What is language?

This was a question that I asked myself when I first started to write Tazeric. I wanted something to set this story apart from most of the rest of the fantasy adventure book that I had read throughout my life.

The first aspect I took in consideration is, the world we live in. I have worked in the restaurant industry for many years. Most of the dish washers, busboys, back of the house cooks, were and are Mexican, Central and South American. To call them all Mexican is like calling all white people English.

So, what’s the difference? Well, even though all these workers spoke one form of Spanish, the dialect and context was different due to where these men and woman originated from. Guatemalan Spanish if different from Northern Mexican Spanish. If you look at any region of the world we live on, you can find differences in not only language from country to country, but dialect changes from region to region within many of these countries.

Why should it not be different for a book?

In Andries Louws hilarious fantasy adventure series, The Dao of Magic, the main protagonist, Drew Liam or Teach, gets reincarnated into this new world and has to learn the language. What surprises him is that everyone seems to speak the same language no matter where he travels on the planet he now finds himself stuck on. Why? The answer is both simple and frightening. The dragons overseers are too lazy to learn new languages. When a kingdom develops a new language, they destroy that kingdom. This is an easy way to streamline the language in your book, and well, much like the dragons, kind of lazy too.

It is commonly said that people from the United Kingdom and the United States are: “Two peoples separated by a common language.” Yes we all speak English, but the dialects are much different.

Why do I bring this up? Well, my main character, Zenith, her friends Nami, Megan, and Brytha all speak a form of, what we could call today, street slang. For this, I leaned heavily on Scottish and Irish slang. English is a funny language. (Not like, haha funny, but difficult and frustrating funny.) The biggest problem that English as a Second Language (ESL) student have when learning English is that it doesn’t follow any rules! Now throw in street slang, and boom, massive confusion.

There are latterly thousands of new worlds coming out of the United States, with new meanings, every year. My main character and her merry band of women come from the slums. Slang is a huge part of their vocabulary.

With all this being said, I use language and dialect to form a picture, not only to the characters upbringing, but the location of this upbringing. For me, this is important for others characters to notice that they do not all speak alike. It is also important for the reader to not only be able to pick up on the differences in the dialect but also in the languages.

I did not go as far as J.R.R. Token did when we developed The Lord of the Rings world, Middle Earth. He created Elven, Dwarven, Orc and I think another languages. I was unwilling to venture down that far into the language rabbit hole. What I did is I barrowed from other languages to create my own words and meanings. I also used modern slang to create a base for my characters. Then I had commonly used words that I just tweaked.

Why did I tweak words to fit my characters? Mostly to add color to the story. I also thought about words like the F-bomb and other curse words and deliberately stayed away from them. I’m no saint, so I did add a few curse words, when I felt it was necessary. Having a story full of curse words, dulls the impact of the word and also, just gets tiresome to read. If you are going to use curse words, let these words make am impact on your characters and your reader.

Words that I used commonly in my story:

Aboot – About

Luv, me mate, me girl – My friend

Cry, have a good cry – have a talk or talk to

Gonna – going to

dank – thanks

ya – you

ta – to or too

and many others.

I tried to enrich my story with language to help bring my characters to life. I hope that you got something from this.

Happy Writing,

J.W. Berwyn

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