If you are a science fiction or fantasy author, chances are high that you have done at least some amount world-building. This includes worlds, cities, religions, political powers, species of animals, and so forth. And this can often include creating unique languages for certain groups of characters, whether those characters be humans, elves, dwarfs, or aliens.
If you are intimidated by the thought of creating a language, know that you are not alone. I resisted doing it for many years, thinking that I could get away without one. But now that I have one, it is so much more helpful than I ever would have thought.
While having unique languages adds another layer of depth to your fictional world, they can also help you create that fictional world. I feel like most authors can agree that coming up with names can be a difficult task, especially if you have dozens if not hundreds of names to come up with. Creating a fictional language can greatly help with coming up with names.
My Journey to Create the Lakinceitian Language
When I was mapping out Melridion, I created a large number of settlements and natural features and landscapes that I had to now give names to. I had a few names to start with – Nalpetalis (the city closest to The Compound) and The Volgash Desert (where The Compound is actually located), but now I had over a dozen names to come up with. Not only that, but I wanted to make these names sound inherently different from the names I used on my Eklatros Map (Gallheim, Roffen, Ajenti, Sathon, etc.). Two different worlds that host two different intelligent species can’t have similar sounding names. Also, I did not create any languages when I wrote Battle for Eklatros. The Lakinceitian language is the first and only language I created as of this writing.
So, I took the few words that I did have, including Gnusar, Lakinceitian, Melridion, and the names I provided in the previous paragraph. I broke up the syllables into their own words. While I did take a linguistics class in college, which helped, it was not necessary. Just think about our own language and the roots of our words. Take the word ‘literature’ as an example. According to Merriam-Webster, literature comes from “Middle English, from Anglo-French, [and] from Latin litteratura [meaning] writing, grammar, learning.”1
Many of our own words come from literal meanings. So that was my inspiration for the Lakinceitian language I recently created. Let me give you two specific examples.
Example 1: Volgash Desert
I mentioned the Volgash Desert earlier. That name is at least from 2014 or 2015, if not older than that. But now, Volgash in Lakinceitian breaks down to:
Volug = Endless / Infinity
Gash = Sand
So, Volgash (Volug Gash = Volgash) literally translates to ‘endless sand’.
Example 2: Nobatroxbic River
Here’s another example. On Melridion, there is one large, massive river that splits the central landmass into two main halves. That river is named the Nobatroxbic River, which breaks down to:
Noba = Life
Trox = Giving / To give
Bic = River
So, Nobatroxbic literally translates to ‘the life-giving river’.
Remember: It’s Your Language
The great thing is that you don’t need a full library of hundreds of words. You can create only the terms that you need to create, and if you need more in the future, you can always add more. Make this process as stress-free as possible. Currently, I have 81 words in the Lakinceitian dictionary. I know that sounds like a lot, and it is, but for a full language it’s just scratching the surface. Which again, is all you need to get started for coming up with names for your fictional world or universe.
Finally, remember to keep your list organized. When I was writing my list, it quickly got out of hand, and became hard to find things. So I alphabetized the list, which helped immensely.
Keep in mind that these aren’t rules in any way. There are no rules in writing, just guidelines. Feel free to use your own methods when creating your own languages. If you do have your own methods, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Citations and Attributes
1Merriam Webster – https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literature
Online Word Cloud Generator – https://www.freewordcloudgenerator.com/generatewordcloud
Alex Galassi’s debut novel Battle for Eklatros is the first book in the Rebalancing the Cosmos series. He has been writing and creating stories for most of his life. Many of his characters, including Navacus Clums and Cecil Kloud, were born through his time playing with LEGO.
When he is not writing fiction, he enjoys hiking and camping in Colorado’s beautiful mountains and playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends.