Creating my own language

I have started learning Toki Pona and while doing so I’ve decided to create my own language.

I don’t know why I want to do this, I just think it sounds like fun. I’ve done some research on what I need to do to go about this and seems like it’s going to be difficult but also fun. It also looks like its going to take some time.

Here’s what I’ve found so far. (Bold is the suggestion, italics is my comment.)

Define the Purpose and Scope

Communication Goals: Do I want my language to be used for communication between people, for artistic expression, or for a fictional world like in literature, movies, or games.

I think I just want it for a bit of fun but maybe it might be a new way for some people to communicate. I work with people who have communication difficulties and there are lots of established methods for them to use but is there room for a new one? I personally use ISL, Lamh and BSL so maybe I could develop something sign language based?

Determine the complexity and depth of your language. Am I creating a basic communication tool or a fully developed language with its own grammar, vocabulary, and script?

Right now I think it’ll be basic. Much like Toki Pona, which I’m learning. Grammar etc will be determined as it goes a long but I want it to be easy, which will probably take some thought.

Develop a Script

Alphabet or Script. Decide on the writing system. Will it use an existing alphabet, an adapted script, or a completely new writing system?

Initially I’m going to use a standard English Alphabet but it probably won’t have all the letters currently used. In time I might develop something more symbolised or unique. In my head I’m picturing something that follows similar rules to binary but we’ll see.

Create Phonetics and Phonology

Develop a set of sounds for your language. Decide on consonants, vowels, and any unique sounds.

Initially, as I develop it I’m going to stick to the word being pronounced exactly how it’s written. From there that should lead to how the individual letters sound.

Establish rules for how sounds can be arranged in words.

This one is confusing me a little but I think if I keep the words and language simple it should come naturally and this but shouldn’t need too much work.

Establish Grammar Rules

Define the sentence structure, including word order (subject-verb-object, etc.).

I’m looking forward to this one. I think with the help of the different sign languages I know I should be able to sort this one easily enough.

For Example: Take the sentence “The boy walked over the bridge.” In sign language we can firstly get rid of the unnecessary words so the sentence becomes “Boy walked bridge.” We don’t need the two the and over will be signed as we sign bridge and walked. We also change the structure and it becomes “boy bridge walked.”

Decide how words are formed, including prefixes, suffixes, and root words.

I’m hoping, and probably wrong, that I can remove prefixes etc. I’ll explain why and how when I’m developing the language. I think – only think – I can work without them.

Tense and Aspect. Define how time and action duration are expressed.

Time is going to be very basic. For example the word for quick, fast, short, will all be the same word. And short will be short time, short distance, short in height, and will be clarified using the words that come before or after it.

Build Vocabulary

Core Vocabulary. Develop a set of basic words (nouns, verbs, adjectives) to start with.

I’m looking forward to this one. Toki Pona only uses 120 words but I think mine will have more. Not because it’ll be better than Toki Pona (I don’t think that’s possible as Toki Pona is such an amazing language), but because I’m not as clever as the person who developed Toki Pona so I’ll get confused and have to make more words to get my message across. I think. Maybe I won’t.

Word Formation. Create rules for generating new words.

This should be interesting. I have no idea at the moment what rules to create but I’m sure it’ll come.

Define Cultural Context

Cultural Background. Consider the cultural context of your language. Are there specific cultural influences or historical events that shape it?

Anything cultural or historical will come from me and my life.

Social Structure. Determine how the language reflects social relationships, formality, or politeness.

There will be no formality. They may be references to leaders or people in charge but there won’t be language that treats them any differently to anyone else.

Develop Sentence Structure and Pragmatics

Idioms and Expressions. Create unique phrases and expressions.

I will be using some of phrase I heard from family and friends growing up. My father and grandmother had quite a few. But, these will still be formed using the language that develops.

Speech Register. Define how formal or informal language is used in different situations.

The language will have no formal or informal differences.

Refine and Test

Use It. Try using your language in different contexts to see how it feels and identify areas that need improvement.

I’m not sure when I’ll get to use it. I might create some online group and teach people the language and have zoom meetings to see how we can use it.

Get Feedback. Share your language with others and gather feedback. Make adjustments based on the feedback received.

This should be covered with the above.

Document Your Language

Grammar Guide. Create a guide that outlines the rules and structure of your language.

I think this will happen as I develop the language. I hope it will anyway.

Develop a dictionary with translations and explanations.

This will definitely happen as I go along. I’ve already started.

Keep Evolving

Languages naturally evolve, and your constructed language can too. Consider making changes and additions over time.

I certainly will.


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