The Art of Language Invention MOBI ë The Art


The Art of Language Invention An insider’s tour through the construction of invented languages from the bestselling author and creator of languages for the HBO series Game of Thrones and the Syfy series DefianceFrom master language creator David J Peterson comes a creative guide to language construction for sci fi and fantasy fans writers game creators and language lovers Peterson offers a captivating overview of language creation covering its history from Tolkien’s creations and Klingon to today’s thriving global community of conlangers He provides the essential tools necessary for inventing and evolving new languages using examples from a variety of languages including his own creations punctuated with references to everything from Star Wars to Michael Jackson Along the way behind the scenes stories lift the curtain on how he built languages like Dothraki for HBO’s Game of Thrones and Shiväisith for Marvel’s Thor The Dark World and an included phrasebook will start fans speaking Peterson’s constructed languages The Art of Language Invention is an inside look at a fascinating culture and an engaging entry into a flourishing art form—and it might be the most fun you’ll ever have with linguistics I might have given this book four stars The first three chapters Sounds Words and Evolution were interesting and contained some useful information I can use in developing my own conlangs The fourth chapter The Written Word was of minimal use to me and I skimmed through a lot of itWhat I couldn't stand however was the writing Peterson continually interrupted himself to make what he clearly thought were amusing asides Since they weren't it made reading tediousIf you are at all interested in constructing languages then I would recommend this book to you Aside from the style Peterson clearly presents the building blocks of a language and useful tips on creating one My own interest in conlangs began when I read The Silmarillion way back in '78 and fell in love with the all too small Elvish dictionary that was included When I was around 14 I began developing my own imaginary world which I still work on to this day and for which I've created several languages I'm a dilettante conlanger so I've only focused on one language the dominant tongue of that region of my world most fully realized in my imagination but I've constructed the skeletons for a variety of others in an effort to avoid having every place and personal name sound the same If you are another language nerd you will find The Art of Language Invention absolutely irresistible I couldn't put the book down and read it in a day and a half Peterson an amiable fanatic who lives and breathes for language has been fortunate enough to land himself the best job in the world inventing new languages for movies and TV series Here he gives you the details of how he does it and tells you what it's like to be the Tolkien of the early twenty first century Basically it's simple all you need to do is spend your entire life learning languages and be prepared to go to any lengths to get the details right in your own creations Peterson's happy to do all that Judging from the examples he gives here he has a good working knowledge of at least English French German Spanish Italian Latin Swedish Russian Finnish Mandarin Arabic Hindi Japanese Hausa Georgian and ASL plus bits and pieces of several dozen languages He's got a seriously good overview of the subject and when he's building a new conlang there are any number of places where he can find ideas to adaptA lot of the book is just walking you through the linguistic machinery you'll need to master if you want to learn how to do this yourself phonology morphology grammar language evolution writing systems but his background gives him a uniue spin on all this stuff He explains how he invented High Valyrian for Game of Thrones When he started he didn't have to go on than a bunch of proper names a handful of nouns and two short sentences Valar morghulis All men must die Valar dohaeris All men must serveEvidently that is ending in some way encodes the idea of must but how? From this unpromising beginning Peterson sketches out how he built the whole verb system not just for High Valyrian but for the proto language it evolved from Tolkien taught us that realistic invented languages always have a backstory and walks us through the details the regular the imperfect the old and new forms of the perfect the pluperfect the future Finally he tells where that mysterious is ending fits in valar is a collective noun the is form of the verb is a third person singular gnomic or aorist form and the combination of the collective with the gnomicaorist form is what produces the force of must I'm sure a hundred other explanations could have been found by less creative linguists But this one has real class and it rings trueAnd that's not even the most amazing thing in the book Read it to find out how Peterson created the Castithan scriptits relationship to Hindi and Thai writing systems how it evolved from earlier forms of Castithan writing and why their spelling is so annoyingly inconsistent If you want to know how a true master craftsman works get The Art of Language Invention now This is just a toe dip That line is in the concluding chapter of David J Peterson's The Art of Language Invention and I couldn't agree The topic and practice of language creation feels EXHAUSTING after having read this And yet once you've read it you're uite aware that you've merely glimpsed the tip of the iceberg I wanted to learn how to create a new language which I could incorporate into my fantasy world As I finish up book two and begin fleshing out number three all while developing four and five it has become and apparent that I will be creating new races and vocal creatures that should not be speaking English if my readers are going to have any chance at suspending disbelief I know it has been done that way and is readily accepted in mainstream productions but to me that is the cheese It is the cheesiest of cheese by which I mean it stinks Why would any kind of alien race naturally speak English? Obviously advanced civilizations could have translation devices or could be intelligent and advanced enough to cope with learning ESL but I'm writing old timey fantasy with monsters beating each other over the head with clubs I doubt they'd have time to enroll in adult ed night courses So I wanted to add some realism to my humanoid races Enter The Art of Language Invention Very uickly I realized I was in over my head This my friend is complicated stuff As an example for your benefit and for my own recollection down the line here is a list of contentsChapter One Sounds Phonetics Oral Physiology Consonants Vowels Phonology Sounds Systems Phonotactics Allophony Intonation Pragmatic Intonation Stress Tone Contour Tone Languages Register Ton Languages Sign Language Articulation Alien Sound Systems Case Study The Sound of DothrakiChapter Two Words Key Concepts Allomorphy Nominal Inflection Nominal Number Grammatical Gender Noun Case Nominal Inflection Exponence Verbal Inflection Agreement Tense Modality Aspect Valency Word Order Derivation Case Study Irathient NounsChapter Three Evolution Phonological Evolution Lexical Evolution Grammatical Evolution Case Study High Valyrian VerbsChapter Four The Written Word Orthography Types of Orthographies Alphabet Abjad Abugida Syllabary Complex Systems Using a System Drafting a Proto System Evolving a Modern System Typography Case Study The Evolution of the Castithan Writing SystemThere's also a short phrase book at the back that includes approximately one page each of Dothraki High Valyrian Shivaisith Castithan Irathient Indojisnen Kamakawi Vaeyne and ZaanicsSome of you GoT fans are probably getting all giddy in your pants at the idea of learning Dothraki And well you should This isn't the book to teach you the Horse Lords' language but it's a startThat and High Valyrian are Peterson's two most famous creations They made him semi famous Famous enough to be mentioned by the lovable Emilia Clarke on late night tv does a great job in this book of explaining the basics You could if you had plenty of time construct your own brand new and very real language just from reading this book It probably would be rather basic itself but it would function There aren't exactly step by step instructions but Peterson does lay out this book feeding you the info you need when you need it in a way that naturally walks you through a language building education One way to look at it is that instead of taking the full semester's course you're reading over the syllabusEven if you're not interested in creating a new language The Art of Language Invention is informative to those who are interested in words and language in general Peterson relays a good amount of language history to the reader in order to explain his theories and practices I found that uite educational Also this is written in a very casual tone I think the man knew he needed to sugar coat this stuff for the vast majority of his audience to get it down If you're into GoT to the point of reading blogs for background information you'll definitely get something out of this A 5 star book for any fantasy fan also interested in linguistics but a 15 star book for any fan with a linguistics backgroundThe Art of Language Invention is a non fiction book that explores the topic of conlanging or how to construct your own language The author David J Peterson is the guy who developed Dothraki for the TV series Game of Thrones from a few odd phrases into a fully functional language of over 3000 words In this book he shows you how you can do it tooBut to construct your own language you have to understand how language works That means that in essence this is a fantasy tinged Linguistics 101 textbook It briefly but thoroughly covers basic phonetics and phonology sounds morphology word bits syntax grammar semantics meaning orthography writing systems language change and other various bits and bobs of language There is also an overview of the field of conlanging and some anecdotes of the author’s experiences on the sets of showsmovies like Game of Thrones and Thor 2 But the bulk of the book is a linguistic “toolbox” giving you the basics to help construct your own language – or be able to analyse othersIn my opinion Peterson delivers his subject material very well I’m a linguistics MA student and I’d say this book covers approximately the first semester of first year linguistics I would have been very happy to have had it as a supplementary text then Peterson’s explanations are pretty clear and there’s always plenty of examples to illustrate how the concept works some from Dorthraki or Sindarin one of Tolkien’s created languages others from “real world” languages like Chinese or Arabic He writes in an easy going style making it a bit less intense and dry than a normal textbook but no less informativeHowever I do have one serious problem with the book and that’s how deceptive the blurb is The blurb implies that the book is mostly a look at conlanging eg its history and current issues and also includes a bit of “essential tools” for making your own language I don’t know maybe the publishers thought people would run away screaming if they realised it was a linguistics textbook Yes there’s an extremely interesting overview of conlanging as a whole but it’s around 30 pages of near 300 The rest is a very thorough intro to linguistics You may need to take notesFor me personally therefore the vast majority of this book was a mild form of torture It’s absolutely not the book’s fault it’s just that I’ve heard the basic discussion on “How do you define a word?” enough times over the last five years that I wanted to screamsob upon hearing it again Unfortunately there just isn’t enough conlang specific material for it to be worth suffering through the basics for anybody with a background in linguisticsA final issue I’d like to touch upon is choosing what format to read the book in I listened to the audiobook Peterson narrates it himself and is a good reader and pretty good at pronouncing all the different language examples whether from Icelandic or Shiväisith the Thor elves’ language But I’m not sure I would have been able to follow the audiobook if this was my first time encountering the material The syntax examples get fairly complex particularly the ergativity stuff It’s just easier when you can refer back to the examples in uestion uickly as well as to the definitions of various linguistic termsOn the other hand imo it’s practically impossible to understand phonetics without hearing the sounds first Again not the book’s fault it’s just that no matter how carefully you word “ɔ is an open mid back rounded vowel” it makes sense when you can hear the sound in uestion at least once Perhaps both text audio together work best but at the very least I recommend text checking out Youtube IPA videos during the phonetics chapterIn short if you’ve always wanted a crash course in linguistics it’s an excellent place to start And for people who do linguistics avoid like the plague

  • Paperback
  • 292 pages
  • The Art of Language Invention
  • David J. Peterson
  • English
  • 15 December 2014
  • 9780143126461

About the Author: David J. Peterson

My name is David Peterson and I'm a language creator and writer I'm the author of Living Language Dothraki and the forthcoming The Art of Language Invention I've been creating languages for television shows and movies since 2009 The productions I've worked on and languages I've created for them are HBO's Game of Thrones Dothraki High Valyrian Astapori Valyrian; Syfy's Defiance Castith


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