The invented languages of Carrot Field came about in a curious way. It all began when I realized that I was using European Christian names on a planet other than earth! I wondered how this could be possible and started to puzzle out how I could make it plausible.
I knew that English stemmed mostly from German and the Romance Languages (such as Italian, Spanish and French) and that they are related to Vulgar Latin. I had also used Greek names, so I would have to factor that in too. The task before me was to create a family of languages, each with a history, that could plausibly lead to the creation of names like Sebastian, Richard and Agamemnon.
The first phase of work was to bury my head in etymologies, the histories of words. I immersed myself in this work starting around 2000, about 4 years of basic groundwork, while learning the basic components of language. This was an enormous amount of work but in the end I broke down a basic history for my language family. This was both shaped by, and also helped to shape, the fictive history of Carrot Field.
The keystone was Almas, a language like Anglo-Saxon. Almas is an invented language (you’ll have to read the book to discover who invented it!) meant to unify the disparate allies who are fighting the great enemy, Lord Ouroboros. It is from Almas that “English” is derived, or the language the novel is written in. I thought this was a neat and clean way of solving the problem. Of course, there’s a bevy of other tongues behind Almas, and a good deal of thought went into what those would be. Some are more developed than others, some are no more than names for languages and a vague accompanying idea. The issue was verisimilitude, suspension of disbelief, not alternate reality!
I am not a linguist. Unlike Jrr Tolkien, my knowledge is rudimentary. My special area of study is anthropology, animal behavior (especially humans and their close cousins!), not the technical study of languages. So there is an enormous amount of cultural psychology and historical influence on my approach to inventing languages. I am not a big fan of what is called “con-langing”, constructing languages according to a formula derived from linguistic science. The results are often unsatisfying to me, as a listener. It worked for Tolkien but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone! So I have tried to avoid simply applying a formula; although, of course, I am constrained by relevant scientific principals.
I am now embarking on the project of bringing the languages of Carrot Field into order. I have many, many pages of notes to work from; and you can also work backwards from what you have already created. There are a few words and names that come from my early 20’s, kept for sentimental reasons, that are not created according to any realistic principals, and there are some words and names that were created out of pure whimsy. I think it’s important, in fantasy, to have these sorts of “loose” elements, they connect with the reader’s sense of play and make believe. And of course we invent words and terms almost every day!
However, I am going to endeavor to bring order & structure to the most important of my imaginary languages. Here are some of languages you will “hear” a little of in the novel:
Almas: Spoken mostly by Animals, especially Foxes. Most of their place names are in Almas.
Rarian: Spoken by the Leonine people, based loosely on Sanscrit and Sumerian.
Ibrayeth: The language of the Maugilar who dwell in the Arad Arn Mountains, deeply inspired by elements of Hebrew.
Lasra: The language of Malveth, lord of the Shadow Kingdom, adopted by the Maugilar who chose to follow him. His language is expressed in their personal and place names, such as Gorthang (a subterranean city), Arog (Warlord of the Legions) and Pala (a female name).
The glossary in Carrot Field provides etymology for most of the invented words and names.
Clearly, I have a lot of work & learning ahead of me: but it is work I am excited to do!
CARROT FIELD by VINCENT ASARO is published by Pressque and is now available as an Ebook; and in Hardcover and Trade Paperback editions September 2013.