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I was thinking about creating a realistic portrayal of how language(s) would develop in Equestria. Of course you would have different language families, most likely divided by the different sentient species in their world; the equine languages, the griffin languages, the draconic languages, etc. Each would have their own unique history, dialects, grammar, phonetics, and more importantly lexicon, which would be highly influenced by their culture and way of life.

Now let’s focus on the Ponies’ languages, or possibly a common Equestrian language that would have developed with the unification of the tribes. I was thinking they could develop an interesting noun classification system based on three groups; Earth/Terrequine, Sky/Pegasian, and Magic/Monocerous. This classification would not only apply to the types of ponies themselves, but reflect in how they view the world. Their names could take on the appropriate endings depending on if they were an earth pony, pegasus, or unicorn, and all nouns would get classified into one of those three groups; the ‘earth’ group for more earth-oriented things, the ‘sky’ group for sky-oriented things, and the ‘magic’ group for more abstract concepts. This could even apply to a single noun, where changing that noun’s ending or classification would change its meaning. Let’s make a word in example; perhaps la phona could mean “the tree” in earth form, then le phone could mean “the cloud” in sky form, and li phoni could mean “the pony (sentient individual; conscience)” in the magic form. (This is just for example; if I really make this language, there will be much more thought put into making it natural and have historical context with phonetic changes, irregularities, historic spelling rules, etc.)

Now historically, among the three tribes, each one would’ve had their own distinct dialect of a “proto-equestrian” language, which would eventually shape the accents, dialects and colloquialisms of their modern counterparts. The unicorns’ language would’ve probably been more archaic and formed the basis for the standardisation of modern equestrian grammar; hence, people from Canterlot and aristocratic unicorns/ponies tend to speak very clearly with a distinct accent and word choice that could possibly sound ‘posh’ and ‘ritzy’ to other ponies. You could even have a similar thing to English where, after the invasion of Normandy, we took words from French, which took on a more pretentious and sophisticated feel as they were used by the aristocracy, yet we also retained the same words from Anglo-Saxon which have a lower register as they were used by the commoners or working class. So words from historic Unicorn language would sound more formal and sophisticated, while perhaps words originating from Earth Ponies would sound more simple. The earth ponies would also develop many accents and dialects of this modern Equestrian language based on their historic language(s), which could be perceived by other ponies to be very ‘country’ or ‘rustic’ (i.e. Applejack and the Apple family). Of course in modern Equestrian times these colloquialisms won’t always hold true solely based on a pony’s type; for example, Octavia is an Earth Pony who speaks kind of poshly or ‘properly’. You could also have unique accents arising in the city, for example Babs’ accent. Princess Luna, then, would speak a very archaic, unicornish form of the Equestrian language, possibly an Early Modern Equestrian language based in Canterlot (comparable to Early Modern English).

If I continue through with this idea of documenting/creating a theoretical linguistic background for Equestria and constructing actual languages, I’ll probably post my progress here. Maybe one day we can have actual language courses and an entire community speaking an Equestrian language? That would be amazing. :) I’ll try to develop this more when I can, and hopefully I’ll have an actual speakable language underway soon. I will, however, probably have to start with an experimental Equestrian language first, before I start something serious, to kind of get an idea of how it would turn out and to get a basis for the whole thing.

So what are your thoughts on all of this? Any extra ideas or Equestrian history you'd like to point out that may contribute to this?

  • Brohoof 5

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One thing I've noted previously in my worldbuilding blog, is that if we take Luna as an example the cultural & linguistic shift in Equestria is much, much slower than the same shift on Earth. If we throw in clothing style changes over that period (using the Crystal Ponies as the basis), we also get a weird scale.

 

Over a thousand years on Earth, English changed from Old English (Hwæt! Wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum) to Modern English (Listen! We of the Spear-Danes in the days of yore). Luna, on the other hand, spoke more like an interpretation of Early Modern English (Shakespearian-style) after being in the Moon for a thousand years. Likely this is due to Celestia being effectively immortal, as the ruler of a land has an outsized effect on fashion. Her running things for a thousand years leading to her slowing down the rate of cultural change of the general populous.

  • Brohoof 2

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One thing I've noted previously in my worldbuilding blog, is that if we take Luna as an example the cultural & linguistic shift in Equestria is much, much slower than the same shift on Earth. If we throw in clothing style changes over that period (using the Crystal Ponies as the basis), we also get a weird scale.

 

Over a thousand years on Earth, English changed from Old English (Hwæt! Wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum) to Modern English (Listen! We of the Spear-Danes in the days of yore). Luna, on the other hand, spoke more like an interpretation of Early Modern English (Shakespearian-style) after being in the Moon for a thousand years. Likely this is due to Celestia being effectively immortal, as the ruler of a land has an outsized effect on fashion. Her running things for a thousand years leading to her slowing down the rate of cultural change of the general populous.

 

That is true about the language and culture evolving much slower in the ponies’ world. Perhaps not only is this due to Celestia’s rule and possible immortality, but also ponies in general could have longer lifespans than humans? What if their world is much smaller than the human world (as seen in Equestria Girls, where Equestria is basically the size of a single city or high school), and as a result the cultural changes are less extreme? Not to mention they have magic which could play a role in the interconnectivity of their world, helping to maintain the culture and language long before major technological innovations. And the fact that their language has changed little over the centuries makes it much easier on my part to construct naturalistic languages for their world. :D

 

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Anyways, I’ve started to develop the Equestrian languages a bit, although not much. I’ll hopefully have much more once I get more in depth and have a better idea of the lexicon and morphology. So far I’ve mainly been focusing on the phonology and noun inflections/classification.

 

Beneath is the phonology for the Proto-Equestrian languages/dialects (which is easily changeable depending on further developments I make in the modern languages). These languages/dialects and their respective phonologies, grammar, etc. will go on to shape the many dialects of the Modern Equestrian Language. (After I get more into the Modern Languages and finalize these proto-languages, I’ll go more in depth with their phonologies and how they affect the modern dialects.)

 

Proto-Equestrian Unicornish:

post-38340-0-61134200-1463008578_thumb.jpg

 

post-38340-0-09215500-1463008599.jpg

 

Proto-Equestrian Pegasian:

post-38340-0-47116200-1463008622_thumb.jpg

 

post-38340-0-68081200-1463008637.jpg

 

Proto-Equestrian Terrequian:

post-38340-0-09665200-1463008652_thumb.jpg

 

post-38340-0-34059700-1463008662.jpg

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With the formation of Equestria, the unification of the three tribes, the sisters coming into power, and the development of a writing system, a standard Equestrian language begins to develop to be used in official documents, literature, and for communication throughout the kingdom. This language establishes the foundation, spelling, and grammar for the eventual Modern Equestrian language.

Here’s the standard Early Modern phonology:

post-38340-0-79318900-1463008676_thumb.jpg

*/b/, /d/, and /g/ are only in between vowels or found after the nasal consonants /m/, /n/, and /ŋ/ respectively as allophones of /p/, /t/, and /k/.

post-38340-0-67523400-1463008688.jpg

 

And here’s the standard Modern phonology:

post-38340-0-31317800-1463008700_thumb.jpg

*/b/, /d/, and /g/ are only found in between vowels, at the beginning of words (where a vowel was historically dropped), or after the nasal consonants /m/, /n/, and /ŋ/ respectivley as allophones of /p/, /t/, and /k/.

*/z/, /ʃ/, and /ʒ/ are all allophones of /s/; /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ are preceded by /ɪ/ or /i/, and /z/ and /ʒ/ occure between vowels (/z/ sometimes can occur at the end of a word due to a historically dropped/silent vowel).

*/ɹ/ and /ɾ/ are allophones; /ɹ/ appears in consonant clusters or at the beginning and end of words, and /ɾ/ appears in between vowels.

post-38340-0-71321000-1463008713.jpg

 

I then divided the Modern Equestrian language into the following dialectal categories (excluding the standard variant) with phonological changes/variances (later on there will be lexical differences too):

 

Northern Dialects (Canterlot/Aristocracy, Crystal Kingdom)

-loss of /s/ allophones

-/ɚ/ is removed from speech

-/ɹ/ is replaced by /ɾ/

-/ʍ/ is present

 

Southern Dialects (Apple Loosa, Rock Farm, rural ponies)

-retroflexive consonants are present (lower register)

-/t/ gets lenited to /ɾ/ when between vowels

-/ɚ/ is removed from speech (higher register)

-archaic inflection/sentence structure (higher register)

 

Eastern Dialects (Manehattan, Baltimare, city ponies)

-/ɚ/ is removed from speech

-/t/ gets lenited to /ɾ/ when between vowels

-slight vowel shift

-lack of dental fricative consonants

 

Cloudsdale Dialect

-fricatives /f/, /θ/, and /x/ are replaced by asperated stops

-/ʍ/ is present

 

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Now I like to think that the invention of writing came with the foundation of Equestria. So in early writing the spelling would’ve been less standardized till later on in history. Eventually the Modern language would take hold, however, standardized spellings reflecting the pronunciation of the Early Modern language would remain in place.

The following are the noun cases and their classification with both the Early Modern and the Modern pronunciations.

 

Terrequine Class (-∅): thelos (“earth pony”; thel ‘earth, ground’ + nos ‘pony’)

post-38340-0-77059200-1463008755.jpg

 

Pegasian Class (-i): permosi (“pegasus”; permi ‘storm’ + nos ‘pony’)

post-38340-0-65230300-1463008774_thumb.jpg

 

Monocerous Class (-a): immolosa (“unicorn”; in ‘one, single’ + mola ‘horn’ + nos ‘pony’)

post-38340-0-01550700-1463008793_thumb.jpg

 

The following are the personal pronouns in their nominative forms:

Early Modern (Archaic):

post-38340-0-69174200-1463008816.jpg

 

Standard Modern:

post-38340-0-43428500-1463008840.jpg

 

1st Person Personal Pronoun Modern Inflections:

post-38340-0-52564100-1463008857.jpg

 

Possible Example Phrase: Phurada Celestiane “Dear Princess Celestia”

-Early Modern Pronunciation: /ɸuɾaða.kɛlɛstianɛ/

-Modern Standard Pronunciation: /fʊɾaðə.kəlɛstian/

-Modern Southern Dialect (lower register) (i.e. Applejack): /fɚɹaðə.kəlɛʃt͡ʃən/

 

Note: The ablative case is also used for inalienable possession, while the genitive is used for alienable possession; this inalienable possession usually applies to friends and family.

Example: wheda mana /wɛðə.manə/ “the (unicorn) sister of mine”, phulett mina /fʊlɛxt.mɪnə/ “my hooves” vs. mi dompela /mɪː.ðɔ̃bɛlə/ “my journal”

 

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Next I plan to start working with verbs and other parts of speech, a writing system (which I will probably base off of this picture from the series), and more vocabulary so I can start forming entire sentences.

 

I apologize if I take a while to update this; this takes a lot of thought, I usually work in random spurts of motivation, I’m an extreme perfectionist (to the point where I have to tell myself “it’s good enough so far” and post it), and I also have things to do for classes and other projects I’m currently working on. :P Also, if I eventually make actual lessons for others to learn this language, I will put all the linguistics jargon in actual English so everyone can easily understand! XDDDDD

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to post them and I will reply when I can! :)

  • Brohoof 4

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I was making making a thing like this eith a friend some time ago. We based it on Russian, Italian and Japanese though and tried to make it as simple as possible to learn. We kiiiiiinda did but it stopped now and never got past version 0.5, I think. We need a lot of words...

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Gosh. I wish I could say that I understood half of what you just said. IPA is just really hard to learn, especially for someone who has no base in linguistics and really has a hard time voicing half the sounds you put in. And the IPA letters sheet does not help at all.  :okiedokieloki:
 
There's really not much I can say about this (given how little I understand), except to say I applaud your effort, and I'm looking forward to seeing more. Now back to figuring out how to characterize Rarity's accent and finding out where in the heck she belongs . . . because heck, Transatlantic is not a good enough descriptor for her accent.
 
But from what little I understand, here's a question: where's the glottal stop in the modern phonology? Like, I guess I could give it a bye for being absent in ancient Unicornish, but in the modern too? How would you say Applejack? Happlejack? There's a glottal stop at the beginning! :huh:

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You, Poly Lingua, are a genius. I want to know are you still developing it? I could try to help you!  : )  I had been thinking about that idea before, and though I am not an expert or even a good linguist, I had some ideas. Firstly, I imagined that an Equestrian language would be partially Logographic, as a consequence of the difference between cultural and technological development. Secondly, I think that Equestrians would have at least some phonemes that a human wouldn't be able to pronounce due to anatomic differences.

 

I agree that the three pony subspecies would have developed separated languages, and that they later merged into a single language. Also, I think that it should also be considered how each subspecies would evolve as civilizations. For example: Earth Ponies started as agriculturists, then expanded to commerce. In this example, their numeric system should be more complex and efficient, thus it could have been preserved in Modern Equestrian.

 

Also... Discord ruled over Equestria once. Hahahaha. So we could explain that issue with Twilight often using the word "hands".

Anyway, please reply as soon as you can.
: D
I am looking forward to say on the theme.

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@@Poly Lingua, it is shown that ponies speak English in the show, or some unified language. There are also multiple "dialects" from different regions, the only three being the normal one, the Manehattan one, and the Appleoosan dialect. They could have different conjugations/ways of saying things, but it shows in the show that different regions' ways of speaking are not that different. I like what you've done with Terrequian, Pegasian, and Unicornish.

  In the show, it is also shown that Yaks have their own language/use a very primitive version of Equestrian and that Cows speak fluent Equestrian. If you could add words imported from Yak language or any primal language, it would be great! Anyways, I'm not a professional linguist, so pardon my misunderstandings of linguist vocabulary.

  Overall, the language is nice (BTW, are you working on normal and abnormal nouns/verbs?). Also, how about the writing? We haven't really seen the written language in Equestria, so I suggest you use pictograms as Equestrian Characters.

 

(LOL sorry if I'm being pesky, nice job on the language so far)

  • Brohoof 1

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what about the typography? have you think of it? because i can help you with it, when i was bored in class i created all sort of typography for syllabic or latin alphabet.

i have to admit. you work really hard on it, i enjoy it even if i can't understand the half of it :please:

Edited by chroma way

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Wow, this is pretty thorough! I find constructed languages to be pretty interesting but I probably lack the knowledge in linguistic to really get into it.

Someone made something similar for the Splatoon language. Maybe I'm more into unique symbols for the writing. I don't really know how to pronounce many of these... linguistic phonetical symbols (I don't even know what they are called) :please:

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I certainly hope @Poly Lingua considers continuing this, it would be incredible to see a proper Equestrian language done up for fans to learn. I'd consider it myself.

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4 hours ago, OptimisticNeighsayer said:

Here is a dictionary (with a brief grammar guide) for anyone interested.

We prefer to keep other users' work outside of other topics. Feel free to make one specifically for your work though! ^^

Also do take into account thatthe original poster has been away from the forums for a long time.:mlp_grin:

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I find interesting the creation of a fan conlang with MLP universe. I thought I was the only nerd who like this idea! (Despite that, I would still say, after all, that Ponish is English)

Edited by Acons
  • Brohoof 1

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I have been interested in constructed languages for a while, but only recently had the idea of making a fan language for Equestria. After a quick search, this seems to be the only exiting attempt at making one. It looks like @Poly Lingua probably won't continue this project, so I might make my own attempt.

I'm completely new to the forum, would I make a new topic for my own project or continue on this topic?

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20 hours ago, thehedorn said:

I have been interested in constructed languages for a while, but only recently had the idea of making a fan language for Equestria. After a quick search, this seems to be the only exiting attempt at making one. It looks like @Poly Lingua probably won't continue this project, so I might make my own attempt.

I'm completely new to the forum, would I make a new topic for my own project or continue on this topic?

Would be better to have a topic of your own to have more control over it. ^^

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