The Start of Shabkiuza

Shabkiuza is a great example of connecting the dots. I had an idea for a language, but didn't have a culture for it to be spoken by. I had written a story which featured a constructed language, but I had not developed it beyond a handful of phrases. The conclusion should have been obvious, but in fact it took a lot longer than it should have... they were tailor made for each other.

In creating this language, I'm more interested in features that are interesting rather that features that are natural. I haven't set out to specifically violate any language universals, but nor am I insistent that there exist any real-world language which instantiates the features I'm using. My in-world explanation is that the language is highly regulated by an Academy, which often creates prescriptive rules. Given that the language is used by the upper class as a way of distinguishing themselves from the lower classes, and facility with language is a key attribute of nobility, the rules are followed minutely, whether they are "natural" or not.

For example, every independent clause must being with a pronoun. I know of no natural language with such a rule, but such a rule could be imposed prescriptively, and have effects as far reaching as the prescription in Engish to not split infinitives. (Heh.) Careful speakers will understand and obey the rule, and in this culture, all speakers are careful speakers. In casual speech, they would speak a different language entirely.

As a result, the language is highly regular, although there are irregular verbs, and exceptions to most rules. When possible, I have tried to justify any truly exceptional features on the basis of historical development paired with Academy meddling.

My current plan is to begin with a full survey of the grammar, writing sample vocabulary and sentences as I go. When that is finished, I'll do a blitz on vocabulary, attempting to deal with around 2,000 of the most common words in English, as well as derived forms.

After that, I want to build up a corpus. I'm going to find some short stories on Project Gutenberg with expired copyrights and start translating. I might even translate parts of the story in which the language features into that language. Translation will be the best way to fill in vocabulary gaps and smooth out awkward grammatical structures. I would imagine that the number of exceptions will increase during this period as well.

On this blog, I plan to comment on my current progress. Feel free to comment, make suggestions, ask questions, or generally engage with me on this or any topic.

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