Friday, September 4, 2020

A Language Proposal: Lawful Evil

Since alignment languages are beloved-- so common as to be seen at every gaming table-- it is shocking that no one has tried to outline fully what such a language would look like. While I am no expert in linguistics, I do have some interest in conlanging, so here I will write brainstorm a proposal for the Lawful Evil language.
My hope is to codify Lawful Evil into a way of speaking and writing, even if there is no vocabulary except for a traumatized English. Please, reach out with any and all ideas, no matter now small!


  • Generally, I want to start by focusing on the grammar and structure. Vocabulary is easy to fill once the inventory is in place.
  • I don't want to use a complicated orthography, simply for my own convenience.
  • I want this language to be both Lawful and Evil, whatever that means, but I don't want to actually do harm in this project. I may end up censoring or circumscribing parts of the language for the sake of good taste.
  • While we may imagine a language born of Hell being fiendishly complicated, I will probably take it in a direction that keeps it simple to understand, given that fluency should be as easy as possible.
  • In principle I guess this seeks to be a natural-seeming language, but in practice I lack the dedication to fill it with enough idiosyncrasies to be convincing.
  • I want to make a system of speaking so unlikable that good characters in settings that feature it will not want to use it.

"If only there was a word that meant 'good interloper.'" -Welcome to Night Vale, Episode 55

Phonetics and Phonology
  • We could go down the cliche path of using lots of hard sounds and apostrophes, but that was always boring. The majority of sounds will probably be in common with English (the language of imperialism), but I like the idea of a few curveballs.
  • This could be a click language. Those always seem really strange even though there's nothing inherently odd about them.
  • This language could require full use of your voice, face, and hands to make it maximally inaccessible.
  • I don't know. It's hard to make sounds evil or lawful.
Stress and Tone
  • There should be some kind of regular rule for where stress falls.
  • Perhaps there could be an optional use of tonality that can radically change meaning. The primary use of this would be to subtly trick mortals into agreeing to the exact opposite of what they wanted.

"When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer." -George Orwell

  • Naturally, everything should be gendered. One gender should be given most of the positive terms and another most of the negative terms. That's pretty evil, right?
  • This includes pronouns. A different "you" for each gender that the language wishes to acknowledge.
  • Honorifics and Dishonorifics: Person nouns and group nouns (including groups like ethnic groups and sexualities) generally should have a denigrating aspect. Specifically, are they lower than you or are you lower than them? There should be some simple, mandatory way to say that someone is either puny or superior.
  • There is a suffix popular on 4chan that is equivalent to "-er" or "-ist." The innovation of that community is that the suffix is just a homophobic slur, such that anyone who participates in 4chan slang is all but obliged to steep themselves in unkindness. This is a great example we can emulate!
  • Words for high status positions are heavily positive, as with the English word "noble." Lower class things are inherently bad, as in "vulgarity, baseness, crudity."
  • There should be robust methods of shortening and compounding words so you don't have to think hard about them when you say them, as in "Nazi" or "Comintern" or "Ingsoc."
  • Robust insults: There should be ways to easily denigrate based on someone being bad at something ("poet-aster"), being bad for being too much of something ("poet-ard") or being a sucker for doing something ("poet-cuck").
  • I should be as hard as possible to say that people do something together. Rather, the subject imposes it on the object. If you want to say "We worked on the project" in Lawful Evil, it should either come out as "I made him work on my project" or "She had me join her project."
  • Who needs them? We want to essentialize everything. This means minimizing verbs and especially nouns.
  • Not a lot of thoughts, but we gotta keep intransitive case to ensure taking responsibility can be avoided.
  • There are no requests-- just commands and questions.

"Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken." -the Sith Code

Word Concepts
  • There should be no concept of personhood.
  • There should be no word for please or thanks, but plenty of real-world languages do that. How do we take it further? Maybe the closest equivalent to please is means "I grovel." Maybe when you do someone a favor, you say "I have your gratitude" and they say "You allow me," to be maximally presumptuous.
  • "Compromise" will be retained only in the sense of lacking integrity.
  • "Liberty" will be retained only as the power to do something.
  • "free" will be retained only as a lack of something.
  • There is no way to distinguish what is from what ought to be.
  • There should definitely be different styles of speech based on ceremony and hierarchical circumstance.
  • Like the honest men of old Virginia, condescension is considered the polite way for superiors to speak to their inferiors.
  • Various dialects exist; all but one are violently suppressed.
  • Idioms are eggcorned and mondegreened to become inscrutable.

"Evil begins when you treat people as things." -Terry Pratchett


  1. This is impressive! Stressing that lack of agreement or cooperation in the language is defiantly a good route to go down... I eagerly look forward to future developments!

  2. How about this: Remove gender entirely. There are two pronouns, "master" and "it", depending on the speakers relation to the subject.

  3. Like half of this is just Japanese. I don't think that Japan is lawful evil.

    1. I would humbly submit that the other half, the more comically malicious half, should tip the scales somewhat.