How Fictional Languages Inspire Us
What are Fictional Languages?
As a lifelong language learner, the invention of fictional languages never ceases to amaze me.
Fictional languages can be defined as linguistic constructs created to enhance the storytelling of a particular work of fiction. These constructed languages can be found in a variety of mediums including TV shows, movies, and novels.
Popular Fictional Languages You Can Learn
Tolkien & The Elvish Languages
The first examples of fictional languages that come to mind are the Elvish languages created by noted fantasy author, J. R. R. Tolkien for his Middle-earth novels, namely The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
From a young age, I was mesmerized by the script Tolkien designed for these languages. They truly capture one’s imagination. I can recall fondly my childhood memories of attempting to craft my own fantasy language as elegant as Tolkien’s with an old calligraphy pen and some Crayola watercolor paints.
Later in life, I was carried deeper into the Elvish language through The Lord of the Rings film adaptations, where the audience could finally hear these languages spoken audibly on-screen. By hearing Elvish spoken, I could better envision the ephemeral nature of Tolkien’s elves and the lives they led in the fantastical realm of Middle Earth. Now, as a language enthusiast and budding academic in the humanities, I cannot praise Tolkien enough for his creative and linguistic feats.
Tolkien was an author and scholar himself, and it is easy to see that he had an undivided passion for languages. I theorize that this is why his work is still highly acclaimed today. His passion shines through in every detail he put into the world-building of his fantasy oeuvre.
The Fictional Languages of Science Fiction – Star Trek Klingon
I must confess that I am not a huge fan of the fantasy genre although I do appreciate it. My expertise regarding fictional languages is concentrated in the universe of science fiction media.
It would be a failure on my part to not mention one of science fiction’s most interesting fictional languages: Klingon from the vast Star Trek series. Klingon sticks out to me from other fictional languages because it truly sounds alien and unlike anything I’ve heard.
According to Marc Okrand, the linguist who developed the language, Klingon has several typologically uncommon features that distinguish it from the natural languages we are accustomed to. For example, I was shocked to discover that Klingon has no [a] sound. Another curious facet of the language is that Okrand structured Klingon around the rarest pattern of word order, namely the Object-Verb-Subject pattern. This means that in Klingon you would say “The ship commanded I” instead of “I commanded the ship”.
It has been recorded that a small number of people are fluent in Klingon, although this is no easy task since the language’s vocabulary is predominately centered on Star Trek terms related to spacecraft and warfare. It would be especially cumbersome to have small talk or discuss complicated topics like art or philosophy. If you are a student who is up for a challenge in 2018 the popular language learning app Duolingo added courses in Klingon to improve your skills.
Learning a new language – be it fictional or real – gives the learner unique insight into the world around them from the films they watch to the books they read. The more words you know the more knowledge you have even if it is regarding the lore of Middle Earth or understanding the ballad of a Klingon opera.
Where to Learn Foreign Languages
Are you interested in learning a new language? ReDefiners has you covered. We offer classes in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic. For more information, please visit our online program page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. These languages may be more helpful to you than Elvish or Klingon but every language you learn can make for an interesting experience.