55

Let me start with a disclaimer: some languages are naturally more tolerant of long names (and long words) than others. In Finnish, you've got names like Väinämöinen. In Hebrew, if something has more than two syllables, you can be sure it's a loanword. So your definition of "long" would have to be language-specific. And now to an actual answer. As you've ...


27

We are good at pattern recognition and if you keep the bizarre names to a minimum you should be OK. Long is fine, so long as they can be scanned and not confused with one another. I rather like Tey-filen as it suggests a compound word, and for whatever reason evokes the adjective-noun construct. It's easy to say, too. Exopeildelivur-thneya is not easy to ...


23

There are no pros. The cons are people will not read them more than once, so your story becomes confusing, and they will stop reading altogether. They may sound exotic to begin or appearing once or twice in a book, but if they are not replaced by nicknames of 2 or 3 syllables, I think people will just put your book down, it gets tiring to skip over gibberish ...


20

This has been handled a few ways in comics: Have the text in word balloons be a translation of the original, with a footnote indicating "translated from other-language-name". You can graphically remind the user of this as you go along by having the other language be in a different typeface, have the word balloons be a different color than usual, or a ...


17

Pros Appeals to linguaphiles (especially if names are rich with internally-consistent historical or cultural meaning) Can add a sense of realism/immersion It is difficult to represent unfamiliar phonetics in written text. (For instance, an English speaker will absolutely butcher the sounds of any Asian language transliterated into our alphabet.) Long names ...


16

You've already got a lot of pros and cons here but I'll add one more: You'll make an audiobook almost impossible to produce. Do you want to get this book published? If you don't, if you're writing it just for you it doesn't matter, go for it. But if you want it traditionally published, most publishers will want an audiobook produced. The fact that yours ...


13

A "dictionary" for your fantasy language should never be needed by the reader. If the reader has to learn a language, or flip back and forth to a dictionary, the flow of the reading is broken every time, reading becomes too much "work", and chances are the reader would drop your book. Thus, every time a line in your constructed language appears in your ...


12

A few ideas: You could have a character who doesn't speak that language ask how the name is pronounced, or mispronounce it and receive a correction. Obviously it would look contrived for this to keep happening, but doing it once or twice would be enough to introduce the general rule. Use Matt Ellen's idea of a diaeresis / umlaut for the first two names ...


11

It's vanishingly rare to need a constructed language in written fiction. Orson Scott Card sums this up in How To Write Science Fiction And Fantasy: Invented languages are a lot more fun to make up than they are to wade through in a story. Here's the thing: very few readers will have the patience for more then brief, occasional snippets of languages ...


10

A compromise might be that you have a long and complicated name, but also have a common short abbreviation of that, which normally is used. For example, using your name: The city had the almost unpronounceable name Exopeildelivurathneyateyafilen, but usually people referred to it just as Exofilen. Of you could even introduce the short name first: “Let'...


9

I think instead of creating the language, you can save a lot of time by just doing as you did in the question: Decide on features of the language that will make a psychological difference in the character's communications, how they think or feel. You can read some tutorials on creating a conlang, but instead of creating one, borrow the features you want (...


8

The best appendix is one the reader never needs to use. The same thing applies to footnotes. They're there for people who want the exact reference. They shouldn't have material that you need to understand the story (or even the scientific paper). They're bonus features. But yes, include it. People who want to use this language or just know more do not ...


7

Your question is based on a faulty connection between "English" letters and Elvish letters and between English sounds and English letters. We use the Latin alphabet to write English words, by a series of approximations where one, two, or more letters represent a single sound. Think of the list of vowels: A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. Except vowels aren't ...


7

When writing fantasy or any form of fiction that exists in a world vastly different from ours, try to imagine the text you're writing as a translation. Yes, even for your own main character. Remember that you're writing in the perspective of your main character. If your character can't understand something, then the reader shouldn't either, unless you're ...


7

If the purpose of the cipher is encryption, use the substitution cipher. Have some character study it, know it is encrypted and that E is the most commonly used letter in English. Ah, E has been replaced with R. If the message was sent by a spy, it should be hard to understand but it should also be inconspicuous. What might be more interesting is something ...


6

Do people using the constructed language use a Latin-based alphabet similar to English, or do they have an entirely different writing system? Spelling it "oddly" would make sense if the people literally use the symbols A-s-h-e or S-y-a-n to write their name. For example, they could be descendants of Portuguese-speaking people from Brazil whose language has ...


6

If you don't want to use an apostrophe, then consider a diaeresis. It used to be common in English to mark vowels that come after vowels, but need to be pronounced separately, with a diaeresis for example: noöne coördinate Zoë Also, this format is used in Lord of The Rings, e.g. in Fëanor, to make sure the e is pronounced separately. (You can read this ...


6

I would refine the advice thus: Translate the viewpoint character's experience into the language of the reader. That is, if the viewpoint character hears gibberish, you translate the experience of hearing gibberish into the reader's language.


6

You have two choices that I can see, and which one you use will likely be dependent on the amount of foreign-language copy you have versus the amount of space you have in the panel to display it: 1) Write the foreign language in the speech balloon with asterisks. The asterisks refer to a footnote at the bottom of the panel translating the text. I think this ...


6

Disclaimer This answer was created by pulling together pros and cons from the other answers on the page (at time of writing) I am not claiming credit for the contents of this answer, credit goes to the original authors. PROS Using full names or nicknames will allow the author to convey different levels of formality in different situations. Obviously,...


6

For most people this would be either annoying or far too simple to be interesting. Many people will know a little bit about substitution ciphers and leet speak. Those are quite often taught in school or used to exchange "secret" messages that teachers / parents / ... aren't supposed to read when paper is an easier medium than using your smartphone. So ...


5

If you don't have a non-native or non-fluent cabbagehead character (and they're awfully useful; I don't know why you're hobbling yourself like that), then another reasonable course of action is to have someone who speaks the language badly and has to be corrected. A child learning how to speak/read or someone who is severely undereducated might work. Then ...


5

In the United States, a language, generally, is described as a "specification"; that is, as a set of facts. For a language, these facts would be a series of statements along the lines of "X is a word having such-and-such a definition". Facts, in and of themselves, cannot be copyrighted (or patented, for that matter). What is protectable is a specific "...


5

You could have an appendix (such as appears in the best-selling Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan) that explains pronunciations. However even that is subject to pismronunciation. Of course there already is a way to write these things. It is called IPA, the International Phonetic Alphabet. The problem is that most of us don't learn it at school. However, ...


5

Depends on a few factors: 1) Is the narrative's point of view from the person who doesn't understand, the person who does, or omniscient? CJ Cherryh writes books where the humans are the outsiders in non-human societies. Until the human catches up with the non-human language, the human sounds like Cookie Monster. "Me want food! Me went store, but no has ...


5

If you're stuck with characters that all know how to spell/speak the language, this could be done when words are being transcribed. For example, if Gahinohi is a name, he could be making reservations at an inn or a restaurant (or signing in at a DMV). "Who should I make the reservation for?" the server asked, fiddling around and trying to find where ...


5

Basically, you want your choices to call as little attention to themselves as possible. The best way to do that, under the circumstances, is probably just to "dial it back." In other words, write the bulk of the story in "vanilla" English, and then sprinkle a few invented terms and/or idioms in, to show it's not really English, and a few slang terms, or ...


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