This is prompted partly by the recent enthusiasm of some friends for Og – The Caveman Roleplaying Game, and partly by my never-ending love affair with the English language. It’s a bully and a thief, stealing words from across the world and torturing them into new meanings. It disobeys its own rules, or makes them so complex that not even born English speakers can necessarily follow them. I am daily thankful that I don’t have to learn it as a foreign language, and that I was taught grammar at primary school.
And I love it. I love the history behind it, the ridiculous sayings and the poetry that can be found in the most mundane conversations. I love what it becomes when you peel back those layers, too, as demonstrated in this fantastic piece of work by Rick Harrison. Here’s how the Atomic Theory works when you replace just the words based on German. Read it and enjoy.
To me, it sounds almost like another language. Use this as a world-building device in fantasy and you instantly have a feel for the world, the people, the magic and the history – all without having to explain much. It gives a very distinct voice, is clear and yet different. I regret that I don’t know enough about the origins of my own language to be able to do this for myself, but it is beautiful and I’d love to know of any books that do something similar well. Does anyone have any recommendations?