You are currently viewing A to Z Challenge 2019: L is for Languages

A to Z Challenge 2019: L is for Languages

Welcome to my A to Z Challenge 2019 posts. This year I’ll be writing about the world of Kinyal which is the setting of my epic fantasy novels and short stories. These posts offer insights into the world’s history, locations, and factions, but do not spoil any of the events or secrets from the novel.

You don’t need to read them in order, and as the challenge progresses, I’ll do my best to add links to related topics for each post.

The root of it all

Human civilization in Kinyal is relatively young and so is the language. All nations speak a variation of the same root language that seemed to have changed over time, reflecting changes in the nation’s culture and history. This makes it relatively easy for merchants to trade as they only need to attune themselves to the differences in intonation and accents and learn some of the local expressions or words.
This also lends to the theory that all the people in Kinyal come from one tribe that spread across all the lands, and their settlers became the ones to found all the nations. Of course, it comes as no surprise that there is no consensus on that tribe’s origin, and no ruins were found to confirm their existence. If they were, indeed, nomadic, no proof of their existence may ever be discovered.

Because of that, many scholars suggest the colonization of the world started only after their kingdom was established, therefore it is the cradle of Kinyal’s civilization. Needless to say, every scholar has a theory and none has any proof to substantiate such claims, and no kingdom so far found a way to claim the “founder’s” title for itself.

There are also stories of remote communities and tribe whose language hardly resembles the common tongue in Kinyal, but few brave the dangers of exploration to find and study them.

The arcane language

If there is a language that can be considered “foreign” by all the kingdoms in Kinyal, it’s the arcane language. It’s a simplified version of the language the yalari speak, and over the first centuries of contact with their world, it was developed to help arcanists make pacts and channel magic into circles. Its oldest, and the most complicated version is considered a dead language, even though—ironically—it’s the closest to the language yalari had been using throughout their history.

As the studies on high magic progressed, arcane language was adapted and further simplified by high mages, who also adapted it human writing to be able to record constructed spells and pass the knowledge down to their students. Yet, the origin of high magic’s spells isn’t explained in the High Towers, and if you ask any arcanist, it’s because of the high mages’ unwillingness to admit that in the beginning their school was, after all, an insignificant branch of studies within the arcane magic.

A glimpse into a writer’s mind

As a person who over the years have learned several foreign languages to various levels of expertise (from beginner courses to the near-native level), I understood all the issues that come from trouble with communication in another language, and I didn’t want that for my novels that already have the complexity of multiple points of view, interwoven plots, and political intrigues.
At the same time, it made sense for the languages to not be as developed and varied as they are on Earth. Kinyal is both smaller and younger than our planet, and even in our world all languages can be tracked back to the one proto-language that was the beginning of them all (check the beautiful Earth’s linguistic family tree). So, in comparison to Earth, Kinyal’s linguistic family has the main trunk with its branches only now shooting off, and given time (thousands of it), they would develop into separate languages and possibly split even more.

If you’d like another comparison, think of English and how different it sounds when spoken by an American, an English person, or an Australian (not to mention Irish, Scottish, and many other nations that speak it). It’s the same language but accents and intonations change, and there are words and expressions unique for each of the countries. If we took away the internet and other easy means of communication, all those versions of English could over time develop into their own languages.

Maybe one day, for another setting, I’ll go deep into linguistic aspect of world building (and I have a story where the language barrier is an issues), but for now, the simplicity of Kinyal’s languages serve the story well and ensures it isn’t bogged down by the issues with communication.

If you’d like a taste of the world, my free collection contains two of the stories from my free short story collection are set in Kinyal. The Arcanist and the Mage Killer and Scourges, Spells, and Serenades tell of the early adventures of Kamira and Veelk, the main protagonists of the upcoming novel.

You can get the collection by signing up to my newsletter.

All posts in this year’s challenge (links updated with new posts):

Arcane Magic || Barriers and Circles || The Cataclysm || Devanshari  || Essence || Free City of Kaighal || Gildya Magna || High Magic || Imbued Stones || Juamha || Kamira Altrainne || Languages || Mage Killers ||

Joanna Maciejewska

Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games. Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English. Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. J.R.Bee

    I would absolutely love to hear our ground zero language!

    1. Melfka

      It would probably sound so alien to us…

      1. J.R.Bee

        It would, but I would still love to hear it. The rhythms of a language you don’t understand can be quite lyrical.

        1. Melfka

          There are over 6000 languages on Earth. I’m sure you haven’t heard some of them yet? 😉

  2. T.S. Valmond

    Great post, and excellent analysis. I love to use language to divide and unite people in my fantasy stories. Curious if you’ve ever incorporated a signed language. I’ve tried it a couple different ways and I’m hoping it comes across on the page the way I planned. – Dragons & Spaceships

    1. Melfka

      First of all, apologies for a late response – life pretty much swallowed me whole, and I’m only now recovering.
      I never tried with signed language or telepathy for that matter. If I did, I’d love to build a whole world or at least a magic system around it. Uh-oh… Gears are turning, ideas sprout!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.