I’m writing this in response to the person who e-mailed me asking for instructions on how to use my Conlang Word Maker.
Now, without any intended smarmy-ness, I really thought it was self-explanatory, but, then again, when I wrote this webapp, I was steeped in conlanging. Also, it was based on another program called LangMaker by Jeffrey Henning, which a lot of people had been using at the time. And, duh, I wrote the app, so of course it seemed obvious to me how to use it!
So, in an effort to make things clearer, here are some more detailed instructions.
First, let’s define a few terms. Please note that these may not be how things are defined in a good, clear, linguistics sense, but, rather, how I thought of them when I wrote this program. Also, keep in mind that this was all inspired by an article in the now defunct Dragon Magazine about how to create a simple language for your Advanced Dungeons and Dragons campaign by Clyde Heaton titled Even Orcish Is Logical. Yes, that means it’s far older than even the third edition. And, yes, many conlangers my age deride this article as being linguistically inaccurate. But, I say “Phooey” on all that. That article is what got me interested in conlanging, so it did its job.
Now, keeping that in mind, go look at the page, then come back. (If you click the link, it will open the Conlang Word Maker in a new tab or window.) Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Okay, so the first column you saw was labeled Word Patterns/Formulas. Underneath that was a series of apparently nonsensical strings of capital letters, like “CV” and “CVCC” and so on. The next two columns are labeled Vowels (V) and Consonants(C) respectively. Those are what will fill in on the formulas, replacing the “V” with a randomly chosen letter from the Vowels(V) column and replacing the “C” with a randomly chosen letter from the Consonants(C) column. So far, so good, right? At this point, you actually have just about enough to generate the words for you language. All you need to do is choose which vowels and consonants you want to use in making your words and how you want those to be arranged. In fact, if you want to keep it simple, just use those three columns and leave everything else blank. Then, when you hit the generate word list button, the app will use those simple settings to generate a list of words.
If you look closely at the default data in those columns, though, you’ll see that you can also use multiple letters, like “sh” and “ch”, for consonants. You can do the same, like I’ve done with the “ee” and “oo” for vowels.
Please note that it’s important to keep the formulas in upper case and the letters you want to use in your language in lower case.
Now, you’ll notice several other columns, one of which I’ve also filled in. The column labeled “T” variable has both more complicated syllables, made up of consonants and vowels, and some formulas. In the default formulas that I started the web app with, you’ll notice that several of the formulas include a variable T, as in TVC and CVT and so on. In those formulas, the T variable is replaced by the syllables listed in the “T” variable column.
Okay, so far, so good, right? Well, the columns starting with T all have what I think of as an “advanced” feature. If you put a simple formula into them, it will treat the results of that formula as a syllable. So, you’ll notice that I have several CV and VC formulas in there. When the web app hits those, it will treat them first as standard formulas, making a word or syllable from the consonants (C) and vowels(V) randomly, before using it like a “T” variable in the formulas found in the first column, labeled Word Patterns/Formulas. It sounds more complicated than it is.
Again, though, this only works for columns starting T and beyond.
So, the trick is to choose letters and syllables that combine in ways which sound like you want your language to sound. Also, you’ll need to create all the other rules for your language, like sentence structure and verb conjugation and the like. So, I guess I lied a little in the title since you do have to do most of the heavy lifting yourself.
In any case, I hopefully have answered the e-mailed question. The real thing to do though is just play with it and see what happens!