Hey folks, I've been trying to de-lurk myself gradually, and since I
always appreciate everything that everyone else posts, I've been
wanting for some time to contribute myself.

Well, I'm a student at Brown University, and as though I don't have
enough language-oriented classes on my plate at the moment (Arabic,
Semantics, Evolution of Biology and Language and History of the
English Language), I've decided to start getting into developing a
language family. I'm calling its original form Proto-Ragda, and I'll
take it through several sub-families: the main Ragda families, Sazgwa,
and some others. I really wanted to evolve some tonal structure (since
I understand that most of the world's languages have some degree of
tonality other than simple prosody), so I've been reading up on
tonogenesis, and it is quite fascinating. Tone can evolve very
quickly, it seems!

So I'm currently working on generating common sound changes and the
basic proto grammar (a lot of which will later be mostly lexicalised,
at least in Sazgwa languages), and generating a basic historical
cognate list. I should have something to show everyone soon! At the
moment, in terms of interesting phonology, Proto-Sazgwa (an early
offshoot of Ragda) has basic high and low marked tones and unmarked
middle (with possible contours on vowels which used to be long),
laryngealised vowels (creaky voice) and a degree of vowel rounding
harmony. Rounded vowels have also evolved from what were labialised
stops in Proto-Ragda. Tones typically come from laryngealisation,
shortening of long stressed syllables, and deterioration of codas.

Anyway, I have a few questions for people:

Have you ever taken on generating an entire family of languages? Where
do you begin? Do you typically envision a people before creating their
language? I don't know much about Ragda peoples, other than a few
brief ideas of sun worship, the importance of fire and the hearth,
some kind of individual responsibility in society, a tendency towards
slings and thrown weapons, and mound burials. I'm not sure what their
technological achievements in the present might be, what time period
in a real-world civilisation it might correspond to, but perhaps since
I'm going from the grass-roots, almost, that doesn't matter so much.

Do folks generate cognate word lists? What sort of detail do you go
into? I've given a bi- or trisconsonantal Proto-Ragda stem with a
vowel quality (/a/, /i/ or /u/), with general body parts, common
actions, parts of nature, some colours, numbers, etc.

Finally, how have people used tone in their languages? Are there
tonogenesis resources you've found helpful? I've found a lot of things
in different places, but no collected online resource.

Thanks for your patience! I hope to participate further in the future.