How to Make a Fantasy Language (And What I Use for the Shadows of Light)
No fantasy world or book is quite complete without its own fantasy language! Whether you’re looking for just a few words to name a flower, animal, drink, or curse word, or you want to have multiple languages that characters speak in full sentences, it can be intimidating to come up with your own language and keep track of it.
So let’s talk about that ...
As a writer, you have a couple options for fantasy languages, and by a couple, I really mean two.
1) Make up your own from scratch
2) Use a language generator
Here’s some pros and cons to both:
Making up your own:
1) You have complete control over what you want each word to sound/look like
2) You only have to keep track of the words you want to
3) You don’t have to understand grammar or phonology/morphology to use your language
1) You have to personally come up with potentially dozens of words, symbols, pronunciations, meanings and conjugations
2) You may spend hours coming up with the words, only for them to be used once or twice
3) It can be hard to keep track of all the words you’ve made up and making a dictionary for them
4) The words you make may not look like a single language
Using a Language Generator:
1) You don’t have to waste time or brain power coming up with trivial words you may only use once or twice
2) It comes with a pre-made, easy to search dictionary
3) It comes with its own unique words, pronunciations, language rules, sentence structure, etc.
4) Words from the language look like a singular language with familiar symbols, letters, etc
1) You will need more than a rudimentary understanding of grammar, sentence structure, noun morphology and phonology
2) You have to chose a generator that gives you commercial rights to the language
3) It can be tricky to find a generator that actually generates a completely unique language each time it’s used. You wouldn’t want to end up with someone else’s language!
So what do you pick? A lot of your decision will be made based on how much you’re going to be using fantasy languages in your novel. If you’re only going to be naming a few animals, drinks, curse words, etc., you most likely will find it’s easier to simply make up your own words.
However, if you’re like me and have three languages for your series and often use entire sentences of the language in your writing, using a language generator is your best option.
If you’re wanting to go the language generator route, do your research before you decide to use one of the many you can find online. Some of them don’t generate unique languages and others won’t allow you to use their languages commercially.
I personally used Vulgar for all three of my languages. Their use of existing language phonology and characteristics is expansive, and their generated languages are not only completely new and unique every time, but they are also customizable. They also do not claim any copyright which means you can use them in your published work without worry. They’re also extremely affordable.
I downloaded my three languages years ago and use them as Word documents. Here’s what they look like, a glimpse of the rules and guidelines they give you, and a document where I keep sentences or morphed words I’m using in my books.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether or not use a generator or your own mind, but I strongly recommend getting yourself a language from Vulgar. It will save you so much creative power you can put elsewhere, plus it’s just plain fun!
Thanks so much for reading and I hope it was helpful to your worldbuilding journey. This post is not sponsored by Vulgar, I just really really love them! Hopefully they’ll work just as well for you. If you have any questions about how I form sentences using my Vulgar languages, drop a comment and I’ll make another post about it!
May the suns smile upon your presence,
—Effie Joe Stock