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Some fantasy linguistics for these fantasy languages

Some fantasy linguistics for these fantasy languages published on 12 Comments on Some fantasy linguistics for these fantasy languages

Since both main languages in Leif & Thorn are getting rendered into English, they have features and subtleties that might not be clear in the translation. Started making notes for my own reference, and figured I would share.

(Readers who are into linguistics are totally welcome to dissect this stuff and offer ideas! [Looking at you, Mara.])


Sønska uses the vowels Å, Ö, and Ø, as well as acute accents, producing letters like ó and á.

Old Ceannic uses acute and grave accents, but they’ve fallen out of style in modern times. You’ll probably only see them in proper nouns that date back centuries, e.g. Rhódon (the mythohistorical epic hero), Aibreán (the majority ethnic group), or Iùlag (a constellation, the Compass).

Ceannic has a T-V distinction in its second-person pronouns. That is, when Thorn says “how are you?” to his sister, it has a different “you” than the same phrase addressed to President Romarin. Sønska does not have this distinction.

Sønska does, however, have reflexive possessive pronouns. That is, the phrase “Leif went to Thorn’s apartment and shared some of his coffee” has a different “his” depending on whether it refers to Leif’s coffee or Thorn’s coffee. Ceannic doesn’t do this.

Both languages have masculine and feminine third-person pronouns (he/him and she/her). In Ceannic, when people need another gendered pronoun, they usually just make the plural third-person pull double duty (singular they/them). Sønska, meanwhile, has a longstanding singular pronoun specific to nonbinary/agender people (much like ze/zir or hen/hens, but not a neologism). The idea of using a plural as a singular sounds like word salad up there.


Some notes on character fluency:

Thorn speaks awkward Sønska: stilted, with a limited vocabulary and some struggles with grammar. The two languages aren’t developed fully enough for me to know exactly what errors he should be making, because I am not Tolkien. Mostly I just think “if I were trying to say this in French, what’s the best I could do?” and then back-translate.

His Sønska will get more fluid and natural-sounding the more months he spends guarding the embassy, though it reverts to clunkier forms when he’s stressed or his attention is elsewhere.

Juniper speaks even more limited Sønska: basic vocabulary, almost no grammar (“show him the thing”). Holly knows school-level Sønska: mostly building-block conversational phrases.

On the other end of the spectrum, Violet reads voraciously in Sønska (as well as Middle and Old Ceannic, and probably a few other languages). She has an incredible vocabulary, excellent grammar, subtle grasp of idioms and allusions…and a chronic problem with pronouncing things weirdly.

Leif knows a handful of words in Ceannic, including “yes/no”, “please” (formal), “thank you” (formal), and a handful of nouns. He’s trying to pick up more. (He doesn’t know “leaf” yet. Nobody tell him.)

High-level embassy officials are fluent in both Sønska and Ceannic. The embassy guards have a high level of Ceannic understanding, even if their ability to speak it varies.


A lot of the names, proper nouns, and other formal terms are lifted straight from real-world languages. They don’t map directly to the way those languages relate to each other IRL — I just want them to feel internally consistent within a group, and “foreign” with respect to other groups.

  • Sønska names are pulled from Swedish and Norwegian. Lots of Swedish combination surnames, e.g. Ambassador Beringar = “bear-spear”.
  • The guards at the Sønheim embassy are specifically named after Valkyries (Sigrún, Geirskögul).
  • Old Sønska names are dodgy Internet Hungarian (Stanczia, Imri). These are mostly used for naming ancient vampirese; I figured making them Romanian would be a little too on-the-nose.
  • Ceannic last names are French. Like Ceannic first names, they have a theme. Estragon = tarragon, Lavande = lavender, and so on.
  • Formal or old-fashioned Ceannic terms and names map to Irish Gaelic. Tiernan (the cat) = little lord, Margaid (the ship) = pearl.
  • Go back far enough, and Old Ceannic pulls from Ancient Greek (Rhódon = rose).

One other language has been alluded to in the comic so far, and that’s Getsunai, language of the country to the west of Ceannis. Getsunai formal nouns are pulled from Japanese; all the native last names come from professions, so I’ve just rendered them in English, as in Birch Baker.

In spite of those IRL languages being really widely divergent, Getsunai in-universe is more closely related to Ceannic than to Sønska. I’ll break that down in more detail some other time…when I have a good map to post, because this is much easier to understand when you can see where the mountains are.

WordPress plugins and offsite crossposts

WordPress plugins and offsite crossposts published on No Comments on WordPress plugins and offsite crossposts

img180I’m trying out Tumblr Crosspostr with Leif & Thorn. If you’re reading this on Tumblr, it’s working!

Especially curious about how the image (on the original post, it’s a right-aligned thumbnail) is going to turn out.

(ETA: the image turns out terrible. Will remember to be wary of that in the future.)

Over on BICP, I’m field-testing the much-more-heavy-duty Social Network Auto Poster for Tumblr crossposting. It can do a bunch of other sites too — but I’m already using the nice lightweight Social to broadcast to Twitter and Facebook, and don’t have accounts on any of the rest.

Going purely by the setup options, I’m liking Crosspostr better. It lets you pick a set of default tags to add to every crosspost! With SNAP, you either have to do that manually, or start adding your webcomic name as a tag to every post. On its own site.

Who wants to start a Leif & Thorn TVTropes page?

Who wants to start a Leif & Thorn TVTropes page? published on 1 Comment on Who wants to start a Leif & Thorn TVTropes page?

You can kick it off with Bilingual Bonus, Empathy Pet, Call A Smeerp A Rabbit, Cool Sword, Has Two Mommies, and maybe Norse by Norsewest.

Plus a few tropes about diplomacy, knighthood, and gardening? And while my searches are coming up empty on it, there’s got to be one for Introduced Surrounded By Flowers.

This current storyline is going to add a few good ones to the pile, too. Details will be obvious by Sunday….

Color-coded languages in transcripts!

Color-coded languages in transcripts! published on No Comments on Color-coded languages in transcripts!

I’m taking the plunge and color-coding the languages in the comic transcripts. Not for every strip ETA, a year and a half later: now for every strip! Including all Ceannis natives speaking Ceannic, and all Sønheim natives speaking Sønska.

(Other languages may be added as needed.)

Read an updated transcript to see the colors in action!

If these don’t work for you for some reason — colorblindness, a bad monitor, whatever — but you’re running Firefox or Chrome, you can customize the appearance on your end. Add Stylish for Firefox or Stylish for Chrome to your browser, and create a new style with the following text:

@namespace url(http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml);

@-moz-document domain("leifandthorn.com") {
.ceannic {
color: #496F2B;
}

.sonska {
color: #3B2775;
}

}

Then modify however you like. Overwrite the colors, change the font, anything else CSS can do.

Follow that strip!

Follow that strip! published on No Comments on Follow that strip!

You can tell this strip has really settled in now, because there are half a dozen different ways from all across the Internet to get your Leif & Thorn fix.

To bookmark your place in the archive and get updates for every new strip, add Leif & Thorn on ComicRocket! Or follow the RSS feed via your favorite RSS reader — for example, Dreamwidth.

To get the heads-up every time a new storyline starts, plus blog updates and special Sunday strips, like Leif & Thorn on Facebook. You can get all that plus other updates from the artist, including But I’m A Cat Person updates, by following @ErinPtah on Twitter.

And for a regular infusion of sparkly fantasy dramedy art, follow the official Leif & Thorn tumblr! It all gets posted on Deviantart first, so track the Leif & Thorn folder for the latest, or follow ErinPtah to get art of all kinds.

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