Monday, August 3, 2015

Fantasy Languages in Novels

I am a linguistic nerd at heart. And out in the open. Really everywhere. I minored in linguistics in college, tried my hand at learning two languages (because that's all I had time for in my schedule as a bio major), and studied abroad. For a while, I was a linguistic researcher at a university. I've always wanted to learn elvish. My dream job is to be one of those people who creates languages for TV shows. So any time I see a new language in novels I get really excited.

Most times languages in books are similar to other languages or have a very short vocabulary. I mean, authors don't have time to create a new language, unless you're Tolkien and then that's why you wrote your novel in the first place. But I still get excited.

Recently, I've come across a language that is so unique, I'm jealous I didn't think of it. Currently, I'm reading THE WISE MAN'S FEAR, the sequel to THE NAME OF THE WIND, and the second in The Kingkiller Chronicles. In it, one of the languages Ademic, uses a sort of sign language to show their emotions, instead of the expressions on their face. How do people even come up with stuff like that?? It's so unique and cool!

It's made me think about my fantasy (that I haven't quite started yet) because I too will be coming up with a new language (it's part of the magic system). How can I think outside of the box? Yet still show it on paper?

What are your thoughts? Do you like the fantasy languages in novels? Would you ever want to come up with your own? (Or if you have, how did you?)


  1. For the longest time, I knew that having a unique language was something my fantasy wip needed and I didn't know how to go about it because languages are really hard to make up. But after reading Shadow & Bone and the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, I decided that taking existing languages and using them as a base for my own language would work. The setting of my fantasy novel is inspired by Cape Verde where the majority of the people there speak Portuguese. I did research on different phrases used in Cape Verde, and also tried to teach myself a little Portuguese, then from there I just went to work making my own words that had a Portuguese 'sound' but wasn't Portuguese, if that even makes sense. I think if your setting is based or inspired by any particular culture in our world, looking at the origins of that culture's language would help you to form your own. Good luck!

    1. That's awesome! Sounds like you did a ton of research to make sure everything sounded authentic. I bet it adds that extra details that you need. Good luck!