The BG Language Creation Guide

If You already have some Words Made up and a culture Ready to Go

If you already have a culture set up, make sure that the words already created for that culture are pronouncible in your language. Go through a list of any words already invented for the people and phonetically transcribe them. That's the basis of the consonants and vowels you need for your language. Like this:

Here is a list of words in a pretend culture. Call it the culture of the ants who invade my kitchen every June.

Move through your list, transcribing and maintaining a list as you go, making choices along the way:

Now, I take a look at my final list:
[t k b d f S tS l r m N] [i e { u o a ]
11 consonants and 6 vowels. On the low side for number of consonants certainly, but the vowels are about average. I may want to add a few consonants.

As I look over the list, I find a few obvious gaps. For my bilabials, I have a voiced stop but no voiceless one. Maybe, I'll add that in. for the velar stops, I find a voiceless stop [k] but no voiced [g]. I guess I don't care about that: I'll leave it. As I look at the fricatives though, I am surprised to note that I never used [s]. that's not only typologically odd but it also sort of bothers me. I bet I'll want [s] for the ants at some point. I'm missing [n], but maybe that's ok. I also feel like maybe ants ought to have more africates than we have in English, so I'll add in a set of voiced and voiceless alveolar africates, and the voiced partner to [tS]. The other thing I notice that's missing is the [j] glide. I think I'll leave that our just for fun. Here's the result with all these consonants added in: 16 in total.
[p t k b d f s S ts tS dz dZ l r m N] [i e { u o a ]

It's a perfectly reasonable set of segments, and accounts for all the words I've made so far with room to add lots more.

Updated: June 23, 2011