This is the fifth in a series of posts “live-blogging” the creation of a fictional language from scratch, with the help of our readers. We plan to construct a functional language one piece at a time, incorporating suggestions and preferences from our audience along the way. You can read previous installments here: one, two, three, four.
Last time, I asked folks to pick a semantic domain, and generate some vocabulary for us to use. Thanks to two noble souls, we now have words for numbers and writing, along with some bonuses, like days of the week and months of the year (although there is still some debate about their exact form; go have a look and chime in!).
We also need a name for our language. Kohe was proposed as our word for “language” last time, and I quite like it. I’m going to propose that the name of our language be kohen—similar, but not identical, and has a nice ring to it. But if you have objections, or other ideas about a name, speak up!
I’ve also taken the vocabulary that we have thus far and put it into an online spreadsheet for everyone’s reference. It should be viewable by anyone, but not editable. I’ll include words as they’re created; just post them here. That will let me double-check as we go, making sure that we don’t have any duplicates, that our words conform to the phonology we’ve created, etc.
However, we’re going to need more vocabulary before we can start playing with lots of examples, so I’m going to appeal again for people to create some words for us. To make this process less open-ended, and thus hopefully more appealing, I’ve created some specific lists of items in four domains: animals, basic verbs, body parts, and words for some natural phenomena. Claim one in the comments, and have at it!
Remember, too, to make up some sentences with the vocabulary that gets created. Even if you don’t want to come up with words, you can still come up with sentences to play with the language as it currently stands. You might even post the sentences here without translations, and ask other people what they mean.
A couple of things to note about these animal names.
First, there are some differences in how languages classify animals into categories, and what those categories are. Since we have speakers coming from a wide range of backgrounds, whose languages and cultures might make different distinctions, I think our best bet here is to tie the animal names to biological nomenclature, since the science of biology is something of a shared culture.
Second, we don’t know what animals we’re going to find when we get to our new colony, but we do know what kinds of animals we’re going to bring with us (although we may end up taking other species, in which case we’ll have to create more words for those). I think the issue of words for other Earth-animals, and the names and categories for animals native to our new home, can wait until later.
- hihau – dog (Canis lupus familiaris)
- moing – cat (Felis Catus)
- sheep (Ovis aries)
- goat (Capra aegagrus hircus)
- cow (Bos primigenius)
- pig (Sus scrofa domesticus)
- chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus)
- horse (Equus ferus caballus)
- bird (members of the class Aves)
- mammal (members of the class Mammalia)