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Background

To begin, I’ve been conlanging ‘properly’ for around two to two and a half years now and have been into it for far, far longer. However, I have yet to create a conlang that is truly in-depth, detailed, and realistic. I soon want to begin that process. I am confident in my knowledge of linguistics and have at least a basic knowledge of most areas and a more in-depth knowledge of others (none the less, I am still an amateur of linguistics, of course).

The current situation

At the moment, I am in the very early stages of planning – I’ve yet to decide on the final concept which I am going to develop. My ideas currently on the shortlist are:

  • A Celtic language spoken on a (fictional) island nation off the north-western coast of Ireland with North-Germanic influence due to interactions and mixing with the Norse people throughout history.

  • A Turkic language spoken in a (fictional) nation in the Southern Caucasus with influence from Georgen, especially on the phonology and vocabulary side.

  • A Uralic language spoken in Eastern Finland and the Karelia/Murmansk regions with Slavic influence.

Of these ideas, I am currently most drawn towards the first bullet-point, however, choosing the scenario of the conlang is not the crux of the issue. That is the issue of creating an in-depth and realistic, believable a posteriori conlang. I want to create a language that has detailed and believable phonology and grammar.

My questions to you

  1. What is your advice on creating a good a posteriori conlang in general?

  2. How do I effectively develop a conlang with as much detail and depth as possible?

Thank you very much for any help or guidance.

  • Take a look around the site you may find some good stuff in relation to some of your questions. Enjoy! – Dr. Shmuel Feb 24 '19 at 13:13
  • Hello and welcome to the site! I had to remove the third question because it absolutely doesn't fit the Stack Exchange Q&A model. Even now this question is still rather broad. If you could make it more specific that would be better. – curiousdannii Feb 25 '19 at 3:36
  • See also this question and its answers: conlang.stackexchange.com/questions/812/… – jk - Reinstate Monica Feb 26 '19 at 14:15
  • Let me know if it works out, I could definitely use an Irish Scandinavian and Viking inspired conlang for a PC game I am in the very very early stages of developing Let me know if you don't mind sharing. I really could use a made up language like that. – James Hanvey Oct 7 '19 at 0:23
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So, you are going to create an altlang (a naturalistic language living in an alternate history of the the world). First, define your starting point (easiest for the first scenario: Old Irish or proto-Goidelic is a suitable starting point for this one). Look at the real world descendants from that starting points (Middle Irish and Modern Irish, Manx, Scottish Gaelish) and what changes happened to them. You can create variation by retaining some archaic features, applying changes from different descendants, or applying changes in different temporal order to create a new artificial Goidelic language. You may also throw in some original changes not occurring in the known Goidelic languages. Keep a timeline of those changes—the changes will apply to loan words as well!

Than decide on the influence of the other language: Are there only borrowings of words, shall it influence syntax (e.g., the order of noun and genitive or noun and adjective, shall the basic word order change?), are there new phonemes added to the phonology?

Decide, when the influence happens, does it happen only once, are there several waves of influence. Note that the other language changes over time, too. Your conlang may preserve archaic words from the donor language that have fallen out of use or have undergone sound shifts there.

Put everything together and enjoy the result!

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Have you looked at Brithenig or Wenedyk? These were generated by applying to Latin the sound shifts that affected Welsh and Polish (respectively) over the same period. You could start with early Irish and apply Scandinavian sound changes.

Of course there would also be lexical and syntactic borrowings; those are less systematic by nature, and so can be governed more by your taste. Do you know the concept of Sprachbund?

On another hand, aren't there natlangs with at least some of the features you want? Scandinavians ruled parts of Ireland; Russia rules over some Uralic peoples; there are Turkic languages adjacent to Georgia — I would expect some influence.

  • Thank you very much for you answer! Early Irish with Scandinavian Sound changes seems like a very interesting idea. Regarding your last point, to an extent yes I suppose so, however I’m aiming for even more of a North Germanic influence. – Tomsk Feb 25 '19 at 20:16

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