Let’s Talk About Language (Part 2)

I talked a bit about language writing in part one, but not a lot about my language specifically. So, I’m going to do that now. When I started, I wanted Nímar to be less ambiguous than English. In that vein, I gave it more letters. Instead of having the letter ‘c’, which could signify an /s/ sound or a /k/ sound, I only have a ‘k’ and an ‘s’ and they only make one sound. Similarly, ‘g’ only makes a hard /g/ sound, not the /j/ sound it makes in words like giant or gymnasium.

When I wrote it all down, I had thirty-one letters. Now, you might be asking why so many. That is because I also wanted the vowels to only have one sound. Instead of ‘u’ being able to be pronounced differently in the words “duke”, “duck”, and “put”, each of these sounds are represented in Nímar by different letters: ú, u, and ü, respectively.

I felt at the time I had enough phonemes to build a language, and even though I ended up adding two letters later on (to represent the ‘th’ in “this” and the ‘n’ in “ring”), I’m pretty happy with my choices. I’ve learned a lot about language history, phonology, and communication in general. I even played around with the idea of adding click consonants (like in some African languages), but I’ll save that for another day.

One really cool thing I never really thought about is how syntax can vary wildly in languages. Simply what order to put the Subject, Verb, and Object in. English, like many other languages, uses SVO. The most common order though, is SOV. This means most languages would say “Jim pizza eats,” where English would say “Jim eats pizza.” I wanted to do something a little different here, so I asked myself and several friends to list the subject, object, and verb in order of importance.

What came out was the relatively uncommon VSO. This means in Nímar, the sentence above would look like this: “Eats Jim pizza.” This probably looks and sounds very weird, but if you think about the old rhyme “Fee-fi-fo-fum”, one of the lines goes “Be he live, or be he dead,” and that’s VSO!! It’s so exciting!

I’ll touch a bit on conjugation, since I said I would. Being a student of Spanish, I thought about having  a complicated point-of-view conjugation system, where the verbs would be different depending on tense and who was doing the action, but I decided not to. Besides this being extremely complicated, I didn’t see the people who spoke Nímar in my book having such a system. So, I settled on having specific tense words, or “tense modifiers” that you tack on to the end (or in one case, beginning) of a verb to change what tense it applies to.

Anyway, that’s the general makeup of my language. I’ll do a more in depth dive into the language, with words and examples and maybe some of the alphabet, sometime in the future. Take some Nímar with you:

Jekrim`alasar

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