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I love developing complex languages for stories and worlds, I'm not much of a language expert though and on top of this I struggle to store all the necessary information to help me work with the language. It's difficult to find words that you've previously defined or to create language structure without a good organisation system.

Does anyone know of any tools that can be used to aid with recording your own language? Is it as simple as a good spreadsheet or are there more suitable methods?

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  • $\begingroup$ A lot of "languages" in stories and movies are just English with an alternative alphabet. You may want to consider that for the sake of ease. $\endgroup$ – AJFarmar May 10 '15 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ I know, but that doesn't give my world the depth I'm looking for. I'm a big fan of the languages in The Lord of the Rings and The Inherritance Cycle, I've frequently experiemented with making my own, but as the language gets larger it becomes quite unweildy. $\endgroup$ – sydan May 10 '15 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @AJFarmar: Please note that the question starts with the statement "I love developing complex languages". Your suggestion is sometimes very appropriate, but in this case, it is akin to answering "I love baking cakes, but I'm unsure where to find recipes." with "You should buy instant noodles instead; others eat them, too, and it lets you skip the baking part." ;) $\endgroup$ – O. R. Mapper May 10 '15 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, and Constructed Languages Stack Exchange is always useful $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental Jun 8 '18 at 22:00
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    $\begingroup$ @FoxElemental Specifically, this question and its answers: conlang.stackexchange.com/questions/250/… $\endgroup$ – jknappen - Reinstate Monica Jun 8 '18 at 23:14
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I had the same problem too (in the past), and i'm currently building yet another language (and it's improving!). Basically saying, we're pretty much at the same stage, give or take few steps.

  1. Generating vocabulary
    I used to utilize a program from langmaker.com, which sadly had been shut down (fortunately it is archived on the Wayback Machine).
    You should note, the program was designed to work on Windows 95/98, so it might behave oddly on newer versions of Windows (it did behave very strangely on my old XP box, but I managed to build a vocabulary of 1600 words with it before I lent the box to my sister), so I would recommend you run it on a virtual machine running windows 95/98, which is sadly beyond this SE's scope (do some research on the net, there are plenty of resources related to virtual machines).

  2. Grammar
    Once you have generated enough vocabulary (I suggest you begin with commonly used words first, preferably nouns and verbs, adjectives etc might follow), you need to construct grammar. Try borrowing some grammar from various languages as reference, then decide how you would want your language to express an expression, try tweaking the grammar(s) a bit, restructure it the way you see fit.
    Or if you like, you could try my method. Try with the building block of a paragraph. For example would be:
    "My mom bought a car with her money and dad supported her decision" could be broken to: (My mom) bought (a car) "with" (her money) "and" (dad) supported (her decision) Note that "my mom bought a car" is a simple subject-verb-object (SVO) style phrase, as well as "dad supported her decision" (note that the object is "her decision", which is also a phrase). Note how "and" and "with" glue multiple phrases together as one.
    At this point, you could see that simple phrases could be structured and "glued" together to form longer sentences.
    So you should concentrate on simple phrases first.
    SVO construct is not quite a standard, as there are other linguistic typology other than SVO (try to read wikipedia article titled "linguistic typology"). Also try possessive phrases like "this is my house" (in zehusa language, one of my conlang, it would be "das es mede gehame"), or "my name is __" (in zehusa, it would be "__ mede geven", for example).
    Try experimenting with common simple phrases, classifying them and try to ask yourself, "how would you like your language to express them?"

As you are constructing basic building blocks of a sentence, try gluing them together.

  1. Further expansion
    Congratulation, you have developed a single language. Now you have to expand it. How?
    Read some resources related to languages, try to learn the basics of some languages other than your native language (I happen to be Indonesian, and speak Indonesian, but I could write in English, although my English isn't perfect, but is sufficient to provide understanding of how different languages differ). You could skip learning a new language, though I would recommend it to have something to compare.

Well, you should read a lot, but I'll point up a couple websites that I found very helpful:

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    $\begingroup$ I've edited your post for clarity, to make it a bit easier to read. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 10 '15 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ @ArtOfCode oh thank you :). I didn't have the time to access my desktop computer last night, and I answered it from android app. The app's formatting capability is limited, so edits would be very appreciated. $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Lie May 11 '15 at 5:01
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I would say a good excel sheet is an easy and solid method to get your vocabulary organised. But if you want to look into more specialised software I have found the following programs:

1. PolyGlot v 2.1

It is free to use and provides everything you need to create your language. It has an integrated lexicon, where you can enter the words. It has also the ability to import from and export to excel, which means you can easily move your already existing work to the program (and back from there into other formats). Have a look at the manual here for how the lexicon works and other features. As a github project it comes also with the source code, so if you know how to code, you can alter the program to your needs.

2. Field Linguist's Toolbox

Well, it is free to use and used by actual linguists. Again, this program is specifically dedicated to maintaining lexical data. From a first glance it might not be as easy to use as PolyGlot though.

3. Lexique Pro

Another free to use program. This is dedicated to displaying and working with your lexicon, but you will need another program to read the data from - like the aforementioned Toolbox.

4. Vulgar

This program comes with a price tag, but is currently on sale for under 10 $. But it is a language generation program and so might not really suit your needs. After all you have fun with developing your own languages, but I included it for sake of completion.

5. other Software

Under the above link you will find a compilation of other useful software for conlanging.

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Toki Pona is a complete, speakable, writeable language with only 132 words. This minimalist language is sufficient to express all concepts roughly -- by design, it cannot express precision. It was created to facilitate initial conversation between two people who do not speak the same language by establishing a minimum set of concepts needed to carry on basic conversation. But I observe that it has the nice effect of creating a minimum set for language designers. You can create 132 similar sounding words to provide the base set for your language and the writing system needed to express those 132 and then build from there. It's not the kind of computer program tool that you were asking about, but it is a tool that may be beneficial.

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