Kerr's article is about creating realistic sounding fantasy names for people and places, but to get there she basically lays out a primer on language. I was 13 when it was published and it was the first I'd ever heard of isolating, inflectional, or agglutinative language types. You might consider it my first linguistics lesson.
|Choose your sounds.|
Heaton's article is basically a primer on how to make your own language. He uses Orcish as an example. Maybe none of either article seems surprising these days, but his suggestion for picking sounds for a language and then putting them in three columns to create words, blew my young mind.
|Mix-n-match to make a reasonable language facsimile.|
I went on to partially construct two of my own languages-- one a courtly language meant to be spoken when you didn't want to be overheard called Noom, the other my version of Ent, of which I only remember one word, resketlek (don't remember what it meant).
What I want to praise these articles here for is not the seriousness they took simulating a subject for a game, but how they gave me a simple tool. Combining Kerr's phonemes and language types and Heaton's three-column matrix made a tool that anyone could use to make a reasonably unique sounding constructed language with relative ease. So, thanks to them and the Dragon editor.
Now, I think it would be cool to have a list of basic vocabulary to help anyone doing this kind of exercise. Maybe to be more specific, a basic dungeon vocabulary. If your players are going to encounter someone speaking this language underground, what basic words would you want covered as a DM? I'm thinking things like attack, run, surrender, sword, gold, etc. In a brief poking around the internets, a lot of the conlang links are subject to link-rot and the language-learner type sites had huge lists of words in the thousands.
What if we worked together to make our own? If you're interested, leave a few words you consider essential to a basic dungeon lexicon in a comment. I'll look them all over and trim the list to fit on a single-page before year's end. (or if someone's already done this links would be appreciated.
*Well, maybe excepting some articles in the Best of Dragon Vol II which I've already written a bit about.
Update 8-28-12: I was thinking that I'd probably use language most often as inscriptions in my game-- notes, dungeon graffiti, instructions for weird devices-- and that might require a different lexicon than language spoken to hirelings and such.
Also, check out this post by Quibish, where he does something very similar to Heaton's approach.