Naming Languages Part 4/4: Bringing it Together and Putting it to Use

Now it’s time for us to bring our little naming language together, ironing out some details, making some revisions, and writing up a little mini-grammar on the language. We’ll also be putting it to practice to see how well it functions.

First of all will be the changes to the phonology. The original list of phonemes I had chosen was as follows:

Consonants: /p b t d k g m n ɲ f s ʃ x h ɾ w j/

Vowels:        /i y e a o ɯ u/

We also had a syllable structure of (C)V(C) We’re going to change this up a bit by adding some sounds and removing others, as well as writing them up in a more organized way. The following is a little mini-grammar on this naming language.

Language Name: Fteki

PHONOLOGY (IPA values in slashes, Orthography/Romanization in angled brackets)

Consonants

Stops:           /p t c k q/ <p t c k q>

Nasals:          /m n ɲ ŋ/ <m n ñ ng>

Fricatives:     /f v s z ʃ ʒ x ɣ/ <f v s z š ž kh gh>

Tap:              /ɾ/ <r>

Approximant:  /w j/ <w y>

Vowels:        /i y e ø a o u/ <i ü e ö a o u>

Syllable Structure

((F)C­1)V(C2)

1 is any consonant

F is a voiceless fricative (f, s, ʃ, x) if C1 is an obstruent (p t c k q f v s z ʃ ʒ x ɣ)

V is any vowel

C2 is any consonant except /w/ or /j/

SYNTAX

Word order is VSO

Determiners and numbers come before their nouns

Adjectives come after their nouns.

MORPHOLOGY

Synthetic typology

Inflectional

Plural:           -(a)n

Gen.sg:         -akh

Gen.pl:                 -iž

Infinitive:     -tir

3pl.pres:        -em

Derivational

Actor:           c(e)-

Location:      hr(o)-

Nominalizer: -vek

Adjectivizer:   -ri

Diminutive: -(a)f

Augmentative: -oz

LEXICON

Nouns

Human Terms

Qasi – City

Net – Town

Netaf – Village

Skola – Gate

Mikhtü – Crossroad

Tönvek – Ship

Geography

Kura – Hill

Stiri – Pass

Pušra – Forest

Süfna – Sea

Mösin – Beach

Celüs – Peninsula  

Qero – Spring,Well

Isti – Tree

Štam – Rock, boulder

Ñasa – River

Adjectives

Khte – all

Skimri – Blessed

Wirü – New

Ñöfqi – Great

Colours

Khdir – White

Aste – Red

Manga – Silver

Rin – Blue

Rinoz – Bright blue, Azure

Verbs

Fužtir – to be able

Žetir – To see

Skimtir – To bless

Töntir – To Sail

Other

O/E – The

Qoña – God

You don’t really need verbs if you’re only naming places/people/things. And this tiny lexicon is just to give you an idea of how you could structure your mini grammar. You might find that you need less, or even more than the words that are in the sections above. It’s all dependent on the world that you’re building. But, now that we have our mini-grammar all laid out, let’s put this language to practice and see how well it functions. Here’s a little map of the nation in which this language is spoken, with various settlements and features named.

Fteki Nation

As for people’s names, I like the idea of verbal nominaliztions being common, such that you get people like Cetön – Sailor, and Ceže – Seer/Guide, and Ceskim – Priest (literally Blesser).

 

PART 4 SUPPLEMENT: EXTRA MINI-GRAMMARS

Here are two more mini-grammars for some naming languages with different characteristics than the one above, just to show some of the variety you can get.

Tal Kan Wuç

Tal Kan Wuç is spoken in the archipelago nation of Tal Kan Sig. There are two dialects. The southern dialect is considered the standard version of the language, spoken in the capital and by the queen. However, the northern dialect is seen as a bastardization by traders and fishermen living on those islands.

I’ve decided to incorporate a little mini-lesson into this one – making dialects. You don’t have to include them, but like all other things, it’s just another layer of depth to the world. You also don’t have to get too crazy with them either. Just changing a few sounds here and there is often enough for the purposes of a naming language. Here are some of the places dialects can arise:

  • Across natural boundaries such as large rivers, mountain ranges, or on different islands
  • Rural vs. Urban areas
  • In different social classes such as rich vs. poor.
  • Basically anywhere people are separated from each other for whatever reasons.

So what’s the best way to make some dialects? The simplest and most effective way for the purposes of a naming language is to just change the first sound (specifically consonants) in systematic ways. These will have the most pronounced effect. Here are some things to consider changing between the dialects:

  • Where one has voiceless stops, the other can have the voiced ones – Para, Tina, Kole vs. Bara, Dina, Gole.
  • Stops vs. Fricatives – Pilir, Daska, Kom vs. Filir, Zaska (Dhaska/ðaska/ and /ʒaska/ also being a possibility), Xom
  • Voiced stops vs. Nasals – Bosur, Dimet, Gariz vs. Mosur, Nimet, Ngariz (/ŋariz/)
  • Stops vs. Affricates – Pasa, Taiko, Kyyler vs. Pfasa, Tsaiko/Chaiko(/tʃaiko/), Kxyyler
  • Fricatives vs. Affticates – Fomo, Sana, Xemi vs. Pfomo, Tsana, Kxemi
  • Affricates vs. other Affricates – this really words best with the coronal (made with the front of the tongue) sounds – Tsara vs. Chara
  • /w/ vs. /v/ – Wakari vs. Vakari
  • R’s vs. l’s – Rözun vs. Lözun
  • /l/ vs. w/j – Lana vs. Wana vs. Yana (as a note, for phonological reasons this can work a lot better at the ends of words – Kaasal vs. Kaasaw vs. Kaasay))
  • R’s vs. R’s – /rezu/ /ɾezu/ /ʀezu/ /ʁezu/ /ɹezu/ /ɻezu/ etc.
  • Interdentals (θ ð) vs. t/d, s/z, f/v – Theeso vs. Teeso vs. Seeso vs. Feeso
  • Aspirates vs. Plain – Phaka, Thekto, Khama vs. Fako, Sekto, Xama
  • Ejectives vs. Plain – P’iros, T’awis, K’ulam vs. Piros, Tawis, Kulam

Also note that most of these differences could occur at the ends of words or medially (between vowels) instead. So that’s something to keep in mind when making your dialects as well.

Changing up the vowels between dialects can be a bit messier, and to avoid going beyond the scope of this guide, I’m going to stick with one very common difference – vowel mergers. That is, what may be two (or more) separate vowels in one dialect have merged into just one in another. Here are some ideas:

  • In a five vowel system /i e a o u/, the middle vowels (e o) merge with the high ones to give a three vowel system /i a u/ – Kena, sorim, Areto vs. kina, surim, aritu
  • In a seven vowel system /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/, the low middle vowels (ɛ ɔ) merge with the two above to give a five vowel system /i e a o u/
  • Similarly, the high middles (e o) can merge with the high vowels giving /i ɛ a ɔ u/
  • Where one dialect has /ɛ/ and /æ/, the other has only one of them.
  • Where one dialect has long vowels, the other does not.

Essentially what you want to do is take vowels which are relatively close together in the vowel space and merge them together. So, merging /æ/ and /u/ doesn’t make much sense since they’re so different. But merging /y/ and /u/ does, since they’re both high round vowels.

So now let’s get into Tal Kan Wuç!

Tal Kan Sig Map

PHONOLOGY (values are given in IPA)

Consonants

Stops:           /p b t d k g/   <p b t d k g>

Nasals:          /m n/             <m n>

Fricatives:     /f s h/            <f s h>

Affricates:    /ts dz tʃ dʒ/   <c z ç j>

Trill:              /r/                  <r>

Approximant:  /w l j/            <w l y>

Vowels (South Dialect):      /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/    <i ei e a o ou u>

Vowels (North Dialect):      /i ɛ a ɔ u/       <i/ei e a o ou/u>

Syllable Structure

(C­1)V(W/C2)

C1 is any consonant

V is any vowel

W is /w/ after /a e/ and /j/ after /a o/

C2 is any consonant except glides (w j)

SYNTAX

Word order is SVO

Adjectives before nouns

Numbers before nouns

Determiners not marked

MORPHOLOGY

Isolating morphology

LEXICON

Nouns

Geography

Island – Lay

Archipelago – Kan

Ocean – Wal

Reef – Jan

Cliff – Ray

Bay – Ko

Mountain – Rez

Point/Peninsula – Im

Beach – Sin

River – Wos

Harbor – Ju

Flora & Fauna

Fish – Mi

Crab – Cei

Turtle – Tal

Egg – Tei

Ray – Kar

Seagull – Gaw

Oyster – Hay

Tree – Nos

Nut – Pek

Prey – Zer

Human Terms

Temple – Han

Capital – Nak

Town – Tei

Port – Mec

Nation – Sig

Other

Language – Wuç

North – Gou

South – Pay

Knife – Bay

Sun – Maw

Pearl – Sein

Adjectives

Big – War

Small – Çed

Many – Çou

Long – Eij

Beautiful – Nay

Safe – Fi

Other

The – Ci  

Who/Which – May

Sleep – Ik

One – Sa

Two – Mei

Three – Ga

Four – Ço

Five – Fer

From – an

Of, belonging to – Ke

Names

Tal Kan names are structured as follows:

Personal name – clan name – an/ke island

Personal names are usually a positive adjective, whereas clan names are based on animals. The use of “an” before the island name is restricted to the southern islands (War Lay, Eij Lay, and Mei Ray), while the northern islands (Çou Hay Lay, Tei ke Tal, Pek Nos Lay, War Cei, and Çed Cei) prefer to use “ke + island name”. Some common names being Nay Kar an War Lay or Sein Cei ke Çed Cei (Yes, Pearl is also a common name for both men and women).

Xihopa

Xihopa is the native language spoken on the desert moon Rewa, which serves as a communications outpost and trading hub for the Joakan Federation of Planets.

Orbital Map of Rewa

PHONOLOGY (values are given in IPA)

Consonants

Stops:           /p t k ʔ/         <p t k ‘>

Nasals:          /m n ŋ/          <m n g>

Fricatives:     /ɸ s ʃ ɬ h/       <f s x l h>

Trill:              /r/                  <r>

Approximant:  /w/                <w>

Vowels:        /i e a o/          <i e a o>

Syllable Structure

(C)­V

SYNTAX

Word order is SOV

Adjectives before nouns

Numbers before nouns

Determiners as suffix on noun

MORPHOLOGY

Agglutinative morphology

Inflectional

Plural: -mi

Definite: -a

Accusative: -xo

Genitive: -iho

Locative: -lo

3s: – pe

Derivational

Place of: -siki

Place with lots of: -xamo

Adj > Noun: -sa

Noun > Adj: -lana

Diminutive – gi

Augmentative – tu

LEXICON

Nouns

Planet – Xiana

Mountain – Sagiga  

Cliff – Pala

Canyon – Palaxamo

Plain – Ka’o

Saltflat – Lekisiki

River – Fiwe

Forest – Koaxamo

Ocean, Sea – Po’a

Village/town/city – Rasi

Salt – Leki

Snow – Wotowa

Tree – Koa

Tower – Tohi

Captain – Kapitana

Adjectives

Long – Kele

Southern – Wawaxi

Red – Koli

Blue/Green – Laxe

Black – Kigo

Verbs

To run – ana

To climb – Ixima

To fight – ese

To watch – Oro

Xihopa names can vary from town to town, but the most common type of name is one which is essentially a small sentence:

Lekilo Anape – Runs on Salt

Sagigaxo Iximape – Climbs Mountains

Kapitanaxo Esepe – Fights the Captain

Tohimi Orope – Watches Towers

 

And so we can see that with a little bit of effort, you can create a great deal of depth and flavour for your world. I hope that this guide has been useful to everyone and will inspire you all to get creative with naming in your worlds.

——————

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