I remember reading Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings the first time as a kid. It blew me away. I remember thinking that I wanted to make my own language one day, and a world for the people who talked it. Now, may years later my World has grown to become Infinite Plains and you can read about it in this book.
And the language became known as Tetchpfo, and you can learn it below.
Yes, this is the language of the Wanderers of Qehar, described in my online story Frostwanderers, on this blog.
This is the front page of the work. I hope it is pretty enough to make you read the pdf =)
The following is an excerpt from the PDF introduction page:
x 1 introduction
x 1.1 goal of this text
The goal of this text is to provide a thorough description of the invented language Techpfo (known since its earliest form back in 1998 as Filianska).
This language is in every way intended to be grammatically complete and speakable with the syntax and vocabulary to make that possible; a goal I am happy to inform, has been reached. To acheive this, though, it has had to come a long way from where it started out nearly one and a half decade ago.
x 1.2 background to this language
Techpfo started life as a secret language back in 1998 when I was 13 and wanted to write things that were for my eyes only, without having to take measures to actually hide the texts, but also, and maybe mainly even, to annoy those who would see the foreign-looking texts and be unable to understand them even while knowing which actual real-world languages I mastered. Subsequently though, the language grew in its purpose and became both a fantasy world language as well as my own private linguistic playground with a very decisive lack of attention-span, probably more the latter than the former. At this time the fantasy world in question was a collaboration among friends and I always imagined the language to be, in its essence, of another fictional origin and mainly placed it in the collaborate world because I saw no reason why not to. This was around 2001-2004. Some time after this the collaborate world reach some sort of permanence with less and less frequent updates but I continued to play with grammatical ideas and applied them to my language for testing. Anyway, 2004 ended and 5-6 more years passed by, and with many of the basic features (phonetics, grammatical relations, inflections/markings, alphabet/abugida and the like) slowly solidifying I started experiementing with syntactic theory and decided not to apply my earlier love, the Chompskyan binary tree structure model, to my language. Instead I gravitated toward predicate/dependency grammar and ended up inventing a personal version, which I called the Theory of Flowing Relations, styled specifically for my language, now named Techpfo. [tet͡ʃ] ‘speak/speach’ being one of a small number of remaining element from the earliest vocabulary dating back to the very beginnings in the late 1990s.
x 1.2.1 language esthetics
Esthetically the goal has been from the very beginning to design a language that is appealing to me personally, arbitrary as that might be, both in syntax, phonetics, writing and transliteration, to name just the most obvious aspects.
What I have tried to do, more specifically, is to create a language that does not sound like any of the languages I master, that is, Swedish, Spanish or English, nor any of the following: Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, Swahili; nor like: Hebrew, Arabic, Russian; not like: Quenya, Sindarin*, or Lojban**.
The reason for not wanting the sound of any language I speak can be summed up in the question: what would be the fun of that? I already speak one such-sounding language, and since Techpfo was always intended to be a purely fuctional language, as opposed to for instance an alternative history real world language derivative, an international auxiliary language, or some such thing (fascinating and intriguing though those are!), there really was no other reason to do so either. I think all three of these are beautiful, though. As for Japanese, my language has always been more restrictive with consonant clusters than for example English and Swedish and has also tended to mark for case using case endings/clitics appearing last in any phrase (or whatever passes for a phrase in Techpfo). These things in combination has made many of my friends think it sounds just like Japanese (a very popular language at the moment), which has been annoying, or like Finnish, which I have not minded at all. Many of these case endings/clitics have turned out quite analytically independent in recent developments making Techpfo effectively Chinese-like in some grammatical ways. I wanted the similarities to stop there by having it sounding like something else. Hawaiian and Swahili both have a high vowel-to-consonant ratio which is, though very beautiful in many ways, rather boring to work with after a while. This is a personal opinion nothing else, I still find Matt Pearson’s Okuna*** very likeable. As for Hebrew (both modern and biblical) and Arabic (modern-diverse and qur’anic) I cannot express how much I love the sound of them. I had to think very hard about it but in the end decided not to bring their sounds into this language. I plan to study the real things instead. The same goes for Russian. Quenya, and to some extent Sindarin, is the very reason as to why I became a conlanger. I cannot express my gratitude towards the late professor Tolkien for that. Still, Quenya has to be one of the most famous of fictional invented languages, which is why I did not need my language to emulate it. I have studied the real things instead, along with some extended derivative versions, and then decided to make my language something else. That leaves Lojban. I do not think anybody wants their language to sound like Lojban and the reason I address it is because, as I have mentioned, Techpfo leans toward dependency grammar, just as Lojban is based very firmly on predicate grammar. But that is also where the similarities end.
So what did I want the language to sound like? I did have a check list. Firstly, I wanted it to sound interesting to Swedish, English and Spanish speakers, and secondly to have many voiceless stops (I really love them for some reason). Moreover I wanted to make something more interesting with the vowel system than having just /a, e~i, u~o/. These criteria together with the things mentioned above gave me some very nive limitations/frames to work with.
Syntactically I wanted something elegant (that is consistent) and I settled for head-last (left-branching), and then made it obnoxiously inflexibly so. After all, this is not a human language (not really) and it is not an everything-is-possible logical language either. As for the look of the words in isolation I wanted high flexibility, thus settling for a very English like any-word-can-look-like-anything mentality, but at the same breaking that flexibility on a clause context level by having each phrase (or whatever) mandatorily marked for case (or something case-like at least).
Finally I have strived to make Techpfo unique, but still ‘normal’ enough for someone other than myself to learn and to speak. Which also explains the rather high degree of regularness in the language. I like Ancient Greek, Classic Latin, Georgian, Euskera, Xosa, and Cantonese, but once again, they already exist, and it is not like conlanging is a freakathon where I have anything to prove regarding insanely complex inflectional or phonetical systems. I might do that for fun though, but not this time.
So, did I suceed in achieving what I set out to achieve? In a way I might just leave that to you, the reader to decide, but then again it would drive me crazy if anybody did that to me, so yes, I do think I achieved what I set out to do. Now, I leave it to you to form your own oppinion on the matter.
x 1.3 related fiction
Now, at the beginning of the 2010s Techpfo has grown a new pair of wings and acquired both what I have all intentions of making its final form, and, a unique fictional setting in my invented world of Qehar, a planet with only 40-45% oceans and the remaining part covered mostly by one extensive continent of vast tundras, plateaus, montain ranges and plains. In this setting the language is spoken by a race of wandering humanoids who will be further described under the fictional background part of this text.
Information about this world and its inhabitants is presented through narratives set in Qehar, both illustrated stories and text-only shortstories, as well as though Qehar-related artwork. All of this is posted on my blog (filiprojasart.wordpress.com) as it develops. Currently (Jan, 2013) 27 parts of a planned 44 part illustrated saga is up at this site. Pure information about the language and other Qehar-related things is presented on a page on the same site dealing with all information in non-story form. Currently this includes the Field Grammar of Techpfo in PDF-format, a consice document of some 100 pages which will continue to develop some bulk through 2013 as it is regularly fleshed out with more example texts. Also, a comprehensive wordlist is currently being compiled and my aspiration is being able to present it online in PDF-format sometime before the end of 2013.
x 1.4 how to use this language, derivative work
In conclusion, Techpfo is an invented language of some complexity and depth, and has reached a form that I intend to be final, since nothing is more irritating than trying to learn an invented language with a maker who keeps changing his mind. (I’m a huge fan mr. Tolkien but yes I’m talking to you.)
So, if you find the language appealing and/or like the stories I make, please, feel free to use Techpfo, learn it, write it, speak it, invent new words and idioms, evolve new calligraphy styles, test the limits of the grammar, in short, do everything speakers and writers of language do.
I am no fan of prescriptive grammars, which is why I call my PDF-text, in the form of a field-linguistic doctoral thesis, a field grammar, and nothing else. I will regard this, my own, description of Techpfo as, just that, a description, one based on fictional field-linguistic work carried out by fictional exo-linguists, and a representation of the best try to understand Techpfo to date. In that way it is canonical, but, as we all know, languages tend to exhibit irregualarities and local variation, which is to date not in any way fully covered in the field grammar.
x 1.5 licence
Any part of my grammar and/or (future) wordlist may be quoted, copied, and distributed freely and non-commercially as long as I am mentioned as the original creator (as opposed to potential future co-developers) and credited accordingly.
No part of these texts may be sold for payment of any sort.
The artwork presented on my site belongs to me. Low-rez copies (longest side 1500 pixels) may be distributed non-commercially as long as I am credited as the creator. I humbly ask you not to change my art in any way, but to pour such creativity into making your own Qehar-related art (and/or stories), which I would like very much, in which case I only ask to be mentioned as Qehar’s original creator alongside you as the artist.
I hope these conditions seem fair and reasonable to you, which is how I have intended them to.
x 1.6 my thanks to the reader
I humbly thank you for your time in reading my texts and viewing my art. If anything, please leave a comment with an attached way of getting back to you ,or, mail to:
filip (dot) rosenqvist (at) gmail (dot) com.
x 1.7 fictional background to this text
Filianska is a language native to the world of Qehar. It is spoken by somewhere beween 12-14 thousand native speakers across the large continent named Infinite Plains. This study is the fruit of a decade of fieldwork carried out across Infinite Plains by a freelance group of xeno-linguists known as The Smiling, and is the first attempt to compile a more or less comprehensive grammatical description of filianska on a language not native to Qehar. The dialect represented in this work is that spoken in the north-eastern part of Infinite Plains, and which may be considered to be the main variety. The Smiling published a work in obscurity in Uppsala in 1996 under the rather odd title >>Cold teeth against the wind of Infinite Plains**<< which relates their journey around Infinite Plains in some detail, and with a rather longish appendix annexed containing the notes upon which this work is based. The Smiling conducted the relevant studies during a time of approximately 10 years, somewhere prior to the 1990s, before which they gained access to Qehar by some means unknown to me. Access to Qehar is usually granted by a limited number of means, which usually include some kind of portal or vessel. A portal might be a dimensional hole, in which case they are most commonly found in nature (although they appear only seldom, and in unpredictable locations.) A portal can also be induced though the means of a spacetime-folding machine, most commonly found on earth only in the far future. The same machine can also be used to travel to the far future, in the case that one already disposes of one to begin with of course. A vessel will most probably be a spaceship, also mostly found in the far future. A time machine will take you there, but chances are that any normal time machine will also travel through space, thus negating the need for a space ship in the first place. As for Qehar the case is almost certainly different, as it is suspected that portals do not only appear somewhat more regularly (perhaps up to three times a centuary***), but also that they might be induced though certain varieties of high shamanism, even though these are weak suspitions at best, and might boil down to being nothing more than rumors founded on specisism. In any case, The Smiling traveled to Qehar some way or another during the late 19th century to conduct their studies, and then subsenquently published their above-mentioned work which I came across during a stay in Uppsala in 2010. I was fascinated and started working on sorting and organizing the informaion found in the appendix, which eventually became the work in your hand. x 1.8 language name Filianska is the name most oftenly employed by earth linguists to refer to this language, and is a term borrowed from the swedish linguistic community, probably derived from the name of swedish adventurer Filip Rosenstierna, in spite of the language repeatedly being referred to as Techpfo in Rosenstierna’s own publication >>Plainly on the Plains*, 1955<<, which is in many ways a rather vulgar compilation of texts, but nevertheless the oldest travelogue of Qehar by far, which makes it important enough to mention, if not necessarily good literature.
In this work I will, for historical reasons, use the term filianska to refer to the language, and filian as its related adjective and noun.
x 1.9 the general setting
The Filian natives wander across the eastern parts of Infinite Plains.
x 1.9.1 when and by whom the language is spoken
Filianska is used for every-day conversation by 12-14 thousand inhabitants of Infinite Plains.
x 1.10 notes on the filians
The Filians are uprightwalking humanoids of unknown life spans, native to the planet Qehar. They reportedly measure between 150 to 230 cm in height, with greyish skin, have 4-5 fingers on each hand, 4-5 toes on each foot, and dispose of at least three sexes (female, male, neuter/sexless?), though the nature of these sexes is largely a mystery. The Filians signal tribal affiliation trough painted burnt-clay face masks and antlered head decorations. According to reports they possess a stamina for walking and running that far surpasses that of an Earth human. Filians do not ride.
x 1.11 language overview
Filianska is a highly analytic , strongly left-branching Time-Manner-Place, tripartite Experiencer/Agent-Object-Verb language with tendencies of constituent dropping and of leaning heavily on deixis and contextual referencing. Syntactically clause level is distinguished from word level, but no phrase level is acknowledged. Words are divided into five word classes: action verb, stative verbs of state, stative verbs of property (nouns/adjectives), short-verbs (pronouns) and postpositions (and other flowing words). The word class corresponding to nouns and adjectives do not mark for number, gender or definitiveness, but third person pronouns mark for four genders: neuter, feminine, masculine and sexless. The classes analoguous to verbs though mark for both tense, aspect and mood. Syllables tend to have an CVC-structure even if simpler forms are also allowed. There are 12 vowel phonemes of which four are diphthongs, and 22 consonant phonemes, of which 9 are plosives and 3 affricates. The prosody tends to be flat.
x 1.12 notes to the reader
Filianska is a language of humanoids but not of humans, a distinction which is pertinent to bear in mind while reading this text. It may thus seem odd in its regularity and alien in the scarcity of its word classification system. One should not be fooled though, into thinking filianska a simplistic language of inferior beings by judging from appearences. Likewise, the filians present cultural, being in a state of low technological development, should not fool anyone into premature conclusios regarding their general intelligence. It should be noted that filianska exhibits a high degree of unpredictability in the outcome of combinations of its tense, aspect and mood markings as well as on a semantic level in the meanings of its compounds. I should also hasten to point out to the diligent reader that the examples presented in this work represent a humorous cross-section of Filianska and should not be taken as clues as to how this language is necessarily spoken in all areas of Qehar life, no more than the pervasive omission of contractions in the translations are indicative of actual spoken english. It is also true that filianska is quite rigidly case and tense marking. Nevertheless no rule exists that cannot be broken, confused, or both, and this very much is the case for filianska, as it is for any other, human, language.
Since I at the moment don’t feel disposed in any way whatsoever to put myself through the torture och trying to install a tag option for wordpress pages I’ll add my tags here:
conlang, conlanging, artlang, artlanging, conlang grammar, invented language, conscript, invented alphabet, conlang reference grammar, conlang complete grammar, pdf, constructed language, fictional language, naming language, science fiction, fantasy.