This page brings together material about my previous conlanging efforts, prior to the Mohai/Tekuo project. These consist of two large projects plus the odd side project. They are described below in roughly historical order.
Lesdekan was my first conlang, developed in my thirties but drawing on material dating back to my teens. The language is flawed in many ways but was fun to develop. The setting is good and is still my most developed. It was displayed on a now-defunct website which I affiliated to the Scattered Tongues webring run by Taliesin. I also discussed Lesdekan at the old Conlangia Bulletin Board and later at the Zompist BB.
I have recently found some old offline files relating to my old site, lesdeka.iwarp.com. Some are worth reproducing here, both in their own right and because of the way they often foreshadow my work on Mohai and Lemohai. The first two texts tell how Lesdeka was a nation on a large island off western Europe.
The language was VSO with a modicum of affixation. It is described in the next two files. The first is a sketch grammar, dating from 2002. The second a revised phonology from 2004:
An outline history of the island was also provided on the site:
Culture and folklore were not neglected, either. The next set of files discuss Lesdekan society and arts:
Much space was given on the site to Lesdeka’s national sport, cudgel. This was a bat and ball game adapted from a real game of the same name found in Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopedia, a book my younger self devoured avidly.
I even produced cudgel results and league tables. At first, scores were based on dice-rolling. Later, teams were tied to English county cricket teams, dividing their results by 40%. Having real-world counterparts ensured my teams performed consistently. The teams in this next file are different to those in the previous file, NB.
I later developed another sport called Yhebano. The game belongs to the basketball/netball family. Once again, a league was required. This time I didn’t mess around with dice-rolling but went straight to tied teams in real-world competition. In this case, teams from the rugby union premiership were chosen.
Yhebano later became Xebano (see next item) and eventually Hebano with the current Mohai scenario. Though now I conceive of the game as played on roller-skates, more of that anon.
Xelhara was a South American Indian language spoken in the Lesdekan colony of Gĭneka which I placed near Guyana. As such it was meant to be exotic. It was not, however, truly exotic due to my knowledge of linguistics at the time.
It had VSO word order and marked subject and object on the verb and had a lot of nasal vowels. The first of these features survived into Leheitak and the second into Lemohai.
By the time I wrote the text below, the language had moved to Ixuriku, an island off Brazil. The sport Yhebano had become Xebano and was native to Ixuriku, not Lesdeka.
Illyrian was my attempt at a Romlang. As the name implies, it was set in the western Balkans. Illyria was about the size of Montenegro and inspired by holidays in the former Yugoslavia. I drew on my knowledge of the area, the Italian and Latin languages.
I made it sound very Romanian and kept Romanian’s definite suffixes on nouns, but not its residual case system. I copied some features from Classical Latin such as four verb conjugations. Of course, though, you should start with Vulgar Latin – the language of the streets.
Historical derivation was not systematic. What sounded nice to me was much more important and there was little verbal irregularity.
Illyrian was a small but fun project and not wholly implausible. There had been a Roman presence in the area and Dalmatian had survived in Croatia into the Early Modern era, so why not Illyrian? I knew of the ancient Illyrian language. In my scenario, this was called Old Illyrian and recognised as an unrelated tongue.
Romlangs tend to fall into two camps: what Latin/Romance would have produced had it not died out, and what would have resulted had the Romans added places to their Empire.
Illyrian above falls into the first camp, along with more systematic languages like Brithenig, a British Romance conlang. The second camp includes Wenedyk, a Slavic Romance conlang and my Suomina. Suomina is the Romance language of Suomi, or, Finland. Apparently, the Romans got there, too.
It took the familiar Latin/Romance vocabulary and worked it in an agglutinating, Finnish way. It used Finnish-style phonemes. There were no voiced obstruents and plenty of double letters. There was no attempt at historical accuracy, but it was fun and a good way for me to explore how agglutination worked. What there is of the language is viewable here:
Unfortunately, Suomina turns out to be the name for a bacterium. Lesson: always research the name chosen for your language and website before publishing!
M was the language of a surly, uncommunicative race of aliens. Some M have taken human form and live amongst us. You may even have met one or two 🙂
The language’s chief claim to fame was that it only has “one” phoneme: /m/. In fact, there were tones and a syllabic /m̩/ as well, but that’s not such a good headline.
Fwoshadosh was the secret language of washing machines. It was inspired by a surreal trip to the cellar where our machine and tumble-dryer sit side-by-side. On this occasion, the two machines clicked and whirred alternately, like they were having a conversation.
So I sketched a language based around sibilants and mechanical noises. One phoneme, written “*” actually meant “time to call the engineer”!
I presented Fwoshadosh on the Zompist Bulletin Board and received many suggestions to expand on it, like dialects based on brands and deriving it from Proto-Machine, also to somehow incorporate cycles and programmes into the syntax. I still mean to flesh it out along these lines One Fine Day.
Lhemburan was a something of a bucket into which I poured my latest linguistic fads. It was variously VSO, SOV, ergative and active-stative. It was, in fact, anything but plain old SVO nominative-accusative. It became more of a task than a thing of joy. In a discussion about Lhemburan on the ZBB, miekko suggested I could probably create a good nominative-accusative language and thus was born the seed of an idea.
That idea became Õtari, my most complete language to date. As suggested, it sticks to the SVO nom-acc framework I am familiar with, but I still managed to make it distinctly un-European. Its creation follows research into the isolating languages like Yoruba and Indonesian.
I also looked into the details of English syntax before writing and found some pleasing oddities closer to home. Lessons: 1) SVO nom-acc does not have to be boring and 2) You can develop a familiar framework much further than an unfamiliar one. Õtari is conceived of as extinct and normally discussed in the past tense.
Õtari was the original language of Mohai, prior to its incorporation into the Heitak Empire. It was a member of the Dahu language family. It was subject-verb-object with nominative-accusative alignment and zero-marking. Here is the full 140-odd page grammar:
The language later came to be reconceived as Old Lemohai-Letsuri, of which Ontari was but one dialect.
This was the invader language that killed off Õtari. It was an SVO language with head-marking and suitably harsh bad guy consonants. It was very unlike the mellifluous Lemohai, but an important source of loan words for Lemohai. Classical Leheitak was the ancestor of Modern Leheitak. Both were members of the Kelma language family. Neither have survived into the current version of the Mohai project.
Senduri was viewed as the original language of Mohai, prior to the arrival of the Dahu tribes. It is now seen as mountain language from the mainland, predating the arrival of the Suliq. It is verb initial and has a trigger alignment. It is a linguistic isolate. It has survived into the modern age, but is confined to a remote mountainous area.