Creating a Language For My Books

(I'll try to keep the language jargon to a minimum, but when I get to the technical aspects it'll be hard to avoid. A quick search will tell you anything you need to know.)

Creating a language sounds time-consuming and complicated. I'm sure many people have gone in-depth and created some awesome languages.

I had enough to focus on, so I went about developing a new language in a way that was painless, quick and fun. There could be holes in my approach, but at least there's a sense of structure, and hopefully a sense of authenticity.

The thing that helped me the most was my knowledge of French grammar and words (neither of which is perfect, but I know enough). I knew I wanted to make a language that looked like it sounded beautiful.

One point before I move on: This language isn't finished. It's constantly evolving, and you'll see why very soon.

I called it Válkian, the old language of the land of Válkia where Aundes Aura and Knives in the Shadows take place.

I began with three words. Astan, the word for 'family'. Carmios and carfios mean 'mother' and 'son', but these are more of a dialect. In young Luka's nomadic clan, the astan is all one big family -- all the mothers and fathers are thought of as parents of all the children. The women are all mios, and all the boys are fios. But if a parent and child have a strong bond, they add car- to the front to express this.

At this point I had just a few words, almost floating in a vacuum.

Because of the traditions of the clan, Luka knows both the Common Tongue and Válkian. The next time Válkian makes an appearance, Luka sings a song. This meant coming up with quite a few new words, and it was clear I would need to quickly work out the language's grammar before I could go on.

I had two approaches to coming up with words. The first one was to come up with a word that looked good and made sense. The other approach was to start with the French word, then mess around with the letters until I had something I liked. Sometimes it'd be completely different when I was done.

Every time I come up with a word, I add it to my 'dictionary', which has the translations of English words to Válkian, and Válkian words to English.

My approach to the grammar was to make it as simple as possible, while covering the necessities of language. The first thing I did was make all verb endings the same. In English you have:
I make
You make
We make
He/She makes
They make

The equivalent in Válkian would be this:
I make
You make
We make
He/She make
They make

After doing that, I only had to change the endings to show tense. I came up with some basic rules for tense, which could also inform other tenses. For example, things that "had happened" could be formed by adding the word for "had" before putting the past tense verb. 

Let's take a look at the rules I have so far.

-an - infinitive
-as - present tense
-a - past tense (perfect tense)
no ‘a’ -i - future tense
no ‘a’ - present continuous

"ne" – makes a negative phrase

Put into action, it looks like this:

fiorman - to run
Fal fiormas - He runs; He is running
Fal fiorma - He ran
Fal fiormi - He will run
fiorm - running

Fal ne fiormas - He doesn't run; He isn't running
Fal ne fiorma - He didn't run

Without going into the many other quirks of Válkian, what I've shown above gives the language a pretty strong structure that makes it easy to come up with words and slot them in.

How Long 'Til I Learn From My Mistakes?

You should learn from your mistakes the moment you make them. So why don't I? How harsh do the consequences have to be before I try harder to improve?
Last year I failed History simply by leaving work too late. 

I've been spoilt by a lenient teacher, whose classes, ironically, are the only ones I've failed. He accepts work late, hates administration, and believes that the main thing is that all the work is handed in at the end. I like his outlook a lot, but it seems the lack of pressure has the wrong effect on me. I leave work because I know I can, because I should focus on other work that night, but there's a point where everything must be handed in.

I missed that cutoff with History, which meant I failed. Because of that, I had to go to "summer school" to make it up. I was pretty happy to do this since it meant I could continue into the third year of my degree and finish on time.

So did I learn from failing History? Nope.

I'm now in my third and final year. I was so focused on my recital that I thought I could leave my big essay until the end. And then suddenly I got an email saying semester results were in. And of course, my essay wasn't.

The class wasn't running again, so if I wanted to finish my degree, I'd have to do a whole extra year of that one class just to finish it off.

I was very lucky that my mark was close enough to a pass that I was allowed to submit the essay as "supplementary material" to get a pass and continue next semester. I was given two days to write the essay, and I wrote it in a night and a day. I sent it off, and the next day got an email saying my essay would have been marked High Distinction if it had been in on time. It's a shame that I have the skills but my self-discipline is still lagging.

The thought that I would have to do another year was so demoralising, it made me consider giving up. So I fought for the opportunity to hand in that essay, and I'm lucky that I can now finish my degree this semester. I have to remember that: I don't want to do another year. That's my motivation to get everything in on time.

I'm this close. If I can focus for the next few months, my degree will be done, and everything I'm looking forward to will be waiting for me. To celebrate the end of my degree, I hope to go to France and get better at the language. Around that time, I'll be becoming an uncle for the first time. When I return, I can spend the next year volunteering in childcare, completing my Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, and I can take on more piano students to keep my head above water until I'm qualified to work as a childcare assistant or group leader.