Do you speak Sindarin?
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
- Nadsat/ Newspeak
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.
- Creative Language Learning Podcast Episode 4 features more about Danaerys
- Game of Thrones: Creating the Dothraki language
- The Language Creation Society
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.
- The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship
- The J.R.R. Tolkien Audio Collection
- A free Quenya course from Norway
- J.R.R. Tolkien Reads (A Poem In Elvish)
- The Ring Verse read in Black Speech
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.
- Youtube clip of Mark Okrand talking about how he developed Klingon of him describing the development).
- The Klingon Language Institute
- The Klingon copyright case in 2016
- Klingon teacher on Youtube: Lesson 1
- Klingon phrasebook for your intergalactic needs
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."
- A little Simlish phrasebook
- 15 Songs You Didn't Know Were Recorded in Simlish
- Fun - We Are Young in Simlish
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.
Other Links and Resources From This Episode
- Do Canadians Say Autumn or Fall?
- 6 Fictional Languages You Can Actually Learn
- Invented Languages - Opinion Piece on Eurolinguiste
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!