View Full Version : One Conlang for All Maps

04-29-2010, 07:21 PM
I recently developed a conlang primarily in order to label maps. I uploaded my labeled world map here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10175-Atreysa-Maps), which is labeled in this conlang I developed (called Trajan).
Now, a little history is in order - this world is only about 6,000 some years old (the labeled world map I uploaded is "current as of the 3T 317B or 3,317 years); the people that speak Trajan were driven from their home almost 2,500 years ago (roughly) and have taken to traveling everywhere in search of information. They record absolutely everything and store all this information in the barrows of kings, guarded by a small country that worships this dead spirits. The Trajev (the speakers of Trajan) created world maps as well as maps of all the continents, nations, areas, cities, towns, villages, &c. I developed this people - and their language - so I can name and label everything with consistency. This doesn't mean that places and titles do not have names in the native language of the nation/country/area. I just didn't want to create 25+ languages to name places, and none of the nations actually know about the world at large - they're pretty much confined to their own continent, if not their own country and the countries immediately bordering them.

So, my big question is: is this even a good idea? I tried to give everything a plausible, semi-translatable name (for instance, one of the oceans is named Asherekadan, which is a combination of the words for "frozen" and "water(s)"). I'd really like to know what people think of this - I'm working on some more maps, particularly continent and nation maps, but I'm thinking that maybe using just one conlang to name everything might look a bit too uniform. What are people's preferences for this? Should I use Trajan for just larger maps and use other conlangs for specific nation/city/&c. maps? I know this is a bit of a broad question, but I'm interested in people's opinions.

* For anyone interested, I've attached a PDF document with the details of Trajan - pronunciation, word order, how adjectives & adverbs are handled, &c. Just for kicks, really. (If you have feedback about the language itself, I'd love to hear it of course). Thanks for your opinions!

Servant Of Thor
04-29-2010, 11:47 PM
Looks pretty sweet, how long have you been working on it...

04-30-2010, 03:49 AM
Started with the description of the people to work out some sounds - looked up some free language lesson sites with mp3's so I could listen to various sounds. I liked the sound of Gaelic Manx, but I wanted something a wee bit simpler, so I just stole the sounds, pretty much. After that, tho', it took me about 10 minutes to work my way to the alphabet, which took me another 20 minutes to create (and yeah, I can sorta write in that script ^.^ It's not as easy as it looks, sadly). The grammar took me a day and a half; roughly 7-10 hours. I've got a lexicon with about 1500 words that I'm pretty sure I want in this language and have spent the last couple weeks on and off (mostly off) filling that in. Translating things really helps with that, but I haven't spent a lot of time just sitting down and creating words or anything - which I should do, now that I think of it.

Thanks for the comment ^.^ - Alizarine

04-30-2010, 08:20 AM
Back to your question - I think it's a great idea. Consistency in naming conventions leads to a more believable map, in my thoughts. Though don't be afraid to break rules on occasion - just look at some realworld maps and check out town or street names, there's some wacky stuff out there mixed in :)

04-30-2010, 12:58 PM
It's not a terrible idea to have a lingua franca--a tongue that most of the people in the world can at least get translated relatively easily. Here and now, that language is English, with French rather close behind.

Given the history you've outlined in your world, so long as a map was made by a Trajev or a Trajan-speaker, it would likely be labeled in Trajan. Of course, if the map is made for the benefit of a local populace, it would make more sense for it to be labeled with the local language. So I guess the thing to think about is who made the map and why? That should tell you what language(s) should be used for labeling.

For the sake of simplicity as a world-builder, I approve of your current approach.

04-30-2010, 01:35 PM
Thanks for the comments!
@ midgardsormr, the only problem I'm seeing is that no one likes the Trajev so they wouldn't want to use their language; in fact, most countries think the Trajev disappeared years ago. The reason no one likes them is because they started gathering knowledge during a very violent time, and when a major catastrophe left a gaping crater in the northern rainforest, everyone assumed the Trajev had helped the man responsible by providing the knowledge he needed. But the Trajev do still collect information, they just pretend they're merchants/mercenaries/&c. - anything that allows them to travel.

Other than that, however, I'm liking the idea of a "lingua franca" a lot - I can also re-label maps with names in the local/national language when I develop them ^.^ Thanks again.

05-04-2010, 11:21 AM
"One conlang to bring them all, and in the darkness of my map, bind them..."

07-03-2010, 02:16 PM
Other than that, however, I'm liking the idea of a "lingua franca" a lot - I can also re-label maps with names in the local/national language when I develop them ^.^ Thanks again.


Trajan is now used only for secret communication between the Trajev and to record new information

It can be a lingua franca or a secret language but never both. If the latter, then using Trajan for labeling all maps is as plausible as this: all maps in Europe A.D. 1500 labeled, let's say, in the Ge'ez script and language. It's not exactly the same, but you get the picture.

As for your script, you can do better than that. Twenty minutes is not enough for creating a good and nice looking script. If you care, ask.

Show us a sample text in your language (in transcription).

07-04-2010, 03:25 AM
Oh and check out Alfar's 'Wordbuilder' software....could be helpful for putting together words in your conlang.

07-04-2010, 08:49 PM
I think I recognize the Language Construction Kit format when I see it... :)

Trajan is now used only for secret communication between the Trajev and to
record new information...

If this is true, then the language would only be used in maps as part of the collection of information. So the map would probably never find its way to the general public.


Note that consonants cannot follow one another and, with the exception of 'tr', consonant clusters cannot appear at the beginning...
It may just be me, but this seems like a contradiction. If consonants cannot follow one another, then consonant clusters cannot exist.

Also, a lot of your "pronouns" would probably be classed as demonstratives or determiners.

The only other problem I noticed in your description is the alphabet. It looks cool, but would be a nightmare to read/write. The symbols, like those for A and E, are way too similar. A single tiny line left out would leave them looking the same, because the elevation would be hardly noticeable written on paper. I would go back and change a few of the more identical symbols, and make the later ones take fewer strokes.

Other than those, it looks great! You obviously put a lot of thought into it, and did your research. It's also typed up very professionally. Keep up the good work!

07-08-2010, 01:27 AM
I must say, I'm quite glad to know that I'm not the only one with this question. I've been conlanging for a year or so, now, and am working on a project right now. It's the farthest I've ever gotten on a project, and I've got a lexicon of just over 500 entries at the moment, which is impressive since I believe my previous max was somewhere around 100. I am now mapping the region in which it is spoken, and was considering making a world map, but was contemplating the same question.

I'll admit that when I first read this post, I was afraid that the conlang would be a little lacking, perhaps not much more than a naming language, but, though I merely skimmed through the PDF, I was happily surprised with what I saw. In quickly skimming through the PDF, I would echo Seretur's comment about the alphabet, in that it would be quite difficult to work with. I also must agree with him in that it is typed up very professionally. It looks quite nice.