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Artificial Languages. Molly S. Griffin Professor Stanton History of the English Language April 27, 2007. Artificial/Constructed Languages.

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artificial languages

Artificial Languages

Molly S. Griffin

Professor Stanton

History of the English Language

April 27, 2007

artificial constructed languages
Artificial/Constructed Languages
  • “Languages which are intended to be spoken by people, to people (as distinct from, say, programming languages), and which have been deliberately constructed rather than having evolved.”
  • Two types:
    • A priori—built from scratch
    • A posteriori—based on natural languages
  • Richard Kennaway’s list has 312 named—but there are many more
what s the point
What’s the point?
  • International communication—a common language (Esperanto, Glosa)
  • Fictional worlds (Klingon, Elvish)
  • Linguistic experimentation (Loglan)
    • Alternative languages (Brithenig)
    • Personal languages (Animalic)
    • Joke languages (Pig Latin, Ubbi Dubbi)
  • Social or political purposes (Láadan)
  • 1887: Introduced by Dr. L.L. Zamenhof
  • No concentrated area where it’s spoken, but speakers are everywhere—between 100,000 and 2,000,000
  • Does not replace other languages—acts as a second common language between people.
  • Can supposedly be learned in much less time than other languages.
  • Is politically unbiased.
  • “Dr. Zamenhof did not really make an artificial language, but a sort of synthesis of our principal modern languages. He chose for the vocabulary of his language the most international roots” (Privat 10).
    • Telefono, telegrafo, teatre, arto, muziko, onklo, sukcesi, marklo
      • all very Latin and Germanic
esperanto phonetics
Esperanto Phonetics
  • A, “father”
  • B
  • C, “bits”
  • Ĉ, “church”
  • D
  • E, “get”
  • F
  • G, “go”
  • Ĝ, “jet”
  • H, “loch”
  • Ĥ
  • I, “machine”
  • J, “yes”
  • Ĵ, “measure”
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • O, “go”
  • P
  • R, “burrito"
  • S, “said”
  • Ŝ, “shed”
  • T
  • U, “boot”
  • Ŭ, “water”
  • V
  • Z
esperanto grammar
Esperanto Grammar
  • Every letter has only one sound and is always pronounced.
  • Accent is always on the next-to-last syllable.
  • Vowels are never diphthongized.
  • Parts of speech are formed by adding endings to words:
    • “o” = noun… instruisto (teacher)
    • “a” = adjective… nova (new)
    • “j” = plural… Inteligentaj personoj (intelligent people)
    • “n” = direct object… Esperanto havas facilajn regulojn (Esperanto has easy rules)
esperanto grammar1
Esperanto Grammar
  • No inflectional verb endings for cases
why learn esperanto
Why Learn Esperanto?
  • Esperanto is phonetic.
  • Esperanto has simplified grammar.
  • Esperanto simplifies building your vocabulary.
  • Esperanto lets you invent your own vocabulary.
  • Esperanto has a recognizable vocabulary.

“At least four times easier to learn!”

j r r tolkien and his languages
J.R.R. Tolkien and his Languages
  • 1892-1973
  • author of Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion
  • HUGE philologist
  • to complement his Middle Earth, created several languages, Quenya and Sindarin being the most well-developed
  • On Esperanto:

“Esperanto seems to me beyond doubt, taken all round, superior to all present competitors, but its chief claim to support seems to me to rest on the fact that it has already the premier place, has won the widest measure of practical acceptance, and developed the most advanced organisation” (Back Esperanto).

However, claimed that Esperanto and other artificial languages are “dead, far deader than ancient unused languages, because their authors never invented any Esperanto legends" (Letters).

a brief history of elvish
A Brief History of Elvish


Common Eldarin






history of elvish
History of Elvish
  • “Of the Eldarin tongues two are found in this book: the High-elven or Quenya, and the Grey-elven or Sindarin. The High-elven was an ancient tongue of Eldamar beyond the sea, the first to be recorded in writing. It was no longer a birth-tongue, but had become, as it were, an ‘Elven-latin,’ still used for ceremony…” (ROTK 1101).
  • In regards to diphthongs: “iu in Quenya was in the Third Age usually pronounced as a rising diphthong as yu in English yule.”
the tengwar alphabet
The Tengwar “Alphabet”
  • Not technically an alphabet—just a bunch of consonants that languages could pick and choose from—Men and Elves could both use it
  • None of the letters have a fixed value, but relationships between certain letters were recognized
  • Five pages in the appendix on how different languages employ the Tengwar letters
writing and speaking
Writing and Speaking

Quenya, the Ancient Tongue

J.R.R. Tolkien reading Elvish poetry

why learn elvish
Why Learn Elvish?
  • You can’t, really. Although words and phrases can be spoken, “the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of Tolkien's invented languages, even of Quenya and Sindarin, are far too incomplete to allow its casual, conversational, or quotidian use.” (The Tolkenian Linguistics)
  • But it’s fun!
  • ELNA. “Esperanto-USA.”
  • Fauskanger, Helge. “Quenya—The Ancient Tongue.”
  • Kennaway, Richard. “Constructed Language List.”
  • Privat, Edmond. Esperanto at a Glance. Fleming H. Revell Company: New York, 1908.
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. “Back Esperanto Loyally.”
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King. Houghton Mifflin: Boston, 1995.
  • Wynne, Patrick. “Resources for Tolkien Linguistics.”