Jörg Rhiemeier's Conlang Page
What is a conlang?
Conlang is an abbreviation for constructed language.
Another frequently used word is artificial language. A conlang is
thus a language for human (or other sapient) beings that was designed by
a single individual or a work group, rather than being the product of
centuries of cultural evolution as "natural" languages (natlangs)
are. Programming languages and similar systems, though undoubtedly
constructed, are usually not considered conlangs, because they aren't
languages in a stricter sense of the word.
You probably already heard of Esperanto, or of Quenya.
These two languages are the most famous representatives of the two main
branches of conlanging. Esperanto is an international auxiliary
language, or IAL or auxlang in short; it is meant as a
tool for international communication. Quenya is an artistic
language, or artlang in short; it is a piece of art. While
you can learn and use it, it is not meant as a tool for
international communication, but exists for the sake of itself. In the
case of Quenya, it is the national language of a fictional nation (the
High Elves of Middle-earth); this is often the case with artlangs, hence
such languages are sometimes referred to as fictional languages.
The line between auxlangs and artlangs is not always as
clear as one may think. There are languages that lie somewhere in
between. And there is indeed a third pole on the continuum. These are
the engineered languages or engelangs: languages designed
to meet objectively testable criteria (while the design criteria
of artlangs are more subjective notions).
Auxlangers and artlangers tend
to dislike each other. Artlangers are for
the most part put off by the proselytizing characteristic of the auxlang
movement and the constant debate which of the various proposals is best.
Auxlangers, on the other hand, consider artlanging a geekish waste of
useful resources - they say that instead of desiging languages nobody
would ever speak, the artlangers should help promoting an international
My own interest lies primarily in artlangs, especially naturalistic ones
(i.e., ones that resemble natural languages in their richness and
complexity). In my opinion, the race between the auxlangs is already as
good as decided - and English is the winner.
Essays and resources
The art of conlanging
the language of the fictional ancient British Elves (partly obsolete
grammar on FrathWiki; new grammar and dictionary under
(under construction). Alpianic is a branch of Hesperic native
to the Alps.
Attidian, a fragment of a Hesperic
language of ancient Italy.
ancestor of the languages of the British Dwarves (under construction)
Languages of Akana
Akana is a collaborative
conworld to which I have contributed three languages.
Note: I am not responsible for the contents of the sites listed
Alurhsa, a very complete conlang
with more than 7,000 words, by Anthony Harris.
everything we know about Tolkien's languages is summed up on this site,
by Helge K. Fauskanger. If you don't find the answer to your question
about Quenya, Sindarin, Khuzdul & co. here, the scholars are
probably still trying to find out.
A beautiful, Austronesian-inspired language by Carsten Becker.
The famous Celtic-influenced Romance conlang by Andrew Smith.
an interesting non-human language using both sound and gesture, by
Áneu Klísi Ellēnikó by Raymond A. Brown
is Greek stripped of its inflections, inspired by G. Peano's
Brad Coon, a language of fictional indigenous people of Antarctica.
Henrik Theiling's conlangs.
Kēlen, by Sylvia
Sotomayor, is one of the most beautiful conlangs I have ever seen. It
also features an interesting grammar without verbs as we know them.
The Klingon Language Institute.
Klingon is probably the most widely-spoken conlang except Esperanto
- like it or not.
is a very, very well-designed fictional Slavic language. Rock'n'roll!
Okuna by Matthew
Pearson, one of the most celebrated conlangs of our time. An
older version named Tokana is
by Denis M. Moskowitz is an alien sign language with an
interesting syntax, using tentacles.
Silindion, a gorgeous "Elvish"
conlang by Elliott Lash.
is a classic of the artlang genre, by Sally Caves.
Conworld by Mark Rosenfelder, with many lovingly crafted conlangs.
The Voynich Manuscript is
a mysterious undeciphered codex, dated to the early 15th
century, which may be an early example of conlanging.
Briefscript Project by Raymond A. Brown, an attempt at a language
with shorter words. Interestingly, he doesn't use a huge phoneme
inventory like most designers of maximally concise languages - to the
contrary: he uses such a small phoneme inventory that he can use
the Latin alphabet as a syllabary.
Language by Alex Fink and Sai, which allows two people to
converse while appearing just to be holding hands.
Ithkuil by John Quijada,
designed for high efficiency, with
highly complex phonology and grammar.
feminist language by Suzette Haden Elgin.
Lojban, the most
language, a descendant of Loglan.
There is a
Toki Pona, a minimalistic
language by Sonja Elen Kisa - the yang to the yin of Ithkuil.
an interesting auxlang by Rex May, with self-segregating morphology.
invented by L. Zamenhof
in 1887. You may like it or not, it is the
most popular conlang worldwide, and perhaps the only one with native
speakers (in the real world, I mean). See also my
criticism of it. There is also a
Wikipedia in Esperanto.
flexione is, as its name implies, Latin stripped of (most of)
its inflections, proposed by Giuseppe Peano in 1903.
an elegant auxlang by Danish linguist Otto Jespersen (1928).
by James Chandler. There is also
a Wikipedia in
released by J. M. Schleyer in 1879, was the first IAL to find
thousands of adherents, before Esperanto eclipsed it.
© 2007-2013 Jörg
Last update: 2013-12-21