This is my blog mainly about comics and other nerdy things.
Selfspeak! My favorite topic of all~
When I first decided I wanted to give writing Warlock a shot, I approached it somewhat as a research project. I wrote down all his different word combinations, studied the patterns, and tried to isolate the building blocks. His speech is far from random, and it develops in a surprisingly clear path.
Especially when he’s a kid, he would make new words for stuff whose name he didn’t know — puffplants instead of dandelions, redface instead of a blush. He does it a lot with body parts, too: ocular sensors, foot-digits, arm-constructs. But then as he internalizes human form and anatomy, he gradually stops using those. Now they’re just eyes and toes and arms, the same on him as on any human. So one of the big functions of his selfspeak is to label things that are foreign to him until he learns or normalizes the regular word.
The second big function is expressing kinship. Originally “Warlock” and “Magus” appeared to be titles, not names, but after hearing his selfriends call him that with such fondness, I think Warlock wanted to give them all their own individual names as well. Self labels them as part of his personal in-group, and friend labels them as part of his social in-group. We also get titles like ally, teacher, mentor, rival, foe, being, and entity, all of which clearly define what he thinks of someone, as well as recognizing their sentience. You never have to guess at how he feels about you.
And the third major function is to label things that are new. Because of his mutation as well as his alien nature, his perception of the world around him — even the stuff he’s learned explicitly from humans — is very, very different. By combining words, he can pinpoint exactly what sense of those words he’s using/feeling at the moment and better transmit meaning that way. So protectlovecherish instead of simply love. Warlock is also empathic to some extent, so these messes of combined emotion are probably what he reads off of others as well as what he feels himself.
Besides the special names for everyone, the meaning-isolation function is the one I focus on most when writing Warlock, especially when he’s trying to describe something about himself: selfspeak for his specific speech patterns, selfstuff for the mysterious techno-goop he’s made of. Otherwise they’re used to cut to the heart of a matter in the way only an outsider can. Occasionally they’ll veer into kennings if he’s feeling poetic, too.
He can and does speak fluent English, and not in a mechanical way — he’s internalized a lot of Doug’s speech patterns especially, but also picks stuff up naturally. Depending on who he’s speaking to, I’ll have him drop the formality and go for more natural speech.
Just like his physical form, Warlock’s speech is a performance. It’s all carefully constructed to express exactly what he wants to express — and when he doesn’t have the right words, he makes them.
(Or, well, I make them. And hopefully he’d approve.)