How to make names in a conlang?

Constructed Languages Asked on August 20, 2021

So, draconic in the setting is used to name places, people, and communication in general. I skipped through most of the phonotactics as I’m using the Hungarian template. So as I filled out entries in my Swadesh list, I ran a small experiment:

arán (sun) + kile (feather) = Oh, [email protected] me! How am I supposed to combine two words, this incompatible, into a pair of names?

More precisely, I had a name, Amrar (pronounce: Ámrár), created before through a different method and without having a whole conlang in mind. Compared to Aránkile (which I modified into Áranki/Árenkil, a male and a female form) its soft m, loud and clear á, and grizzly r does a good job of giving off the vibes you’d expect from a golden dragon, regal, powerful, intimidating but still kind. This worked when I was going for vibes, even if it had no meaning or roots in a language at the end. However, I feel like I’m writing myself into a corner with this vocabulary.

I don’t want my language to sound like it was generated on I have to maintain my control over the “loudness” curve of each word, their length and which phoneme I use, based on their place of articulation. What should I do to balance the “sounds like an orc/elf/typical politician” with the “names have a meaning”?

One Answer

Note that you as the conlang designer control both ends of the chain: The final wordform and the etymology. So you can play with both parts until the result meets your wishes.

So you can start with the wordform Amrar and search for an etymology, splitting it up as Am-rar and find some meanings for Am and rar, say am is short for amon "hill, mountain" and rar is "roar, load noise", making your mighty dragon a "moutain-roar(er)". Tolkien used this approach a lot. The backside of this approach is that the conlang becomes difficult to maintain.

EDIT: Going the other way, starting with arán and kile, you can vary the order of the two stems, Maybe Kilarán sounds better than Aránkil? It is your decision. You can also throw in some sounds between the two stems, say Aránskil with an inserted s, you can insert a vowel, say a, to yield Aranakil, you can assimilate the n to the k giving Arángkil.

Starting with roots from your conlang, there are still a lot of creative possibilites to combine them in compounds: Inserting a Fugenelement (example from German Herz-ens-sache "affair of the heart", from Herz "heart" and Sache "thing, affair", ens being the Fugenelement without meaning), applying some assimilations or dissimilations, dropping syllables from long words (syncope), ...).

Answered by jk - Reinstate Monica on August 20, 2021

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