Fictional Languages You Can Learn

Have you ever felt like real-world languages just aren’t enough? Now you can take learning another language to the next level with these six fictional ones.

1. Klingon – Star Trek

Calling all Star Trek fans – did you know you can become fluent in Klingon? Linguist Dr. Marc Okrand was called upon by the film’s producers to create a language that sounded alien but was simultaneously easily pronounceable by human actors. The language of Klingon went from total gibberish to an actual form of communication, that has its own grammar, vocabulary, figures of speech and even slang. Though it’s by no means easy to learn, this language has a vast amount of resources. There have been several works of English literature translated into Klingon, and one couple even raised their son with Klingon as his first language. Talk about dedication!

2. Dothraki – Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones may be over, but you can keep the spirit alive by learning Dothraki, originally created by A Song of Ice and Fire’s George RR Martin. But Dothraki only came to life when the executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss of the HBO series hired the Language Creation Society. There are now a little over 3,000 known words, with simple grammar and sentences in subject-verb-object order. You can learn Dothraki here along with Valyrian, the other major tongue that appears in Game of Thrones. There’s even an app you can use to become fluent in Dothraki.

3. Na’vi – Avatar

If you’ve seen James Cameron’s Avatar, you’ll remember the habitants of the moon Pandora who spoke Na’vi. Developed by linguist Paul Frommer for the film, his task at hand was to create a language that humans could learn, but that wasn’t too similar to any already existing language. Frommer took about 6 months to create the syntax and morphology, followed by vocabulary words based upon the script. Though only about one thousand words of Na’vi were developed by Cameron’s team, the language grew after Avatar video games and spin-offs were released. Frommer even regularly uploads pronunciation guides and continues to describe and expand Na’vi on his Soundcloud channel and blog. If the language calls to you, this is a good place to get started.

4. Elvish – Lord of the Rings

Before he was a fantasy novelist, JRR Tolkien was a student of languages. He actually developed the twin tongues of the Elves long before he wrote The Hobbit. He first developed the “Quenya Lexicon”, Tolkien’s first list of Elvish words, in 1915 at the age of 23. High Elvish and Low Elvish are very different from one another – Quenya (High Elvish) is based upon Finnish, while Sindarin (Low Elvish) is based on Welsh. However, it is noted that while you can study the grammar and evolution of these languages, we don’t know enough about pronunciation to speak them. But hundreds of people have still studied these languages as both are well-documented. It’s definitely a challenge, but there are many forums dedicated to helping users learn as much as possible.

5. Ewokese – Star Wars

Though the Star Wars universe has a variety of different languages for the many planets and cultures that exist within its realm, Ewokese, spoken by the adorable and furry Ewoks who live on the forest moon of Endor, is the easiest to learn, with basic grammar and vocabulary already in place. It first appeared in the 1983 movie Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi and was developed by Ben Burtt, who was a sound designer. Russian dialects and African and South-Pacific languages all influenced Ewokese. You can check out a complete guide here, but feel free to start with “Yub nub”–it means “Hooray!” There’s also an English to Ewokese translation site available.

6. Parseltongue – Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling created Parseltongue for the Harry Potter series, and even wrote a guide to it on her website, Pottermore. Parseltongue is a fictional language of snakes, snake-like creatures, and certain magical beings. Those who can speak it are descendants of Salazar Slytherin and known as Parselmouths.  The language itself has features of the Bantu and Uralic languages, and in it everything is voiceless. For the films, Cambridge professor Francis Nolan was commissioned to create phrases, but not an entirely new language based upon grammar or lexicon. This language is probably the hardest to learn, as it’s characterized by its lack of voicing. Still, feel free to take a stab at it!

 

 

 

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