Brain research shows that learning a language has many benefits beyond simply improving your communication skills. It can increase problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, and even empathy. So if you don’t know a second language, now is a great time to learn it. But do you really want to learn Spanish or Chinese? Many people can now speak these languages. Maybe you’re a nerd who wants to go somewhere a little different with your linguistics. There is an answer: Learn to speak a fictional language!
However, not all of these fictional languages require years of study. You can learn these 11 languages yourself with little effort, and we’ll also direct you to resources to help you learn.
Meet the Man Who Invented the Dothraki Language for Game of Thrones
A good place to start with fictional languages is one that uses English as a baseline. Nadsat, by Anthony Burgess Clockwork orange, is the language spoken by Alex and his dystopian friends in London. When Stanley Kubrick brought the book to the silver screen, he incorporated tons of it into the screenplay.
Nadsat can seem incomprehensible at first listen, with familiar sentence structure interspersed with completely strange vocabulary words. These new terms are derived from Russian terms, often confused and rhymed to find a new meaning, and peppered with portmanteaus and Romani slang.
A quick look at the book’s glossary should help you get going quickly.
Soon you’ll be able to translate seamlessly on Furbish.
Credit: Getty Images
In general: the smaller the vocabulary, the easier the language to learn. That’s why many fictional linguists find the gibberish uttered by the talking Furby toy a good start. Released by Tiger Electronics in 1998, it was one of the best sellers during the Christmas season that year. The hamster-like creature verbally communicates 42 different words and gradually replaces them with English as you play with it.
Furbish is an intentionally limited language, which makes it easy to learn. It has grown slightly over multiple generations of toys, but the basic grammar is still the same. Get started with this complete dictionary.
If you have played Skyrim, you’re probably familiar with at least one Dovahzul catchphrase — “Fus Ro Dah,” the cry of Relentless Power. The game’s main theme is also sung in the language of dragons, and players encounter it in multiple locations throughout. Bethesda also designed a cuneiform alphabet for the language, making it easier to speak phonetically. With no capitalization or punctuation, it’s a relatively simple language to learn, hampered only by a limited vocabulary.
Dovazhul’s sentence structure is identical to English, so it’s a solid choice for a second language. Here is a great resource put together by The Elder Scrolls fans to share the beauty of the language with others.
James Cameron is a director who is known for his attention to detail, so it is not surprising that for the production of Avatar he would hire someone to create a coherent language for the people of blue space to speak. Paul Frommer, a business professor with a doctorate in linguistics, was tasked with creating a language that could be learned by humans but not closely resemble any existing earthly language. It took him about six months to structure the syntax and morphology, then come up with vocabulary words needed for the script.
Only about a thousand Na’vi words were developed by Cameron’s team, but as video games and other spin-offs were released, the language grew. There is also a significant fan community developing it. Na’vi is relatively easy to learn because of the modularity of words – many terms can be expressed by stringing several existing words together. Here’s a glossary to get you started.
J. RR Tolkien studied languages before he became a fantasy novelist, and he developed the dual tongues of the elves long before he wrote a word of The Hobbit. High Elf and Low Elf are also quite different from each other, so you should probably pick one to specialize in. Quenya, or High Elvish, is based on the Finnish language, which is already an outlier in Europe, and Sindarin is based on Welsh. However, knowledge of any of these languages is not necessary to start learning.
Tolkien actually created dozens of other languages in his work, but most of them are fragmentary at best. Both Elvish languages are well-documented and stable, and hundreds of people have mastered them. Here’s a great place to start.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is actually Cats: The Musical
Let’s return to the world of video games for another invented language that is remarkably stable. The Ultima games are known for their incredible attention to detail, and the sixth game in the series saw the introduction of a magical spell language. It should come as no surprise to anyone that when it came time for Lord British to give a race of gargoyles their own speech, he created an internally consistent language for them.
One advantage of learning Gargish is that it is quite flexible in terms of grammar and sentences can be expressed in a variety of ways. If you’re interested, here’s an in-depth example of how to speak Gargish.
The star Wars The universe has a number of created languages for the various alien races, but the easiest to understand is probably Ewokese, first heard in Return of the Jedi. The language spoken by the hairy shrimpy denizens of Endor is relatively easy to learn, with basic grammar and vocabulary already available. And can you imagine how impressed your mom will be if you come home for Christmas speaking Ewok? Don’t answer that.
Here’s a complete guide to the Ewok language, as well as translations of every word spoken in the third star Wars movie. Yub!
The animated version of Richard Adams’ classic novel Watership Down traumatized many children of the 80s with its unflinching depiction of animal abuse. The bunnies who adventure around the countryside speak a language called Lapine, which is mostly used for specific nouns, but also finds its place in other parts of speech. Because Lapine essentially works as an overlay on plain English, it is easy to learn and apply in conversation.
Here is a glossary of existing Lapine terms. Fans of the novel expanded on Adams’ creation to make it more robust and flexible.
Star TrekThe Klingon language isn’t necessarily easy to learn, but one advantage it has over the other languages on this list is the sheer amount of educational resources available. Although the Klingons appeared in the original TV show, their language was not introduced until Star Trek: The Movie, when actor James Doohan came up with the general sound of it. from Star Trek IIIdirector Leonard Nimoy realized they needed real language and commissioned it from linguist Mark Okrand.
Since then, the language’s popularity has only grown. Several important works of English literature have been translated into Klingon, and fans include a number of fluent speakers. One couple even raised their son from birth speaking Klingon as his first language. Get started at the Klingon Language Institute or learn it while commuting thanks to its inclusion in Duolingo.
If you’ve ever watched your little computer people argue with each other and just had to know what they were saying, good news: Simlish is actually a real language that you can learn. It first debuted in 1996 SimCopter as chatter on the radio and becomes increasingly important in the series. Simlish is relatively easy to learn because it is grammatically very similar to English, only with vocabulary derived from many other languages.
Originally conceived as complete gibberish, the language has become relatively understandable with little effort, and people even make videos of themselves translating popular songs into Simlish. Here is a comprehensive guide to learning the language.
When George RR Martin began work on A Song of Fire and Ice, he did not think much about the composition of the language spoken by the nomadic Dothraki. When HBO optioned the books for television, they contacted the Society for Language Creation to turn Martin’s excerpts into a full-fledged language. The grammar is simple, with subject-verb-object sentences and just over 3,000 known words.
Learn Dothraki here; the site also has resources for Valyrian, the other main one Game of Thrones language, but why would you want to learn this?
While it would probably be more helpful to learn a language commonly used around the world, we certainly think parties would be more fun if everyone spoke as different types of fictional characters or space aliens.
This story originally appeared on Geek.
UPDATE: 21 November 2023, 14:07 AEDT This article was originally published in April 2020 and has since been updated in November 2023.
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