Tag Archives: Inamali

The language of magic, part 1 of lots

2 Oct


Inamali is the language of magic – the language of the Inamali people and their writings, including their spell books. It is the language Karia must master if she is to understand how to destroy magic.

And I thought you may enjoy the books a lot more if you understand a few things about the Inamali language.

Spoiler alert: If you have not read The House in the Old Wood, you will not want to read the rest of this post.

A syllabary

In The House in the Old Wood, Karia discovers that Inamali is not written letter by letter, but syllable by syllable. I’ve mentioned before that systems of writing syllable by syllable are called syllabaries.

English could not be efficiently written with a syllabary because there are so many possible syllables in English. Put together just about any two or three letters – or even four or five or more – and it’s likely to be a syllable you can find in at least one of our English words. We have a lot of words. The Oxford English Dictionary puts the number around 250,000, while some say it’s passed 1 million.

That’s a lot more than virtually any other language.

Far fewer syllables

But it’s not just the number of words that makes a difference. It’s the types of syllables. English has open syllables (syllables that end in vowels) and closed syllables (those that end in consonants). Many languages – such as Inamali – have only open syllables. This means there are far fewer possible syllables, and therefore Inamali can be written with a syllabary.

The possible number of Inamali syllables is further limited by the small number of consonants and vowels. Twenty consonants and three vowels, actually, arranged in 37 syllables.

Leads to some words being the same

With fewer syllables to work with, a lot different Inamali words look and sound like the same word. So, sili means playful and redfish and cumulonimbus and walk slowly – four completely different concepts, expressed with the same two symbols and sounding exactly alike:

sili

So how would you tell them apart? How could you ever make sense out of what someone was saying?

Easily, actually.

We’ll take a look at that next time …

Book 1, second edition: A change in Chapter 5

22 Sep

Spoiler alert: If you have not read The House in the Old Wood, you will not want to read this post!

I’d better finish telling you what’s different in the second edition of the first book, The House in the Old Wood, before the second book, Karia’s Path, gets here!

In addition to including a map and the first chapter of Karia’s Path, the second edition of The House in the Old Wood has a minor change to the ending of Chapter 5 so you can actually see some Inamali writing. Here is how it reads in the first edition:

Bending down to pick up the quill, her shoulder brushed against the writing stand, nudging it. When she stood again, she saw that on the stand, under the dust, was a piece of paper with some writing on it.

She put the pen back in the inkwell, picked up the paper and blew the dust off.

The writing was Inamali. She recognized the slender, fine characters. And at the top, she saw the only word she could read in Inamali:

“Karia.”

In the second edition, it’s a bit longer and has … well, take a look:

Bending down to pick up the quill, her shoulder brushed against the writing stand, nudging it. When she stood again, she saw that on the stand, under the dust, was a piece of paper with some writing on it.

She put the pen back in the inkwell, picked up the paper and blew the dust off.

The writing was Inamali. She recognized the slender, fine characters. At the top, she saw a familiar word:

Karia

 It was the only word she could read in Inamali:

“Karia.”

Silly Berries … three of ’em!

4 Aug
karia

“Karia” in contemporary Inamali

Syllabaries sound a bit like some kind of a treat, don’t they?

But they’re actually a way of writing a language. Sort of an alphabet for languages that are written syllable by syllable.

That’s how Inamali, one of the primary languages in the series, The Day Magic Died, is written. But I had no intention of ever writing anything using an Inamali syllabary. Then along came the map.

There’s a map that Karia finds in the first book, The House in the Old Wood, that has some writing on it that looks sort of like what she identifies as Old Inamali. You’ll find out in the second book, Karia’s Path, that this is written in another language altogether.

I asked the artist who drew the map for the first book to draw that map for the second book. She agreed to, but I needed to give her the words, written the way I wanted them written.

Oh.

I had no idea how the words were supposed to be written.

iiik-new

“Inamali Ili, Inamali kri” in contemporary Inamali

So this weekend I sat down and created three syllabaries: One for contemporary Inamali, one for Old Inamali and one for the other language.

I did that because the three languages are related, with Old Inamali serving as a sort of transition from the other language to contemporary Inamali.

I’ve included some examples here of what contemporary and Old Inamali look like.

iiik-old

“Inamali ili, Inamali kri” in Old Inamali

The phrase is one you’ve encountered in the first book. You’ll find out what it means in the second book. And the completion of the syllabary, so the artist can draw the map that will accompany the book, is another step toward having the second book ready to be published.

What do you think?

Reasons to read The House in the Old Wood, No. 7

11 Jun

You’re fascinated with peeking into topics you haven’t had the opportunity to learn a lot about. Karia has to learn to read another language. But did you know that some languages aren’t written using an alphabet? That prefixes and suffixes are not the only ways to modify a word? That there’s more to understanding a language than knowing the words and the grammar? You will after you read The House in the Old Wood, because the twists and turns of languages are among the story’s twists and turns. Or you could read a linguistics textbook. Your choice. Read The House in the Old Wood and you’ll get a fascinating glimpse into linguistics.

Is there anything you don’t know a lot about, but you think would be fascinating to get a glimpse into?

%d bloggers like this: