Tag Archives: conlang

Thief of Literature

I find an interesting thing about the languages I choose to use in my stories. Not unreasonably, I often prefer to use languages I’ve already started, but for some reason, it still surprises me when I do it. I used to create a language at the drop of a hat, and sometimes I still see one starting to sketch itself out, but at the same time, I find myself more and more reaching for old bones and stretching them into new shapes.

In Splintered Gates, I pulled two sigil names straight from ancient (in my personal real time, that is) Senetari Shuril, a very old version of Vas’hehr, the secondary language of Vardin (I think they have four or five main languages they tend to use). Well, almost straight.

Ditraka is pulled straight from Senetari Shuril and means essentially, speaker of truth, caller out of truth, doer of truth, etc. The verb can vary as it’s a partial construction, something common to the language but not to any other language of mine. “Di” is often rendered “out of” in the sense given above, e.g. caller out of truth. “Traka” is literally “truth.”

Cyvahdo is a mixture. “Ahdo” I made up as “rider” on the spot, but “cyv” means “sky” and was one of the first vocabulary words I had.

Why do I find this so particularly interesting? Besides the fact that I’m overly self-analytical, I mean. Because the more I write, the more the bones of my worlds are starting to bleed. I can see why some authors have a hard time not repeating themselves.

I’m not too worried yet, but it is something I have to keep an eye on. Oddly enough, this also only really became an issue when Kingdoms and Thorn cropped up. There was no way to stop the bleed with Vardin because they were born from literally the same bones, the same story, the same premise, the same characters. I just played it out several different ways and picked Vardin to write. Then K&T happened and there was the second major branch. Then Splintered Gates happened and I can keep it separate, more easily than the rest actually, but I hit the third major branch. It’s only safe to write because I split out the other reusable part of the branch into the Alliance storyworld instead. It reduces the room for bleed. A bit.

I find all this very interesting from this perspective: five years ago, I wouldn’t have tolerated it.

When we were kids, I made a fine art of hiding the origins of my characters and stories in bending certain key details, burying others, and mixing and matching far disparate fandoms. I rarely fanfic crossovers, but if you could see inside my mind, you’d see that most of my original fiction is incredibly crossed over. There’s a fine tradition for this in literature.

“To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.”

― Stephen Wright

I steal from many, even myself. My stories and poems reference other literary pieces, sometimes rather obliquely. I homage and recreate and interrogate and adapt and decry and protest in the form of another piece of fiction, and then to top it all off, I do my level best to hide most of it so thoroughly that no one will ever figure out my layered upon layered secrets.

In short, I find this strange but interesting. It’s a habit of childhood, and only now am I beginning to be okay with bleed and small revelations. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad or indifferent, but it’s interesting.

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