Creating a Language

The Snarshyimt, a sensible people, would have a phonetic language, so I thought about the unique sounds in English, the only language I know well.

I immediately determined that c, q, and x are redundant consonants, and then I recognized that ch, sh, and th are consonant sounds without their own letter in our alphabet. Later I realized how z in azure represents a second sound for that letter, and so I identified 22 unique consonant sounds, each needing its own letter in the Snarshyim language.

The biggest reason English has so many spelling irregularities is a severe shortage of vowels. A languages expert once told me we have 15 vowel sounds, but only 5 vowels for spelling them! Of course the sensible Snarshyimt have 15 letters for vowels, which makes spelling easy. They have no need for spelling tests in their schools, and a spelling bee is as unchallenging a contest for them as a game of tic tac toe.

Having identified 37 unique sounds for the Snarshyim language, I had the task of defining a Snarshyim alphabet. I wanted the characters to accommodate an LCD or LED display for a reason to be revealed in my future (but not next) book Moonstar Quest, so I wrote down the different combinations of using the seven bars on the dual-square format of such a display. I only used the combinations that required the full dimensions of the squares, so each letter uses the same amount of space on a written page.

I had the idea to combine the letters for blends, which didn't work well for LCD/LED-based characters until I had the brainstorm to turn them sideway. Then two dual-square characters could be combined into a single triad of squares. Since the first character lost its first half, I was left with only 10 unique possibilies for a first blended consonant, so I studied which ones were most common and assigned them accordingly.

Concerning blends, I was surprised when I figured how the sound that's spelled tr in English is actually chr when spelled phoetically.

I chose t to make words plural in the Snarshyim language, so it's different than English, and t is actually better because it blends with more other consonants than s does.

The Snarshyim language has no curse words. The Snarshyimt think being offended by a sequence of sounds is silly, so when they curse, they simply say, "Curses!"
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Published on September 16, 2014 10:17
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