Most of us think that it’s hard enough to write well in English, but writing in ‘common’ languages is just not enough for some authors. Throughout the history of literature, great writers have developed and written in entirely new languages. Particularly in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, these languages help create a complete world and transport the reader to another time or place. If you’re a fan of creative linguistics, check out the ten great fictional languages on this list! You can even learn to speak a few of them.
George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world is incredibly complete, right down to the fictional languages that his different characters use. Dothraki is spoken by the Dothraki people of the Dothraki Sea (which is actually a desert.) The language is spoken from time to time in the book series, but it really took off when television producers hired a linguistics expert to flesh it out into a full-fledged language for the Game of Thrones HBO series.
Esperanto is different from every other language on this list, in that it wasn’t made up by an author. It was made up, however – by a linguist who wanted to create a more efficient and simple universal language. It’s done pretty well by made-up language standards, but it hasn’t exactly caught on worldwide. In Harry Harrison’s fictional future, however, it’s all the rage.
The Fremen language is spoken by the Fremen, natives of the desert planet Arrakis in Frank Herbert’s Dune universe. In the novels, the Fremen language is a linguistic descendent of real-world Arabic. Herbert’s vision is incredibly complete: there are different dialects of the Fremen language, and its use is charted over Dune’s long history in Herbert’s many novels.
The rabbit protagonists of Watership Down don’t speak English: they have their own language called Lapine, an invention of author Richard Adams. Adams has said that his goal was to create a “wuffy, fluffy” language for his rabbits. There is a sort of fluffiness to the tone, but other influences include Arabic and Gaelic.
The characters of Burgess’ dystopian world speak English, but not in a way that you or I would recognize. Burgess’ neo-English is full of “Nadsat” slang, which gives his rough characters an unfamiliar and ominous voice. Burgess was a linguist, and he used his background to create a realistic form of quasi-English – the new dialect is influenced by the Russian language.
George Orwell’s Newspeak language is more than just a fun, futuristic dialect for his science fiction book. It’s an integral part of the plot and the point of the book. Newspeak is a language that’s created by the totalitarian government of Oceania as a way to suppress freedom of thought.
Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is in many ways a quintessential fantasy epic. World creation is a huge part of the series appeal, including the extensive language that Jordan constructed for the books. The Old Tongue is a dead language, used primarily by scholars at the time of Jordan’s narrative.
One of the earliest scenes in the Harry Potter series features Harry conversing with a snake. By the second book, Rowling has revealed that Harry was actually speaking a language called Parseltongue, which Wizards can use to communicate with all different types of snakes. Parseltongue, as you might expect, sounds like hissing to non-speakers. To Harry, though, it’s understood as if it were English.
Every made-up fantasy language since Tolkien has been measured against the great languages of the Lord of the Rings series. Tolkien invented several fantasy languages, but Quenya – the language of Middle Earth’s elves – is his most famous. It’s so well-developed that Tolkien aficionados can even learn the language.
R’lyehian from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft
Lovecraft’s interconnected fantasy worlds feature lots of creative inventions, including this fictional language. R’lyehian made its Earth debut thanks to the spawn of Cthulhu (the famous tentacle-faced monster). It appears in many of Lovecraft’s short stories.
Featured image courtesy of http://bit.ly/1KA1N2y
–Stephen L., Staff Writer