Highest Rated Comments

Visocacas35 karma

The truth is many amateur writers get sucked into a black hole of worldbuilding, and massively overestimate the importance of detailed geography and languages. They do so at the expense of developing much more important things: characters, motivations, plot, themes, and so on.

Maybe this is an unpopular opinion (especially in this thread), but I feel that not only are conlangs in fiction massively overvalued, they’re kinda cliché. It was visionary when Tolkien did it; it’s not visionary now.

Even though most people are impressed when told that some fictional language is fully fledged and not gibberish, the vast majority don’t enjoy stories more or less because of it. And no disrespect to David J Peterson’s profession, but I think it’s just a matter of time before widespread audiences realize that it’s not difficult or original to hire a linguist consultant to create a fictional language. Not that he needs to worry about job security; producers will always want to leave the door open to fan bases that get deep into a franchise’s lore. But most audiences will realize that it’s just a production checkbox.

I really don’t think people would have liked Game of Thrones any less if Dothraki was gibberish. I mean no vocabulary or grammatical structure; admittedly the phonology has value because even non-language geek viewers would be able to recognize gibberish with English phonology. But I find that just the lines “How do I say ‘thank you’?” “The Dothraki have no word for ‘thank you’” offer much more worldbuilding and characterization value than made-up verb tenses and grammatical case inflections ever will.

TL;DR: If you’re an aspiring writer trying to create an engaging and impactful story, focus more on character, plot, and theme than on made-up languages.

Edit: I forgot to add that it’s a different matter if creating conlangs is a hobby in and of itself. But if your objective is storytelling, be warned and apply your time and effort carefully.

To clear up some other things:

  • DJP is extremely aware of this, the essay he linked in reply to this parent comment literally begins with cautioning about falling into “creative procrastination”.
  • This shouldn’t be interpreted as “Don’t ever create conlangs for fiction, it’s a pointless and unoriginal waste of time.” Just be aware.
  • I’m saying this as a creative language nerd who has created several writing systems and—while reluctant for the reasons above—has ideas for conlangs.

Visocacas15 karma

Hey David, this isn’t a question but I want to show you this meme about linguistics geeks who create writing systems.

Visocacas7 karma

Lol glad it gave you a laugh.

I made it for a subreddit about constructed writing systems (r/Neography), which is like a more niche offshoot of conlangs (though not all ‘conscripts’ are used for conlangs).