Hello! You don’t have to wing it at all; you can put as much - or as little - thought into your spells as you like.
The spells in the Harry Potter books are all words and phrases derived from classical languages (mostly Latin):
Confundo. Closely derived from the word ‘confound’ which can mean ‘to cause confusion’ (NB: the ‘u’ and the ‘o’ of ‘confound’ have been switched around to create the word ‘Confundo’.).
Protego. Can be translated as ‘protect’ from Latin to English.
Engorgio. ‘Engorge’ means to swell something with blood, water or other fluids.
Even when J.K. Rowling isn’t using true Latin words, she manipulates English words to ‘sound’ Latin or linguistically archaic.
I’m going to put ideas under three headers: Verbal Commands, Action Commands and Additional Items. I believe a combination of all these is a decent start to creating your own spells, but you are certainly allowed to focus on one or the other if you’d like.
Most spells require some kind of chant, title or mantra to activate the power’s potential. Here are some things to consider when creating verbal commands.
As stated before, there is a sound to the spells in Harry Potter: Expecto Patronum, Wingardium Leviosa, Sectumsempra, Reparo, Alohomora. The spells are either one word or two and the influence of classical languages is apparent.
Really think about what you want to call your spells and what kind of emotion you want to evoke with them. You don’t have to make the words/phrases outlandish or as a totally new language. You can take inspiration from languages in the world around us and invent them as you need to, providing you do so respectfully and within reason.
So, ‘each spell is three words’, ‘each spell must include an element’ or, ‘each spell must rhyme’.
Whilst they’re not ‘spells’ per se, the best examples I have to explain this are the techniques from the NARUTO series. Generally (although there are exceptions), most all of the techniques are followed by ‘no jutsu’ which means ‘art of..’. For example, Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Art of the Shadow Clone) or Kuchiyose no Jutsu (Art of Summoning).
That’s a very basic look at it. There are then further commands and additions to the techniques, such as with the summoning art:
- Kuchiyose… Kirikiri Mai! (Summoning… Whirlwind Dance)
…or should the art rely solely on one element release:
- Fūton: Kazekiri no Jutsu (Wind release: Wind Cutter Technique)
Just as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spells are restricted to one single word, or two word phrases, the commands in NARUTO follow a consistent pattern and word order, which among other things, contributes to the technique’s success.
A word of note: this example is not here to encourage you to put all of your spells into Japanese…! Remember, in Japanese, the commands are as literal as they sound in English (so, for example, Sabaku Kyū is Sand Binding Coffin). The general point is, these ‘spells’ (or rather, techniques) have naming conventions which you can take inspiration from to make up your own verbal commands.
So, presumably, these spells will be ineffective or bring the wrong kind of result if not pronounced in the correct way, for example, Hermione stressing, ‘It’s Levi-ohh-s-ah, not Levi-oh-s-arr’ (and Harry saying diagonally instead of Diagon Alley, heheh).
Generally, setting limits is a good way to know how much play space you have. Here are some things you can consider when coming up with limits to verbal commands:
- Order of words;
- Speed/pace of speech;
- Tone of words, etc…
It’s not all about shouting the right lines; magical characters, or characters with special abilities often have specific movements or actions to contribute to their technique’s success.
So in Harry Potter, the wand acts as an instrument to channel magical powers. The way I see it is… it refines and controls all of that magical potential to keep it constrained and usable.
A particularly unskilled witch or wizard may struggle to conjure spells without a wand, and when a broken wand is used, either the spell doesn’t work or it works in the wrong way.
Do your spells require an implement to focus the magic/energy being used? Ask yourself:
- What is it called?
- What does it look like?
- What materials make up the implement?
- How important is it to the spell’s success?
- Are all of the implements identical, or unique to the user?
- How is the implement wielded?
- What size is it?
- What are its limitations?
Wand movement is an important part of spell casting in Harry Potter. Moving the wand too abruptly or lazily has an impact on how successful the spell will be.
Comparatively, in NARUTO, characters often perform hand seals as a way of measuring out the amount of chakra they need to perform the technique. It’s a general rule that skilled shinobi are able to use fewer hand seals to create the same effect as they have a greater power.
What kind of movements/stances must your characters adopt to safely perform a spell? What kind of movements/stances give them the best advantages in battle?
Potions, talismans, plants, magical objects… what other kind of things do your magical characters use in order to create/concoct spells?
There are all sorts of items and weird things rumoured to have been used by witches for the act of spell-casting. This is another thing you can consider when thinking up spells; the words or names associated with these things can be good material to work with when coming up with incantations.
Phew. That’s about it. I think I might have included things you didn’t ask for, as I wanted to cover all avenues… but I really hope this helps…!
Best of luck, Anon!
If you have any doubt that the hashtag is a frighteningly powerful tool in our modern vocabulary, imagine a person you care about texting you that song’s title line out of the blue: “You’re beautiful.” Now think of the same person texting, “You’re #beautiful.” The second one is jokey, ironic, distant—and hey, maybe that’s what that person was going for. But it also hammers home that point that the internet too often asserts: You’re not as original as you once thought. “Beautiful” is analog, unquantifiable, one-in-a-million. #Beautiful, on the other hand, is crowded terrain. Ten more people have just tweeted about something or someone #beautiful since you started reading this sentence.
As more and more of our daily interactions become text-based — people preferring texting to phone calls, workplaces that rely heavily email and instant messaging—we’re developing ways to stretch our written language so it can communicate more nuance, so we can tell people what we mean without accidentally leading them on or pissing them off. Periods have become more forceful, commas less essential, and over the last few years, the hashtag has morphed into something resembling the fabled sarcasm font—the official keystroke of irony. Putting a hashtag in front of something you text, email, or IM to someone is a sly way of saying “I’m joking,” or maybe more accurately, “I mean this and I don’t at the same time.”
Thanks to Twitter, the hashtag has become an important linguistic shortcut. But while everyone from Robin Thicke to Beyoncé has used the symbol as part of their art, only a few have truly taken advantage of its culture-jamming possibilities.
This what I needed, shit
No. Said is not dead. Words for dialogue other than “said” are jarring to the narrative and take most people out of the story. Put the way they said it in what they say or add an adjective.
Two students, James and John were given a grammar test by their teacher. The question was, “is it better to use “had” or “had had” in this example sentence?”
The teacher collected the tests, and looked over their answers.
James, while John had had “had”, had had “had had.” “Had had” had had a better effect on the teacher.
welcome to the english language
This makes me sick
And of course I just read this in my head 7 times, stressing each word differently.
I love thisss
(This is why context and description are important!)
I’m Italian but I wouldn’t mind in the slightest if some hot guys like these ones wanted to teach me more.
In fact, please do.
EVERYONE STOP USING “HELLA” WRONG
I HAVE HAD CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ‘HELLA’ LONGER THAN AN EPISODE OF YOUR FAVORITE SHOW LET ME BREAK IT DOWN FURTHER
'HELLA' HAS ITS ROOTS AS A CONTRACTION OF 'A HELL OF A', LIKE “WE HAD A HELL OF A GOOD TIME” BECOMING “WE HAD A HELLA GOOD TIME”
HOWEVER IF YOU WERE TO SAY “THE STORE HAS A HELL OF A LOT OF CLOTHES” YOU DON’T SAY “THE STORE HAS HELLA LOT OF CLOTHES” BECAUSE IN THIS INCARNATION HELLA IS A QUANTIFIER AND SAYING ‘HELLA LOT OF’ MAKES AS MUCH SENSE AS ‘MUCH LOT OF’
IT’S ALSO VERY CONTEXT DEPENDENT IN THAT IT’S BEST USED IN A CLAUSE THAT’S NOT INTERROGATIVE IE A SENTENCE OR STATEMENT THAT’S NOT ASKING A THING
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT YOU WEIRD FOR SAYING ‘WHERE ARE THE HELLA BUSES’ BUT GENERALLY NOT BAT AN EYE IF YOU SAY ‘GOD DAMN THERE’S USUALLY HELLA BUSES WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY’
SOURCE: MY FAMILY HAS LIVED IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA FOR A HELLA LONG TIME AND BY THAT I MEAN OVER A CENTURY
LITERALLY EVERY WORD IS MADE UP AND THERE ISN’T A SINGLE LANGUAGE THAT HASN’T EVOLVED SINCE ITS CREATION I THINK ALL Y’ALL NEEDA CALM THE FUCK DOWN ABOUT WORDS LIKE “HELLA” AND “LITERALLY” YOU STUPID PIECES OF SHIT
WORDS HAVE MEANINGS YOU FUCKWEASEL AND YOU CAN’T JUST PICK AND CHOOSE NEW DEFINITIONS AND GET MAD WHEN NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEY FUCK YOU’RE SAYING
IF SOMEONE ASKS ME HOW MY DAY WAS I CAN’T JUST SAY ‘ABSOLUTE GRAPE’
THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE, I CAN’T CALL MY SISTER A SLUT FOR HAVING A MESSY ROOM, WHEN I SAY I’M GAY I DON’T MEAN HAPPY AND MOST OF THE TIME HELLA IS USED PROPERLY.
EVERYONE CALM DOWN IT’S GONNA BE OKAY. IT GETS BETTER
I WILL TAKE IT
I WILL TAKE THE RING TO MORDOR
So you know what I don’t get? Why people repeat words. (x)
Grammar time: it’s called “contrastive reduplication,” and it’s a form of intensification that is relatively common. Finnish does a very similar thing, and others use near-reduplication (rhyme-based) to intensify, like Hungarian (pici ‘tiny’, ici-pici ‘very tiny’).
Even the typologically-distant group of Bantu languages utilize reduplication in a strikingly similar fashion with nouns: Kinande oku-gulu ‘leg’, oku-gulu-gulu ‘a REAL leg’ (Downing 2001, includes more with verbal reduplication as well).
I suppose the difficult aspect of English reduplication is not through this particular type, but the fact that it utilizes many other types of reduplication: baby talk (choo-choo, no-no), rhyming (teeny-weeny, super-duper), and the ever-famous “shm” reduplication: fancy-schmancy (a way of denying the claim that something is fancy).
screams my professor was trying to find an example of reduplication so the next class he came back and said “I FOUND REDUPLICATION IN ENGLISH” and then he said “Milk milk” and everyone was just “what?” and he said “you know when you go to a coffee shop and they ask if you want soy milk and you say ‘no i want milk milk’” and everyone just had this collective sigh of understanding.
when people attack trans* ppl for “making up words” like genderqueer and etc, makes me wonder where they think words actually come from. is it god? does god make the words? or perhaps some sort of mischievous river spirit
as a linguistics major I can confirm that it is in fact a mischievous river spirit
Strange women lying in rivers distributing words is no basis for a system of language.
“chuffed doesnt mean what you think it means”
it means exactly what i think it means its just some stupid word that literally has two definitions that mean the opposite thing
what in the shit pissing fuck
This makes me really chuffed.
This post is quite egregious
Well I’m nonplussed by this whole post.