The LCK now comes on dead trees!
The Language Construction Kit has been a mainstay of zompist.com for more than a decade, and helped countless conlangers make their own languages, while underhandedly teaching them how linguistics works.
Thanks to Yonagu Books, It’s now available in a print version, four times larger.
It goes into more detail for advanced students; at the same time it simplifies even more for beginners who often don’t know where to start, with a chapter on naming languages and one overviewing the entire process.
Also see the LCK resources page. If you bought the book in 2010, see the corrections page.
Table of Contents
Introduction — How to use the book
A naming language — How to create simple languages for naming characters and creating maps
The overall process — A quick tour of the process of making a language
Sounds — An expanded introduction to phonology
Word building — How to make words, and tricks to not have to make so many
Grammar — Morphology and syntax, the guts of your language
Semantics — Think about meaning... if you dare
Pragmatics — I finally got to explain all this neat stuff
Language families — How to create entire families, including a walkthrough on using the Sound Change Applier... plus shortcuts!
Writing systems — Making scripts from alphabets to logographs
Kebreni — Director’s commentary on one of my conlangs
Word lists — Which words you really need
More to read — An annotated reading list
- This is a real book?
- Yep, on 100% certified dead trees. It’s a 6" x 9" trade paperback.
- Where can I get it?
- On Amazon. Didn’t you see that big button? Go right here.
- Is it available yet?
- Some says yes and some says absolutely.
- How much will it be?
- The softcover price is $14.95 (but it's frequently discounted). The Kindle version is $6.25, and the hardcover is $34.95.
- What's the quality like?
- I've now seen a proof copy; it's quite good. Good paper, glossy cover. The print is sharp, much better than my printer. I'm happy to see that after a complete reading the spine isn't even creased.
- How different is the print LCK from the online edition?
- It’s much larger— 292 pages. It’s been extensively rewritten, and now has proper sections on syntax and pragmatics. I’ve also learned from the sort of questions people had after reading the web version and offered more specific guidance for getting started; e.g. there is an overview chapter and a section on creating simple naming languages.
- There’s also new material for the advanced student: creating language families, using the Sound Change Applier, creating writing systems, addressing stylistics. There are suggested word lists, an index, and an annotated reading list.
- Plus, every page features conlanging’s new mascot, Connie the Contortionist Conlanging Conger Eel!
- (OK, no it doesn’t.)
- Will it be available in stores?
- No, but they can order it from Amazon. It’s being printed and distributed through Amazon’s print-on-demand service.
- Why publish it that way?
- It’s the 21st century, baby. Print-on-demand offers the opportunity for authors to more directly control the publishing process, and for readers to have access to a much much wider array of choices. Even a huge bookstore doesn’t have more than 200,000 titles on hand. In the digital marketplace you can have 2 million.
- In traditional terms, the LCK is a perfect midlist book. It’s something that should be of interest to readers year after year. But traditional publishing has abandoned the midlist; it’s only interested in blockbusters. A friend of mine got a book published ‘normally’; it was kind of sad to see it in bookstores for two months, then disappear forever.
- Tell me about the hardcover.
- The LCK is now available in hardcover. As Amazon doesn't produce hardcovers, it's published through Lulu.
- I have a copy right here; it feels solid and it should handle extensive use better than the softcover. It doesn't have a slipcover (that's more expensive); it has a glossy printed cover, like many textbooks do.
- Best of all, I've taken the opportunity to create an updated edition (1.2). The typography is improved, typos have been corrected, and a couple sections rewritten. As of February 2015, the new text has also been applied to the Kindle and softcover editions.
- Will the online LCK change?
- For the better! It's recently been entirely revised and expanded, incorporating some of the improvements of the print version. It'll remain for free on zompist.com.
- Will the full print version ever appear in web format?
- No. The idea is, I’ve provided a huge mass of stuff online for free, and I’ll continue to do so. And this will hopefully induce you to shell out a few clams for even more stuff on paper.
- What’s in it for you? By paying for things like the LCK, you encourage me to produce more stuff. I can only devote so much time to a hobby. I can do a lot more if I’m making some income.
- What’s this Kindle edition?
- The Kindle edition costs $6.25. I don’t actually own a Kindle so I can’t say exactly what it looks like, but it looks all right in the Kindle preview app.
(Nook doesn’t support Unicode, so I don’t think a Nook edition will work.)
Want more? The sequel to the LCK is Advanced Language Construction. New topics ranging from creoles to sign language to logographs to logic, plus a much more detailed treatment of morphology and syntax.
An essential reference, whether you've just read the LCK, or you've been doing conlangs for years.
So many words!
My third langauge book is The Conlanger's Lexipedia: a whole book about word-building. It goes over derivation, etymology, classification, and metaphor, and then dives deep into 51 different topics, giving etymologies and interesting verbal distinctions from multiple languages, and the real-world knowledge you need to create words in that category.
Plus there's a list of the 1500 roots most useful for fantasy and science fiction. You may have the world's coolest morphosyntax, but you need this book to have a vocabulary that's not just a fancy relex of English.
Create a planet!
Now available: the companion volume to the LCK, The Planet Construction Kit... covering everything about conworlds but languages: astronomy, geology, climate, history and culture, religion, magic, technology, war... even how to create illustrations and 3-D models to bring your creation to life.