Choosing a language for your fantasy or science fiction work can really put a cramp in the project. It’s no easy choice to make. When I first started writing, I chose Latin and Celtic names for places and people. I soon realized that many of these were already well used, with many intertexts that would impinge upon my work. That’s not what I had intended at all. I was attempting to do something as original as I could. Eventually, I set those projects aside until I could find a better way to do this.
Two decades later, and two historical fictions under my belt, along with two degrees, I moved onto my Trilogy. Armed with my research experience and my historical goggles firmly in place, I undertook the project with my usual, just start writing and see how things fall out and what you think up during the process to guide you. This has worked very well, in my opinion thus far. Trailokya, after all, started out as a screenplay and has been fleshed out into three sizable books. I have plans to continue it forward from there.
One of the premises of the books was to tie the worlds of Trailokya together. Therefore, I needed to show those ties in interesting ways. For instance, the various orders reflect elements of the world we know, such as Luthias’s very
Scottish appearance and his Pritanni order. The concepts of social interaction are another level. One of the keys of social interaction is language. Language is a cultural creation, and it is important to understand how it frames and is framed by various cultures.
In addition, I use ancient teachings and lore to frame out the history behind the story and set the stage. Many of the texts are religious, but I do not use the religious for evangelical purposes. One of things I did do was take the story of the tower of Babel and ground it in more realistic ways. Not only was the understanding of people shattered by the destruction of Babel, but with it their cultural identity. This became a metaphor for why incarnated souls do not remember Zion and themselves. The skin suit is equipped with insulators that dampen these.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to chose a language that was very old, perhaps dead and steeped in mystery to the larger part of my audience, who are Western. As a historian, I am aware of many of these things. I have been soaking in information for the better part of 40 years that culminated in this story.
Sanskrit came to mind pushing out other archaic languages, as I didn’t want the stereotypes and attachments of Latin and other ancient languages. I felt that this one would be far freer from pre-conceptions. That said, it is a tough language for any student to learn, and even tougher to teach pieces of it to readers who cannot hear the words pronounced and of which it is entirely new.
That was when I found the Spoken Sanskrit Project by Cologne University in Germany. Ironic, isn’t it? This was at the same time I had determined that I would start learning German once I was done with my degree. I just adore these sidebar intertexts. Thanks to these researchers, I was able to find the words I needed to raise the level of my books. It is exciting to say the least.
If you struggle with a word I’ve used in the books, you can pop onto YouTube and do a search: How to pronounce… Almost all the words can be found there, but the project’s site also gives useful help on this front. Consider that the words I’ve used are the spoken version.
In addition to Sanskrit, I’ve used nouns from Greek and Roman myths, as well as some limited Latin. To find out what myths and words were used, read The Trailokya Trilogy, Book One: The Shadow Soul on Wattpad or purchase a copy of the book from retailers online.
Leave a Reply