One of my secret hobbies is creating languages (“conlangs”, constructed languages, a word I loathe). I first caught the bug from Tolkien when I was nine or ten years old, reading The Lord of the Rings, and realized that the word nazg in the Ring inscription (“Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul…”, “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them…”) was the same nazg in the word Nazgûl, “Ring-wraith”. How cool is that?!
I usually create languages to go along with various writing projects. There are half a dozen or so related languages under development for the Gnial setting, all of them derived from English. (“Gnial” itself is a well-worn descendant of the name Greenland, the lush, temperate island where many of the humans settled after being stranded in the Cretaceous period.) The Sagaia project is going to require some language development also, mostly to fill out and explain or replace the names that C. S. Lewis created. (The name Sagaia, the “real” name of Narnia, is simply “Land of Sages”. “Narnia” is a pseudonym that C. S. Lewis came up with, “land of Norns”, or “land of witches.”)
But I also make languages just for the fun of it. For a couple of years, off and on, I’ve been working on a language called Saonstat, literally “the speaking tongue”. In my off hours I sometimes translate the Tao Te Ching into this language; it’s a way of growing the vocabulary and syntactic range of the language, while making me think deeply about the meaning of the text. Here’s a recent one I liked:
Larcogulum daud ostatatsta moumum
Na ne velava esodo.
Daud zhairtazha duudum ruhafurum
Won tuata acarucum.
more-good <imperative> stop-<inf> short-<theme>
and not fill-<inf> edge-to.
<imperative> sharpen-<inf> too-<gen> knife-<gen>
when do-<inf> work-<theme>.
Better to stop short
Than fill to the brim.
Oversharpen the blade
And the edge will blunt.
Retire when the work is done.
That is the way of heaven.