

1) Take Helen's advice about the iPad.
2) I thought your language was rather tame for pilots but seemed suited to this piece. Maybe as things progress...
3) Turn off your writer/blogger mind and enjoy your wife. Plenty of time next month to tick her off.

I know 3 repeats 1 but it's important.

Carol Kilgore said...

Never had to create a language. Not sure I would want to.

Have a fun weekend!

Summer Frey said...

For one of my sci-fi books, they spoke English, but still had words in their vocab from their old tongue, and in order to make those, I used Google Translate and blended together Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, and Finnish.

Budd said...

A new language can sometimes make a book hard to get through. Anathem was an excellent book once you learned the lexicon. But, slogging through those first several chapters was laborious.

Karen Walker said...

Have a wonderful weekend, Alex. I hope your wife distracts you from your Ipad for a few days. Those moments together are precious - enjoy them.
Karen

Jules said...

To most people real hillbilly is a new language :) Have a great time with the wife!
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

J A C Q U E L I N E said...

I am here from the A to Z challenge. I am nervous and excited can't wait!

Summer Ross said...

The only time I have ever tried to come up with a new language when when I was in second grade- it didn't pan out so well for my language or the character. LOL Have a great weekend!

Karen Lange said...

Have never created a new language; don't know if I'm that ambitious!

Have a great weekend!

JL Stratton said...

I've never had the privilage of coming up with a new language. I like to write most specualive fiction.

I've been delving into the fantasy world lately, and really enjoy coming up with unique names. Since I've been writing some paranormal lately, I've found my names by looking into mythology and traditional names from the past. In some cases I've chosen names that had a meaning similar to the traits my character portrays. In other cases, I've chosen a name in conflict with their personality traits.

I guess this is my own little way of having fun with a story. A little inside joke, if you will, that helps me stay centered while writing serious drama.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks Salarsen, and you may have to make a language for those babies.

Laura, that's why I didn't make up swear words.

Thanks Anastasia, I appreciate that.

li, I do as well, which is why I stuck to one word - kept me from overusing it.

Yvonne, glad Danny will be closer this time!

Melissa, that's a great idea!

Liz, it can be overdone, so flavoring your way probably works best.

Terry, no - it's more "Urnks"

Libby, yes theyb are!

helen, no it's not, but it kept the book PG.

Mary, suggestion taken!

Summer, that sounds wild!

Budd, and I didn't want to do that to my readers.

Jules, I live in the South - it IS a whole different language!

Jacqueline, you'll be fine!

Thanks, everyone!

Ella said...

Enjoy your weekend with your wife!
A great time for a get away~

How fun, making up names! I say go with earth cuss words and tweak them.
Frack is great! My daughter couldn't say, truck, thank God for the r(Fruck). Off to make the rounds~
Happy Weekend to you n' yours!

Old Kitty said...

Ern-ex! :-)

I love pretend cuss words - all variations of the f word!! Frick, frack, froock.....

:-) Take care
x

Charles Gramlich said...

I have a pretty good vocabulary of TAleran terms developed for that series.

Jessica Bell said...

Have an awesome weekend with your wife! :o) Um ... Earinx?

Clarissa Draper said...

I really appreciate that you don't use swear words. It really distracts from the writing.

N. R. Williams said...

For my elfin language I used a website that offers elfin names based on fantasy authors. I used some of them and made up the rest.

Enjoy your time away form us crazies.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

Chris Phillips said...

The most I've done w/ languages is accents. Have a good weekend.

Chris Phillips said...

The most I've done w/ languages is accents. Have a good weekend.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Have a great weekend getaway, Alex.
xoRobyn

M Pax said...

Have a great weekend!

I did make up a language, but based it on Sumerian. The other one, I just did the same as you, made up simple alien words for some things -- usually things I invented.

Stephen Tremp said...

A great place to find new words for alien names is that pesky Word Verifier many bloggers have yet to turn off. There are some great words that one can use in sci fi space and fantasy genres.

Holly Ruggiero said...

I was just about to write I haven’t had to create a language, but then I realize I have. I based it on a real language, and then I played with it.

Have fun this weekend. Good husband!

mshatch said...

I'm guessing Ernz, since x is sometimes pronounced z. As for a new language, well, not entirely but in my fantasy trilogy there's lots of stuff I made up like a bunch of deities, the mythology to go along with, people like General Lutzen and Athdar, plants, animals, and a whole lot more. It was fun!

Velvet Over Steel said...

I know Charlene, she's awesome! & I will have to check out the rest of them during this '3 day' weekend of mine!!

This is a great Friday feature! I'm off to read more. Have a wonderful day and weekend, Alex!!! ~ Coreen

Lenny Lee* said...

hi mr alex! wow i love those alien names. how could you know my real names ernx? now every ones gonna know im a alien. ha ha. i been thinking on trying to do a new language on one of my stories and so i got my brothers and sister making up words and it gets us laughing so much. here one my sister did thats a swear word.. zarch! ha ha. its more bad if you say zarch rizbit! ha ha
i hope you and mrs alex have a real fun weekend.
...hugs from lenny

Sangu said...

Ahhhh I love extended weekends! Hope you have a great time!

Made-up languages in books can go very, very wrong unless the writer knows exactly what they're doing - and unpronounceable fantasy/sci fi names always annoy me so I really liked your names!

Cheeseboy said...

I appreciate you not using swear words. I think that kids will like this book. They hear enough swearing everywhere else. I mean, you'd hate to frack up a good thing, you know?

Pat Tillett said...

Well Alex, my wife is always accusing me of making a new language!
As to the profanity, I think it totally depends on your audience. I think the absence of swearing in CassaStar was fine, because even on earth, some cultures don't have many swear words. If you were talking about fighter pilots on earth, that would be a different story...

Lynda R Young said...

Have a fantastic weekend away. Lucky you! My hubby went away without me for a week (admittedly its a work trip, but still!)

As for language, yes you did right to keep everything simple. Too many fantasy/scifi writers decide to make names complicated in an attempt to make them sound exotic. It doesn't work.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Creating a new language sounds like a ton of work! I'd have fun coming up with alien names, though. :)

Sherri said...

Since I'm writing about life on another planet I just can't use Earth names like Betty, Joe, or Alice. It just doesn't seem right.

When I wrote The Winds of the Molornu, my kids who are very creative, came up with some of the very unique names in my first book - Tukai, Vakaiya, Dunal, Bashek, etc. But I came up with the main characters name - Maloree, which is NOT Mallory though many pronounce it that way.

In my second and third books I have gone to fantasy name websites. I don't copy those names but it gets my own creative name juices flowing.

I've learned since my first book to keep the names simple as your article mentions. In my third book I used the Earth name Wendell, changed it to Wend'l, and presto! Alien name!

RaShelle said...

Alex - I don't even think you can consider damn a swear word. LOL. Love the names of your characters. In the novel I'm writing now, I have created new words - Cret! (A swear word), Irrihunter - a very cool, secret flying animal that I made up. Manshum (Mountains) and on. That's because Venus comes from another world. It's a blast, I think. =D Great post!!

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Hiya Alex! OOh, I LOVE inventing words for foul language. Thanks for sharing your insight on languages. You're very creative with inventiveness. ;)

Happy Friday!

♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Have fun on your time away. I made up a few words but kept them similar enough for easy interpretation. Making up a language would be more than I could imagine having time to do.

Arlee Bird said...

Names are okay, but a language is not that great. I don't know if it's been pulled off effectively, but I don't think I'd like it.

Have a great extended weekend. My wife already got on me about my blogging last weekend, but now I think she's okay about it--for now.
I wish she'd start her own blog.

Lee
Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Dempsey Sanders said...

I actually wouldnt have a clue how to make up a language or make it sound convincing anyway, I struggle with english ha ha

Jemi Fraser said...

Making up words is fun. I've got a few in my steampunk that are based on words we use now so that the meaning is clear, but they're slightly different. I've got a few expressions that replace most of the swears, but my characters do say Damn as well :)

Michelle in a shell said...

Clever names! I used to live a block away from a "Trindel Road" :)

Hart Johnson said...

I think a few minimal words can be really nice to make it feel authentic, where a lot of words can make it hard to wade through--even the Elvish in LotR was hard for those of us who only read the series once. I think, though, a handful of words--can create a really believable world. Think of Harry Potter and things like Quidditch, Legilimency, Occlumency, Cruciatus... but JKR spaces them well, and our MC comes from outside, so the reader can learn as he learns.

For SciFi, a book like Ender's Game is a good example--only a handful of words, but SOME of them, 15 years later, look prophetic (the nets--the interactive computer stuff? for a book written in the first half of the 80s?)--and I happen to still use 'ne' (though in the book it is neh.

Andrew Green said...

Interesting stuff!
I agree on the alien names. Ever read L Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth? -- Worst alien names EVER.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks, Ella.

Kitty and Jessica - nope! "Urnks"

Stephen, they're often just a little too weird.

Holly, I'm trying!

MsHatch - nope, see above!

Hey Lenny! Bet you guys have fun with that.

Sangu, thanks - that's why I went simple.

Damn, Cheeseboy!

Ah, but Pat, I wasn't talking pilots on earth, so it worked!

Sherri, that's creative.

Thanks, RaShelle. And I thought it was a swear word. Damn!

Lee, now that's a thought!

Jemi, it's just a good universal world.

Hart, that is spooky!

Andrew, with matching worst movie ever!

Tiger85 said...

Like the alien names, especially the last one. =)
http://tigeronmybookshelf.blogspot.com/

Ruth Teal said...

I like your blog.
I'm on the A-Z Challenge too. RuthieTootieWishes

Chuck said...

Looking forward to sequel Alex. I wouldn't stray too far from the first book's language as it might make some wonder where was this language at in CassaStar...then again what the hell do I know! Have a good weekend.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks, Tiger!

Glad you're with us, Ruth.

Chuck, I'm not straying!

Talli Roland said...

Have a great wekeend break - you deserve it! Can't wait for A to Z.

Re: curse words. I used quite a bit of them in The Hating Game! Mostly because I felt I had to accurately reflect thst world, without going overboard. People in the UK swear quite a bit generally (compared to North America), and it's rife in the media world!

Vicki Rocho said...

I'm patting myself on the back, I was right about *Ernx*! Bless you for keeping alien names pronounceable. That is my BIGGEST pet peeve about Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

I'm very fond of the word Damn. Which is kinda funny since I remember refusing to read the word "dam" as a kid because i thought it was bad. What happened to me?

The Old Silly said...

Have a great time being scarce and enjoy your weekend with Wifey Dear!

The Words Crafter said...

A couple new alien cuss words would be neat....who said 'darvit?' Was that from Farscape?

Anyway. I use a baby-name-meaning site for some of my characters and it gives me names and meanings from various countries and in various languages. Some of them sound alien!

Have fun on your getaway and be sure to spoil your wife!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Talli, I've been to England and you are right!

Vicki, good for you! And whatever happened to you is a good thing, I'm sure.

Words, wasn't Farscape, but don't remember the right show.

Geof said...

Have fun on your long weekend and for Cassastar, a new language wasn't needed, imho. Language was fine and easy to follow as is.

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

Since my story idea is based on areas of medieval Wales, what I did instead is translate the Welsh name and slightly alter it e.g. Cardiff in Welsh is Caerdydd (Day fort) so I just changed it to Dayford.

Inventing curse words is fun though, colourful language is great in sci-fi/fantasy settings :P

Kelly Dexter said...

I love frak. It's definitely my favorite sci-fi/fantasy vulgarity.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I hope you are having a great weekend with your wife! I love your alien names....I have no idea how to create a new language. I'd have to make flashcards or a dictionary to keep everything straight.

Missed Periods said...

I actually do like to swear a lot, but for some reason I use swear words sparingly when I write.

Enjoy your long weekend with your lady.

alexia said...

Have a fun vacay with your wife! Just got back from one with my hubby.

Like Missed Periods said, I cus a lot in real life, but don't much in my book. Personally, I think made up cus words are weird, but I've seen some people pull it off. Good luck!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks, everyone - and had a great time this past weekend!

The Happy Whisk said...

Woohoo on the extended weekend with your wife. Sounds like fun. Tim and I have one coming this weekend for our anniversary. No set plans. Just nice to be home together.

Lazarus Lupin said...

People spend too much time making up mucky words for aliens and never think of the grammar involved. The grammar defines both the language and an important part of the psychology of the speaker. Say that a language has no present tense. It only has a past and a future tense. What does that say about the psychology of the race speaking it?

Lazarus Lupin
http://strangespanner.blogspot.com/
art and review