world building – creating an alien language for my book

In the back of each of my books in the Meniscus series is ‘A Condensed Guide to Gel-speak’. The Guide includes all of the alien words I have used in the books to date.


blog scan of dictionary


I am not a linguist. I speak English and French and I have some idea of how words are derived and the relationships between them. Who knows if our Human ideas of language and syntax would apply to an alien race!!??


The Gel-heads in my alien world are barely sentient, driven by greed and the search for gratification. And yet, through some twist of Meniscus history, their language is the one used by most sentients on the planet. In one of the books, they will be seen in a village, teaching the children of another alien race.


'captive of the Gel-head'
Gel-heads are covered with green gelatinous skin: their muscles, bones and internal organs can be seen through the integument!

The Gel-head language includes clicks for word separation and emphasis, indicated by an inverted comma   ‘   .  The words are spoken with a hiss, and include many ‘th’ sounds.


I have tried to construct words as logical associations of other words. So, for example, a building is marneth far’natha, built from the words for ‘to build’ and ‘a thing of value’ :

marneth far’natha      a building

marneth        to build

far’natha       thing of value


Another example:

grill’             to remove

grill’en           small (something has been removed)

cardoth          moon

cardoth grill’en    the smaller of two moons


In the top row of my bookshelf is a copy of The Klingon Dictionary (Marc Okrand, Star Trek Pocket Books, 1985). Originally meant as an assist to actors, it has become very popular among science-fiction enthusiasts. My copy has not been dusted off for many years, but I am proud to own one. The book has been issued in two editions and is translated into five languages. The Klingon Dictionary has sold 500,000 copies. So is a guide to Gel-speak silly? Who can tell?


blog books1
a few of my collection of Star Trek paperbacks … I can’t even reach that shelf, let alone find the dictionary, but it is up there somewhere!!!

Copyright Alexandra Tims 2017

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