Slides for Linguistics 183: The Linguistics of Game of Thrones and the Art of Language Invention

David J. Peterson received a BA in English and Linguistics from UC Berkeley in 2003 and an MA in Linguistics from UC San Diego in 2005. He created the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for HBO’s Game of Thrones, the Castithan, Irathient and Indojisnen languages for Syfy’s Defiance, the Sondiv language for the CW’s Star-Crossed, the Lishepus language for Syfy’s Dominion, the Trigedasleng language for the CW’s The 100, and the Shiväisith language for Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, among others. He’s been creating languages since 2000.

Abstract

This article is a collection of all the Keynote slides and the syllabus of Linguistics 183: The Linguistics of Game of Thrones and the Art of Language Invention—a six week course taught at UC Berkeley during the A session of the 2018 summer session. Each build of each slide is included, though audio and video is not embedded. While there were audio and video components on certain slides, their use should be more or less clear given the context.

Version History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Posted in English Language, Presentations/Demonstrations. Tags: . Comments Off on Slides for Linguistics 183: The Linguistics of Game of Thrones and the Art of Language Invention »

Old High Veriden

Ola Lisowska is a hobbyist language creator from Germany with a Master’s degree in Slavic Linguistics. While English and German are her native languages, her additional known languages include Polish, Russian, older varieties of Slavic languages, and some tidbits of French and Latin. She is most intrigued by “immersive” conlangs that go along with entire fictional universes, and very much enjoys creating these herself. She is especially passionate about creating conlangs for use in music and chant.

Abstract

Veriden, a constant work in progress, is a synthetic language that is strongly influenced by slavic languages, while not being overtly based on them. Its creation is largely driven by the author’s subjective aesthetic ideals, which are demonstrated when Veriden is used as a language for song and poetry. Veriden is part of a larger fictional universe, which comes with its own peoples, mythologies and stories, but the focus of this essay remains primarily on the grammar of the language itself. In this article, the creator presents the groundwork of the creation process along with a detailed description of Veriden’s grammatical structure.

Version History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Posted in Conlang Descriptions, English Language. Tags: . Comments Off on Old High Veriden »

Dscript 2D Notation

Mattthew M. DeBlock received a BA in Chinese from Beijing Language and Culture University as an adult student. Before university, he worked as a Unix software developer, and afterwards as a business consultant in mainland China. He is obsessed with devising codes, data formats, and constructed scripts. A a jack-of-all-trades and “Mad Scientist” at heart, he loves inventing commercially worthless devices to challenge standards and seek strange synergies.

Abstract

Dscript 2D Notation extends the Dscript 2D Alphabetical Writing System. While Dscript Alphabetical only allows “strings of letters” degrees of freedom in 2D, there is no “2D meaning”. Dscript Notation attempts to employ the 2D value as meaning. Using these flexible “strings of of letters”, current notation systems are assimilated. The main goal is to find possible alternative 2D notation methods and potential 2D linguistic applications.

Version History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Posted in English Language, Essays. Tags: . Comments Off on Dscript 2D Notation »

Afrihili: An African Interlanguage

By day, William S. Annis is a mild-mannered Unix system administrator. By night (and most weekends) he is, by turns, a not very mild-mannered banjo player, a hobbyist language creator, a paid language creator, a reader of science fiction novels and linguistics papers, a terrible gardener, and an ok cook. He is one of the hosts of the Conlangery Podcast. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Abstract

Historically, the creation of IALs has been a European preoccupation. Afrihili is an African zonal IAL created by Ghanaian civil engineer K. A. Kumi Attobrah in the late 1960s. After a brief discussion of Afrihili’s relationship to Pan-Africanism, I move on to a survey description of the language based on the single published description of the language, Ni Afrihili Oluga. I identify the source languages for vocabulary and particular constructions where I have been able to locate them.

Version History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Posted in Analysis, English Language. Tags: . Comments Off on Afrihili: An African Interlanguage »

Down with Morphemes: The Pitfalls of Concatenative Morphology

David J. Peterson received a BA in English and Linguistics from UC Berkeley in 2003 and an MA in Linguistics from UC San Diego in 2005. He created the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for HBO’s Game of Thrones, the Castithan, Irathient and Indojisnen languages for Syfy’s Defiance, the Sondiv language for the CW’s Star-Crossed, the Lishepus language for Syfy’s Dominion, and the Shiväisith language for Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World. He’s been creating languages since 2000.

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between an adherence to the main tenets of concatenative theories of morphology and the creation of less than realistic languages. The paper was written in 2009 and is based in part on the LCC1 talk “Down with Morphemes! What Word and Paradigm Morphology Can Teach Us about Language Creation”.

Version History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Posted in English Language, Essays. Tags: . Comments Off on Down with Morphemes: The Pitfalls of Concatenative Morphology »

Frelling Shtako! A Review of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing and Its Applications for Conlanging

Don Boozer has been interested in invented languages ever since discovering Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra in his elementary school library in the 1970s. Boozer’s previous articles include “I Want to Speak Elvish! Teens and the World of Imaginary Languages” (VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates. August 2007), “Speaking in Tongues: Literary Languages” (Library Journal, Reader’s Shelf column. September 15, 2006), and “Conlanging: An Introduction to the Art of Language Creation” (Fiat Lingua. June 1, 2013). A librarian by trade, Boozer created the exhibit Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond: The World of Constructed Languages which appeared at the Cleveland Public Library in 2008 and the 3rd Language Creation Conference in 2009.

Abstract

DISCLAIMER: The following review essay includes topics not suitable for all ages and language not suitable for work (NSFW). Reader discretion is advised. As the author of the book under review states: “If you haven’t already been offended by this book, chances are you will be. I can only apologize in advance.”

Although swearing has probably existed since humans began using language to communicate, it remains largely a taboo subject of discussion in “polite circles” let alone an acceptable mode of speech. This form of language is powerful, demands attention, and can evoke visceral reactions in both speakers and listeners. This makes swearing an important and interesting facet of language, and Melissa Mohr’s Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing joins a growing corpus of works examining this fascinating subject.

Additionally, many conlangers (and artlangers specifically) often speak of wanting to create a conlang that emulates natural language. Including profanity within one’s created language, especially if the conlang is meant to be spoken by inhabitants of a con-culture, would be yet another way to provide the verisimilitude for which many artlangers strive. This review-essay then examines both the natural and conlang dimensions of swearing.

Version History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Posted in English Language, Reviews. Tags: . Comments Off on Frelling Shtako! A Review of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing and Its Applications for Conlanging »

The Universal Character

Cave Beck (1623 to ~1700) was born the son of a baker in London, educated in Cambridge and Oxford, and spent much of his adult life working as a schoolteacher in Ipswich, England. In 1657 he produced his Universal Character, one of the very first attempts to formulate and publicise a universal language. It was published simultaneously with a French version, but neither seems to have sold readily, and there is no record of Beck ever publishing anything else.

Andy Drummond is a writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has published four novels. The study of foreign languages at university enticed him in later life to investigate past attempts at creating universal languages, one of which he explored more thoroughly in his novel A Handbook of Volapük (2006). His interest in Cave Beck stems from a paper on 17th Century universal languages, which he delivered at a 2011 conference to mark the 400th anniversary of Sir Thomas Urquhart.

Abstract

The Universal Language of Cave Beck is primarily an a priori language based around a lengthy (but restrictive) list of core vocabulary and a set of simple grammatical rules. The vocabulary comprises some four thousand “primitives”, root-words which were deemed to cover all essential usage, and from which all other possible words might be derived by the application of prefixes and suffixes. These (English) words are simply arranged in alphabetical order and assigned a number from 1 to 3996. In addition to this long list, Cave proposed the continued use of around 60 Latin prepositions (sub-, super-, pro-, etc.), and of around 180 simple invented monosyllables (e.g. sef, taf, tem, sorc) for “commonly used” words (such as because, good, art, water).

Version History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Posted in Conlang Descriptions, English Language, Essays. Tags: , . Comments Off on The Universal Character »

Case Marking and Event Structure: One Conlanger’s Investigations

Matt Pearson received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from UCLA, and currently serves as Professor of Linguistics at Reed College (Portland, Oregon), where he teaches syntax, typology, morphology, semantics, and field methods. His research on word order and clause structure in Malagasy has appeared in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory and other publications. In 1996-97 Matt created the alien language for the NBC science fiction series Dark Skies. Matt’s naturalistic artlang Okuna, developed over more than 20 years, earned a Smiley Award from David Peterson along with a mention in his book The Art of Language Invention.

Here, Matt has written up his LCC1 presentation. You can view a video of that presentation here.

Abstract

This paper explores how arguments are distinguished using case marking in different languages, with particular reference to the ways in which case marking is affected by factors such as animacy, definiteness and specificity, the aspect of the clause (perfective versus imperfective), and the event-type of the predicate (including whether it is stative or dynamic, telic or atelic, durative or punctual). The paper includes both a typological and an autobiographical component. I begin by briefly illustrating how case marking interacts with argument and event structure in various natural languages. I then show how my own efforts at language construction have been informed by these phenomena, and how my attempts to invent a unique yet naturalistic case system have broadened my understanding of argument and event structure in natural languages.

Version History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Posted in Analysis, English Language. Tags: . Comments Off on Case Marking and Event Structure: One Conlanger’s Investigations »