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Making up a language

Story ID:6957
Written by:Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Cleveland Ohio USA
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It's tough making up a language. When I started writing Amazoni in 1997 it was never intended to go beyond the first story as it was a boredom project, let alone figured I'd be making up vocabulary which isn't used often in Amazoni because I'm not sure whether readers are interested, but to make my Amazoni more real, they needed their own language.

In the beginning Amazoni words didn't start out with the first letter of what the English word would be and I got confused so I decided to gradually incorporate the rule of starting off the word with its English first letter to make it easier to look up but have kept earlier versions of words already used. Take for instance the word "we". I like the breezy sound of "w", I love to jumble letters up, so "we" in English is "weeshgah" in Amazoni. It's relatively easy to pronounce, it sounds exotic, and at least for this word it sounds like "we".

The second rule is the word "dah" means either hello or goodbye, with the last letter strongly accented to sound like a hard "ho" which abruptly chokes at the end as my "" sounds like a hard "ah". Technically I've never heard the sound of "" or "" so I'm hoping no linguist wants to lift my hair for using both 'wrong' but I do know that accents put more emphasis on a letter.

I'm also a thief in that I 'stole' the concept of a word meaning hello and goodbye from "aloha". It's clean, simple, and easy to remember so "dah" was the end product. It's certainly easier to have one word for hello and goodbye. The words "you" and "yours" which adding an "s" is the only distinguishable thing and I've stolen from English ending words in "s" as I know no other way to make plurals.

I use a lot of accents in Amazoni, and whether I pronounce the accents right in my language doesn't matter to me. It looks good and they can be phonetically spelled the way I 'hear' them.

If anyone has seen the Westerns "A Man Called Horse" or "Dances With Wolves" we hear the language of the Sioux spoken and I'll admit, I 'stole' some of the language's interesting sounds, but the rest is made up by mixing up letters to get those sounds and to make up new sounds.

Do I have past and future tenses? For now, only present which most speak in anyway.

"Amazoni Warrior Thought" was the first time I attempted to use Amazoni in more than a 'scripted' story conversation. I invented new words and kept old ones. It doesn't rhyme because there's no such thing in this language at least for now. As I take Amazoni seriously I couldn't help but show off an invented language.

I'm sure Amazoni in the little I've used it in past stories and will occur in future stories slightly, sounds harsh so people may just skip it all together, but I find Amazoni no harsher than German or the invented Klingon.

To me, as the inventor of Amazoni still in its infancy, it's a beautiful language, but then, unashamedly biased, who wouldn't fall in love with their invention.

I've often wondered whether I should compile a comprehensive Amazoni-English dictionary as I seldom use the language in my stories so I just have a growing list of words that aren't in any alphabetical order and I've had to go back to older stories to find words and cross out their invented new counterparts forgetting that I had already invented a word or keeping both and using them interchangebly depending on my mood. Like Ohna in battle, I'm unstoppable in inventing her language.

I've also discovered something else totally surprising when it comes to Amazoni and English. When I read my stories aloud to myself in proof reading, I find I have no accent in Amazoni, but when Ohna speaks Trader, I seem to naturally have a slight accent which boggles my mind.

I've also eliminated the use of contractions in Amazoni. Contractions in English are definitely shorter, but I found them difficult to translate in Amazoni so I chucked them. My Ohna's way of speaking Trader has a twist in that she's unable to use contractions and mispronounces certain words which come out phonetically different. Having high-frequency deafness where I can't distinguish certain sounds, I use that in abbreviating "Jo-teff" for "Joseph". My Amazoni just can't hear all of "Joseph".

In conclusion, whether I use it a lot or seldom, that's how the Amazoni language was invented.