Writing Fictional Languages
From Tolkien to… Furby’s?
Ahem, yes, well, across all forms of entertainment, there are examples of made-up languages. In some cases, like the ones in The Sims (Simlish), or even Furby (Furbish) it’s all for a bit of fun. A fictional language can help make these beings more lovable, more relatable. In other cases, a fictional language can be a good way to make people dislike a character, if they refuse to speak a common language, even if they know it.
If you’re making a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, or if you’re writing a book, or even a video game, then language matters. If you’ve never thought about coming up with your own constructed, fictional language, then perhaps it’s time you did? Not everyone is going to speak one language and sometimes, it’s better to create your own than it is to rely on saying how the language sounds (Unless it’s a really small and trivial part of your story).
Creating a language is no easy task and there are lots of studies on the topic. There are Subreddits dedicated to Conlangs, the shortened form of “Constructed Language“. There are people who do YouTube video series on the creation of a conlang, and there are so many more people writing them than you’d initially think. Of course, some of the more famous examples lie with Tolkien’s works.
Tolkien was a lover of language; a linguist who wanted to share his languages with the world. He cared so deeply, that he created a set of rules for his languages. These rules were implemented every time he used his languages, so he was able to come up with a coherent language for anyone who wanted to look deeper into his works. This led to the creation of Quenya, which has been expanded upon over the years, to where it is possible to speak and write in the language.
A fantasy or constructed language is created in the same way that a real language is. They have to think about the types of noises that are wanted within the language, as well as how the language is going to be written. They have to try and collate the written and spoken forms to become one tangible language. Often people will write conlang documents, as a reference document. This may be a dictionary, or a full set of rules including grammar.
I have started work on my own fictional language. I’ve got nothing to show yet, except for notes – Lots of notes. Later down the line, I fully expect to have something to show you, so if fictional languages interest you, then keep your eyes here. Soon, I’ll share some information about a project I’m working on.
Today, I’d like you to think about all of the fictional languages you know of. What is your favourite and why? Is it funny, or is it deep and complex? Is it visually beautiful, or is it something easy to understand? Who or what is your favourite fictional language? As ever, we’d love to hear from you, so share your favourite language in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re looking for a good resource to start making your own Conlangs, check out this website by the Language Creation Society.