I have finally managed to construct a complete sentence in Elvish! O.o
By which, I mean my own Elvish, not Quenya or Sindarin or any other writer’s Elvish.
Those of you familiar with my previous writing efforts may know that I did create an Elvish language for the fantasy novel I wrote some years ago, but I was never satisfied with it. First of all, it just sounded kinda ugly. Second, it was woefully incomplete, consisting mainly of about fifty vocabulary words, some incomplete cases, and a word order structure.
But real, working languages are complex things with lots of fiddly little bits. “Jane sees Spot run?” Easy. “Jane wishes that Spot would stop barking or else she intends to kick his yappy tail?” A bit more complicated. My Elvish-as-was could handle “Jane sees Spot; Spot is running.” Maybe. My new Elvish isn’t quite to the yappy tail-kicking stage yet, but it’s getting there.
Éncurod dho yrhegil aflif ydangras. Ydwandwin jútlil ulwanaras. Mér iodrad yjanlil!
I believe that the riders have reached the river. They will have crossed it at dawn. Go to them now!
“Great,” you might be saying. “But what is it good for?”
Well, that’s a tougher question to answer. Long story short, I’m doing some worldbuilding. The immediate purpose is my upcoming Pathfinder game, which is looking more and more likely to be a real thing the more I work on it. But in the more long term, well, I think I have a nice, robust world starting to form up, and I will probably begin using it for my fiction.
Is it the most original fantasy setting out there? No, and I won’t pretend otherwise. This is a setting that exists because Middle-earth in not in the public domain. On the other hand, just because the cherry tree in my yard grew from the seed of a cherry tree in the neighbor’s yard, and both trees look very similar, doesn’t mean that my cherry tree isn’t also beautiful and able to have a nifty fort in it.
…Hmm. I lost that one somewhere.
Point is, while I may be emulating the master, I’m not simply copying his work and calling it mine. The stories I have in mind for the setting to support are not the same stories Tolkien told; the issues they explore and the purposes they serve are not the same issues and purposes of Tolkien’s work. But I am using his work as a model for the kind of breadth and depth a setting (and a story) should have.
Anyway, my original idea for the RPG campaign was that I would simply use Welsh as a stand-in for Elvish, care of Google Translate, and I got pretty far into the campaign prep doing that; but as I got further and further into it, I became more and more eager to use the setting for other purposes as well, without wanting to have to go back and yank the Welsh out. And it’d be a lot easier to do that now, while I’m still in the fairly broad sketches, than it would be later, after I’ve already got dozens of maps and pages and pages of background info.
So yeah, I’m creating an Elvish language. I will also do one for dwarves (which will hopefully be easier as I’ll need so much less of it) and may at least dabble in some other regional languages. And if all goes well, this will be investment in something pretty amazing down the line.
PS: Why yes, I am a nerd, why do you ask?