Friday, October 02, 2015

Five of the best books with invented languages

David J. Peterson created the Dothraki language for HBO's Game of Thrones. His latest book is The Art of Language Invention.

One of Peterson's five best books with invented languages, as shared at
Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

In Cat’s Cradle, Vonnegut introduces the reader to the island nation of San Lorenzo, whose culture, government, and religion were radically altered by the actions of two castaways who washed ashore one day. Central to the religion, called Bokononism, are a series of English-like words that were introduced to the island by English speakers, and then altered in quasi-realistic ways. For example, karass, likely from English “class,” is a group of people that are cosmically connected in an indiscernible way. From that word, though, comes the word duprass: A karass consisting of exactly two people. This is precisely the type of fascinating misanalysis that occurs all the time in real word borrowings, such as the English word “tamale,” formed by taking the “s” off “tamales,” even though the word for one tamale in Spanish is tamal.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue