Okay, I may have said in the past that I wouldn't go too Tolkien in my world-building, but after running through an old manuscript I decided to polish, I realized I had placed enough foreign words in it to warrant a dictionary, and so I spent the last hours building a dictionary, and creating a proper language for the story.
Creating a language, like other aspects of worldbuilding is very fun. I didn't want to make up words from scratch, so I resorted to using translations of certain words, in particular verbs, from my favorite language sources, which include: Swahilli, Arabic, Hausa, Xhosa, Yoruba and Egyptian. I must say, it was fun to mix and match, and to create words, and parts of speech, and quite frankly, it works well in the story.
I didn't want my heroine, whom I'll call S to know the language of the kingdom right away. There had to be a language barrier, and she had to learn the language, so that was that. I had the kingdom's people speak to her using the raw script (which the reader doesn't understand, unless he/she consults the glossary) and she relies on visual cues and gestures to understand M.'s people.. The only word she understands is saa, because it's used in frequent references to her.
To help with the language's script, I relied on my Jamaican background for inspiration. In Jamaica, people often use phrases such as "unu" (you people or all of you) and "A fi me" (It's for me). The letter "A" replaces the infinitive verb (To be) as well as gerunds (-ing). So, for example: "A-whey unu a-go?" (To where are you all going)?'
Here are some M. script phrases using the verb "To be." I use dashes and apostrophes to conjugate./ add clarity or show ownership, similarly as English.
The verb "To be" (A-na) in M. script
"Na" (from the verb 'to be'), when used without the 'A'
When placed in the middle of a sentence. E..g. (smu na igaa - she is walking).
Na'a means "mine" as in (O'na-a - It is mine). May also be written: O-na'a.
When placed at the end of a sentence. E.g. (Kyu a-so na - The object belongs to me)
When speaking of one's self: e.g. A-na (I am). A-na Kebra (I am Kebra).
When placed before personal name/object. E.g.. A-wsa (my daughter)
The letter "O" means "thing" or "it" (subject) and must link to the predicate, in particular, the verb, to have meaning. This is not so with the synonym "kyu (object). An opostrophe between the same vowel "aa" or "oo," changes the meaning, unless the word is a gerund (-ing), in which case, there's no apostrophe. In the example: igaa (walking) from a-iga (to walk). An "O" attached to another O" by an apostrope (o'o) negates a sentence. E.g. O'o na'a (It's not mine). When the negative "o'o" is paired with the word it/thing (O), only "o'o" is used (same example above). The "o'o" is pronounced "ooh" in contrast to the "O'na-a" where it's pronounced "Oh." Articles (the/a) are naturally implied and therefore don't exist in the M. script.
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