5 World Building Tips (Vol 3, #1): Languages
Here are today’s world building tips! The theme is languages. You can read more in Chapter 8, “Creating Languages,” from Cultures and Beyond, (The Art of World Building, #3).
Tip #1: “Read Books”
There are several books on how to create a language, including The Art of Language Invention (italics) by the guy who created Dothraki for Game of Thrones (italics). Reading this will convince you this is doable or not – and what you need to know if doing yourself or even hiring someone else to do it.
Tip #2: “They Can Be a Distraction”
No one but us understands these words and they can distract a reader. Even those who take the time to sound them out have been pulled out of our story while they do so. We may want to just avoid this altogether.
Tip #3: “We Have Three Options”
We can ignore language creation, we can make up nonsense words as we go along, or we can create a real language to one degree or another. The only people who’ll really know which we did are conlangers, a small group of people whose opinion might not matter to us!
Tip #4: “You May Coach a Narrator”
If you hire someone to create an audiobook for you, you’ll need to coach them on how to say everything unless you do the book yourself. Make sure you can say everything yourself if this might happen.
Tip #5: “Hire a Pro”
The Language Creation Society’s (LCS) site at https://conlang.org/ makes it easy to hire an expert for as little as $100 US or up to $800. The difference is how much they give you. But understanding what we’re getting may require reading those books I mentioned.
Summary of Chapter 8—Creating Languages
Creating a language is one of the most challenging aspects of world building, but it’s also one of the few that we can outsource; how and where to do so is discussed. Even so, some basic terms must be understood so we know what we’re buying and receiving from our expert. If we choose to do it ourselves, we should consider whether it benefits our audience and how, or whether it’s even a burden that we can save both them and ourselves. This chapter will not teach world builders how to invent a language because there are entire books on the subject, and those are referenced here, but it will discuss the pros and cons of constructing a language and what we lose by not having one (or more).