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How do you insure that the new words you create for an alien language are etymologically consistent? French, German and English, or whatever language on earth, are etymologically consistent. Meaning that words sound and look like they're either French, German or English words. When creating a new languages, how do you insure that these new words are "etymologically" consistent, meaning that they're not just random letters stuck together, but they seem to come from a language that really do exist without creating said language.

For example, Akhashanahruhh, doesn't sound like it comes from the same language as Imon.

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    I don't think that what you describe is "etymology". Etymology is about the history of a word, how they derive from older languages in the language tree. For French, German and English it usually goes back to Proto-Indo-European. Etymology is more important if you want to construct a collection of related alien languages. That aside, I like the question, though perhaps it's more a worldbuilding question.
    – towr
    Feb 18 at 6:32
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    related: writing.stackexchange.com/questions/4368/… And apparently there's even a beta stackexchange for constructed languages: conlang.stackexchange.com
    – towr
    Feb 18 at 6:55
  • conlang.stackexchange.com maybe?
    – NofP
    Feb 18 at 14:33
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    Antidisestablishment and colonel (pronounced "kernel"!) don't sound like they're from the same language, either.
    – Jedediah
    Feb 18 at 17:12

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One approach is to just design phonemes for your language. In English, there are 44 sounds we make to produce all words.

I'd make your phonemes clear and distinct, languages evolve for clarity; we don't have many phonemes that are hard to tell apart.

So then take what you want to say in English, break it down into phonemes, and translate each phoneme to your own alien equivalent, and then decide on your spelling rules to capture that sound.

Of course you can alter the grammar as well, various extant languages have different grammars, nouns before verbs, adjectives before or after nouns, non-existent connective words, perhaps different sounds for pronouns, etc. So do that stuff in English before you translate to Alien.

Basically you can make your alien language consistent by mimicking the consistency of another language. Invent your own distinct phonemes, and everything else, including invented words, will follow.

For invented words, you can invent a sensible word in English and translate it to alien by phonemes.

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    Different phonemes (and letters in written language) definitely differentiate languages: look at Hawaiian with its small inventory, different European languages with slightly different consonants; clicks; palatals; etc. But it's not just about individual phonemes: different languages have different rules about what phonemes can follow each other, and in particular syllable structure (consonant-vowel like Japanese, complex consonant structures like Germanic languages, or something in between; and double vowels, diphthongs, or simple vowels.)
    – Stuart F
    Feb 19 at 23:18
  • @StuartF True, but my point is that for the purpose of fiction, we can change just the phonemes and keep all that structure of an existing language, be it German, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, including the rules about which phonemes can follow each other, and have an alien sounding language that still seems internally consistent. I presume if the author encounters some phrases difficult to vocalize, they can just "evolve" something slightly different in the pronunciation of that particular word or phoneme combination to make it pronounceable. Insert an extra phoneme, or delete one. It's alien!
    – Amadeus
    Feb 20 at 12:25

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