Of interest to no one but myself: my recurring themes and tropes

I have a ton of stories and characters that I come up with that I never write down (mostly because, hooo boy, Mary Sue and self-insert ahoy, wow.) I’m including those in these, because, well, I can. It’s my site. ;)

At nothing else, you can use this as a reason to get lost on the TV Tropes site for a few hours. I’ll be adding stuff as I think of it, basically so I can then get it out of my head and preferably stop making the same list over and over again.

  • Villain Protagonist I love writing villains and bad guys, so I tend to write more of them than heroes. It does mean some of my other recurring themes get some Unfortunate Implications because every time I write that kind of character it’s a bad guy.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink, Even Evil Has Loved Ones, Even Evil Has Standards, Blue and Orange Morality. It’s hard to write an absolutely evil character when you’re in his head (although I manage if the situation calls for it). And, well, complicated characters are more fun.
  • Mind Hive. I like to write characters who have a couple of people living in their heads. Unfortunately, this is one of the ones that bugs me, because right now all those characters are bad guys right now. And I do believe in Healthy Multiplicity so I want to fix that (The one good thing is that those characters are generally complicated and are more grey morality than black. So, that helps. Still need to fix it though.)
  • The Sleepless. Several of my characters have weird or irregular sleep schedules that don’t impact them poorly. For some of them it’s to emphasize that they’re odd. Some of the others it’s just the way they are.
  • Tall, thin men in nice suits. Yeah, it’s Author Appeal. Also cat people, barefooting, and a bunch of things that don’t need to be mentioned here.
  • Superpowers. Mutants. Spandex. Yeah, I read too many X-men comics as a kid and now I read too many Batman comics.
  • Hurt / Comfort. Sometimes without the comfort. (aka Whump)
  • Masks and Scars. Partially goes with the superhero stuff. Partially just because masks are cool. Sometimes goes as far as Full Body Disguise, especially for superheroes (I’m not a big fan of the domino mask…)
  • One True Love. Which is silly, because it’s not something I believe in real life. At least when I write it, it doesn’t mean that the relationship will be easy. Usually combined with some sort of soul-link thing (I rarely go as far as telepathy. Because telepathy is highly overrated).
  • Nearly instant language learning or Universal translator. Generally through some sort of telepathy or magic.
  • Older than they look. I keep writing these characters that are practically immortal or have a healing factor that keeps them looking young. (yes, alright, I read too many comic books, okay?)
  • Characters with mental illnesses or personality disorders, usually things that don’t exactly match up with anything real. I did mention too much Batman, right?

Link Dump – Linguistics Edition

Sorry, this is going to light on pretty pictures and heavy on things that are of limited interest to most people. You don’t like it, there are thousands of other blogs you could be reading.

Teach yourself linguistics

From all things linguistics:

Other Things

From Aveneca.com, host of the new CBB (aka the conlang board I’m on)

Linguistics lessons for language learners. Includes IPA, phonology, morphology, syntax, historical linguistics, sound change, and more. (from Nativlang, which also has some free lessons in different languages and published some books on Amazon and Lulu that look interesting)

It’s ‘not’ history – how negation usage changes in a cycle through languages. (from the University of Cambridge)

Lexique Pro – a free program for creating a lexicon for your conlang (or natlangs). I wish it was portable. Windows only.

How many languages did Tolkien make?

From Frathwiki.com, one of the conlang wikis:

  • Conlang Terminology – common jargon like lostlang, sketchlang, relex, ANADEW (Another Natlang Already Did it Even Worse).
  • Software Tools – a lot of the links are outdated, unfortunately, but there are word generators, several conlanging guides, sound change appliers, and more.

Link Dump – Anodyne Edition

History of Type – five part series – link starts at the beginning. Probably only interesting to type and design geeks (of which I am one). (from I love typography.)


DIY String Art – I’m going to do this in my dining room. I’ve seen other tutorials but this particular result is really cute. (from Hellobee)


Encyclopedia of Tie Knots – a breakdown of every possible way to tie a tie, based on topology.


Fiction Into Reality: Why We Borrow From What We Love (from Tor.com)

You can see more of my favorited art on DeviantArt (I just can’t link it all here).

It occurs to me that if I’m going to use weird words for these, I should define them.

Anodyne is a pain reliever or anything that relieves distress. It was also Madelyne Pryor’s codename in the rather forgettable X-men/Alpha Flight crossover where Loki was going to give everyone in the world super powers, at the cost of their imaginations. Her costume was terrible.

Last time’s word, serendipity, means to stumble unto desirable discoveries, from a story called The Three Princes of Serendip (more info). And it was a series of really adorable (if sometimes slightly twee) kids books.

Conlanging – Nyjichun

Okay, I’ve finally uploaded the Ŋyjichɯn tiddlywiki*. I’ve also updated lesson one there, with more stuff and assignments (working with the idea that it’s meant to be a textbook). As any conlanger would tell you, it’s very much a work in progress and pretty much everything is subject to change at any time. But now I can go to the conlang forum and ask for input without having to rewrite things. Which is what I’m going to do next.

Notes for using the tiddlywiki: You can navigate from the Table of Contents or tagCloud. Links open below in the same window. I’ve got it set up so the last 20 or whatever links you follow show up on top. And no, you can’t edit it.

*  I should do a blog post about tiddlywikis. They’re very awesome.

Conlanging – Ŋyjichɯn – Lesson 1

As I said last time, this is one of my languages that I made for Thundercats fandom. Specifically, this one is the one that Wilykit and Wilykat speak, along with one of my original characters, Felino. First of all, I haven’t seen all of the 2011 revival, so all of this is from the original series and the 80s comics. Second, my personal theory is that Wilykit and Kat are adults, but that their clan don’t get as tall as other Thunderians and grow up slower.

None of that is incredibly relevant to the language itself, to be honest. This post will cover phonology (the sounds of the language) and colors. Here we go.


IPA / Trans labiodental alveolar post-alveolar velar
nasal ɱ m n n ŋ ŋ
plosive t t k k
affricative tʃ dʒ ch j
fricative f v f v s z s z
approximant ɰ w
tap β ɽ r
lateral approximant l l

The International Phonetic Alphabet notation is given in red. The standard transcription is given in black. Honestly, the only reason I use β is because the IPA symbol doesn’t show up in my browser. It looks better than β, but what are you gonna do?

My accent is Standard American English. Since this is a conlang, it honestly doesn’t matter that much if you pronounce things incorrectly, but I’ll be giving approximate sounds based on my accent, with heavy help from Wikipedia.

The majority of consonants should not give students trouble, although Ŋyjichɯn speakers may detect an accent on the ‘m’ and ‘w’. If you wish to prevent that, pronounce ‘m’ against your top teeth and ‘w’ in the back of your throat.

  • ‘ŋ’ is equivalent to ‘ng’ in ‘sing.’
  • ‘r’ should be pronounced cleanly and shortly, a tap at the top of the mouth, like the ‘d’ in ‘rider’.
  • ‘β’ is similar, a short tap against the upper teeth.
IPA / Trans front near-front central near-back back
close i y ɯ ɯ
near-close ʏ i ʊ u
mid ɜ o
open a a ɒ ɒ

The pairs ‘i’ & ‘y’ and ‘ɯ’ and ‘u’ are primarily distinguished by how rounded the lips are. Vowels are most likely to give students trouble, but the approximations below will generally be sufficient.

  • y as in free
  • i as in bit, but with the lips rounded
  • a approximately as in cat
  • o approximately as in strut
  • ɯ as in boot but with the lips very rounded
  • u as in hook
  • ɒ as in hot but with lips very rounded

(If I don’t have IPA available or it’s too much hassle, I cheat and use ‘h’ for ‘ŋ’, ‘B’ for ‘β’, ‘x’ for ‘ɯ’, and ‘p’ for ‘ɒ’.)

Doubled vowels are pronounced twice as long. Any vowel may combine with another to form a diphthong, and are pronounced long. On the occasion that a vowel is meant as a syllable it is written with apostrophes separating it. For example ro’ɒ’ryi, za’yr’ta, ny’i’an, kyo’yt.

And now for some fun stuff.


Color words in Ŋyjichɯn are heavily associated with nature and the exact color meant is heavily context specific. The pictures below give a sampling of the hues associated. If you’ve checked out the link dumps, there was a long article about how different cultures see color. Wikipedia also has a fair overview here.


hafnxh jasakyijio     kixklyasim kouch

To reference the color itself (or to create new color terms), the color is incorporated into chanyki, thus chajɒɯwnyki, white; chawaovonyki, fire colored (waovo, fire), etc. Native speakers would say that metal terms would fall under lyasim, even if the shade itself might fall under ŋafnɯŋ or kiɯk.

You’ll note that most of the words have meaning beyond colors. Words will be given in Ŋyjichɯn alphabetical order.

Modern Ŋyjichɯn English Notes
chanyki skin, surface, color
jɒɯw day, to be daytime, white, light
jio water, to be wet, to be liquid, juicy, black, brown, blue, green, blue For colors it describes deep cool colors like black, brown, green, and blue. The base color is black/brown. May also be used how we would use ‘tomato red’ to evoke the flavor
jasa fruit, flower, pink, red, magenta, purple References flowers and describes anything from pale pink to vibrant purple
ŋafnɯŋ child, unripe, green, raw, yellow, pale When used as a color it’s the color of unripe fruit, early morning sky, young shoots and grass, and can cover white, yellow, and light greens
kyi ripe, adult, mature, full-size, green, blue When used for colors it means the green of ripe vegetables, or noon-sky (vibrant greens and blues)
kiɯkjio red-brown Given as an example of combining colors. From kiɯk and jio
kiɯk blood, red, orange Describes the color of blood.
kouch night, dark, black Describes the dark, usually blue and unsaturated colors, you would observe at night.
lyasim stone, grey, beige, pale, yellow, tan, off-white Primarily inorganic colors (the color of stones), but also pale bark, the yellow of wheat, etc

I’m creating all this using a combination of Excel, Tiddlywiki (basically a wiki in a single file. It’s awesome), and various text files. At some point I’m going to write up an in-character description of Ŋyjichɯn, but I have to figure out how I want to approach it. And probably the next post will be simply ‘I’ve changed this in the tiddlywiki, here’s a link!’ rather than making it work in WordPress, which is somewhat of a pain. I have to get the tiddlywiki uploaded.

(Editted 2-18-13, because I screwed up when I derived kiɯkjio.)

WTF is a Conlang?

What is Conlanging?

Conlang is short for constructed language. Conlangers make up languages, whether that’s basically an English cypher or something as involved as Tolkien’s Quenya and Sindarin or Klingon created by Marc Okrend, which has taken on a life of its own. Generally, it’s done by people who love language for their own pleasure. It may or may not end up being used in stories (it seems most conlangs made up for as background are fairly skeletal). Some might be little more than a phoneme inventory, how to build words (morphology), and a bit of grammar. Some are as involved as any real language. There’s way too many different ways to do it for me to explain it, but the wikipedia page and the links at the end are a good start.

Why do you do it?

I like language. I unfortunately don’t have the knowledge necessary to be good at conlanging (I only learned IPA1 last year, for instance). It works my brain in different ways. I tend to work in spurts, which makes going back to things a challenge, but I have fun anyway. Pretty much all of my languages started as background for writing. My first (really bad one) was for a bunch of stories I started writing in junior high, I think, and was basically an English cypher. Several of them I came up with a phonetic inventory during class when I was supposed to be paying attention and did pretty much nothing else with it. I have a tendency to use mostly affixes and to create a writing system for each one.

When the Thundercats fandom was a lot more active in the 90s and early 00s, I started several Thunderian languages. Most of my languages started from that. They’re mostly going to get applied to other things (specifically the world of the White Knight, because creating a language is obviously easier than translating something into a real language /sarcasm). Some of my newer ones I take more inspiration from other, real languages, as you’ll see.

Some of my languages, in no particular order:

  • Herlanian: My first conlang. Objectively terrible. It was supposed to be the result of mixing a ton of real languages together, but it’s basically an English cypher. It just wasn’t very good at all and we shall never speak of it again.
  • Tusir: something I’m going to go back to at some point. A proto-language2, to then evolve into at least four other languages (theoretically). I was going to take inspiration from Arabic and Sanskrit. Currently just a phonetic inventory.
  • Nyazchyn: The name is probably going to get modified a little. Previously called Ochyn. One of my Thunderian languages, and probably the language I have the most done on right now. Previously SOV3 and isolating4, now highly synthetic, edging into polysynthetic. It takes some inspiration from Iroquois and other Native American polysynthetic languages, but only a tiny bit. Verb heavy and pretty much anything can be turned into a verb. This is the one I was working on most recently. I’m kind of lost on it right now (I stopped in the middle of things) so it’ll take some floundering to get going on it again. I need to do a ton of translations for it.
  • Lepadi: Playing with gender and another Thunderian language. The gender of a word determines the placement of the accent and the pronunciation. Phonemes have different sounds based upon gender. Noun-heavy with few verbs. I actually have a few passages translated, which is rather remarkable for me.
  • Okelen: Another Thunderian language, this one I was mostly dealing with the writing. It’s logographic like Chinese, but I was trying to avoid having any pronunciation info in the characters. VOS and supposedly agglutinating5.
  • Tynthna: Another Thunderian language that I did a fair bit with. Inspired by Japanese, with a syllabulary writing system and honorifics. That one was fun.

1 International Phonetic Alphabet

2 A language that will evolve into other languages. Latin is the proto-language for Romance languages, for example.

3 The word order of a language. English is subject, verb, object. There are six possibilities (I leave figuring them out as an exercise for the reader, or you could look at the link at the beginning of this).

4 A language is isolating, like Chinese, when the majority of words can’t be broken into smaller meaningful parts (aka morphemes). Synthetic is the opposite of that.

5 A form of synthesis, where you just keep adding bits (as opposed to fusional, aka inflectional, where the bits added mean multiple things)

30 Characters Challenge #5 – Swordcat

Name: Leon Smith / Lenxoli, aka Swordcat
Hair Color: Red
Eye Color: Yellow
Skin Tone (fur): Gold

Leon Smith was a fairly ordinary man. Divorced with shared custody of his daughter, Melinda. He preferred to spend his time camping, hiking, and fishing, well away from people. It was on a camping trip that he found a strange sword in the debris from a recent landslide. He made the mistake of picking it up and found it had a personality of its own, Lenxoli.

Lenxoli had gone somewhat mad after the destruction of its home planet, floating in space for countless eons, and laying buried on Earth for millions of years. It wants nothing more in the universe than to recreate the civilization it came from. The first two steps, in whatever order necessary, are to destroy the hairless beasts and uplift the felines, the creatures that are most like its makers.

It meant to completely overwrite Leon’s mind, but didn’t quite succeed. An unexpected side effect was for Leon to change from a grumpy misanthropist to someone who wanted nothing more than back scratches, good food, and a nap in a sunny space.

The sword itself grows  from dagger size to full-length sword. (The two swords as drawn are in scale to each other, I believe). Lenxoli’s mind is connected to the sword which is usually kept in the mental institution freezer, which helps quiet Lenxoli. The staff otherwise find Leon quite pleasant to deal with, especially compared to many of the other inmates.

Swordcat is a villain for my comic series, The White Knight.

I was trying to find a way to make him look fuzzy without having to draw lots and lots of hair, because I’m don’t draw that fast and I need ways to get out pages of the comic (when I make it) without each page taking forever. I use Manga Studio. With Swordcat I tried using the Brush Pen which has a little bit of texture for his skin. It showed up better in the giant version (duh, I know). It wasn’t a successful method from the time saving stand point either, because to preserve the texture I had to paint in all the blacks – without completely blacking them in – instead of using the Fill tool. Oh well, I had fun.

The swords on the bottom were drawn several years ago, which is why they’re shaded. I’m trying to get away from that shading style because, again, it takes too long. And, yes, the eye on his back is correct. It shifts to stay upright. And it’s watching you.