From “Pseudo-German” to Teutonish

So, I wanted to make a character best-described as a “pseudo-German” (that is to say, from a fictional country in a fictional world that’s obviously a reference to old Germany).

Enter an eccentric early-20th century language inventor called Elias Molee. Molee was both strange (his disdain of capital letters, more than a century onward brings up Undertale references to me), and his dream of unified Germanic peoples is understandably creepy in light of later events.

Molee’s life project was a pan-Germanic conlang he called (with various spellings) Teutonish. So I took one version of Teutonish (whose public domain text can be found here) and I was set. Now that character has a “real” native language.

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Nothing Vulgar about this conlang tool

I have discovered an excellent tool for conlanging that has helped me get over the hump of trying to come up with names and basic places.

That tool is called Vulgar. It has a free/demo version and a relatively cheap full version. At the push of a button, you can make a gramatically distinct and coherent language with a distinct vocabulary. Just tweak a few phonemes, and it can be distinct without resembling garbled English full of apostrophes.

For making names in non-English languages, it’s helped me tremendously. All I need to do is fire it up, yank a few terms that could easily be applied to proper names, and there I have it. I highly recommend Vulgar. For those who know linguistics, it’s not a substitute for a hand-built conlang and was never intended to be one, but it’s invaluable nonetheless.

 

Naming an Army

This is another piece of mine on military unit names. It kind of follows along with the last one I did.

This is on naming the army. Not the overall title for the army as an overall organization, but naming the exact equivalent for “Field army“, or even “army group“.

For the etymology, I thought back to the overall theme, of a [villainous] group with a kind of bizarre obsession with the ancient and traditional. The name of an army/army group equivalent would be from a (likely ancient) language, the word taken directly as a loan rather than adapted. And it would not be any directly military-related one there, but something like “assembly” or “federation”.

The image invoked is images of ancient peoples, on the steppes or in the forests, the kind unfairly referred to as “barbarians” by outsiders, forming a coalition of their warriors to campaign. And the reason I got there, or how the name-developers got there in-universe, has to do with the nature of such ultra-large units.

Regardless of national culture or doctrine, extremely large units like army groups and/or field armies are always considerably more ad hoc than the smaller ones in the same country. They’re determined by resources and location. So if it’s ad-hoc, a little like an ancient coalition, that opens the door for it to receive the name of one.

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Of course, the question is how much an author should use a possibly confusing author-coined name rather than a familiar one. It’s tough to answer, but is easier in that the names this term would be replacing are themselves looser and to many people more unfamiliar than clearer small units.

Esperanto

I like Esperanto, even if it’s just a mishmash of European languages.

I don’t know enough about linguistics to make an exact comparison, but it sounds like a Romance language, vocabulary wise, similar to Italian and French. Like the Circle Trigon Aggressors who spoke it, the language has an air of both artificiality and creativity to it.

(Circle Trigon Aggressors had a unique insignia system, however, theirs was, especially in the 1945-1960s period, acheived solely by repurposing existing US ones. High ranking Aggressor insignia involved a mix of major’s leaves and cavalry branch sword insignias.)

Grand Colonels And Naming Conventions

So, for one of my innumerable exercises, I created a military rank called “Grand Colonel”. Much as how “Lt. Colonel” is a step down from “colonel”,  “Grand Colonel” is a step above. While some research did find that some countries do use the rank senior colonel, it doesn’t quite match my use of it.

My “Grand Colonels” command divisions, putting them in the same spot as a major general. I still haven’t come up with a better name for higher-rank generals that doesn’t use the exact term. Maybe I’d fall back on it, or use something like ‘corpsmaster’. However, I imagined how weird and different the term “major general” might sound if across the English speaking world, we were used to going from colonel to grand colonel.

Or forget colonels altogether. Since “Colonel” comes from the Italian word for “column”, someone commanding a similarly sized unit could get a vastly different name. I don’t have the linguistic skill to say what it would be without resorting to a robotic-sounding compound name, but still. Language development is full of weird quirks that get accepted as being totally normal. They’re interesting to study.

I once saw a conlang rank of “sub-general”-is it between colonel and general, or is it something equivalent to Lieutenant General? Could two countries with the same language family have one ‘sub-general as the former’ and one as the latter? Why not?

(Also,  while the officers are fairly consistent, I have the enlisted ranks in the same organization have a weird sort of craftsman like rank, with ‘private’ becoming ‘novice’ and higher enlisted ranks becoming ‘apprentices’ and ‘stewards’. So a sergeant major becomes a ‘Grand Steward’, linking it back to the ‘Grand _____’ precedent established by the grand colonel.)

Languages

I have an interest in conlangs that isn’t matched by my knowledge of linguistics. This, combined with me wanting desperately to avoid the “Garbled English with tons of apostrophes” cliches, has made my actual output slim.

The only non-English languages I have real experience with are small quantities of French and both Mandarin and Cantonese variants of Chinese. Yes, those two rare, unstudied Chinese and Romance languages. (I also have some indirect contact with Hungarian)

So all I have is concepts, that I’d need a lot more experience actually processing to get right (well enough to say this has a weird word order, but would need more to get the word order consistently right. About the only non-English grammar I ‘get’ is grammatical gender.

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So, my most-developed concept:

Iflinikh-

-Mentioned as being extremely unlike English.

-OVS word order (meaning it sounds ‘backwards’ to English, which is SVO)

-Very few vowels and a ton of consonants, with the inspiration being the now-gone and extreme Ubykh.

-I was originally going to pile on the genders, noun cases, and everything irregular and non-English, but have considered instead having it be an agglutinative language with many affixes like Hungarian.

-Can technically be written in the Latin alphabet but is hard due its ton of consonants, with the native writing system being an abugida.

Now there’s names, which I’ve found are frequently neglected in existing conlangs. When using an existing conlang, I often have to get objects that could be used as names and shove them together. This is unsatisfactory a lot of the time. A lot of names (especially English names) are ‘weird’ in their origins, so I can understand, but it still can be tough..