Govoreet Dobby, Droog?
March 5, 2006 9:20 PM   Subscribe

An index to 1,696 constructed languages. (or just look at the top 200) From the Nadsat of a Clockwork Orange and Tolkein's Quenya to Star Trek's Darmonk, a language based solely on parables (though Gene Wolfe got there first) and Borges's language of Tlon, there is plenty here for science fiction fans and language geeks alike. And, yes, for all you fanatics, Esperanto is listed, as is your source for news in Special English, limited to a 1500 word vocabulary.
posted by blahblahblah (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In a post about languages, getting your words right kind of, you know, matters. It's not "Darmonk".
posted by Malor at 9:25 PM on March 5, 2006

Fan alert, fan alert.
posted by Atreides at 9:31 PM on March 5, 2006

I feel like Shaka, when the walls fell -- damn you spell check, why won't you detect misspelled fictional Star Trek languages! I just hope that people don't get too confused between Darmonk and Darmok, and start speaking Darmonk when they mean to speak Darmok at Trek conventions. Otherwise, disaster might result.
posted by blahblahblah at 9:32 PM on March 5, 2006

Yeah yeah yeah, you were sloppy in a post about language. Don't shoot the messenger.
posted by Malor at 9:39 PM on March 5, 2006

Wasn't it a misspelling that caused that plot complication in episode 80 of the original series?
posted by Fat Guy at 9:43 PM on March 5, 2006

Typo destroys thread. News at 11.
posted by Atreides at 9:52 PM on March 5, 2006

pankaik iforwunwelkum har dly bes tof thew eb pony takeit tometa. it vi brates, dhoyt sok minya greasemunki. alexban fpp gyobfw, quonsar kwantsar kwanzaar winz.
posted by brain_drain at 10:08 PM on March 5, 2006

Curious about which 1,500 words make up Voice of America Special English? Wikipedia even has a flavor in Simple English.
posted by ao4047 at 10:11 PM on March 5, 2006

If only you'd mentioned something about hats as well, I bet languagehat would really enjoy this post.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:42 PM on March 5, 2006

Lapine was always my favourite.
posted by Jimbob at 10:51 PM on March 5, 2006

Thanks for the link that explains the STTNG episode with everything as a parable. I saw that when it came out and never really understood what was going on with the language.

One mystery solved. 198,451.5 to go....
posted by qwip at 10:51 PM on March 5, 2006

Ptydepe isn't in there. Huh.
posted by emelenjr at 11:02 PM on March 5, 2006

If the half-mystery is "what is the clue to jonson's sexiness?" then just go ahead and give up on that one. It can't be explained baby, just enjoyed...
posted by jonson at 11:02 PM on March 5, 2006

dar (v.t. spanish, 'to go downstairs, around the corner and buy bananas')
monk (n. latin, sciuridae, 'chipmunk')

dammit I told that rodent to stop buying bananas...
posted by dorian at 11:04 PM on March 5, 2006

fandango, that killed me. how retarded was robert altman tonight?
posted by phaedon at 11:06 PM on March 5, 2006

This is neat.
posted by bardic at 11:19 PM on March 5, 2006

I was curious to see if this site included any recorded twin (autonomous) languages, which are referred to as idioglossia or cryptophasia. Apparently not, but Googling yielded this NIH abstract, which sheds a bit of light on the subject. Invented twinspeak is not unusual, occurs in close siblings as well as twins, and seems not to be truly invented, but at least partly based on the language of the household, albeit in altered and often unrecognizable form.
posted by rob511 at 12:37 AM on March 6, 2006

Don't forget the invented language on Enya's latest CD Amarantine...her lyricist invented a language for some of the lyrics, to include a written form as well. Weird.
posted by konolia at 5:20 AM on March 6, 2006

For some reason I've never been able to get interested in constructed languages -- real ones are so various and, well, real that I can't tear myself away from them. But I do welcome any and all language threads (so long as they're not about alleged "bad usage"), and I'll offer vacapinta's lojban post for people's delectation. I can't believe I didn't comment in that thread; I'd been a member for a bit over a month, and you'd think the comments about Chomsky and Sapir-Whorf would have dragged me in by the scruff of the neck.
posted by languagehat at 5:45 AM on March 6, 2006

Ha ha! I got involved in a bit of fan pedantry last time Darmok got wheeled out in a post. This time, I thought, 'Ah, I'll let it slide.' Kudos for Malor for winning a battle it's much, much cooler to lose.
posted by RokkitNite at 6:09 AM on March 6, 2006

There seems to be a lot of this in music, konolia. Janubia also sings in an invented language. There doesn't seem to be any kind of formal grammar, though, just a kind of musical glossolalia.
posted by mkhall at 6:17 AM on March 6, 2006

Sigur Rós also use a made-up language, I think.
posted by signal at 6:32 AM on March 6, 2006

Sigur Ros' Hopelandic is a bit of a different situation. From what I understand, it's all "babble", as it were... no particular rhyme or reason to it, just vocal noises. Still sounds interesting, though.

Nice post, blahblahblah. Thank you.
posted by kryptondog at 6:53 AM on March 6, 2006

Tolkien is also misspelled.
posted by sciurus at 7:14 AM on March 6, 2006

Is a post about (constructed) languages by a user called "blahblahblah" eponysterical?
posted by shoepal at 8:01 AM on March 6, 2006

I was just going to mention Sigur Ros' Hopelandic. Adiemus also uses an invented language for almost all of their music.
posted by mike3k at 8:09 AM on March 6, 2006

One of my favorite parts of A Clockwork Orange is Hyman's glossary and introduction which the site quotes in full. Burgess's nadsat is an awesome construct through which to view the alienation that exists between generations in modern societies as well as an adroit play on Western fears at the peak of the Cold War. <fanboy/>

Don't tell my boss, but I think I'm going to waste most of the day crawling through this site.
posted by Fezboy! at 8:13 AM on March 6, 2006

I'm enthusiast in this area, so I just wanted to point out some really great efforts in language construction that aren't associated with a sci-fi brand or famous author (and that therefore fly under the radar):

Tepa - inspired by southwestern US native languages, rich & unconventional morphology, great sample texts give you a good feeling for the language.
Tokana - the documentation here could almost pass for a Ph.D. thesis. I get a Polynesian feel from this (if I remember right, Matt Pearson did field work in Madagascar), but the unique grammar is all over the map. (In a good way.)
Brithenig - "a thought-experement to create a Romance language that might have evolved if Latin speakers had been a sufficient number to displace Old Celtic as the spoken language of the people in Great Britain." Very well done.
Teonaht - The documentation here is comparatively "messier" than the others above, but that's not surprising for a language so "lived-in." A personal favorite.
posted by aparrish at 9:35 AM on March 6, 2006

Oh my god, they forgot the best language ever Marain
posted by grex at 11:09 AM on March 6, 2006

Speaking of Lapine, it has been fleshed out into an usable grammar by fans of Watership Down, complete with audio and text examples.
posted by vorfeed at 11:12 AM on March 6, 2006

Correct me if I'm wrong, but does this Word Book define 1500 words using only those 1500 words?

posted by empath at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2006

Is there an equivalent 'word book' for other languages? I would love to have one of those for French or German.
posted by empath at 12:20 PM on March 6, 2006

posted by Smedleyman at 12:39 PM on March 6, 2006

Sadly, I don't think it does, empath. For example, the definition for "rest" includes the word "regain," which is not itself in the dictionary.
posted by ubersturm at 1:37 PM on March 6, 2006

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