6

Probably already been asked before but here goes.

Stevefan has traveled through some sort of trans-dimensional breach made of handwavium to another dimension where the inhabitants don't speak English. What tools are there on the internet that could help me form this language?

I want to make the spoken language for these aliens based off of Spanish and something similar to Spanish, close enough together that if you know Spanish you can kinda-sorta piece together the general meaning of the sentence. I could try to do something like the Minions from Despicable Me did where they alternate language every few words, but that doesn't feel very alien to me, just confusing.

As for the written language I'm not too concerned about, it just needs to be a glyph based written language. If you know of a little-known language like this I could just use Google Translate for that so I'm not too worried there.

  • We have an SE dedicated to constructed languages, have you considered post this there? – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Oct 23 at 16:52
  • @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica, because im kinda trying to make my own language, or at least combine two existing ones. – Ceramicmrno0b Oct 23 at 16:55
  • I won't bother to reply to the "what tools" question, or to the utterly meaningless "hierogliphic-ish" part, but I might try to give an answer for the "based on Spanish" requirement. The question is, do you know Spanish, or would it be a waste of time? (There is no Spanish-like language written with hieroglyphics or anything which could pass for hieroglyphics. That was easy. In fact, there is exactly one logographic writing system in current use, and that is the Chinese Hanzi; the number of old dead languages which used logographic writing system is also very small.) – AlexP Oct 23 at 17:10
  • @AlexP, i do know some spanish, and I was kinda meaning that the written and spoken language would both be different. i dont need a glyph based spanish dialect, just a glyph based language and a spanish dialect which i will merge into my alien language – Ceramicmrno0b Oct 23 at 17:13
4

Let's take modern Spanish Spanish and apply some nice natural sound changes to it, together with some plausible alterations to the spelling rules, and see what we get.

To begin with, let's take a Spanish text on which to apply the changes, so that in the end we have an example of Alien Spanish, with the goal of ascertaining that it is at the same time Spanish-like and alien enough. The chosen text consists of the first ten articles of the French Revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, as given by the Spanish Wikipedia:

  • Los hombres nacen y permanecen libres e iguales en derechos. Las distinciones sociales solo pueden fundarse en la utilidad común. La finalidad de toda asociación política es la conservación de los derechos naturales e imprescriptibles del hombre. Esos derechos son la libertad, la propiedad, la seguridad y la resistencia a la opresión. La fuente de toda soberanía reside esencialmente en la nación; ningún individuo, ni ninguna corporación pueden ser revestidos de autoridad alguna que no emane directamente de ella. La libertad consiste en poder hacer todo aquello que no cause perjuicio a los demás. El ejercicio de los derechos naturales de cada hombre, no tiene otros límites que los que garantizan a los demás miembros de la sociedad el disfrute de los mismos derechos. Estos límites solo pueden ser determinados por la ley. La ley solo puede prohibir las acciones que son perjudiciales a la sociedad. Lo que no está prohibido por la ley no puede ser impedido. Nadie puede verse obligado a aquello que la ley no ordena. La ley es expresión de la voluntad de la comunidad. Todos los ciudadanos tienen derecho a colaborar en su formación, sea personalmente, sea por medio de sus representantes. Debe ser igual para todos, sea para proteger o para castigar. Siendo todos los ciudadanos iguales ante ella, todos son igualmente elegibles para todos los honores, colocaciones y empleos, conforme a sus distintas capacidades, sin ninguna otra distinción que la creada por sus virtudes y conocimientos. Ningún hombre puede ser acusado, arrestado y mantenido en confinamiento, excepto en los casos determinados por la ley, y de acuerdo con las formas por esta prescritas. Todo aquel que promueva, solicite, ejecute o haga que sean ejecutadas órdenes arbitrarias, debe ser castigado, y todo ciudadano requerido o aprendido por virtud de la ley debe obedecer inmediatamente, y se hace culpable si ofrece resistencia. La ley no debe imponer otras penas que aquellas que son estrictas y evidentemente necesarias; y nadie puede ser castigado sino en virtud de una ley promulgada con anterioridad a la ofensa y legalmente aplicada. Todo hombre es considerado inocente hasta que ha sido declarado convicto. Si se estima que su arresto es indispensable, cualquier rigor mayor del indispensable para asegurar su persona ha de ser severamente reprimido por la ley. Ningún hombre debe ser molestado por razón de sus opiniones, ni aún por sus ideas religiosas, siempre que al manifestarlas no se causen trastornos del orden público establecido por la ley.
  1. (Spelling change) Replace ce, ci with the, thi (as they are pronounced): nacen $\rightarrow$ nathen, sociales $\rightarrow$ sothiales etc.

  2. (Spelling change) The acute accent indicates the position of the dynamic stress when it falls in a place other than where it's expected:

    • If the acute is on the last syllable before an n or an s, delete the acute and double the consonant: ningún $\rightarrow$ ningunn, demás $\rightarrow$ demass, razón $\rightarrow$ razonn. (It's not deleterious, since Spanish cannot have double consonants in that position.)
  3. (Spelling change) Replace ñ with ny and ll with ly. (It could have been the chosen spelling, but wasn't.)

  4. (Spelling change) Replace qu with k (or c, since by now we no longer have any possibilit of confusion); que $\rightarrow$ ce, aquellas $\rightarrow$ acelyas etc.

  5. (Spelling change) Replace all is and us with y and w when they represent semivowels (also called glides, the less sonorous parts of diphthongs): igual $\rightarrow$ igwal, cualquier $\rightarrow$ cwalcyer.

  6. (Spelling change) Delete initial and intervocalic h. (It is silent anyway.)

  7. (Spelling change) Replace ge, gi with hhe, hhi, and then j with h: ejecutadas $\rightarrow$ ehecutadas, ejercicio $\rightarrow$ eherthithyo etc.

At this point we have regular Spanish with a somewhat novel, but yet still consistent, spelling. Let's go and apply some natural sound changes:

  1. Replace endings in -ad, -ades with , -ass. (Italian did it, for the singular; in the plural, Italian keeps unchanged.)

  2. Delete final -o; in order to preserve the position of the dynamic stress, you must of course double the preceding consonant, as required by rule 2. (Romanian did it; we have lup for Spanish lobo, tot for Spanish todo etc.)

    • If the word ends in -wo, replace with -u.
    • If the word ends in -yo (at this stage of the modifications), replace the -o with -u.
    • If the final -o is the only vowel in the word, replace with -u.
  3. Replace final -i with iy, final -e with i, and final -a with e. (Old French did the last one.)

  4. Now do the plurals: replace final -os with -uy. (Romanian went even further, but let's keep it Spanish-y.) Replace final -es with iy. Replace final -as with ey.

  5. (Slight, if any sound change.) Consistently replace vl and vr with br and bl, and elsewhere consistently replace b with v.

  6. Finally, replace clusters of two occlusives (also known as stops) with the second one doubled, as Italian did.

At this point we have:

  • Luy ombriy nathen yiy permanethen libriy i igwaliy en derechuy. Ley distinthyoniy sothyaliy soll pweden fundarsi en le utilidà comunn. Le finalidà di tode asothyathyonn polítice iy le conservathyonn di luy derechuy naturaliy i imprescrittibliy del ombri. Esuy derechuy son le livertà, le propyedà, le seguridà yiy le resistenthye e le opresionn. Le fwenti di tode soveraníe residi esenthyalmenti en le nathionn; ningunn individu, niy ningune corporathyonn pweden ser revestiduy di awtoridà algune ci nu emani direttamenti di elye. Le livertà consisti en poder ather tod acelyu ci nu cawsi perhwithyu e luy demass. El eherthithyu di luy derechuy naturaliy di cade ombri, nu tyeni otruy límitiy ci luy ci garantizan e luy demass myembruy di le sothyedà el disfruti di luy mismuy derechuy. Estuy límitiy soll pweden ser determinaduy por le ley. Le ley soll pwedi proivir ley acthyoniy ci son perhudithyaliy e le sothyedà. Lu ci nu está proividd por le ley nu pwedi ser impedidd. Nadyi pwedi versi obligadd e acelyu ci le ley nu ordene. Le ley iy expresyonn di le voluntà di le comunidà. Toduy luy thyudadanuy tyenen derechu e colavorar en su formathionn, see personalmenti, see por medyu di sus representantiy. Devi ser igwal pare toduy, see pare proteger u pare castigar. Syend toduy luy thyudadanuy igwaliy anti elye, toduy son igwalmenti elegibliy pare toduy luy onoriy, colocathyoniy yiy empleuy, conformi e sus distintey capathidass, sin ningune otre distinthyonn ci le creade por sus virtuss yiy conothimyentuy. Ningunn ombri pwedi ser acusadd, arrestadd yiy mantenidd en confinamyent, exthett en luy casuy determinaduy por le ley, yiy di acwerd con ley formey por este prescritey. Todd acel ci promweve, solithiti, ehecuti u age ci sean ehecutadey órdeniy arvitraryey, devi ser castigadd, yiy todd thyudadann receridd u aprendidd por virtù di le ley devi ovedether inmedyatamenti, yiy si athi culpabli siy ofrethi resistenthye. Le ley nu devi imponer otrey peney ci acelyey ci son estrittey yiy evidentementi nethesaryey; yiy nadyi pwedi ser castigadd sinn en virtù di une ley promulgade con anteryoridà e le ofense yiy legalmenti aplicade. Todd ombri iy consideradd inothenti aste ci e sidd declaradd convitt. Siy si estime ci su arrest iy indispensabli, cwalcyer rigor mayor del indispensabli pare asegurar su persone e di ser severamenti reprimidd por le ley. Ningunn ombri devi ser molestadd por razonn di sus opinyoniy, niy awunn por sus ideey religyosey, syempri ci al manifestarley nu si cawsen trastornuy del orden públic establethidd por le ley.

Now, this is still sufficiently Spanish-y for a Romance speaker to be able to go through it, albeit slowly. It may or may not be sufficiently alien...

If still not sufficiently alien, continue sound changes:

  • Replace intervocalic r with rh and intervocalic s with r (Latin did the latter).

  • Replace s between vowels, or at the beginning of a word before a wovel, with w (Greek did it).

If still not alien enough, you may want to go through some chain shifts (as in Germanic for example).

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  • Excellent answer. Another option that comes to mind to add to the ‘alien’ feel would be switching up the usage of prepositions. They’re notoriously hard to translate no matter what source or target language you’re working with, and such a shift may be sufficient to throw most Romance speakers for a loop when they first read it. – Austin Hemmelgarn Oct 24 at 2:42
2

If you need to have your language loosely based on another language, you're very limited in how you build it. You need it to sound familiar but different to native speakers of that language. There isn't a lot of ways to accomplish this, you need to keep your changes small. My advice would be to prepare "find and replace patterns" for the vowels and a few common words, leave most of the consonants as is, and just run them over the text and use that as a starting point.

Eg. I've chosen a really simple replacement map: A->E. E->I, I->O, O->U, U->A. I'm ignoring diacritics because I'm a heathen but you could take steps to ensure hard vowels remain hard and soft ones remain soft - especially at the end of words where they could add an extra syllable. Anyway:

We come in peace, take me to your leader

In Spanish is

Venimos en paz llévame con tu líder

Becomes:

Vinomis in pez llivemi cun ta lodir

That should sound sort of familiar to Spanish listeners, but also kind of alien, and you wont be able to understand it in entirety first time.

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  • (1) Spanish most definitely does not have the same vowels as English. Not even close. Not even remotely similar. (Spanish has five wovels, English has between 15 and 22, depending on who counts and how they count.) (2) Your circular replacement of wovel letters would wreak havoc on the Spanish spelling conventions. (3) Those acute accents are not meaningless decorations. (4) The result would be extremely unnatural. Look for example at the last two words, ta lódir: as a Romance speaker, don't you feel something fishy about them? – AlexP Oct 23 at 17:18
  • @AlexP 1) spanishdict.com/guide/spanish-vowels 2) Spelling is not an issue as per OP. 3) I didn't say they were meaningless, I said I was a heathen for ignoring them even. 4) Some things would be unnatural, alien even. That's the point. – Ash Oct 23 at 17:20
  • A site which begins with the idiotic assertion that Spanish has the same five vowels as English should be closed immediately and never reopened. They probably mean to say that Spanish has this in common with English that it is written with a variant of the Latin alphabet. Which I would suppose that everybody already knew. – AlexP Oct 23 at 17:23
  • @AlexP What are they then? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_phonology#Vowels says there is only the same 5 as English. We're trying to scramble pronunciation but keep it recognisable vowels are the easiest and simplest places to attack. – Ash Oct 23 at 17:26
  • English has between 15 and 22 vowels, depending on who counts and how they count. I've never ever seen a description of English giving less than 15 vowels. From where do you get five? I would be most happy if there was a variant of English with only five vowels, because I could then map them cleanly on Romanian vowels. And anyway, let's count to eleven: part, pan, cup (3 for Spanish a), pet (Spanish e), pit, peace (2 for Spanish i), lot, thought (2 for Spanish o), put, soon (2 for Spanish u); and letter with no Spanish counterpart. – AlexP Oct 23 at 17:38
1

You have a few options:

  • They actually speak Portuguese, which although being similar to Spanish, is sufficiently different and incompatible to make them mutually unintelligible.

  • The alien dimension was actually a rural area in Paraguay, possibly even an indigenous area, and its inhabitants speak Spanish as a second language and not fluently, with an accent, vocabulary and grammar strongly influenced by Guaraní (an indigenous language widely spoken in Paraguay).

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