Make a Conlang and Conculture

I can’t be the only one that’s so, so tired of the same overused “foreign” language tropes, and borderline racist, ripped-off cultures used in many tabletops, right? This post is a step by step process as to how to create your own languages and cultures within your campaigns – and not look gross to your players!

Creating a Conlang

The definition of a Conlang is a language that is not already pre existing, has been made up for communicative or literary purposes. Some famous examples of Conlangs would be Klingon, Tengwar (Quenya dialect), and Esperanto. As a polyglot and soon-to-be linguistics major, I really enjoy creating my own languages. This is a condensed how-to (with links to helpful information!) on what to do, and how to make a functioning language. This is what works for me, but always be willing to do your own research!

  1. Create the phonology
    1. What sounds change the meaning of the word?
      • in Korean, switching b / p can change the word’s meaning entirely
    2. What sounds correspond to the same meaning?
      • the sounds f / th are seen as similar in English
  2. Decide on phonotactics
    1. Examples on phonotactics
  3. Create roots for words; construct some simple sentences!
    1. If you’re also creating a culture to go with the language; think of what would be important to the people! They’d probably have many words about it
    2. How are roots derived?
      • In some Semitic languages, the word for ‘read’ comes from ‘blood’
  4. Grammar time
    1. Decide what type of flow your language will have.
      1. Aggultinating, isolating, fusional, polysynthetic
    2. If it’s not isolating, is it heavily inflected?
    3. Are there different moods? Voices? Decide which aspects are in the language. Tenses such as past perfect, and future?
    4. Decide if your language will use nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs.
    5. Are there particles and articles used?
  5. Alphabet
    1. Decide if your language will use pictographs, or latin based alphabets.
  6. How are things expressed?
    1. Sentence structure
    2. Tone of voice
    3. Emotions and diction

The last two steps are interchangeable in their position; however it’s imperative to do the rest of this order. Researching for your language is the most important step! Look at other people’s Conlangs for ideas.

Creating a Conculture

When creating your own people and culture to integrate into the campaign, it’s very important that you do research for it and try to create something unique – and not offensive!

Here are some really good resources that I use to create my Concultures!

Cultural-Iceberg-2[credit]

I’m aware that in one of these, it states that it’s okay to “steal a culture” and give it a new name. Under no circumstances are you everto do that. Everything else here is certainly okay to make use of!

No longer will you have to suffer through the same boring backstories of elves who were expelled from their land because of their appearances, or mages who are hunted down by the religious zealots of the region. It’s always a wonderful feeling when your players are genuinely interested in your conculture and conlang.

Now Go Forth and Make Your Own!

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