Comentary Conlanging

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In the processes of creating a conlang, some people have difficulty attaching meanings to the phonemes that they have crafted. Comentary Conlanging is a game to help with situations like this.

Disclaimer: The words chosen and their meanings are in the view of the author and are by no means reflective on FrathWiki, conlangers, or humanity as a whole.

This game has some fairly simple steps.

  1. Note which phonemes are acceptable within your conlang.
  2. Create a list of no more than ten words, names or acronyms.
  3. Come up with a metaphoric discription, or commentary on each of the words.
  4. Break the words up into syllables according to the way you personally pronounce them.
  5. Transcribe the syllables according to the phonology of your conlang.
  6. Optional apply sound changes to the new words to further them from the words you based them on.


In the following examples I will skip step one, which can be inferred from my results if someone is interested.
My list will be:

  • computer
  • nerd
  • enterprise
  • laser
  • FEMA
  • IRS

Starting with computer. The definition of this particular device is obvious to you the reader (which is not the point of this game), but let's instead suppose someone thought it to mean, "Living Book". I pronounce computer kəm-pu-tər. So then I would transcribe this as kumi-piu-tir, and in my suppossed conlang adjectives come after nouns so, kumi means "book", and piu means "to live" with tir turning the verb into an adjective.

Polysyllabic words are fairly easy, but what do you do when the word has only one syllable as in "nerd"? Well, here you have a couple of options. You could look at the etymology of the word (knurd), treat it as an acronym (see below), or try to come up with a synonym that is also a single word. For nerd we will use knurd and I will define it as “overqualified for life”. I would pronounce it as kə-nərd and thus transcribe it as ki-nur-id. We already have life so we don't have to worry about that and you can just drop articles, so you are left with "overqualified". From there you have "ki-": over, and "nurid" qualified.

Enterprise or In-it-irip-riash, means "a nerd's heaven". All we will use here is "riash" to mean heaven. But wait -- isn't nerd's heaven, "kinuridiriash" and not "initiripriash"? Yes, and from this we can see a neat feature of this game. Your derived words should never naturally become the words they are derived from.

On to acronyms: two that are pronouncable like words (yes, laser is an acronym) and one that is only pronounceable when the letters are said phonetically. With acronyms you have an option when it can be said without phonetically saying its letters and that is to treat it as a word. The other is to treat the phonetic letter as a syllable.

This article is part of a series on Conlanging Culture.

Conlanging culture: Conlang flag * Conlang terminology * Language Creation Conference * Smiley Award
Conlanging organizations: Language Creation Society
Conlanging forums and online communities: CBB * Conlang-L FAQ * List of communities * PFJ * Zompist Bulletin Board
Conlanging websites:
Conlanging games: Conlang relay * Comentary Conlanging * Glossotechnia * #Lexember
Misc: Software tools for conlanging * My First Conlang * St Hildegard's day * *