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ICon 2019 ()
#1 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I often, when I'm building languages, there are a lot of different ways that I go. I am not a philologist like Tolkien was. I'm not a linguist. Peter is, my editorial assistant, but I am not. I have had a little bit of schooling in linguistics, but not enough to be creating complete con-langs out of nowhere. So I'm usually using a few tricks to develop my language, one of which is to look for historical languages and seek inspiration from them.

And the pitch for myself on the whole thing, in Fjorden, was what if the Vikings had created a very hierarchical religion like Catholicism, and had instead of conquering the world as Viking, Nordic destroyers, they had become a religious group. They're really based off of the Geats, which is Beowulf's people, which are Nor--are British, they're British Vikings, basically. And so when I was developing them, I was using a bit of Nordic--old Nordic and things like that--and I'm using a bit of old English, and just trying to get that feel. In Beowulf, because in Beowulf they have some Danes and you have some people from the British isles, and there's this crossing over, and things like this, and it's this interesting sort of mix and hodge-podge of cultures and languages, from, 1000AD, and i really liked that feel, I really liked that linguistic flavor, so to speak, and so, I was really reaching towards lots of names out of Beowulf as inspiration.

Skyward release party ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

Both the languages described in Warbreaker and The Stormlight Archive contain a letter or glyph called the shash. Is that a consequence of both languages originating from a common root language on Yolen or is there something more complicated going on?

Brandon Sanderson

Less complicated.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

How do puns work with all-

Brandon Sanderson

How do what work?

Questioner

Puns, because they're speaking different languages?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, the books are in translation; you have to imagine I am the translator, and what I am doing is, I am searching for something in our language that best replicates what they said in their language. That is the same thing for things like Veristitalian and stuff like that that uses Latin in our world. That's indicating it's using a similar older language in their world to build the thing. So you have to understand Wit doesn't actually say that exact pun, he says something that is a pun that I translate into English into a similar pun.