One of the great things about fantasy is coming up with languages. When I first started developing the world in which the dragons live, creating a language – mostly for magical purposes – had been more of an afterthought. Over the years, however, it’s become a lot more than that. After two different names, a complete overhaul, and half the original vocabulary tossed out the window, it actually now functions like a real language.
Any of you who have tried making up your own language – and I know some of you must have – know what I’m talking about. For all its frustration, creating a language is, to me, at least as much fun as learning one. And, after four years of learning Latin, I’ve definitely noticed some similarities between it and my Illianií.
I suppose, first of all, it would be fair to tell you that “illiani” is “dragon” and “Illianií” “[language] of the dragons.” The word “Se” is difficult to translate into English, because it combines a number of ideas into one—great, in wisdom and power especially, is the basic idea. The end result of the word is that the dragons apply it to very few. It forms part of the title—Se Illiani—of their leader, as much because it is often true as because they wish it to be so.
One of the most interesting things about working on a fictional language is that there can be such difficulty in translating. Even though no one – but me, that is – uses Illianií, it has its own nuances that are hard to bring into English.
Language is so much fun!