The linguistics there, with the... for the Aonic... so, I had a couple of inspirations there. By the time I was writing this book, I was looking to do a little bit more interesting linguistics, I was looking to explore linguistics, and I like that one of the ideas I had is... I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-day Saints - Mormon - and I served a two year mission in Korea. While I was in Korea, I fell in love with the relationship between the Korean language and the Chinese language.
If you're not familiar with how that is, in a lot of Asia, Chinese was the writing system for years. For centuries, people wrote in Chinese, even if they didn't speak Chinese, because Chinese is a logographic language, it's not phonetic. When you write the character, the <Hànzì>, you can pronounce it in any language. It can be written... read in any language - we can read them in English, you can read them in Hebrew. They just mean a concept, it's like hieroglyphics, right?
But what this means is, it's really hard to learn to write, because you just have to memorize every symbol and they're very complex, very intricate. So, around... I think it's 1400, someone will have to look that up to make sure, but... the king Sejong of the Korean people, who is remembered as their favorite king, he came in and said "My people are illiterate because Chinese is just too hard to learn. We aren't Chinese, we don't speak Chinese, we're trying to use their writing system for our language. Let's develop an alphabet."
They got a bunch of scholars together and they built an alphabet by which you can write Chinese in Korean, in an alphabet that's a Korean alphabet. It's really fascinating linguistically, because they create Chinese characters that are phonetic to take the place of Chinese characters in their language and then surround them with grammar only in Korean. So, you have like "Chinese character, Chinese character, Korean grammar... Chinese character, Chinese character, Korean grammar..." and you could replace those characters with Korean ones if you want, or you could just leave the Chinese - really cool.
I wanted to develop a language that had these symbols that would also have... that were from an old language... that would then have grammar around them in another language. It was really interesting to me and that's where the Aons came from, this kind of language that predates their culture, predates their linguistics in Arelon. And that they have developed alongside and that they use in their writing system... and if you were to read Aonic, you would see these big Aons and then little Aonic text between them that is bridging all these ideas together with actual linguistics.
So, the Aons I wanted to stand out, I wanted to... when you read them in English to be able to say... and I experimented with making them all caps and it just looked really weird, but that that would be the way that... then you would have to have "RAO" and "den", "RAO" would always be in caps and "den" and readers had real troubles with that. It just read... it looks like you're screaming, right? So, people would read the name *loud* RAO- *speaking normally again* den, *laughter from audience* which is not what I wanted to say.
So I went back, but I still wanted these... So, I used the two long vowels sounds. Whenever you hit a name, they're all gonna have two long vowel sounds in them that are stressed and then an unstressed Aonic portion pushed onto it. So it's /ˈɹeɪ.ˈʊ.dɛn/ [Raoden], where you've got a-o, and you've got /ɪːnɪː/ [Ene], /sɑː.ˈɹɪː.ˌnɪː/ [Sarene], and things like that. And even Elantris... I say /e.ˈlɑːn.tɹɪs/ [Elantris], they would say /ˈɪː.leɪn.tɹɪs/ [Elantris], and things like that.
I built this just, like, have... I love it, when in fantasy, the form and the function meld together, so that what you're putting on the page actually enhances in all ways the culture and the magic together, but it did make for a difficult reading experience. My first review I ever got for Elantris [...] My first review that ever came in was "This book is great, but the names are terrible. Brandon Sanderson can't name anything. Keep him away from naming things, because the first book he published might be the most linguistically challenging, let's just say."