3

All I can find are guides on how to make auxlangs and artlangs. I don't want to make either, I want a personal language. I don't care if my language could pass for a real one. I don't care about etymology. What matters for me is if its usable and learnable, that's it. The ease of learning question isn't really relevant.

There are no guides for that. Every guide basically says 'people find this hard to use, so don't use it' or 'make a conlang, then mangle it through sound change, then mangle that through another system of sound change'.

Clearly, if I'm going to do this, I need to just learn on my own how to do it. How did these fields develop? Could one person like me even develop a well-developed field within my lifetime? The two major types of conlangs THAT EVERY ON INSISTS YOU MAKE have histories going back over half a century in the case of artlangs, and over a century in the case of auxlangs.

Since I can only find auxlang and artlang guides, I need to make my own. So how did these fields evolve? How did Zamenhof manage to make a conlang that's clearly usable despite only one widely panned auxlang existing before it? Was the original Esperanto even that usable? Did people just change it into something usable as time went on? Or did he just model it off of natural languages close enough where it just happened to be usable?

As for what mattes to me, being usable is one as I stated. The biggest thing that matter to me is simple practicality. However, nobody ever EVERY says anything about the ramifications of a conlang have any feature. What happens if a language lacks aspect? Can you even tell a narrative in a fully aspect-less language? Yeah, there's standard German, but even there you can find hints of it. It does make the distinction between 'when' and while', and there ARE ways to indicate imperfective though they're all considered colloquial. Is there any language on earth that completely lacks aspect? I've asked this many times and have never gotten an answer. Can such a language then actually exist? Would it be usable if you made a conlang like that? Nobody can give me the answer, and so I have to come up with my own. And its not just this; I constantly come up with stuff that simply does not work. I've tried to look at natural languages, but then everyone starts pointing me to artlang guides ASSUMING THAT'S THE ONLY REASON I WOULD BE LOOKING UP A NATURAL LANGUAGE.

Also, I care about the final product. I don't want to 'evolve' a language; I want the end product to be EXACTLY according to my vision. I don't need to start at the 'start' like artlang guides tell you do; I need to start at the opposite end! Of course, it doesn't really matter if it couldn't have evolved naturally, but it still doesn't help when every single guide says 'evolve it naturally, do everything fucking backwards and end up with a hideous mess that you would never want to learn yourself'.

I need to develop my own field if I hope to get anywhere. How can I do this though? I've learned pretty much everything there is to know about making artlangs, and it hasn't helped me in the slightest. Funny thing is, I CAN make artlangs no problem. The evidence is clear, I've been reading the wrong guides for over 10 years (probably more like 15 at this point). I need a personal conlang guide, and its obvious that I'm going to have to make my own if I ever hope to get anywhere.

10
  • 2
    What's the difference between an artlang and a personal conlang? (genuine question, I'm new to the whole conlang scene) Dec 28, 2023 at 8:27
  • An artlang is something made to be 'aesthetic'. Tolkien for instance claimed his goal with his Elvish languages was 'to create the most beautiful language possible'. These days, the term 'artlang' is most often used to refer to conlangs meant for fantasy conworlds, that are supposed to look like a language that could exist. A personal language is one the developer intends to use themselves, they don't really care if anyone else speaks it or even knows about it. Its essentially the polar opposite of an artlang, which DON'T HAVE TO BE USABLE BY HUMANS. In fact, some people like that.
    – user6046
    Dec 28, 2023 at 21:52
  • Usability is at odds with being private to a single person. What are you trying to express, and why have natlangs been an obstacle to that expression?
    – Corbin
    Dec 29, 2023 at 16:52
  • Then what would make a language 'private'. If private isn't usable, then why bother with making a private language then? Why would anyone bother with a non-artlang that isn't usable?
    – user6046
    Dec 30, 2023 at 5:10
  • So are you looking to create something along the lines of Toki Pona? By all accounts it seems to be simple, easy to learn and usable. If that's what you're after, perhaps someone here can give more specific advice on how to work towards a similar type of language. Dec 30, 2023 at 8:55

3 Answers 3

2

I cannot speak for everyone else, but I can share my experience thus far. Hopefully this can be of some value to you.

When I started conlanging, I did the grammatical and phonological research to learn what I was dealing with. Then I attempted my own conlangs according to the structure suggested by guides like Biblardion's How to Make a Language series. But each one of my conlangs died shortly after starting. Frustrated with many months of lost time, I sought out tools to help me organise and structure my conlang. But to my dismay, few were available, and they were mildly helpful at best.

So. I set out to create my own tool, Der Spracherfinder, a generalised conlanging spreadsheet program with templates to aid a conlanger along his or her journey. Potentially interesting to you is the lack of any sort of evolution page. Not everyone wants to create a half century or more of fictional history to justify their phonological and morphological decisions, so I omitted such a page. Besides, who's gonna read and critique that history anyway? It's not like we're trying to pass some sort of conlang exam! What Der Spracherfinder does encourage, however, is sketching out grammar, syllable structure(s), and phonology so that you can get to the juicy part: the lexicon!

In so making Der Spracherfinder, I came upon my own goal-focused strategy for conlanging:

  1. Grammar first; regardless of phonology, this is the brain of the language. Here we decide all the really fun morphological features that we want. We can sprinkle in culture too! We then can sketch grammar by morphing English sentences into the conlang's syntax and adding morphology placeholders where appropriate.

  2. Syllable structure second; using our grammar, we can get a sense of how complex our syllables should be. A morphologically dense language may, for example, opt for smaller syllables. Also in this stage, determine the stress pattern. These two be crucial for wordcraft later.

  3. Third comes phonology. By now, you may have thought of all your desired phonemes. Whatever the case, choose phonemes now and stay consistent. Avoid doing what I did, which was changing the phonology constantly to get a sense of progress.

  4. It's lexicon time!! With the grammar, syllable structure, stress system, and phonology decided, all that remains is filling in those morphology placeholders and replacing the English words with conwords or conphrases!!

  5. Refine and iterate as desired. Excellence won't come first try.

In your question, you seem rather anxious to get straight to the goal. Use this determination to your advantage. Lay out your vision on paper then create a plan of execution. Be very specific in what you want your conlang to have and do. Make sure your goal is attainable, and allow yourself wiggle room. Above all, enjoy the process. And be mindful that your ambitions will almost always be ahead of your skill (which is why we experience creative block). Ira Glass gives some great advice for creative work in this video. Give it a listen. I would also advise asking yourself, "What is holding me back?"

As for guides to making a personal conlang, I do not know of any. Sorry, man. However, you could pioneer your own solution and share it with the world someday! 😁 Good luck to you! May your vision come to fruition!

2
  • Yeah, you need to decide the grammar first before you even begin making words. If you conlang has case, this will limit what forms nouns can take, so you can't make nouns until you decide the endings if any. Similar thing with verbs; what should they end in? How will tense/aspect be marked on them? If you have case, you can possibly do without certain adpositions. The list goes on and on, so you can't make words until you have a grammar. Of course, its hard to make a grammar when you can't make sample sentences. Maybe just make all your first nouns rhyme just in case you decide to add case?
    – user6046
    Dec 28, 2023 at 3:47
  • @user8600 What exactly about making your personal language is holding you back? If it is deciding noun and verb affixes, I'd just create some and stick with it. Likewise with grammar. Just pick your favourite features and get rolling! Remember to conquer little by little as to not burn yourself out. You could try creating example sentences using the method I suggested in my answer. Take a sentence in English (or German, if you so fancy), add affix placeholders, rearrange syntax to fit your conlang syntax. Boom! Prototype #1 complete! Remember, we creatives never get it right first try.
    – Ylahris
    Dec 28, 2023 at 14:37
2

Learning other languages (natural and/or constructed ones) helps a lot. Johann Martin Schleyer, the inventor of Volapük, was a renowned polyglot, Zamenhof, inventor of Esperanto, spoke a bunch of European languages and Hebrew, and also Tolkien, famous for his artlangs, knew a lot of languages including Welsh and Finnish.

I cannot give a general recommendation of what languages to learn at least to some degree because this depends on your personal preferences. When you are fascinated by far eastern culture, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai are natural choices; when North Africa is on your mind try Arabic, Berber, Ancient Egyptian or Koptic.

5
  • I've thought about learning other languages, but that would obviously involve a lot of work (it took me 4 years just to become an upper intermediate in German, and when I first learned German I was still young enough for it to be a 'native language' to me!) Besides, I've never managed to learn a language I had no practical use for. I only learned German because I was listening to German metal at the time. I also tried to learn French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, and Japanese. I even bought a Korean book a few years ago, but quickly lost interest in it.
    – user6046
    Dec 29, 2023 at 7:00
  • Besides, others have told me in the past that learning a whole language just to make a conlang is highly excessive. Most conlangers don't know more than one language and they do fine. Of course, to me you don't fully understand a language unless you can speak it. I never agree with the assessments anyone makes about the grammatical features of German. They're all just so obviously incorrect to me. It doesn't help that such people never seem to know German themselves, but insist you don't have to know German to know German.
    – user6046
    Dec 29, 2023 at 7:02
  • Point is, I don't understand any grammatical features that aren't contained either in English or German. Pretty much all I can do is make a relex of one or the other. I can't even seem to mix them for some reason, even though being closely related they tend to overlap more often than not.
    – user6046
    Dec 29, 2023 at 7:03
  • Maybe a purely passive knowledge of some language of your choice (enough to do translations with the help of a dictionary from the original but neglecting any conversational skills) is already good enough. Modern language teaching concentrates on the latter, unfortunately, so maybe Latin?
    – Sir Cornflakes
    Dec 31, 2023 at 10:55
  • I used to do that when I was younger. I even used this to write a story in Russian once, seriously. Sadly, I don't have that file anymore (it was lost probably 20 years ago), so I have no way now to check to see how accurate it was. Back then I didn't think it required that much knowledge to speak a language. Change the word order, swap out every word one for one, add some things that English doesn't have like cases, and you're good to go. I know now that is far from correct, probably why I don't do such things anymore.
    – user6046
    Jan 1 at 6:01
1

Mark Rosenfelder's Language Construction Kit is what we used waaaaaaay back in the Web 1.0 days.

https://zompist.com/kit.html

It's technical and thorough and helpful, thinks I.

1
  • And a very enjoyable book, I find. Mar 9 at 22:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.