Top 5 Fictional Languages (Podcast Episode 51)

Do you speak Sindarin?

top 5 fictional languages

The world of fictional languages is richer than a London billionaire, and we have researched and collected the most awesome fictional languages for you to learn about.

In this episode, you'll hear the new Good, Bad and Struggling followed by the Ultimate Fictional Languages Chart. Here in the shownotes, you'll see our Top 5 and the best of all links available so you can follow along and listen to the show.

Our Top 5 Fictional Languages

  1. Elvish
  2. Nadsat/ Newspeak
  3. Klingon
  4. Minionese
  5. Simlish

And here is a little bit more background information to tell you which languages we discussed in the show, and what they mean to us.

Dothraki, High Valyrian and Game of Thrones

The languages in Game of Thrones were developed by David Peterson via a referral from the Language Creation Society. David says "You have to start with the language and the people..what might their world be like?"

No character is a better representative of their power than Danaerys Targaryen (Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi, Stormborn, and all that). This queen conquers her lover's heart by connecting to him in Dothraki, the language of the horse people who don't have a word for "boat". She also speaks High Valyrian, and gains an advantage in several scenes in which she understands what's said about her by oblivious fools.

Elvish, Quenya and Tolkien

These languages were made famous as part of the Lord of the Rings saga. Author J.R.R. Tolkien spent nearly 60 years working on Elvish languages: Sindarin, Common Eldarin, Quenya and more - there are roots and language families, and he created a whole language family tree and evolutions rather than just one language, and his world-building skills are breathtaking once you start getting into the endless back stories he created for Middle Earth.

While the Elvish languages remained at the center of Tolkien's attention, the narratives of Middle-earth also needed languages of other races, especially of Dwarves and Men, but also the Black Speech. It's a dystopian parody of an international auxiliary language, just like Sauron's rule over the Orcs is a dystopian parody of a totalitarian state.

Other languages by Tolkien include Kkuzdul (Dwarves), about 5 different Mannish languages, and my favourite, Black Speech of Sauron. What a dedicated life's work.

Klingon and Vulcan

Klingon is a famous alien language - could this be the most famous Alien language? - from the Star Trek world. It was developed by linguist Mark Okrand. Klingon is different from Tolkien's languages as Mark only had to write language for the film dialogue at first, but for the next movie this started growing into a full language. Mark himself has published "The Klingon Dictionary".

I love how Klingon mirrors the culture of its speakers, so that "nuqneH", the Klingon greeting, reportedly translates to no more than "whaddaya want?". There's no "hello" in Klingon.

Klingon has an incredible fan base, evidenced by the existence of the Klingon Language Institute, which provides meet-ups, a certification programme, a language corpus and language exams.


In James Cameron's movie Avatar, the alien race Na'vi were given a fully developed language by linguist Paul Frommer. This represented the demonstration of how advanced the race is, and how it contrasts with the soldier who enters their world.


Simlish is a language not developed for a movie or a book, but for a video game. What started out as pleasant gibberish in Will Wheaton's first game in 2000 grew to become a beloved part of the game. Apparently, it's a combination of "Latin, Ukrainian, Navajo, and Tagalog."

Minion Language

The Minions in the Minions films are all voiced by co-director Pierre Coffin. His parents are from France and Indonesia and he spent a lot of time working in London. They didn’t invent a full Minion language because they wanted to keep the funny random gibberish element for humour, and as such this language is a lot of fun for everyone, as there’s bound to be something you understand

Newspeak in 1984

Newspeak is thought control, designed to limit freedom of thought by making the language smaller. In the classic book 1984 by George Orwell created this language. He said "the purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible." shudder

So here is a remarkable example of language used for evil, and you can spot Newspeak vocabulary like un, ante, plus and doubleplus, which gets combined with English words.

Nadsat in A Clockwork Orange

This language -- or is it a dialect? -- was created in the original book "A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess, and later used by Stanley Kubrick in the film version. The name comes from the Russian suffix for "-teen", and it is indeed a teen speak. Burgess actually learnt some Russian and had a real interest in language. He learnt Malay, and taught himself Persian too.

Nadsat features many Russian-sourced words, such as devotchka, govoeeting, malenky and yarbokles.

What do you think?

Do you agree with our Top 5? Ready to chat a little more? Share your own favourite fictional language in the comments - and tell us if we forgot any important ones!

What Cats Can Teach Us About Language Learning

In today's article, I have something a little different for you: cat philosophy! Let me introduce you to Abigail.

She doesn't know a single word in any language, but she's super smart.

Abigail is my cat, and her favourite thing is snoozing at home. Every day, she looks out of the window and sometimes she plays in the back yard too. And today Abigail left the house in an unusual way - through the front door! I was chatting to my friend and barely noticed her sneaking out, until I found her visiting our neighbours.

Abigail's Adventure

Abigail's Adventure

A second after this picture was taken, Abigail got spooked. Like us humans, she is a creature of habit. So she raced towards the front door, only to find I had closed it in the meantime.

And this is where my cat totally blew my mind.

This little animal with her tiny brain had a backup. Within seconds, she ran up the street and around the corner to reach our back door. I had no idea Abigail knew where the back door is, yet the map in her head told her exactly where to go.

This story might sound completely nuts to you - you've come to a language blogger, why on earth is she talking about cats? But in that one moment where Abigail's inner map directed her to safety, I remembered how language learners feel.

Sometimes you get lost. You forget how to ask a question when you're meeting a native speaker or trying to show your friends what you can do. Or you use the wrong word order, even after practicing for hours.

In those moments, it's time to consult a map.

What's Your Language Map?

I believe that a grammar is a solid language map.

Learning grammar doesn't mean that you have to be perfect. It doesn't even mean that you have to know the rules. But when you're looking for answers or instructions, grammar is the map that gives you what you need. Good grammar guides are your companion, helping you understand how to speak.

Next time you're confused about how to say something, try and check a good guide and you will find that there's a back door for you just like there was for Abigail.

My Offer of Guidance

Here at Fluent, I have created easy grammar courses in French and German.

Most people worry that grammar is too complicated. But in these courses, I know that you will finally get it. I have taught each of these languages for many years, so I have created a step-by-step process that can help you understand grammar quickly and easily.

If you would like to try this out for yourself, Abigail and I have got a special offer for you. You can claim 10% discount on any grammar course in October 2016 by using the code ABIGAIL10.

How to Get a Place on the Fluent Grammar Courses

Click here to get 10% off "Finally Get It In FRENCH Grammar"

Click here to get 10% off "Easy GERMAN Grammar for Beginners"

To order these courses, simply sign up, select your payment method and you'll be ready to start learning.

Each course costs less than one semester of evening classes, and it will save you hours of time in the library or book shop. If you're ready to get it in grammar and study with me, then there's no better time than now.

Do Your Pets Help You Learn Languages?

If you have a pet or two, I would love to hear more about how they have helped you learn languages? Leave a comment and tell me more about vocab cats or dictionary dogs. Can't wait to hear from you!

Take Our European Day of Languages Quiz (Podcast Episode 50)

We did it! You guys stuck with us, listened and wrote in to 50 episodes of the show now, and we want to thank you and tell you how much we appreciate you for this. It's awesome to know that there are language geeks all over the world who enjoy our show.

In This Episode You'll Hear

  • Kerstin's story of creating her European Day of Languages video on YouTube with all of the strangers (did you know I knew nothing about Welsh?)
  • LIVE Good, Bad and Struggling with the Chatroom!
  • Of course, our Huge 36 Question European Day of Languages QUIZ
  • A bittersweet announcement about the show's hiatus after episode 52


Missed the Quiz?

Don't miss out! If you want to quiz along, listen to the show recording. We saved all the answers until the end of every round so you can guess along with the live audience.

And if you want a PDF of the Questions and Answers, simply hop over here and join the Fluent Language Cool Kids Club.

What is the European Day of Languages?

It is an annual celebration of the huge variety of languages that live in Europe. No matter if you were born in Europe or not, chances are that you’ve studied a European language at some point. On the European Day of Languages you can join thousands of language learners, teachers, translators, linguists and polyglots to celebrate languages.

Links From This Episode

Peace, Words 'n Harmony (Podcast Episode 49)

Hey everyone, welcome to episode 49 of the Creative Language Learning Podcast. This one is perfect for you if you have ever wondered whether language learning is the way to change the world.

Topic: Language Learning Can Bring World Peace

Language is a beautiful caress that can make strangers melt into friends, but la gusgen is also a verbal door that can be closed in the face of outsiders. (Eddie Butler)

We went for deep stuff, and discussed the many ways that language learning can improve the world. From individual peace of mind, via tolerance in your everyday life, to changing the outlook of your country.

We found it felt wrong not to talk about moving abroad. Considering what's happening in Britain this year, the discussion turned to migration. Do people miss out when something foreign is added to the community? Our discussion might surprise you, because as always all isn't quite what it seems. And yes, we did say the B-word: Brexit.

And what about language education in schools? If we believe that language learning creates world peace, should we make everyone learn as many languages as possible?

The Power of Language

Finally, we only need to give you one word that shows something very interesting: migrant. Even when you're not learning a foreign language, the way that people and media around us use language to shape opinions affects everyone's life.

We touch on the idea that language can send signals about all of us, and make or break peace.

In our discussion, Lindsay and I got as close as you can get to saying horrible words. But not all the way there.

We hope you have a listen to find out more, and get in touch to tell us where you stand on language and world peace.

The Good, The Bad and The Struggling

Routines lapsing for the summer, looking forward to September, and permission to half-ass online courses in this week's catch-up with Lindsay and Kerstin.

What's your Good, Bad and Struggling?

We'd love to hear from you guys on this one. If you want to share what's good, bad and difficult in your languages right now, send your feedback to us. We read every one and your language news could make it to a show intro in the future.

Simply do one of the following:

1) go on Skype and leave a voice message for fluentlanguage
2) or email us at - include a voice memo from your phone if you can, so we can feature your voice on the show

Language Practice: Why You Don't Need A Native Speaker

language learning

The native speaker is often considered an absolute holy grail of language learning: They naturally know how language is used, they speak it perfectly and of course you will be immersed in your target language if you speak to one. But today, I'm writing to make you re-think your dependence!

Have you ever found one of the following problems when practicing with a native speaker:

  • It's difficult to understand regional accents
  • You ask them a question, and they respond with "it just is like this"
  • They always want to practice your language with you
  • You run out of topics after a few hours of discussing family, hobbies and weather

What if you have NO native speaker to talk to? Does that mean you will stop learning a language?

Why You Do Not Need A Native Speaker For Practice

In this blog, I'm not advocating that you avoid native level input and natural sources of your target language. They are what makes it come alive! By all means, make full use of Italki, social media and your own network to find a good language buddy, but please note the following:

You don't actually need a native speaker to practice with. This is so important to understand. You just need someone who's good enough or a little better than you. Sometimes it even helps not to have the native speaker, because a non-native speaker has learnt your target language too and can explain grammar and other problems more easily. Natives often don't even know which bits are hard for non-native speakers.

Why Practicing Online Isn't For Everyone

In addition to this point, some people just don't connect so well with the Skype or phone communication method. As an online language tutor, I work on Skype all the time, and it's a different to meeting in person - some of my students love it, some find it odd at the start. For some, I can just tell that it's not the right medium. So if you're In fact, the teenager who will practice his school French with you might actually be a better option than the French native speaker that you meet online.

Moral of the story: Make your own rules for what works for you.

What To Do About It

My advice would be to try a tutor, and that's just because:

  1. They work hard to make sure you understand, by reducing their own dialects and breaking sentences down to where you need them
  2. They will stick with you when you run out of the first 3 conversation topics with a language partner and research topics you need to talk about
  3. They won't expect you to spend any time teaching them your own language

Personally I learnt English before the internet was everywhere and still got from "pretty good" to "pretty fluent", through being taught by German natives and spending a lot of spare time listening to Pulp all the time and talking to myself. But I cannot imagine having done it without teachers. When your target language is German,

I think it's even more important that you find native speakers who understand your needs. German is that much easier to learn when you can make sense of the rules - and our spoken language is different from the grammar books. Trust yourself most of all, but if you have no native speaker around you please remember: It's not going to stop you.

How To Bring In Native-Like Practice

Of course, working without a native person to learn a language does not mean it would be wise to cut out all native-language content. When learning a language, it's important to know how it's spoken and to get a sense of the place where it's spoken.

You want to hear the sounds, the idioms, you want to know that there is a point to what you're doing here. In all learning, it's boring when it's just theory.

To get native-level practice into your studies before you go hunting for speakers all over town, try bringing in audio resources or even TV. It's easy to watch television in other languages or use cool software like Yabla.

And if you have regular access to native speakers, don't avoid them. Go out of your way to say even small things like good morning, and ask them "How do I say this in your language?" You'll soon find that every one of them is a small ambassador for their own language, just like you are for your own. And what's better than sharing?

How Soon Do You Work With Native Speakers?

Has it ever held you back that you can't find the native speaker? Or has shyness stopped you from talking to natives?

Leave your comment below to tell me more!

Benny Lewis Has a New Language Hacking Series: Here's My Review

In today's review, I'm excited to bring you guys my first impressions of Language Hacking German - A Conversation Course, the new book by Benny Lewis.

In this series, you can also get books for learning Spanish, French and Italian.

TL;DR: I'm impressed with the design, structure and method used by these books.

They're awesome, if you're anywhere between A1 and A2 pick up a copy and use it to practice. Also looks like a good potential Christmas present.

Benny.. Who Dat?

If you read language articles on the internet, you've probably come across Benny Lewis. He runs the website Fluent in 3 Months and has been blogging and learning languages for over 10 years. Benny has previously published a book with a real publisher, which is an inspiring thing for all of us language bloggers.

More importantly, he brings a more modern approach to language learning into book shops. I'm very much on board with that!

This particular series, "Language Hacking", is a collaboration with Teach Yourself, whose materials have always been language learner favourites. I've checked these courses out and used them, and they're definitely one of the best brands for self-teaching materials on anything.

"Language Hacking is a state of mind. It's about positivity and an approach that puts everything you're learning into practice immediately." - Benny Lewis

Advantages of The Language Hacking Book

My first impression was that this book is really good-looking! It's got a nice size to it, the design throughout is engaging and interesting, and it just feels very nice to hold in your hands. You can see straight away that they're trying to make #languagehacking into a thing, so the message is clear: This book is for 21st century learners.

The Structure

The structure of the book follows that of a traditional self-teaching language book, so it's not trying to overthrow everything good in the system. The design is lively and engaging, with vocab delivered in sentence structures, culture tips, conversation examples and exercises. It's a great "complete package".

What's different here is that this focuses very much on conversation as the goals and "learning outcomes". The book avoids mentioning grammar concepts in favour of setting the learner a mission with every unit. What I really liked is that each unit clearly sets out the mission as a use case, describing what kind of situation you would find yourself in when you will use what you are learning.

In each mission you learn some new stuff, and there are exercises so you can test that you learnt it correctly. The #languagehacking system adds in Benny's "Conversation Countdown" methods of building a script and sharing it immediately with a dedicated web area sponsored by italki.

The design is all about making language learning less intimidating. I hardly saw any grammar terms mentioned, with focus on descriptions like "slingshot words" instead of "subordinating conjunctions". In fact, this style combined with the mission and scripts system feels perfect for new learners, but also for experienced learners as they'll be able to breeze through this and create sentences quicker.

You're In Good Hands


The brand "Benny Lewis" is present throughout the book, and that worked really well for me. As you work your way through it, you get to feel as if someone is on the journey with you and guiding you through this course. The quotes and images of Benny were a fun addition - I'm not a fan girl, but as a structure this worked very well for me.

Each mission mentions a small #Languagehacking tip in the introduction - a great concept. As you're learning your new language, I can imagine how much these little tips will help you build more confidence and feel ready to speak quickly.

Anything Else You Need To Know?

The book doesn't solve a key problem of language learning, which is the idea of being too busy. It's written with "conversations with natives" in mind, so if you're learning languages without immediate travel plans you may feel cut off from many of the examples. The scripts system is also nice, although I would prefer to make my own -- this is because I'm experienced and relatively "fearless" as a language learner, not because the idea itself is bad.

If you're a very long-standing Fluent reader, you'll have read my thoughts on the use of the word "hacking" in the context of language learning. I'm not a fan of the name of this series, but the "language hacking" brand is what Benny Lewis has used for years.

The tiny things are exactly what makes this so good for more inexperienced language learners. They were nitpicks, really - overall this is an impressive product.

Audio Access

At first I grumbled that there is no CD with this book, but I quickly remembered that we live in the 21st century and all the audio is downloadable. So it does come with audio, and the example sentences I heard were very good and match the book scripts excellently. You can get the audio from


Overall, this is one of the most impressive versions of a language course I've seen in a while. The way that it incorporates "hacking" ideas (I'll just call them shortcuts) into a traditional self-teaching book design was fantastic.

These Language Hacking courses are an incredible addition to the bookshelves of any language learner, but particularly for those that are new to the language.

Overall, a clear 5/5 - kudos to Benny Lewis and Teach Yourself. This is not a grade I give readily at all, so you can trust that this course is well worth your investment if you want to learn a new language. I hope they publish more versions soon.

How To Get This Book For Yourself


The links below are affiliate links, so you'll be supporting Fluent at no extra cost to yourself. Go ahead and click to take a look!

On Amazon

Click here to go directly to Language Hacking on

And click here if you're buying in the UK

Having seen the printed copy of this book (but not the kindle version), my feeling is that you are best served by investing in the print. The prices are currently very similar, and you'll be able to take notes and write in your book, take it everywhere and share it easily.

Yes, I'm analogue girl. (You can write me a postcard to tell me what you think of that!)

Do You Need a Native Speaker To Practice a Language? (Podcast Episode 48)

Hello and welcome to Episode 48 of the Creative Language Learning Podcast!

We started off our episode with some insights into what's going on with our language learning - in a new format! It's called the good, the bad and the struggling. Listen in and tell us what you think!

What's your Good, Bad and Struggling?

We'd love to hear from you guys on this one. If you want to share what's good, bad and difficult in your languages right now, send your feedback to us. We read every one and your language news could make it to a show intro in the future.

Simply do one of the following:

  • go on Skype and leave a voice message for fluentlanguage
  • email us at - include a voice memo from your phone if you can, so we can feature your voice on the show

Topic: You Do Not Need a Native Speaker For Practice

This one had a controversial statement at the heart of it, and Lindsay and I debated the merits of hunting, finding, selecting, working with and learning with native speakers.

So, do you need a native speaker to learn a language?

Or can you learn a language just as well if you don't have a native speaker to practice with?

One of us argued that native speakers are almost "fetishized" in the world of language learning -- listen in to find out which one and see where our debate ended up.

Some Of The Arguments We Made

1. A Tutor Can Be Better

Tutors tend to know what learning is like, and they see people learn all the time. They know the grammar structures, the vocabulary you're looking for, and they're ready to help you out and set you up for success. So for a language beginner, working with the tutor could be way more successful than working with any native speaker.

The native language of your tutor doesn't matter - it's all about what they can teach you, and that their personality allows you to blossom.

2. Don't Procrastinate Through Searching

If you're always looking for a native tutor to practice with, could it be that you'd hold back when practicing with non-natives? Before you start setting irrelevant standards in your language learning, it may be time to consider what is most relevant.

Waiting to find the perfect native speaker to practice with can become its own form of procrastination.

3. Find The Native At The Perfect Time

When you're feeling shaky about your speaking speed, accuracy and fluency, the native conversation can become a struggle. There's no point in getting yourself frustrated. Instead, consider working towards that natural conversation and a feeling of it being "effortless" - the native speaker can become a goal you set yourself, not something you put in your way as a hurdle.

4. It's Too Vague To Have A Vague Goal

A "15 minute conversation with a native speaker" is a goal that you may find inspiring, but it's a tough one to put into reality. Try and go about this goal more specifically by putting in milestones, things that will happen on the way to that conversation, and will pull it into sharper focus.

I can't count the amount of times I've found an advanced speaker of my target language, and then we ran out of things to say within a few hours. You need to find someone who wants to help you on the path, but also someone you have a rapport with. And once you've got that covered, it's a milestone.

The Story of Bilingual German-English Live Training

One of the worst moments I've ever experienced in German teaching was the time I tried to introduce a class of lunchtime learners to the Akkusativ case. Armed with whiteboard and sample sentences, I walked into the class, and I felt so ready and so excited to be teaching this (what I thought) awesome system in grammar.

"So when you have an object in your sentence, here's what happens..", I explained to them, with colour-coded underlining to illustrate. I thought I was doing well..until I saw everyone's face. In this classroom, at 12:45, in the middle of a busy workday, something clearly wasn't working.

That's when I realised that language teaching and language learning are not the same thing. And even worse, that what I was explaining didn't make sense to half of these people and they didn't care either.

Relevant Teaching

I came out of that class feeling absolutely defeated. I think I even cried, feeling like I'm failing myself and my students. And the experience always stuck with me and built part of the philosophy that is behind my actions now: The LEARNER is in charge of learning a language. And the learner, that's you right there reading these words.

When you're taking classes with me, you can get the solid and important explanations at your own pace in my online courses, but in live lessons I avoid explainers and I never lead with them.

Instead, the key to the Fluent Language method is relevant teaching.

For you as a German learner, that means experiencing language immersion at a good pace, making your own conclusions, and answering questions regularly. It's important to speak or write early, but it's also important that you're learning relevant and well.

Action: Bilingual Live Training

In my most recent teaching venture, I created a bilingual webinar - the first one I ever taught, and a successful one too.

Thank you so much if you were among the lovely people watching on Saturday. It was a challenge for me to teach in this way, but an incredibly rewarding experience to know that the viewers were following along, answering questions, and understanding the immersion concept.

Do you want to try it out? Catch up with the webinar today, and make sure you also download your worksheet and follow along. Click here and find all you need at the webinar live page.

German Immersion in Germany

For those of you who are ready for the next step in German, don't forget that the deadline for applying to our exclusive FLUENT GERMAN RETREAT is approaching very quickly. The event is perfect for you if you've been stuck in the books and screens, and you want to break out and speak German in the wild.

To learn more about this once-in-a-lifetime event, click here.

I do have a few places left at this stage and need to close registrations very soon, so make sure you don't miss out today.

Did you watch the webinar? Did you learn something new and use the worksheet?

Tell me how you enjoyed it in the comments below, and make sure you sign up for my newsletter to learn about the next one.