Friday, July 26, 2013

Language Barrier

Hem and haw, Internet. Hem and haw.

I am currently puzzling over a conundrum of sorts.

In my story, there is a made-up language called Ancient Meridian. I crafted it together like a patchwork quilt, using my rudimentary knowledge of language models. I speak English and French, and have a rough understanding of a few other languages. I do not SPEAK other languages, I have just vaguely studied them enough to sort of get the patterns--also, Latin roots. I dig it. Language is cool.

So, I made one up, based mostly on old Irish and Gaelic, for the Meridian characters in my story. There are a few moments where it actually comes up, including a full song (which is translated in the back) and a few moments that are just me geeking out all over the page, but which will never be caught unless I spell them out.


In Ancient Meridian, 'Grainne' means 'Queen,' which to them is an elected official (not gender oriented) and 'Mael' means 'King,' which is a vaguely religiousy spiritual warrior leader, chosen by a magicky crown relic. (Do you see how into language I am??)

'Grainne' is actually the name of one of my absolute favorite historical figures, and quite possibly my favorite pirate. Her anglicized name is Grace O'Malley. She was a BADASS. She threw-down with Elizabeth I. She gave birth during a ship-to-ship shoot-em-up, which she handled by basically putting up one hand in the universal signal for "Five minutes?", then popping out the kid, then leaping back into battle and trashing her opponents. She organized hordes of Irish warrior dudes into fiercely loyal hordes of pirates. She took what she wanted and lived hard and awesomely and I VERBING LOVE HER SO MUCH. So much that I made her name the Meridian word for 'Queen.'

'Mael' is the name of another historical figure--a Pict warlord who arranged to have a twenty-man to twenty-man combat with a rival. But when Mael showed up to do manly war things, he found that his opponent was all "Ha! Rules are for dorks!" and totally brought way more guys than agreed upon. Mael could have definitely turned tail, but he fought! And got stomped. His opponent was riding off with Mael's head (he got REALLY stomped), when Mael's head swung around, and one of the dead man's rotten teeth pierced the flesh of his cheater-pants foe. The wound got infected. The guy died. Victory beyond death--that's kind of a Meridian King thing. Awwwww yeah.

There's more I could wax on about--not all of the words are taken from historical figures' names, of course, there is actually some language study in there--but the pickle I have found is this:

I'm considering switching the Meridian language to an alphabet mish-mosh thing. The reason for this is because, once people have cracked the code, it would be fun for them to go back and translate some of the things the characters say.

I could just put up a cheat-sheet somewhere on the internet, with direct translations, that as much fun?

I honestly don't know. For now, I'm going to continue on with the language I actually crafted. But we'll see.


1 comment:

  1. Go the way of Eoin Colfer with his Artemis Fowl series (and fairly easily deciphered code) or Tolkien's Middle Earth. I prefer the language you've got going on... but you've been known to surprise me with changes I wasn't on board with until I saw the end result...