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September 27, 2013 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Are Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki and Na'vi real languages?

Dictionaries: Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki [pdf] and Na'vi
Phrases: Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki and Na'vi
posted by desjardins (41 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Don't be ridiculous. Avatar wasn't even a real thing.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:34 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, "Elvish" isn't a real language.

Now, if we're talking about Sindarin or Quenya?

yes i'm picky

not as big a nerd as I could have been though because I used to know only some Sindarin but don't remember much any more and I don't know Quenya at all

posted by seyirci at 12:35 PM on September 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


not as big a nerd as I could have been though because I used to know only some Sindarin but don't remember much any more and I don't know Quenya at all

It's okay. I was going to make a similar observation re "Elvish," but couldn't remember the name of the proto-Elvish language -- Quenderin, Wikipedia reminds me.

Elvish has left the building of my memory, as it were, sad to say.

posted by Celsius1414 at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Spend a few weeks in Laurelindórenan, and you'll be surprised at how fast that high school Sindarin comes back.
posted by Iridic at 12:45 PM on September 27, 2013 [24 favorites]


It pisses me off to no end that people waste time on conlangs when there are real languages worth studying, but going extinct without ever being recorded.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


It pisses me off to no end that people waste time on conlangs when there are real languages worth studying, but going extinct without ever being recorded.

There are people dying and starving in the world right now, why are you wasting time commenting on a website?
posted by kmz at 1:06 PM on September 27, 2013 [25 favorites]


Because all of us who have every had the time to learn a few words/phrases/some of the grammar in some language, constructed or natural, have the linguistic expertise to study endangered languages and record them systematically in the manner required to preserve them.

...wait, what?
posted by seyirci at 1:12 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, fanboy! Put down the bat'leth and go get an advanced degree in linguistics!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:17 PM on September 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


It pisses me off to no end that people waste time on conlangs when there are real languages worth studying, but going extinct without ever being recorded.

It's not as if these guys were at some point presented with a stark choice between learning tlhIngan Hol and saving the Maritime Gagauzi dialect from extinction.

And consider this: because Klingon was intended to sound as alien as possible, its designers flipped all the prevailing norms of syntax and phonetics on their heads. Therefore, learning Klingon a) systematically acquaints you with the less obvious structural possibilities of language, while b) getting you comfortable with the study of languages entirely unlike your own. Therefore, Klingon is a gateway drug for technical linguistics.

I'd say that might actually be good news for the beleaguered Gagauz elders, wouldn't you?
posted by Iridic at 1:26 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


It pisses me off to no end that people waste time on conlangs when there are real languages worth studying, but going extinct without ever being recorded.

My best friend is an incredible linguistic genius and works passionately at minority and threatened languages. When he was growing up, he had a lot of fun with Tolkien's various languages. Turns out having a story to hang a fictional language (or in Tolkien's case, the other way around) can help inspire young people with the knack to do the very thing you are apparently passionate about.

While I have the aptitude to learn languages (real-world ones even) and am certainly saddened by the loss of all those voices, I will never have the passion that my friend has. I have other passions, some of which are geared toward making the world (the local portion of it) a better place. Doesn't make him wrong or me an asshole.

As usual, binary "thinking" is no kind of thinking at all.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:27 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hey! I have an advanced degree in linguistics! But truthfully I don't care about endangered languages. Or Elvish. So there ya go.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 1:27 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


charlie don't surf: "It pisses me off to no end that people waste time on conlangs when there are real languages worth studying, but going extinct without ever being recorded."

Ah, the fallacy of relative privation. One of my favorites!

The real point being: it is not impossible to be interested in and working on multiple things. Otherwise, if you want to take it to the argument's logical end, we'd have to somehow create a global master list of unambiguously prioritized Really Important Things and literally everybody, all 7 billion of us, would have to focus on one after another and nothing else.

On preview, what Celsius1414 posted.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:30 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey! I have an advanced degree in linguistics! But truthfully I don't care about endangered languages. Or Elvish. So there ya go.

You monster!
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:30 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nice post! The McWhorter video is very well done; it gets the Hattish Seal of Approval.

It pisses me off no end that people waste their own and everybody else's time making stupid, predictable comments in threads so that said threads become endless refutations of their stupid comments instead of the interesting discussion that might otherwise have occurred. Also, if you want to sound erudite, and I'm sure you do, it's "no end," not "to no end," which the kind of people who get snooty about language consider a corruption by Kids Today.
posted by languagehat at 1:41 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought about learning Dothraki, but I like my tongue in my mouth and not on the tongue pile.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:42 PM on September 27, 2013


It pisses me off to no end

You are David Lo Pan AICMFP.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:48 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


It pisses me

bIjatlh 'e' yImev
posted by bukvich at 2:08 PM on September 27, 2013


I have an idea, let's spend the whole thread responding to an unreasonable and deliberately inflammatory statement
posted by en forme de poire at 2:09 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


extinct without ever being recorded.

Gu! Wurdin-zess, walomendêm hamtaahk urwa-tendiwa zur!

Hamtai zeuhl!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 2:13 PM on September 27, 2013


I have an idea, let's spend the whole thread responding to an unreasonable and deliberately inflammatory statement

Peditham hi sui vellyn?
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:15 PM on September 27, 2013


Show of hands if you've tried conning up your own lang at some point!

(My humble contribution to the field is "Scilinilisc," a language based around phonetic palindromes.)
posted by Iridic at 2:20 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Show of hands if you've tried conning up your own lang at some point!

Well not a language but a me and a friend used to make up names that required appropriate hand gestures to "say" the name correctly in our local RPG group.

They were stupid names, with stupid hand gestures, but if the DM said our names without the hand gestures we would be totally oblivious even while looking directly at him.

That guy hated us.
posted by Max Power at 2:38 PM on September 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


As real as Russian, Hindi and Ebonics, I reckon.
posted by Renoroc at 3:28 PM on September 27, 2013


It's my understanding that the various Tolkeinish languages are not even remotely fleshed out enough to be considered languages in any vaguely practical sense. For example, the FAQ of Elvish.org seems to be almost completely dedicated to telling people no, you can't speak Quenya or Sindarin, and no, you can't learn Quenya or Sindarin, and no, you can't have conversations in Quenya or Sindarin, and if anybody tells you otherwise, be very, very suspicious.
posted by Flunkie at 3:56 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo
posted by heathkit at 4:42 PM on September 27, 2013


I guess I'm the asshole nerd that has a problem including Na'vi among the rest of those languages - coming from my generally ignorant self, I can't believe there is an active and organic fan community for that movie. It's weird that in my head there are levels of genuineness among a group of entirely artificial languages.

I mean it's Avatar, come on!
posted by Think_Long at 4:56 PM on September 27, 2013


Ilmatyynyalukseni on täynnä ankeriaita.
posted by Wordshore at 4:56 PM on September 27, 2013


Mi pensas ke planlingvoj estas kompletaj perdoj de tempo. Lernu verajn lingvojn kun verajn denaskulojn!

Mi nur ne komprenas infanojn nuntempe.
posted by phoebus at 5:14 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Os ydym i gyd yn siarad mewn iaith aneglur, gallwn gadw cyfrinachau gan gymedrolwyr metafilter?
posted by Wordshore at 5:33 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure Welsh isn't a conlang, though if it is they're taking it far too seriously.
posted by Thing at 5:40 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm holding out for Marain.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:53 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have an idea, let's spend the whole thread responding to an unreasonable and deliberately inflammatory statement

Isthay Atementstay?

Hey, it's all I got.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:57 PM on September 27, 2013


On non pote considerar iste creationes como linguas genuin. Etiam le linguas planite ha un base in le linguas natural e on pote comprender le melior a prime viste.
posted by graymouser at 6:11 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


My cousin's attitude to languages is to just learn the local for "Two beers and my friend is paying" for wherever he is going to, and be done with it.
posted by Wordshore at 6:16 PM on September 27, 2013


*hand up*

I've developed a few rough conlangs for my fantasy RPG world, and included a good amount of sound change derivations, so I can say pretty quickly, for example, what a given Sashtian word would be from the Morensian. But they're all just naming languages -- no real grammar yet.

Wonder if zompist will appear in this thread at some point? His Language Construction Kit is kind of a major work in the field.
posted by jiawen at 6:31 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Highly recommended reading: In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent, ISBN 0812980891. Invented languages have a fascinating, centuries-long history.

A good conlang is now almost mandatory for any quality sci-fi movie or TV show featuring aliens. In the past you might get away with having aliens speak nonsense, or with borrowing Quechua. But then Avatar comes out with Navi, Game of Thrones hired David J. Petersen to write Dothraki and High Valyrian, and that SyFy show "Defiance" has two conlangs of its own.
posted by mejicat at 6:35 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would like to live in a future where "conlanger" is a major job option.
posted by jiawen at 6:51 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't believe there is an active and organic fan community for that movie

You shut your mouth!
posted by dhartung at 10:38 PM on September 27, 2013


dhartung: "I can't believe there is an active and organic fan community for that movie

You shut your mouth!
"

Yeah, sorry, no respect for people cosplaying a race of bestialists.

(Mkay, the Navi have sex by commingling their braids, right? What do they do with their mounts? Oh, and sparkly vampires can find nothing better to do that quasi-pedophilic creeping around high school girls? You're immortal, fangface, cure AIDS or something.)
posted by Samizdata at 11:23 PM on September 27, 2013


Nice film, and accurate, though rather elementary. He might have added that there are other traditions of conlangs than the naturalistic-- the international languages like Esperanto, the slightly mad classification schemes like John Wilkins' Analytical Language, and the logical languages like Lojban.
posted by zompist at 2:05 AM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, hand up, although pretty quickly my "thing" became trying to invent an algorithm for inventing languages. I wanted to pick a set of preferred letters, generate the phonemes, and have an on-demand Dwarvish/Elvish/Whatever Language dictionary.

And my dream is that some important early language remnant will turn out to be a Mesopotamian Tolkien fucking around in wet clay. No Rosetta Stone possible - he was the only one "speaking" it!
posted by IAmBroom at 9:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


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