A few weeks ago I posted as a joke some Elven “worksheets” on the site. A lot of people have asked about my Elven language for Tereand about how it started, why I did it, what’s it based on etc. Well, I never intended to have a complicated language for my world, for starters. It started out as sort of a phonetic Glasgow accent mixed with Beowulf-age Old English/Germanic and spoken with a Welsh accent. And then I actually had to start writing stuff down and remembering what words I used and what syntax I agreed on for everything. It was definitely a micro-to-macro process that got more complicated as I went and required more and more effort with each passage. And as I went, it was more and more imperative that I practice learning real languages.
I’ve always been a big polyglot. I love languages and I have varying-to-middling proficiency in Polish, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, German, Norwegian, and Czech. Some of these I studied in school and college and some of these I’ve been studying on an website/ap called Memrise. It’s a great crowd-sourced language site that helps you study by giving you a chance to make your own images and mnemonic devices. It also makes you take it slow, learning a little at time every day. It’s been a valuable tool to helping me get a feel for the languages I want to imitate and how they differ from English.
For example, Tereand Elven relies heavily on German syntax and word construction, even if the words are more Celtic sounding. In my next book, the Halflings have a few words which are based heavily on Norwegian language. Eventually, as I expand to other regions of Tereand I’ll be dabbling with other languages (I think I just heard my editor burst into tears!) with bases in Greek, Hindi and Polish. For now I’ll just keep a GIANT excell file with all my madness intact.
I also highly reccommend The Language Creation Society which gives you lots of tools for creating your own language.
Remember kids: Friends don’t let friends become xenolinguists and every time you write in Elven your editor cries.