Raven is a strange language. I can't speak it. But I can
teach it to you. Keep reading, and you'll see why.

Actually, Raven is not so much a language as a kit for
building *your own* language. It has many ideas but few
opinions; many guidelines but few rules.

You may think this is a cop-out on my part. Why should you
go to the trouble to learn a language whose creator can't
even decide what he wants it to look or sound like? But let
me put it a different way: why should you go to the trouble
to learn a language, *unless* the creator of that language
gives you the freedom to express yourself in whatever way
you choose? Conlangs like this one are invented out of thin
air, as arbitrary assemblages of sounds and symbols. Anyone
can make one. Why should I alone, then, dictate the rules?

In any case, I hope you find something useful in what's
presented here. If the language as it is isn't to your
liking, perhaps you'll be inspired to make your own conlang.
If you do find yourself so inspired, I will consider my
work here to have been a success.


As you learn Raven, don't forget the following very
important rule, which I have phrased as a rhyme so it's

** WHEN IN DOUBT,     **

If you run into something confusing, *don't worry about it*.
If you don't understand what I've written, *make something


The alphabet of Raven is the English alphabet, with a few
additional letters.

The vowels are A, E, I, O, U, and Y.

The consonants are B, C, D, F, G, J, K, L, M, N, P, QU, R,
S, T, V, W, X, Y, and Z.

You'll notice that Y appears as both a consonant and a
vowel. Hopefully you can tell from context which one it is
when it appears in a word. When a consonant, Y is pronounced
as in *yes*. When a vowel, it is pronounced as in *system*.

The letter H is used to modify the sound of consonants: BH,
CH, DH, FH, GH, KH, HL, MH, NH, PH, HR, SH, TH, HW, HY, and

Detailed notes on the pronunciation of each letter follow.

Any letter may be silent. Any letter may sound like any
other letter.

A  - Pronounced either as in *cat* or in *father*. Could
     also be as in *sale*.
B  - As in English.
BH - Like Spanish V. Or maybe it's the same as B.
C  - As in English, but may be hard, like a K, before E, I,
     or Y. Or maybe it's pronounced as in Italian, with a
     CH-sound as in *church* before E or I. It could also
     be pronounced TS, as in Esperanto.
CH - As in *church*.
D  - As in English.
DH - Like TH in English *the* or *that*. Could also be a
     dental D as in Spanish, or even a gutteral GH sound
     as in Irish.
E  - As in *pet* or *here*.
F  - As in English.
FH - Like F. Or maybe it's like Japanese F, where your lips
     don't touch your teeth. Or maybe it's just silent, as
     in Irish.
G  - As in *get*.
GH - Silent, or like Y, or a gutteral sound as in Irish.
H  - As in English.
HL - Like it's spelled.
HR - Like it's spelled.
HW - Like it's spelled. Sounds like Stewie's pronunciation
     of Cool Whip
HY - Like it's spelled.
I  - As in *machine*, *bit*, or *smile*.
J  - As in *Jack* or *Jacques*. Or perhaps it has a Y-sound,
     like German *ja*.
K  - As in English.
L  - As in English.
M  - As in English.
MH - Like Spanish V, or the same as M, or like W.
N  - As in English.
NG - As in *finger*. At the end of words, as in *ring*.
NH - Like NG
O  - As in *old* or *top*.
P  - As in English.
QU - As in English.
R  - As in English. May be tapped or trilled.
S  - As in English.
SH - As in English.
T  - As in English.
TH - As in English.
U  - As in *rude* or *pull*.
V  - As in English.
W  - As in English.
X  - As in English.
Y  - As in *yet* or *system*.
Z  - As in *zebra* or perhaps as in *pizza*.
ZH - Like S in *treasure*.


The basic form of verbs is the command form, or *imperative*
form. This is the form you use when telling someone to do

In Raven, the command form of the verb is the most
fundamental form: it's the one listed in the dictionary. So
to tell someone to do something, just use the verb as it is.

Below are some commands you can try translating into Raven.
Since this is the first translation exercise, I should
explain a bit about how translating into Raven works.

I've made up a bunch of words for you to use, grouped into
"pools" with titles like "basic verbs", "emotions", and
"professions". When you want to translate an English word,
just choose any Raven word from the appropriate pool. The
only requirement is that the word has to look and sound
right for the meaning. The pools of words are under
construction, but the ones that exist can be found at the
bottom of this webpage.

I will give examples of one possible version of the language
throughout this text, but the language you come up with will
look totally different — and that's a good thing!

You can practice this process by translating the commands

- "look!"
- "listen!"
- "go!"
- "be!"
- "speak!"
- "come!"
- "sing!"
- "run!"
- "dance!"
- "awake!"
- "sleep!"
- "live!"
- "die!"


To talk about what someone *generally or habitually does*,
you need to use the *aorist*, or "timeless" form of a verb.

This form is created from the command form by adding a
suffix. Choose any suffix from the INFLECTIONS pool at the
end of this page.

For instance, if you choose the suffix *-ev*, you'd form
the aorist like this (using some made up verbs):

    yal "go" -> yalev "he/she/it goes"
    eb "be" -> ebev "he/she/it is"

Or if you chose the suffix *-aran*, and gave those verbs
different meanings, you might end up with this:

    yal "speak" -> yalaran "he/she/it speaks"
    eb "come" -> ebaran "he/she/it comes"

You've probably noticed that the translations above include
pronouns (he/she/it) — where do those come from? When you
create the aorist form of a verb, it's assumed that the
person or thing doing the action is singular, and referred
to in the third person (not "I" or "you"). To form the
plural, or use a first or second person pronoun with the
verb, you need to add more suffixes. We'll cover those


Sometimes, when you add a suffix to a word, you get awkward
sequences of letters. These sequences may be hard to
pronounce, or just ugly. What can you do in such a case?

One option is to drop one of the colliding
letters. Linguists call this *elision*.

    hyare + ev -> hyareev -> hyarev
    andra + aran -> andraaran -> andaran

Another option is to insert another letter in between the
colliding sounds, to give them a bit of breathing room.
This is known as *epenthesis* to linguists.

    hyare + ev -> hyarelev
    andra + aran -> andralaran


rheon, rheoni
liki, aliki
uin, uindo
tered, teredz




The following JavaScript code can be used to generate Raven

  a: "eiudbgnmlrshwv",
  e: "iudbgnmlrshwv",
  i: "dbgnmlrshwv",
  o: "eidbgnmlrshwv",
  u: "idbgnmlrshwv",
  w: "ydbgnmlrshwv",
  y: "dbgnmlrshwv",
  d: "aeiouywrshvf",
  b: "aeyrlvf",
  g: "aeiouwyrlshwv",
  n: "aeiouwydgn",
  m: "aeiouwybmlrfv",
  l: "aeiouwydbgnmshfv",
  r: "aeiouwydbgnmhfv",
  s: "aeiouwydbgnmh",
  w: "aeiou",
  v: "aeiouwyr",
  f: "aeiouwyr",
  t: "aeirh",
  p: "aeirh",
  c: "aeirh",
  k: "aei",
  h: "aeiouwyr",

function word(length) {
  let nextLetter = pickRandom(Object.keys(TRANSITIONS))
  let word = ''
  for (let i = 0; i < length; i++) {
    word += nextLetter
    nextLetter = pickRandom(TRANSITIONS[nextLetter])
  return word

function pickRandom(indexable) {
  let index = Math.floor(Math.random() * indexable.length)
  return indexable[index]