Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: Laozhea

I have wanted to create a new language toy to play with for a long time, but now I am actually doing it. It's called Laozhea. Don't think that I don't take it seriously just because I call it a "toy." I take my toys very seriously.

All of my conlangs have a common purpose at the base of them: they are meant to be used, in some capacity, even if it is only by me. Ea-luna was also an experiement in method and was meant to break me out of the rut that my first conlanging efforts had dug for me. Nevashi was originally created to be a project built in the open, shared on the Internet as it was developing. Both languages had a fictional culture of some sort attached to them, but they were both intended to for general purpose use in this world as well. Laozhea makes this its central purpose. This is a language I am building for my own everyday use.

I want to learn the language as I create it. That's the end goal for this project. Any culture built around it will be in this world, for my own amusement. I love the idea of creating artifacts from fictional worlds and cultures, so it may even make an appearance in the real world. (At the very least, I'd like to paint a "Welcome" sign for my house.)

The very first thing ever translated into Laozhea was a quote from The Addams Family: "Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly." (It seemed appropriate, somehow.) This is what it looks like in Laozhea, written very messily with a mouse in MSPaint:

Samza lafeda. Tia samza n'ebetsa, tia bekeda n'emeska.
Normal illusion. Same normal (of/for) spider, same wrongness (of/for) fly.

Not a verb in sight! I do have some verbs waiting in the wings, but this didn't require any. The "same...same" construction is an idiom lifted straight out of ea-luna.

All the words end in -a because they are all in the same noun class/gender (animate/abstract/action) or agree with one of those nouns (in the case of tia). I was going to say something about na, but it isn't obvious that it also (coincidentally) ends in "a", since it lost its "a" to the following initial vowel.

Na is a sort of all-purpose connector and preposition. In addition to "of" and "for," it can also mean "to", "toward", "at", etc. In some contexts, it might mean "with." I am working out several different functional words that will probably do some heavy lifting; I found that was one of the things that worked very well in ea-luna, for whatever other flaws the language may have had.

Bekeda covers a whole range of disorder, insanity, sin, clutter, and general wrongness. The similarity to "pecado" is entirely coincidental; I only noticed it sometime after the initial creation of the word. That will be a handy memory tool though.

The similarity of emeska to "mosca," on the other hand, is entirely intentional. It has a good memory hook for me. Likewise. ebetsa for "spider" comes from "itsy bitsy". Other words have no basis in any language I know, but seemed to be right at the time (samza, lafeda). This method seems to be working, since I was able to remember every word and exactly what each one does in those sentences.

More remarkably, I could re-write it without referring to my notebook if I wanted to. I usually create writing systems later, after I've already gotten used to seeing the language in the Latin alphabet, but this is the other main point about Laozhea-- the writing system and the language are being developed together.  It's a logographic writing system, which turns out to be a whole lot of work, and I spend a lot of time drawing, redrawing, and evolving each logogram. I think this is turning out to be good for the language and for my learning of it. (It's being developed as if intended to be written with a ballpoint pen. I figured I might as well go with the tool I will actually be using.)

This is my project for 2014.