I created a language for my Blood of Kings trilogy. I didn't create very much of it. (My notes for the language are on one sheet of paper in my series notebook.) It was the Eben language, and it was first spoken in book one when Vrell, Jax, and Khai entered the Nahar Forest and come across some Eben giants. Here's an excerpt:
Vrell peeked around the tree to see a man as tall as Jax, but pale as a lily. His long blond hair hung around his face like a curtain. Animal skins were draped over one shoulder, across his white chest, and down around his hips like a skirt. He clutched a spear in one hand and a curved axe in the other. Both weapons were chiseled out of obsidian and lashed to wooden handles with leather. He stood on the road facing Jax.
Jax bowed to the giant. “We seek passage through Nahar Forest.”
The giant pointed down the road, back toward Walden’s Watch. “Wee ahlawa men teeah!”
Jax shook his head. “We will not go back. We must take this road to Xulon.”
The pale giant tipped his head back and bellowed a trilling cry into the treetops.
Since Vrell doesn't speak Eben—or even know what an Eben is at this point in the story, she can’t translate. Jax can, but he doesn't The reader picks up on the translation based on Jax’s response to the giant. Here's another section of Eben dialogue I used in book two:
“Who sent you?” Sir Gavin yelled.
The raspy breathing of a dying Eben was the only answer. Achan inched over the lichen until the men came into view. Sir Gavin crouched on the giant’s right, blade held to the pale throat. Sir Caleb and Inko stood panting on the giant’s left side.
Sir Gavin pressed a knee on the giant’s chest. “Who?”
The giant’s ragged breath seemed to consume all his effort, but he blinked slowly and turned his dark eyes to Achan, his voice a raspy growl. “Tee saplaway sen katla sar.”
The intensity in that gaze shook Achan’s knees. The man had a black insignia inked onto his forehead, three lines, each thicker than the first.
“I know why you’ve come,” Sir Gavin said, “I want to know who sent you.”
In this scene, I used Sir Gavin in the same way that I used Jax. Sir Gavin speaks Eben. Achan does not. But there's no need for me to put in a translation. That would mess up the intensity of the scene. But I do have a translation in my notes. Here’s how the Eben language works.
Verbs phrases I made up
to take: finla
to go: ahla
to come: sapla
to do: katla
to be: badla
In Eben, particles modify nouns to indicate tense. (I got the idea for this from the Japanese language, though my language works differently.) For example, “wa” indicates the present tense of a verb, and “way” indicates past tense. Therefore, the first example above, “Wee ahlawa men teeah!” is translated: “Go back where you came from.” But literally, here’s how it works:
Wee ahla- wa men teeah!
You to go present tense back away
And the second example sentence:
Tee sapla- way sen katla sar.
I/we to come present tense here to take prince
The whole thing is really such nerdly fun, isn’t it?
Things to consider when creating your own language
1. What do you need? If you only need a few sentences like I did with Eben (remember: all my language notes are on one sheet of paper), you don’t need to create a full translation of English to your language.
2. Choose some base words like nouns and pronouns. I started with writing the dialogue I needed translated and thought up the words I needed for that. But you might think those beginning reading books with sentences like: "I am Jane," or "See Spot run." And you’ll definitely want words for: he, she, we, I, you. You might also want to create numbers one-ten.
3. Make up some verbs and decide how you'll conjugate them in your language. Look at other languages you might use as a model. You might create prefixes or suffixes to alter tense.
4. Create suffixes or prefixes for other things like: plurals and endings like –ly, –ful, –er, –ed, –ent, –able, –ing, –ness, etc.
5. Look for ways to add consistency and sound patterns that will set your language apart from other languages. Think of how distinctive the French language sounds or Asian languages sound. For my Eben, all of my verbs ended in “la.” And I made certain words similar: here (sen) and there (men). And I/we (tee) and you (wee). English has the “–ing” that makes verbs active and sound similar and the “–ed” for past tense.
6. Write some sentences in different forms and tenses to brainstorm how they will be different. Use that same format for all verbs. For example: I walked to the house. She walked to the house. We ran to the house. They walked away from the house.
7. Simple is best. Most English words aren't difficult to pronounce, at least not for pronouns and verbs. Don’t make your words so hard to pronounce that your reader can’t even read them.
You can also:
-Create an alphabet
-Create a pronunciation guide for certain letter combinations
-Create symbols for your alphabet
-Use a dictionary to help you know what words you might need to create translations for.
-Name your language
-Practice speaking it to other people.
But most of that is really going overboard.
Have you ever thought about creating a language? If you have created one, give us one sentence and a translation.