Fictional language

Fictional language

Fictional languages are by far the largest group of artistic languages. Fictional languages are intended to be the languages of a fictional world, and are often designed with the intent of giving more depth and an appearance of plausibility to the fictional worlds with which they are associated, and to have their characters communicate in a fashion which is both alien and dislocated.

Some of these languages, e.g., in worlds of fantasy fiction, alternative universes, Earth's future, or alternate history, are presented as distorted versions or dialects of modern English or other natural language, while others are independently designed conlangs.


Fictional languages are separated from artistic languages by both purpose and relative completion: a fictional language often has the least amount of grammar and vocabulary possible, and rarely extends beyond the absolutely necessary. At the same time, some others have developed languages in detail for their own sake, such as J. R. R. Tolkien's Quenya and Sindarin, Star Trek's Klingon language, and Star Wars's Mandalorian language which exist as functioning, usable languages. Here "fictional" can be a misnomer.

By analogy with the word "conlang", the term "conworld" is used to describe these fictional worlds, inhabited by fictional constructed cultures. The conworld influences vocabulary (what words the language will have for flora and fauna, articles of clothing, objects of technology, religious concepts, names of places and tribes, etc.), as well as influencing other factors such as pronouns, or how their cultures view the break-off points between colors or the gender and age of family members.


Common examples are:
* J.R.R. Tolkien's languages of Middle-earth
* George Orwell's Newspeak in "Nineteen Eighty-Four"
* Václav Havel's Ptydepe in "The Memorandum"
* Anthony Burgess's Nadsat in "A Clockwork Orange"
* Iain M. Banks' Marain in his Culture novels
* Ursula K. Le Guin's Pravic in "The Dispossessed"
* Richard Adams's Lapine language in "Watership Down"
* Richard A. Watson's D'ni in the Myst franchise
* Robert Jordan's Old Tongue in The Wheel of Time
* The Klingon language in Star Trek
* The Mandalorian language from "Star Wars"
* The backwards Japanese/Latin used in "Ico" and "Shadow of the Colossus"
* Baronh in "Crest of the Stars" Series
* Ku in The Interpreter

Professional fictional languages

Professional fictional languages are those languages created for use in books, movies, television shows, video games, comics, toys, and musical albums (prominent examples of works featuring fictional languages include the Middle-earth and Star Trek universes and the game Myst).

Note: The Al Bhed language used on the video game Final Fantasy X is not a language per se, as it is only a clever substitution cipher.

Alien languages

A notable subgenre of fictional languages are alien languages, the ones that are used or might be used by putative extraterrestrial life forms. Alien languages are subject of both science fiction and scientific research.

Perhaps the most fully-developed fictional alien language is the Klingon language of the Star Trek universe - a fully-developed constructed language.

The problem of alien language has confronted generations of science fiction writers; some have created fictional languages for their characters to use, while others have circumvented the problem through translation devices or other fantastic technology.

Although this field remains largely confined to science fiction, the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life makes the question of alien language a credible topic for scientific and philosophical speculation.

While many cases an alien language is but an element of fictional reality, in a number of science fiction works the core of the plot are linguistic and psychological problems of communication between various alien races.

Internet-based fictional languages

Internet-based fictional languages are hosted along with their "conworlds" on the Internet, and based at these sites, becoming known to the world through the visitors to these sites; Verdurian, the language of Mark Rosenfelder's Verduria on the planet of Almea, is a flagship Internet-based fictional language. Many other fictional languages and their associated conworlds are created privately by their inventor, known only to the inventor and perhaps a few friends. In this context the term "professional" (used for the first category) as opposed to "amateur" (used for the second and third) refers only to the professionalism of the used medium, and not to the professionalism of the language itself or its creator. In fact, most professional languages are the work of non-linguists, while many amateur languages were in fact created by linguists, and in general the latter are better developed. Fact|date=April 2007

ee also

*Constructed language
*Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence

External links

* [ A Primer In SF XENOLINGUISTICS] , by Justin B. Rye
* [ Interstellar Communication] , a collection of references
* [ Galactic Basic Standard] from the "Star Wars" universe

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