Hobby: Inventing Languages

While I can never hope to approach the  linguistic brilliance of the likes of Marc Okrand or JRR Tolkien, one of my hobbies involves the creation of languages to accompany the cultures I think up.



Atara Smuish

The basic characters and some grammatical scribblings sum up the first “official” version of this writing system.

The first language I thought up was first conceived almost a decade ago. A large portion of my childhood creative power was spent with my friend Robert dreaming up the mythical race of beings known as the Smu. These Smu were originally greasy, impish troglodytes. But through the years, the concept evolved, and they eventually were depicted as a noble – though xenophobic – warrior race. Every aspect of their culture was explored, and we eventually came to their language and writing system.
It was decided that their spoken language should sound foreign, fluid, and elegant to reflect their high culture and secluded lifestyle, and a basic list of sounds was drawn up: lots of r’s, l’s, j’s, and sh sounds. But writing this language was a different challenge. Originally, these sounds were represented by circular and semi-circular glyphs (records of which have long been lost to time). But it was soon decided that the language, now referred to as “Ataran,” should have roots in real human language. I settled on Cuneiform for inspiration, drawing from its angular, directional strokes. Soon, I had a 19-character system that could account for all the agreed-upon sounds of the Smu language.







Rama'i borrows Latin character shapes, but simplifies them.

Rama’i borrows Latin character shapes, but simplifies them.

The most commonly-appearing language in my artwork exists solely as a writing system. Based mostly on the Latin alphabet, The “Rama’i” alphabet was developed as a parallel-development standard writing system for people in my invented world of “Peregrine Earth”. It was meant to be the trade language of people living far away in a different part of the galaxy – on another Earth. Like the Latin alphabet, this writing system is used by a variety of different languages from that universe. Nycosi, Rossi, Calanese, and some others all use the Rama’i alphabet.










Like Korean, the characters of the Calanese language fit together to form more complex sounds.

I did just mention that Calanese uses the Rama’i alphabet, but I thought that it deserved its own native writing system. The Calanese culture is inspired by a wide variety of real-world cultures. Among those was a strong Korean influence which inspired me to craft the Calanese writing system in a similar way to Korean’s Hangul system. But these symbols would be representing the relatively more complex sounds drawn from Semitic languages. The “official” write-up of the characters and sounds for the Calanese writing system was lost, but some examples survived the test of time. Namely the characters representing “Arach Kelio” – a place in the Calanese capital city.










The one and only example of written Yeden.

The one and only example of written Yeden, showing both horizontal and vertical writing styles.

Little is known about the language of the Yekel people, and I actually forget most of what I made up about it. But I remember being inspired by Ogham, which is a medieval alphabet that was used to write early Irish languages. The writing system was made up of simple line forms jutting off a center spine – a motif that I borrowed heavily for this writing system.












Well, I guess that’s all for now! While other bits and pieces of linguistic scraps surely float around my notebooks and sketchpads, today’s examples represent my most thorough efforts.