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Encyclopedia > Artistic language

An artistic language (artlang) is a constructed language designed for aesthetic pleasure. Unlike engineered languages or auxiliary languages, artistic languages usually have irregular grammar systems, much like natural languages. Many are designed within the context of fictional worlds, such as J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth and Mark Rosenfelder's Almea. Others represent fictional minority languages in a world not patently different from the real world, or have no particular fictional background attached. An artificial or constructed language (known colloquially as a conlang among aficionados), is a language whose phonology, grammar and vocabulary are specifically devised by an individual or small group, rather than having naturally evolved as part of a culture the way natural languages do. ... Engineered languages (sometimes abbreviated to engelangs), are constructed languages devised to test or prove some hypothesis about how languages work or might work. ... An international auxiliary language (sometimes abbreviated as IAL or auxlang) is a language used (or to be used in the future) for communication between people from different nations who do not share a common native language. ... A fictional universe is a cohesive fictional world that serves as the setting or backdrop for one or (more commonly) multiple works of fiction. ... John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer and university professor who is best known as the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. ... A map of the Northwestern part of Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age, courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Arda. ... Mark Rosenfelder is the creator of the website Zompist. ...

There are several different schools of artistic language construction. The most important is the naturalist school, which seeks to imitate the complexity and historicity of natural languages. Others do not attempt to imitate the natural evolution of languages, but follow a more abstract style.



Several different genres of constructed languages are classified as 'artistic'. An artistic language may fall into any one of these groups, depending on the aim of its use. Overlapping with artistic languages is the group of philosophical languages, languages derived from some first principle. Engineered languages, sometimes called engelangs, are constructed languages devised to test or prove some hypothesis about how languages work or might work. ...

Fictional languages

By far the largest group of artistic languages are fictional languages (sometimes also referred to as "professional artlangs"). 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. By analogy with the word "conlang", the term conworld is used to describe these 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. Primary examples of this are: A constructed world or conworld is a fictional world, often created for a novel, video game, or role-playing game, but sometimes for its own sake. ... A constructed culture or conculture is a fictional culture created as part of a constructed world. ...

Some of these languages are presented as distorted versions or dialects of modern English. J. R. R. Tolkien in 1916. ... Elvish languages are constructed languages used typically by elves in a fantasy setting. ... the sequal to the hobbit;The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by English academic J. R. R. Tolkien. ... Eric Arthur Blair (June 25, 1903[1][2] – January 21, 1950), better known by the pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. ... Newspeak is a fictional language in George Orwells novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. ... Nineteen Eighty-Four (commonly abbreviated to 1984) is a dystopian novel by the English writer George Orwell, first published by Secker and Warburg in 1949. ... Václav Havel (official portrait) Václav Havel, GCB, CC (IPA: ) (VA-slav HA-vel) (born October 5, 1936) is a Czech writer and dramatist. ... Anthony Burgess (February 25, 1917 – November 22, 1993) was an English novelist and critic. ... now. ... This article describes the novel by Anthony Burgess. ... Iain Menzies Banks (born on February 16, 1954 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland) writes mainstream novels as Iain Banks and science fiction as Iain M. Banks. ... Marain is a constructed language used by the fictional Culture of Iain M. Banks . ... The Culture is a fictional anarchic, socialistic and utopian society created by the Scottish writer Iain M. Banks and described by him in several of his novels and shorter fictions. ... Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (born October 21, 1929) is an American author. ... Pravic is a language used and referred to in the science-fiction book The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin. ... The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia is a 1974 utopian science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, set in the same fictional universe as that of The Left Hand of Darkness (the Ekumen universe). ... Christopher Paolini (born November 17, 1983) is an American writer of fantasy fiction, best known as being the author of the Inheritance trilogy, which consists of the books Eragon, Eldest, and an as-yet-unreleased third book whose title has not been revealed. ... The Ancient Language refers to the oldest language of the land of Alagaësia in Christopher Paolinis Inheritance trilogy. ... The Inheritance Trilogy is about a 15-year-old boy named Eragon and his dragon Saphira, written by homeschooled author Christopher Paolini. ... Richard George Adams (born May 9, 1920 in Newbury, Berkshire, England) is a British novelist who is best known for two novels with animal characters, Watership Down and The Plague Dogs. ... Lapine is an artificial language constructed by Richard Adams and spoken by the fictional rabbits of his novel Watership Down. ... For other uses, see Watership Down (disambiguation). ... The Klingon language or Klingonese (tlhIngan Hol in Klingon) is the constructed language spoken by Klingons in the fictional Star Trek universe. ... Star Trek is an American science-fiction franchise spanning six television series, ten feature films, hundreds of novels, computer and video games, and other fan stories. ... A dialect (from the Greek word διάλεκτος, dialektos) is a variety of a language used by people from a particular geographic area. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...

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). 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. Myst (or MYST) is a graphic adventure computer game designed and directed by the brothers Robyn and Rand Miller. ... Mark Rosenfelder is the creator of the website Zompist. ...

Fictional languages are separated from artistic languages by both purpose and relative completion: a fictional language generally has the least amount of grammar and vocabulary possible, and rarely extends beyond the absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, some others have developed languages in detail for their own sake, such as J. R. R. Tolkien's Quenya and Sindarin and Star Trek's Klingon language, which exist as functioning, useable languages. Here "fictional" can be a misnomer. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer and university professor who is best known as the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Sindarin is an artificial language (or conlang) developed by J. R. R. Tolkien. ... Star Trek is an American science-fiction franchise spanning six television series, ten feature films, hundreds of novels, computer and video games, and other fan stories. ... The Klingon language or Klingonese (tlhIngan Hol in Klingon) is the constructed language spoken by Klingons in the fictional Star Trek universe. ... An editor has expressed a concern that the topic of this article may be unencyclopedic. ...

The term fictional diachronic language describes fictional languages that are invented in large families and have their fictional history traced over time, with a proto-language used to derive descendant languages.

Alternative languages

Alternative languages, or altlangs, speculate on an alternate history and try to reconstruct how a family of natural languages would have evolved if things had been different (e.g. What if Greek civilization went on to thrive without a Roman Empire, leaving Greek and not Latin to develop several modern descendants?) The language that would have evolved is then traced step by step in its evolution, to reach its final form. An altlang will typically base itself on the core vocabulary of one language and the phonology of another. The best-known language of this category is Brithenig, which initiated the interest among Internet conlangers in devising such alternate-historical languages, like Wenedyk. Brithenig attempts to determine what Romance languages would have evolved had Roman influence in Britain been sufficient to replace Celtic languages with Vulgar Latin, and bases its phonology on that of Welsh. An earlier instance is Philip José Farmer's Winkie language, a relative of the Germanic languages spoken by the Winkies of Oz in A Barnstormer in Oz. Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... Wenedyk (in English: Venedic) is a constructed language of the naturalistic kind, created by the Dutch translator Jan van Steenbergen. ... Vulgar Latin, as in this political engraving at Pompeii, was the language of the ordinary people of the Roman Empire, distinct from the Classical Latin of literature. ... Welsh redirects here, and this article describes the Welsh language. ... Philip José Farmer (born January 26, 1918) is an American author, principally known for his science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. ... The Germanic languages are a group of related languages constituting a branch of the Indo-European (IE) language family. ...

Micronational languages

Micronational languages are the languages created for use in micronations. Having the citizens learn the language is as much a part of participating in the micronation as minting coins and stamps or participating in government. The members of these micronations meet up and speak the language they have learned when they are participating in these meets. They coin new words and grammatical constructions when needed. Talossan, from R. Ben Madison's Kingdom of Talossa, is by far the best-known example of a micronational language. The micronation of Sealand Micronations – sometimes also referred to as cybernations, fantasy countries, model countries, and new country projects – are entities that resemble independent nations or states, but which are unrecognized by them, and for the most part exist only on paper, on the Internet, or in the minds of... This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims. ...

Personal languages

The term personal language refers to languages that are ultimately created for one's own edification. There is nobody whom the creator actually expects to speak it. The language exists as a work of art. A personal language may be invented for the purpose of having a beautiful language, for self-expression, as an exercise in understanding linguistic principles, or perhaps as an attempt to create a language with an extreme phonemic inventory or system of verbs. Personal languages tend to have short lifespans, and are often displayed on the Internet and discussed on message boards much like Internet-based fictional languages. They are often invented in large numbers by the people who design these languages. However, a few personal languages are used extensively and long-term by their creators (e.g., for writing diaries). Javant Biarujia, the creator of Taneraic, described his personal language (which he terms a hermetic language) thus: "a private pact negotiated between the world at large and the world within me; public words simply could not guarantee me the private expression I sought." Vabungula by Bill Price is another notable example of an extensively used and thoroughly documented personal language; the author says of it, "It would of course be interesting to have someone else to converse with, but I have gotten along fine these past 35 years without a 'partner' and will probably get along just fine for the next 35 years without one." The author Robert Dessaix describes the origins of his personal language K: "I wanted words that described reality. So I made them up." [1] == c programming[[a--203. ... Robert Dessaix (February 17, 1944 - ) is an Australian novelist, essayist and journalist. ...


The term jokelang is sometimes applied to conlangs created as jokes. These may be languages intended primarily to sound funny, such as DiLingo, or for some type of satire, often as satire on some aspect of constructed languages. 1867 edition of the satirical magazine Punch, a British satirical magazine, ground-breaking on popular literature satire. ...

Some typical Jokelangs are:

  • Europanto - constituting an unstructured mixture of any European Language
  • Transpiranto - constructed from international words inflected to sound like Swedish jargon, in order to improve malplacedness and ambiguity.
  • Oou - a deliberately ambiguous and polysemous language whose writing system is made up entirely of punctuation marks and whose phoneme inventory is made up entirely of vowels
  • DiLingo- a rhyming language that contains much humor, both superficial and cleverly sneaky.
  • Pig Latin, which garbles words by taking out the first letter and adding it to the end, along with the sylabyle "ay."
  • Ubbi Dubbi - A made up language where syllables are inserted in parts of a phrase to alter the sound of the phrase, but still renders the sentence understandable. Made popular by comedian Bill Cosby and PBS television show, ZOOM.

Europanto is a constructed language, a linguistic jest with a hodge-podge vocabulary from many European languages. ... Polysemy (from the Greek πολυσημεία = multiple meaning) is the capacity for a sign or signs to have multiple meanings (sememes, i. ... Pig Latin is a language game primarily used in English. ... Ubbi Dubbi (also called Pig Greek or Double Dutch) is a language game spoken with English. ... William Henry Bill Cosby, Jr. ... The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is a non-profit public broadcasting television service with 349 member TV stations in the United States, with some member stations available by cable in Canada. ... Opening from the original Zoom. ...

Experimental languages

Some conlangists design languages based on a philosophy or experiment, such as Laadan (feminism) or Toki Pona (minimal pidgin). These are often musings on the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis to see if a person thinks differently or has to think differently to function in a different language. Láadan is a constructed language created by Suzette Haden Elgin in 1982 to test the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis for women, specifically to determine if Western natural languages were better suited for expressing the views of men than women. ... Toki Pona is a constructed language which first published online in mid-2001. ... In linguistics, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis (SWH) states that there is a systematic relationship between the grammatical categories of the language a person speaks and how that person both understands the world and behaves in it. ...

Language games

Strictly speaking, language games are not really languages, but merely provide a mechanism for altering an existing language according to a fixed pattern. They are often used by groups with the purpose of keeping their conversation incomprehensible for outsiders. A language-game is a philosophical term of art developed by Ludwig Wittgenstein, referring to simple examples of language use and the actions into which the language is woven. ...

A slightly difficult one is Gibberish, where each syllable is split into consanant and vowel sound and iddag is placed in between them. Example ('Hi' would be "hiddagi", and pronounced hidduhgai). Many different forms of Gibberish exist. A similar language is Verlan, popular in France, which is based on exchanging syllables. Language games are especially popular among children. Similar to Gibberish is Op Language, where the syllable 'op' is placed before every vowel sound. Thus, 'Op Language' in Op Language is "Opop Lopangopaugop" (Pronounced Ahpahp Lahpangahpwijjahp) In the French language, verlan is the inversion of syllables in a word which is found in slang and youth language. ...

Other language games might involve mixing up or instituting new rules of grammar. For instance, in The Gilmore Girls, there is a reference to a language with no "e"s. Some books are written without a certain letter. This is called constrained writing. Gilmore Girls is an hour-long American television drama/comedy that has aired since 2000. ... Constrained writing is a literary technique in which the writer is bound by some condition that forbids certain things or imposes a pattern. ...

Frequently, people will replace the first person with third person in a sort of language game. This might be taken further by switching first- and second- person, or first- and third-, or any combination.

An interesting Hungarian language game is Eszperente, where different objects and notions are expressed in a sentence whose words can only contain e as vowels. The game exploits the fact that e is the most frequent vowel in the Hungarian language. Eszperente is believed to be inspired by national poet Sándor Petőfi, whose poem A Tisza ("The Tisza") contains the line "Mely nyelv merne versenyezni véled?" ("Which language could rival you?"). It is not known if such games exist in other languages, but in Hungarian Eszperente can express nearly everything. (Even poems and prayers like the Lord's Prayer "are translated" to Eszperente.) Many nations have adopted a poet who is perceived to represent the identity, beliefs and principles of their culture. ... Sándor PetÅ‘fi (January 1, 1823, KiskÅ‘rös–most likely on July 31, 1849, in SighiÅŸoara) was a Hungarian national poet and a key figure in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, born as Alexander Petrovics. ... The Lords Prayer (Greek Η Κυριακή Προσευχή) (Latin Oratio Dominica), sometimes also known amongst English speakers as the Pater Imon, the Pater Noster or the Our Father, is probably the best-known prayer in Christianity. ...

Examples of artistic languages

See list of constructed languages for a list. This list of constructed languages is in alphabetical order, and divided into auxiliary, engineered, and artistic languages, and their respective subgenres. ...

See also

An artificial or constructed language (known colloquially as a conlang among aficionados), is a language whose phonology, grammar and vocabulary are specifically devised by an individual or small group, rather than having naturally evolved as part of a culture the way natural languages do. ... A language-game is a philosophical term of art developed by Ludwig Wittgenstein, referring to simple examples of language use and the actions into which the language is woven. ... Poto and Cabengo were a pair of identical twin girls (real names Grace and Virginia Kennedy, respectively), who used a secret language up to the age of about 8. ...

External links

Wikis on or about constructed languages and artistic languages

  • ConlangWiki - a wiki devoted to the topics of ConLangs and ConCultures.
  • Conlang Wikicity
  • FrathWiki
  • Unilang.org - a database of language- and linguistic-related information

  Results from FactBites:
Reference: Dictionary, Encyclopedia, Thesauri, Usage, Quotations, and more. Bartleby.com (739 words)
The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, 2nd ed.
This classic defines the distinguishing characteristics of the language of the United States.
Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.
  More results at FactBites »



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