The vocabulary of the Caihong language is drawn from Romanian, English, Spanish and Germanic roots.
Often etymological sources were abbreviated in a fluid, loose way - using intuition and instinct rather than analytical structuring. The syntax primarly follows Romance languages. As a wink to her native language, Mirela used a few common Romanina idioms and slang syntagms as part of the Caihong vocabulary. A big part of the lexicological stock is due to circumstances and chance.
Caihong is also a polarizing, democratic language. In general, there are very few nouns that have to ability to categorize people (there is no word, for instance, that define people by their sexual preference). Denigrating adjectives however, such as birta (trans. idiot) are very popular. The syntagm "thank you" has no translation in Caihong.
The Caihong City screenplay was written in English and translated afterwards into Caihong. Since memorizing "sounds" that have no meaning to one is extremely difficult, the language's simple structure was meant to allow improvisation. There are certain words that are unable to signify by themselves, but when used in social context and within a certain conjecture they could mean whatever the locutor implies. Other than inventing the language and setting up its pronounciation rules, Mirela Ungureanu also did dialogue coaching with the actors months before the shoot. A Proto-Balto-Slavic pronounciation guide was used, favoring short front closed vowel and short back closed vowels. When a longer vowel is necessary it is usually marked by double vowel in Romanized writing.
Mirela started creating the language guided by a stereotypical beginner's learning course pattern - by working firstly on verbs and pronouns. After, she built the ramifications of the skeleton based on the dialogue in the script and by trying to keep each character's pattern of speech particular. Therefore, Liu Junjie uses the appelative buei, whereas Lavinia uses the discourse particle (filler) gen, as a direct translation of the English filler word like.
The Caihong style of writing is formed of characters reminiscing of early Chinese writings like the oracle-bone script. Accent is put on polysemy, fluidity and collage where one symbol can have multiple meanings and additional symbols are added to these polyvalent signs in order to signify differently. Often times pictorial, the characters' aesthetics is primitive and illustrative.
Just like Tagalog, the Caihong writing style also had a writing system based on symbols of the old Baybayin, the ancient Phillippine script.
The Caihong writing system is a fluid endeavor, with symbols added and the script continuing to evolve.
From the initial scribblings done during production to use on actual sets, to titles on screen and to the creation of a Caihong font many people from the team of artists have contributed to the script with their own designs and ideas: producer and writer Zhao Lewis Liu, production designer Laura Cechanowicz and her assistant Jia Rong Zhu. Above is an example of notes sent by email during post-production with concepts and symbols to develop the continuous process of creating a writing system.
NOTE 01.20.2014 LAURA CECHANOWICZ
A conlanger (/ˈkɒnlæŋər/) is a person who invents conlangs (constructed languages).
While working in the kitchen of a restaurant in Vancouver, Canada, Mirela was exposed to Tagalog, an Austranesian language spoken in the Phillippines. The overall use of simple vowels and the borrowed words in Spanish caught Mirela's attention and influenced the overall Caihong language's loose phonology.
Much like Caihong language, Tagalog has 33 phonemes, with symple syllable structure and similar pronounciation to Spanish where consonants sound different when placed in between vowels. Mirela is fluent in Spanish, Romanian, English, French and Portuguese and used all her linguistic resources to conflate the new language.
The Caihong language is an artificial language created by linguist Mirela Ungureanu for this film. The Caihong language is tenseless, has a simple grammar structure and a restrained vocabulary pool. Most words are polysemantic and their meanings derives by contiguity within a semantic field. The encoding of spatial and temporal relations is done mostly through syntax and circumstance. All dialogue of the film is spoken in this invented language.
THE CONLANGER - MIRELA UNGUREANU
The Caihong word for "Welcome" is vilcuma from the Old English word "wilcuma" pronounced vɪl-kuma
Mirela's roommate at the time she was working on the Caihong Language was named Prem, which is Hindi for love. The word for love in Caihong became prem - used as a verb like in the sentence Ie prem ja (I love you).
CAIHONG CHARACTER FONT BY LIU CHIA-LUNG
Laura Cechanowicz, the production designer, is one of the main contributors to the Caihong collection of signs. In her process she would translate English in to Chinese, then Chinese into ancient Chinese while in conversation with native Chinese speakers. She would then add triangle shapes to characters defining Caihong City elements, and circles to characters defining Furui City elements.
Language. Learn about the invented language of Caihong City.
SAMPLE FROM THE CAIHONG CITY SCREENPLAY: ON THE LEFT THE ENGLISH DIALOGUE, ON THE RIGHT IN RED THE ROMANIZED CAIHONG LANGUAGE TRANSLATION