10 quadrillion vulgar tongues
April 19, 2017 3:48 PM   Subscribe

Vulgar is a constructed language (conlang) generator for fantasy fiction writing that creates unique and usable constructed languages in the click of a button. Vulgar’s output models the regularities, irregularities and quirks of real world languages; phonology, grammar, and a 2000 unique word vocabulary.

How does it work?
Vulgar is capable of generating 10 quadrillion unique and usable conlangs.

How does it achieve this? Using pseudo-randomness!

Vulgar begins with a random seed number between 0 and 1 to 15 decimal places (10 to the power of 15 = 1 quadrillion). This number is then run through a formula that generates many many thousands of other random numbers. ("Pseudo"-random because, although there is nothing truly random about them (i.e. they are determined by an exact mathematical formula), every decimal number between 0 and 1 is equally likely to be produced, and there is no obvious pattern to the human eye.)

These numbers are used to make tens of thousands of decisions about which phonemes to select to build words, and what grammar rules to generate based on pre-defined thresholds. The seed number of a language can also be used to retrieve its full version in the premium version.
Via All Things Linguistic.
posted by Lexica (30 comments total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
 
Awesome and eponysterical!
posted by pointystick at 3:50 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


Wow! This is the week for world building on Metafilter, I guess.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 3:57 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Ubbi dubbi?
posted by Splunge at 4:01 PM on April 19


interest relevancy elevated

(۶* ‘ꆚ’)۶”
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:05 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


Nifty. Looks like a fun tool, with a lot of actual thought behind it.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:05 PM on April 19


Snuj du uåhurårs barmår pi dij snuj uååroäu dij gut zjårku uåzd pi.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:09 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


My RP friends and I are officially delighted that this exists. Our quests for increasingly detailed worldbuilding are being indulged, yes!
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 4:16 PM on April 19


Ngun uglangglum.
She will study.
posted by SyraCarol at 4:20 PM on April 19


Neat!
posted by cortex at 4:25 PM on April 19


No fantasy language is complete without the word 'Grignr'.
posted by delfin at 4:26 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


This is amazing.
posted by corb at 4:32 PM on April 19


mefu /ˈmefø/ [ˈmevø] adj. fat nf. fat nf. fat nf. fat nf. fat

...still not really clear on what it means, sorry.

(0.1820269111542363)
posted by Wolfdog at 4:37 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. Wait, there's a word for "goat," but not for dildo? I may need to make a substitution.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:41 PM on April 19


My only profession words are "whore," "soldier," and "florist."
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:49 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


ʀovuž /ˈʀovuʒ/ n. nostril
ʀuovuž /ˈʀuovuʒ/ [ˈʀuuvuʒ] v. crush, grind

"No, I said ʀovuž ... ʀovuž!"
posted by Wolfdog at 4:50 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


It's been pretty poorly received by the conlanging community, to be honest. Some of that might just be a kneejerk reaction to the idea of automating something we put a lot of thought and work into - but there are other generators we think are actually a lot of fun, like Gleb.

The issue is that for all its hype about how many different languages it can create, it seems to only have a small repertoire of grammatical concepts - that are based very heavily on western European languages. So its outputs are actually quite same-y.

But if you just need something quick for a story or game, its probably perfectly serviceable.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:51 PM on April 19 [17 favorites]


It does have a limited bag of tricks, but it does what it does pretty well. A different program can come along and do a different swathe of language types well.

One thing that would be fun to simulate is an influx of words from one of these languages to another - trying to adapt the words from one set of phonemes to another would be fun to program and also embed a little bit more of time-dimension, or even a story, into the language.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:14 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Gleb does seem to be more interesting, but on the other hand this one is a heck of a lot easier to understand, so....
posted by aramaic at 5:18 PM on April 19


I have been thinking about building a tool like this for about two years.

I got stuck thinking about how vowels and then even consonants could be modeled as points on an abstract manifold, and then never followed through.
posted by adoarns at 5:25 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


...vya a a mu dum yedy omäg vya zine wo a mu dzana loʀeo oubedo
Pronunciation: /vja a a mø dum jedʒ ˈoməg vja ˈzine wo a mø ˈdzana loˈʀeo oøˈbedo/
Narrow pronunciation: [ˈvia a a mø dum dʒedʒ ˈoməg ˈvia ˈzine vundeˈfined a mø ˈdzana loˈʀeu oøˈbedu]

Interesting pronunciation of the word wo there.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:53 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


As a conlanger, my reaction is that it's too complex for someone who knows nothing about languages (a table of cases is of little use if you don't know what cases are), and too simple (and un-fun) for someone who's created at least one conlang.

I tried it, and it gave me a lavish declension of the definite article with apparently unrelated words, which is surprisingly baroque for a simple tool.

Also, the lexicon is pretty disappointing. Not a single etymology, much less an interesting etymology. Everything is a one-for-one translation.

Sorry to be negative, but the whole fun of conlanging is messing with the details, and learning actual linguistics, and this tool takes you out of that rather than guiding you in.

The phonological presentation is nice; I kind of think they should have stopped there.
posted by zompist at 6:09 PM on April 19 [6 favorites]


I tried it, and it gave me a lavish declension of the definite article with apparently unrelated words, which is surprisingly baroque for a simple tool.

It's done this every time I tried it. It might add or remove a case - but there are always cases, they are always standard average european cases, and there are always definite articles that decline according to those cases.

That's one of the things that's so frustrating about it. I guess I feel ... a little insulted? Like, I feel almost like it is kind of cheating its audience, by selling itself as this amazing tool that creates a variety of languages, when it seems as though it mostly filling in the blanks in the same outline with different spellings and a few tweaks.

Though, I just tried it again, and I did get absolutive-ergative for the first time. That's nice. But still, the huge table of definite and indefinite articles? Whyyyyy?
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:06 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


Encountered this conlang recently: Arcaicam Esperantom, a fictional early form of Esperanto.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:15 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


That's one of the things that's so frustrating about it. I guess I feel ... a little insulted? Like, I feel almost like it is kind of cheating its audience, by selling itself as this amazing tool that creates a variety of languages, when it seems as though it mostly filling in the blanks in the same outline with different spellings and a few tweaks.

Granted, even that would be a step up for plenty of applications. TV anime studios, for instance, don't generally have huge budgets for worldbuilding—it seems like nine times out of ten, the "ancient tongue" or whatever turns out to be English, transliterated into katakana, and then put through a Caesar cipher or expressed in made-up symbols. Studio Trigger is doing probably the best job this season so far by applying that treatment to haphazardly selected snippets of Welsh and Cornish, but for every Little Witch Academia, you get a Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records, where everything's just English written in a runic Wingdings font. (Complete with numerous typos, including in their opening credits.) A more or less idiot-proof way of going one step past that, even if it is so laden with European grammatical constructions that it doesn't make sense outside of generic medieval fantasy, would be a step up.
posted by fifthrider at 11:13 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Granted, even that would be a step up for plenty of applications.

Yeah, that's why I said in an earlier comment that it's probably perfectly serviceable for that kind of thing.

But it doesn't tell you that's what it's doing. It tells you that can make 10 quadrillion languages, that it "output models the regularities, irregularities and quirks of real world languages." In reality, it seems like the $20 is mostly for some populating tables with randomly generated output.

If you want a language like that, you can do it for free with the free random generators that exist out there.

I don't think anime studios are going to be using this. They don't really care, and even if they did, even though the output is instant, putting together phrases with it isn't. It requires some time and knowledge - it's not really aimed at a layman audience. And it's not a fully usable language, either, because it couldn't be - that would be a monumental effort. Anyone who tries to use it to come up with phrases in their own game will probably find out that they still need to make a lot up. The audience is really online worldbuilders.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:25 AM on April 20


My only profession words are "whore," "soldier," and "florist."

The three oldest professions?
posted by Foosnark at 6:13 AM on April 20 [3 favorites]


The three oldest professions?

I figured this language would work well in Westeros.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:37 AM on April 20


I am about 98% sure Westeros is the reason this language tool exists.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:08 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


I got mad because the first language it gave me didn't have anything near a [t] sound (which is super rare for languages), so I asked it to make a language with 12 vowels and [t] as the only consonant, and it's been stuck for five minutes and chrome won't even let me close the tab.

But I can get it to work with some pretty small sets of phonemes:

a lu lul roa buu mbaburumaru a bråbulabu båbl lul oblu åmlu rurubaru
posted by aubilenon at 6:26 PM on April 20


a lu lul roa buu mbaburumaru a bråbulabu båbl lul oblu åmlu rurubaru
That’s an Ent saying “hello,” right?
posted by nicepersonality at 6:33 PM on April 20


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