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Author Traci Chee and her friend Ariel Macken completely made up the language of Awara. Talk with students about how we look at language in the world and what they think a fictional language, or conlang (constructed languages), brought to A Thousand Steps Into Night, as well as what it adds to other books, television series, and movies.
Then have pairs of students work together to make up words and phrases in their own conlang. Explain that they will have to try and communicate their phrases in their conlang to the rest of the class. Students can draw inspiration from existing languages and can decide what the world looks like where their language is spoken.
After students have all had the opportunity to try to make themselves understood using their conlangs, have students explain the origins of the words in their conlang and talk about what they learned about how languages work and how we use them to express information.
Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing
- Do you like Miuko? Does Miuko like herself? What are her strengths? What are society’s expectations of her? What does she expect of herself?
- What are the obvious and subtle ways that you can see patriarchy in play throughout Awara? What societal parallels can you draw between our world and Miuko’s world?
- If Miuko were a demon, she would have the freedoms she wants. Why is Miuko desperate to retain her humanity even though it means a powerless existence? Do you think being human is the right thing for her to want? What does she learn about being human? What path would you choose?
- Traci Chee - Awaran Language Lessons #1 (Miuko, shaoha) video
- Creating a Fictional Language Conlang Worksheet from the Conlanger’s Library
- A Complete Guide to Creating a New Language from Summa Linguae
- The Process of Inventing Fictional Languages by Lacy Harness