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June 9th, 2013

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07:59 pm - My Conlangs
I'm looking to write a fantasy novel, but I first want to create an intricate world to set it in. So, here is one of the many ConLangs I'm working on. Some of them are, indeed, based on Tolkien's. Personally, though, I feel as though his languages were unsuited for their cultural matches; the Elven languages weren't pretty enough (gutteral, even), and Orcish was just TOO ugly, to the point where it was almost impossible to take seriously. Anyways, I digress, I'm no linguist, and what I've got so far is probably completely wrong. That's why I'd like your input. Corrections, tips, pointers, criticism are all welcome.



Elven and Mannish languages all follow ‘Subject-Verb-Object’ basic syntax, the same as English.

Child: Lyliwyn
To eat: Is
Apple: Quinil

The child ate the apple.
Lyliwyn isil quinilyn.


Adjectives always follow the noun. Usually, the suffix ‘-ir’ is added to the adjective. In a list of adjectives, the suffix is only added to the last.

Red: Hymir
Juicy: Péthir
Delicious: Danisir

The child ate the red apple.
Lyliwyn isil quinilyn hymir.

The child ate the red, juicy, delicious apple.
Lyliwyn isil quinilyn hym péth danisir.


Adverbs usually precede the verb, unless the verb is not followed by a noun.

Hungrily : Luisthi

The child hungrily ate the apple.
Lyliwyn luisthi isil quinilyn

The child hungrily ate.
Lyliwyn isil ti luisth. (With hunger)

Sample Sentences

Rylithin goes to the market.
Rylithin fuin incyrthil.

Look over there.
Pthual irthil.

There are pretty girls at the festival.
Tewyn hyir lir thi Nemynhyl.



Generally, the prefix ‘a-‘ is used to indicate plurality, and the prefix ‘la-‘ to indicate duality.

Elf – Wyn
Elves – Awyn
Elves (2) – Lawyn
Dog – Kuin
Dogs – Akuin
Dogs (2) – Lakuin
Clothes (article) – Luin
Clothes (plural) – Aluin
Outfit – Laluin

If a word already begins with an ‘a’, then the prefix becomes ‘an-‘
Tree – Ath
Trees – Anath


Usually, the suffix ‘-il’ indicates past tense in the verb, while ‘-yn’ is added to the object noun.

The elf goes to the riverbank.
Wyn fuin mirluir.

The elf went to the riverbank.
Wyn fuinil mirluryn

Notice the change in spelling of ‘mirluir’, which is absent in ‘fuinil’. This is due to the pronunciation. When ‘i’ in a word with ‘ui’ just before the final consonant is long, the ‘i’ is removed when ‘-yn’ is added.


Usually, the suffix ‘-in’ indicates future tense. This is only added to the verb.

The elf will go to the riverbank.
Wyn fuinin mirluir.

Third Person

In first and second person, nothing changes, save for the obvious ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘you’, etc. Usually, the suffix ‘-a’ indicated third person, in the present tense. In other tenses, the verb remains unchanged.

I go to the market.
Rya fuin incyrthil.

He goes to the market.
Ci fuina incyrthil.


The suffix ‘-el’ represents ownership.

Arithas’ dog.
Kuin Arithasel.

Rylithin’s Journey to Cyaduinirth
Dafuin Rylithinel Cyaduinirth.

Verbal Adjective

The suffix ‘-ri’ indicates verbal adjective (equivalent to English ‘-er’; one who does something.)

He is a hunter.
Ci duéthri.

She is a farmer.
Te demeruilri.


When asking a question, one could:
1) Use a question word
• Who – Til
• What – Tu
• Where – Thil
• How – Tuthil
• Why – Nyr
2) Switch the verb and object noun, hyphenate, put subject noun at the end.

He’s going to the market?
Fuina-incyrthil ci?

3) Use intonation.

Other Prefixes and Suffixes

-cyr: To remove, or to lack; ‘de-‘, ‘un-‘, ‘ir-‘.
Hi-: Able to.
Tha-: Product of, end result of.


Lyranni, as well as Arani, Nürni, and Lori are all written in The Elven script, which has its roots in Old Elvish. Letters are written along the bottom of a horizontal line that spans the length of a word. The first and last letters are always extended vertically to mark the beginning and end of the word.

PS: No, it's not done yet, so don't complain about that. However, pointers on what to change or do next are welcome.

(18 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:June 10th, 2013 07:30 am (UTC)
Pretty please, lj cut?
Date:June 10th, 2013 04:31 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, what? XD
[User Picture]
Date:June 10th, 2013 04:45 pm (UTC)
I don't know how much you will want to hear this, but frankly speaking, I find it a problem that you consider Tolkien's languages 'unsuited for their cultural matches' and that they 'weren't pretty enough'; the fact about the former criticism is that Tolkien very much based his languages on real, actual languages — in the case of Sindarin, Welsh — and if you consider the Celtic influences that the early illustrators drew on for their art and which continued into the films (at least with respect to the Elves), they are very much 'culturally' consistent as far as I'm concerned.

That aside (just my personal gripe, sorry), my bigger issue is the fact that like numerous fantasy writers before, you've chosen to 'improve' on Tolkien's work by coming up with your own Celtic-ish type conlang. That's not an issue by itself, but I would highly suggest that instead of doing just what everyone else in the world of fantasy novelling seems to be doing, you might want to find a real-world language that you do consider beautiful and work from there instead. Honestly, I find it much harder to swallow the slew of Tolkienesque -ion/-wyn/-inn names that cluster the fantasy bookshelves than Tolkien's own work itself.

On that note:

1) Adjectives:

Adjectives always follow the noun. Usually, the suffix ‘-ir’ is added to the adjective. In a list of adjectives, the suffix is only added to the last.

> Is there a purpose to this? Adjectives in real-world languages often don't take on endings unless there is some form of gender/number agreement going on — at least in inflected ones, anyway. Some languages like Korean or Japanese require some form of ending when you use an adjective as a predicate, but that's mainly because adjectives in those two languages are technically speaking a type of verb.

2) Plural:

If a word already begins with an ‘a’, then the prefix becomes ‘an-‘.

> Is there a rule for words beginning with other vowels, or do they just combine to become a diphthong?

3) Past:

Usually, the suffix ‘-il’ indicates past tense in the verb, while ‘-yn’ is added to the object noun.

The elf goes to the riverbank.
Wyn fuin mirluir.

The elf went to the riverbank.
Wyn fuinil mirluryn.

> I find this interesting. Is there a reason why the noun in the direct object suddenly takes on an ending in the past tense? How do you differentiate direct objects in the present, then? Is the word order, as a result of the added suffix, flexible in the past tense (in other words: can you say mirluryn fuinil wyn instead, and mean the same thing)? It's worth noting that natural languages generally follow intuitively sensible patterns (sort of), but I suppose if you want to keep it you'll want to have some sort of explanation for it.

Date:June 10th, 2013 05:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the input :p Like I said, go easy, I'm in High School and have little to no knowledge of linguistics
[User Picture]
Date:June 11th, 2013 06:18 am (UTC)
Mario Pei's The Story of Language is a good place to begin.
Date:June 10th, 2013 05:10 pm (UTC)

1) A lot of English Adverbs have suffixes indicating that they're adverbs (-ish/-y/-ly), I decided to use that idea for adjectives, too. That's why I said 'most' and not 'all'.

2) I guess that was my mistake, a word beginning with 'e' would also be given the prefix, etc.

3) I must ask why you ask for a 'reason', most natural languages have no reason whatsoever for these things. I'll be honest, I liked how it sounded is all. But the flexibility in the past tense is a great idea, thanks :)
[User Picture]
Date:June 10th, 2013 05:29 pm (UTC)
Fair enough for 1) and 2), but I must stop you at 3): many things in natural languages may seem to have no reason whatsoever for whatever features they have, but the arbitrary link between sounds and sense aside (thank you, Saussure), there often is a historical reason behind why certain features develop the way they do. Certain things are indeed unexplainable (e.g. why we use 'do' the way we do in phrases such as 'I do not know ...'), but they are also never entirely random (e.g. specific principles do exist for how and when we can use 'do' and its various forms in front of verbs). I guess my primary piece of advice in this case is to be very careful with letting this idea that 'Oh, natural languages are totally random anyway' become an excuse for you to do whatever you want with your language and end up with a convoluted, confusing mess of a conlang that ends up obstructing your readers' appreciation for your world instead of enhancing it.

Have you read Mark Rosenfelder's The Language Construction Kit by any chance? It's a good grounding in the basics of what a constructed language needs (log-langs and other oddities — sorry, conlang nerds — notwithstanding) without you having to have some sort of linguistics background (it helped me a lot when I first got into conlangs, and I most definitely did not have a linguistics background when I was 15). It's best to be familiar with most of the rules before you attempt to break them, I'd say.

Edited at 2013-06-10 05:30 pm (UTC)
Date:June 10th, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
I've read bits and pieces, mostly to learn about Phonology, and it helps. I plan to read the rest soon. Thanks!
[User Picture]
Date:June 12th, 2013 07:26 am (UTC)
1) A lot of English Adverbs have suffixes indicating that they're adverbs

The suffixes "indicating adverbs" are not adverb markers, they are adverb formants: they're added to words from other classes to turn them into adverbs. -ly, for instance, turns adjectives into adverbs: stupidly, happily, weirdly, finely, unusually, publicly, shortly, and so forth.

Yours would work, however, if your adjectives are mainly derived from other word classes by adding the suffix -ir. English can do derived adjectives - mountainous, beautiful, mannish. Perhaps in Lyranni, for example, péth could be the noun "juice", and péthir the derived adjective "juicy"?
[User Picture]
Date:June 10th, 2013 04:50 pm (UTC)
Before you get too stuck into Tolkien, remember that he deliberately designed the Black Speech to sound as ugly as possible. He loathed the sound of his own creation, in fact - apparently he was sent a goblet by a fan that was inscribed with the tengwar from the One Ring, and because of the ugliness of the language he could only bring himself to use it as an ashtray. And I have a hard time believing that anyone finds Tolkien's Elvish languages too guttural. I recently had cause to translate a line from the first Lord of the Rings film into Quenya for a piece of artwork, and the result was this: Lyen antanyë i silmë Eärendilwa, ammelda elenelma. Nai cálë lyen nauva mornë nómessen, írë ilyë exë calmar isintanier. By my count, this comprises 92 phonological segments, of which 44 are vowels and 35 sonorants. Of the remainder, only 7 are stops and none of the fricatives is more back than /s/. Even French can't match that.

As for your language... with respect, it feels very much like English. The fact that verbs only have subject agreement for the third person in the present tense, the SVO basic word order, the apparent lack of noun case with the exception of the possessive, questions based on word order, all give the grammar an English feel. Which is okay; my first conlangs were like that too, and I found it hard to break away from English grammatical structures at first. You've got a dual number for nouns, which is cool. Did you know there are several languages that have a trial (three of something)? And some others that have a paucal (a few of something)? I once built a language that had no overt singular number: there was only paucal vs. plural. And you can have more than three tenses, too. There's a language in Cameroon that splits up the timeline into eleven tenses: there's a basic present tense, but for the past it has "just now", "earlier today", "yesterday", "sometime in the last few days" and "remote past"; there are five future tenses corresponding to the same distinctions. So don't feel like you have to constrain yourself to English-like rules.
Date:June 10th, 2013 05:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I really didn't mean to, just what I'm used to, I guess. My other ConLang, Dorsyrni (Orcish), Actually changes word order from OSV in masculine and neuter form, to SOV in feminine form. However, the SVO basic form in Lyranni was intentional, I played around with different word orders and found that one to be the nicest sounding.
[User Picture]
Date:June 12th, 2013 07:28 am (UTC)
Fair enough. I just wanted to bring it to your attention, that's all :)

And further to your other reply, a block of text is always good. It gives a nice idea of what the language feels like.
Date:June 10th, 2013 05:16 pm (UTC)
With that said, the input is well-received, I think I'll be doing another going-over of it soon, fixing such things and adding new rules. If you guys would like, I could give you a block of text in the language.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2013 06:12 am (UTC)
nachtebuch and ubykhlives have already covered the big topics. I'd just like to raise one small question: what is "plural" doing in the section on tenses? Plurality has nothing to do with time.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2013 12:15 pm (UTC)
Ah, but it doesn't matter if one can cite a natural language that does the same thing :) I don't know if the OP has this kind of thing in mind, but in Ubykh, the form and even the position of the absolutive plural agreement borne by the verb is dependent upon the tense. For the verb b(ı)ye "to see":

Present: sg. azbyén "I see it", pl. azbyán "I see them" (pluraliser -a-, before tense-marker -n)
Past: sg. azbyeq’é "I saw it", pl. azbyeq’én "I saw them" (pluraliser -n, after tense-marker -q’e)
Future: sg. azbyéw "I'll see it", pl. azbyénew "I'll see them" (pluraliser -ne, before tense-marker -ew)
Imperfect: sg. azbyéneyt’ "I used to see it", pl. azbyéneylh "I used to see them" (suppletion of tense-marker from sg. -neyt’ to pl. -neylh)
[User Picture]
Date:June 15th, 2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
Except his example seems to be talking about nouns.
Date:June 16th, 2013 02:21 am (UTC)
Yeah... embarrassing.... I thought Plural was a tense -.-'
Date:June 13th, 2013 10:20 pm (UTC)
Alright, so here's a sample. nachtebuch, I don't think it's as Tolkienesque as you think, I should mention before you read it that 'y' before another vowel is often completely silent, so 'acyar', is pronounced 'assar', and 'ya' is pronounced 'ah'.

Anyways, here it is:

Many Eras ago, before Elf, or man, or beast, or tree dwelled, there existed a single great spiriy, Hithuinil. Hithuinil had always been, and would be forever. She became lonely, and sought purpose. She crafted from her essence, a sea as vast and deep as time, and a sky as high as her domain.

Acyar rïen fi duin, fin awyn, lis alowyn, lis cyrthuil, lis anath dil, dil ïer Neminas, Hithuinil. Hithuinil dil siduinyn, asil din riduin. Té dicaïlil ïeri, asil uïelil pthualyn. Té hithuinil ya tel nemyn, cethyn dan, asil loïn er duin, asil alethyn aïl er luir tél.

And here's it written in the script:


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