Conlang/Appendix/Glossary

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  Conlang  

 Appendix
Word list

Appendix
Glossary

 

Entries should be succinct, lucid, and preferably provide big-picture insights.

Terms[edit]

Here are some basic conlanging and linguistics terms.

It's valuable to note when a term is used in different senses that could cause confusion.

Terminology often works best within a limited framework; succinctly explaining when it doesn't work so well is big-picture insight that may be difficult to obtain from enthusiastic, or simplified, explanations within its favored framework.

If a term could be listed either in adjective or noun form (as inflectional or inflection), prefer whichever feels more natural and provides smoothest coverage. An adjectival entry should list definitions for the various kinds of nouns it can modify; but if the adjectival form has a generic sense and then specifics to be mentioned for some nouns and not others, it may work better to list the noun form and then list specific adjective-noun combinations.

Examples: fusion doesn't cover fusional language, but fusional covers language and implies the sense of fusion; there's nothing to say about derivational affix beyond "an affix that's derivational", but there is more to say about derivational morpheme, and the sense of derivational follows from the process, so it's easier to list derivation and derivational morpheme than to try to fit everything under adjective derivational.

If a term doesn't list any sections of the book where it is discussed, although it could be something that doesn't need coverage in the book proper, or something that is covered but not yet linked from here, it could also signal a topic waiting for coverage.


absolutive 
1. Of a noun, absolutive case.
2. Of a language, ergative-absolutive.

    (linguistics)

absolutive case 
1. A case indicating the patient of a transitive verb or subject of an intransitive verb in an ergative-absolutive alignment pattern.
2. A case indicating the subject of an intransitive verb in a tripartite alignment pattern.

    (linguistics; Advanced)

accusative 
1. Of a noun, accusative case.
2. Of a language, nominative-accusative.

    (linguistics)

accusative case 
A case indicating the patient of a transitive verb in a nominative-accusative or tripartite alignment pattern.

    (linguistics; Advanced)

adjective 
A word that modifies a noun.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
adverb 
A word that modifies any part of language except a noun — verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, clauses, sentences.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
adverbial clause 
A dependent clause that qualifies anything except a noun. Contrast relative clause.   (linguistics)
affix 
A word-part that attaches to words and modifies their meaning. More narrowly concerned with form, and thus carries less conceptual baggage, than related term bound morpheme.   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate)
agent 
A thematic role: The participant of a situation that carries out an action.   (linguistics; Advanced)
agglutinative 
Of a language, combining morphemes into words without changing their forms. May or may not imply synthetic, depending on who you ask. Contrasts with fusional, but affixation doesn't have to be either agglutination or fusion. The concept of morpheme works more smoothly in agglutinative than in fusional languages.   (linguistics)
altlang 
Alternative history language. An artlang meant to be what some historical natlang would have evolved into in some alternative history.   (conlanging; Types)
anadew 
The phenomenon of discovering that a weird, supposedly original feature in your conlang already exists in some natural language. Coined in recognition that natural languages regularly turn out to be even more bizarre than what conlangers can devise. Acronym for (sic) another natlang already dunnit except worse.   (conlanging; FAQ)
analytic 
Of a language, not inflecting words for their grammatical relationships. Says nothing necessary about morpheme/word ratio, nor about other kinds of inflections; cf. synthetic, isolating.   (linguistics)
a posteriori 
Of a feature, borrowed from natural languages rather than invented. Of a conlang, mostly composed of a posteriori features.   (conlanging; Types)
a priori 
Of a feature, invented rather than borrowed from natural languages. Of a conlang, mostly composed of a priori features.   (conlanging; Types)
arbitrariness of the sign 
The notion in semiotics that signs have no direct connection to the concepts they represent. Principle heavily relied upon to justify clean separation between different levels of language description, by Ferdinand de Saussure and since; even Noam Chomsky, while mostly avoiding semiotics, has invoked arbitrariness. The notion of phonaestheme violates arbitrariness of the sign.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
artlang 
Artistic language. A conlang created as art.   (conlanging; Types)
Austronesian alignment 
An alignment system with many voices that do not reduce the verb's valency, allowing most any noun argument to be promoted to become the subject. See also trigger system.   (conlanging; Advanced)
auxlang 
Auxiliary language. A conlang meant as a common second language for people with different native languages.   (conlanging; Types)
bound morpheme 
A morpheme that cannot occur in a word without other morphemes; such as English plural morpheme -s. Similar term affix is more narrowly concerned with form, thus carries less conceptual baggage. Cf. inflectional/derivational morpheme. Contrast free morpheme.   (linguistics)
case 
Of a noun, its grammatical function in the sentence. Nouns are often inflected for case. A categorization typically similar to semantic thematic relation but coarser-grained.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
circumposition 
A pair of words that mark the beginning and end of a modifying phrase.   (linguistics)
clause 
A grammatical structure expressing a single complete proposition — a verb and its noun arguments, with modifiers but not including any related proposition. Compare dependent clause.   (linguistics)
conjugation 
1. Inflection of a verb.
2. A paradigm for a verb.

    (linguistics)

conlang 
Constructed language. A language deliberately invented by someone.   (conlanging; FAQ)
corpus linguistics 
Study of language by statistical analysis of large bodies (corpora) of text, generally without making any prior structural assumptions (cf. grammar). For a sense of relative scale, the Brown Corpus from 1961 is about a million words in 500 texts.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
cranberry morpheme 
A bound morpheme that has no meaning of its own but distinguishes words; such as then cran- in English cranberry. Also called fossilized morpheme.   (linguistics)
declension 
1. Inflection of a noun.
2. A paradigm for a noun.

     (linguistics)

dependent clause 
A clause that qualifies another element of the sentence, rather than being a sentence in itself. May or may not be the same as subordinate clause.   (linguistics)
derivation 
Changing the form of a word to create another word — altering its meaning or grammatical class. Cf. derivational morpheme. Contrast inflection.   (linguistics)
derivational morpheme 
A bound morpheme that changes the core meaning or class of the word. Contrast inflectional morpheme.   (linguistics)
diachronic 
Of a conlang, having its own internal fictional history. Contrast synchronic.   (conlanging; Types)
direct object 
An object directly affected by the verb. Contrast indirect object.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
discourse 
Instances of language falling outside the traditional structured sentence; variously longer than a single sentence, involving multiple conversants, and/or in actual speech rather than polished prose.   (linguistics)
ditransitive 
1. Of a clause, relating three noun arguments to a verb. The arguments are typically called the agent, theme, and recipient.
2. Of a verb, mediating a ditransitive clause.
Cf. intransitive, transitive.   (linguistics; Advanced)
ejective 
Of a consonant, produced by an airstream from the glottis closed and moving rapidly upward.   (linguistics; Advanced)
englang 
Engineered language. A conlang designed to meet objective criteria.   (conlanging; Types)
ergative 
1. Of a noun, ergative case.
2. Of a language, ergative-absolutive.

    (linguistics)

ergative-absolutive 
Of a language, following an alignment pattern that treats the patient of a transitive verb like the subject of an intransitive verb (absolutive case), while distinguishing them from the agent of a transitive verb (ergative case). The second most common alignment pattern amongst natural languages; much less common than nominative-accusative.   (linguistics; Advanced)
ergative case 
A case indicating the agent of a transitive verb in an ergative-absolutive or tripartite alignment pattern.   (linguistics; Advanced)
euroclone 
An auxlang whose vocabulary is entirely Indo-European, often entirely Romance.   (conlanging; Types)
evidentiality 
Of a verb, how the speaker knows the action happened.   (linguistics; Beginner)
fauxlang 
Fictional auxlang. A supposed auxlang created by a character in a fictional setting.   (conlanging; Types)
finite verb 
A verb form that inflects for tense and person, and can serve as the verb in an independent clause. From the Latin finitus, meaning in this context definite, because it inflects for person.   (linguistics)
free morpheme 
A morpheme that can occur alone as a word; contrast bound morpheme.   (linguistics)
fusional 
Of a language, having the property that a single affix may indicate multiple derivational/inflectional changes; e.g. a Latin noun suffix which may indicate at once gender case and number. Fusional may or may not imply synthetic, depending on who you ask. Contrasts with agglutinative, but affixation doesn't have to be agglutination or fusion. The concept of morpheme is more awkward in fusional languages than agglutinative ones.   (linguistics)
gender 
A way of classifying nouns into groups. May be completely unrelated to sexual gender.   (linguistics; Beginner)
grammar 
The study of the rules governing the use of a given language.   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
IAL 
International Auxillary Language. An auxlang intended for use on an international scale. Auxlangs are almost always IALs, to the point where the two terms are often treated as synonyms.   (conlanging; Types)
incorporation 
Formation of a specialized verb by means of a compound lexeme joining the verb with an adverb or with its direct object. Often associated with polysynthesis.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
indirect object 
An object indirectly affected by the verb. Contrast direct object.   (linguistics)
infix 
An affix that attaches to the middle of a word. Contrast prefix, suffix.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
inflection 
Changing the form of a word to indicate a grammatical category such as number or case, without altering the word's core meaning or grammatical class. Cf. paradigm. Contrast derivation.   (linguistics)
inflectional morpheme 
A bound morpheme that does not alter the core meaning or class of the word. Contrast derivational morpheme.   (linguistics)
intransitive 
1. Of a clause, relating a single noun argument to a verb. The argument is called the subject.
2. Of a verb, mediating an intransitive clause.
Cf. transitive, transitive.   (linguistics; Advanced)
isolate 
1. A natlang that isn't known to be related to any other natlang on Earth.
2. The only living member of a large family of related languages.

    (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)

isolating 
Of a language, having no inflections and very low morpheme/word ratio. Must be analytic, cannot be synthetic.   (linguistics)
kitchen sink 
Of a conlang, having many exotic features with no apparent reason or overall scheme.   (conlanging; Types)
lexeme 
The identity of a word that does not change under inflection but does change under derivation. Encompasses core meaning and grammatical class, but not grammatical categories such as number, case, etc.   (linguistics)
lexeme-based morphology 
An approach to morphology in which a stem is altered by a (derivational/inflectional) process to produce a word form. Contrast morpheme-based, word-based.   (linguistics)
linguistic universal 
A pattern that usually holds for natlangs. Idea pioneered by Joseph Greenberg. Compare universal grammar.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
loglang 
Logical language. A conlang based on formal logic.   (conlanging; Types)
mood 
Of a verb, the possibility and necessity of the verb — whether it happens, might happen, can happen, is commanded to happen, etc.   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate)
morpheme 
A word-part that has a meaning of its own. Cf. free/bound. Words are more easily analyzed into morphemes in agglutinative than in fusional languages.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
morpheme-based morphology 
An approach to morphology in which morphemes are combined to produce a word form. Contrast lexeme-based, word-based.   (linguistics)
morphology 
The study of the internal structure of words.   (linguistics; Beginner)
morphosyntactic alignment 
The grammatical relationship between the way a transitive verb relates to its noun arguments, and the way an intransitive verb relates to its noun argument.   (linguistics; Beginner, Advanced)
natlang 
Natural language. A human language that occurred naturally, as opposed to a conlang.   (conlanging; FAQ)
nominative 
1. Of a noun, nominative case.
2. Of a language, nominative-accusative.

    (linguistics)

nominative-accusative 
Of a language, following an alignment pattern that treats the agent of a transitive verb like the subject of an intransitive verb (nominative case), while distinguishing them from the patient of a transitive verb (accusative case). The most common alignment pattern amongst natural languages; contrast ergative-absolutive.   (linguistics; Advanced)
nominative case 
A case indicating the agent of a transitive verb and the subject of an intransitive verb in a nominative-accusative alignment pattern.

    (linguistics; Advanced)

nonconfigurational 
Of a language, not using word order for organizing the elements of a sentence, so that word order is available for use for other purposes (such as discourse structure). This term comes from the phrase-structure tradition of linguistics.   (linguistics)
noun 
A word that denotes a thing (concrete or abstract).   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
number 
Of a noun, how many of the noun there are.   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate)
object 
A part of a sentence that specifies a thing secondarily involved in the action of the verb. One of the three main parts of a sentence. intransitive verbs take no object; the terminology becomes somewhat tangled for ditransitive verbs, which take two objects. See also prepositional object.   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate)
orthography 
The correct way of using a specific writing system to write the language.   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate)
OSV 
Rare language type in which the neutral ordering of the three main sentence elements is object-subject-verb. Most natlangs put the subject before the object. OSV natlangs are mostly native to the Amazon basin.   (linguistics; Beginner)
OVS 
Rare language type in which the neutral ordering of the three main sentence elements is object-verb-subject. Most natlangs put the subject before the object. Some native languages of the Americas are OVS.   (linguistics; Beginner)
paradigm 
A complete pattern of all the ways a word can vary by inflection. Cf. declension, conjugation.   (linguistics)
patient 
A thematic role: The participant of a situation upon whom an action is carried out.   (linguistics; Advanced)
person 
Of a noun, how it relates to the speaker and the audience.   (linguistics)
phonaestheme 
A pattern of form in words that naturally pairs with meaning, in violation of Ferdinand de Saussure's principle of arbitrariness of the sign. Phonaesthemes are not limited to a single language, and do not compose to fully define a word form; contrast morpheme. Spontaneous word coinages are statistically likely to involve phonaesthemes. Common examples are "gl-" for words related to light and vision, "sn-" for words related to the mouth or nose.   (linguistics; external: page)
phonaesthetics 
1. The qualitative sound of a language, including its beautiful (euphonic) and harsh (cacophonic) aspects. Term in this sense attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien; cf. cellar door.
2. The relationship between form and meaning of words; cf. phonaestheme.

    (linguistics)

phonetics 
The study of the sounds of human speech.   (linguistics)
phonology 
The study of the sound system of a specific language.   (linguistics)
polypersonal agreement 
Morphological agreement of a verb with several of its arguments. In natlangs, may occur with polysynthesis, may occur with ergativity. Basque has polypersonal agreement.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
polysynthetic 
Of a language, having a very large number of morphemes per word. Term coined circa 1819 by linguist Peter Stephen du Ponceau to describe American natlangs. Raises questions of what a word is. Some linguists have proposed more restrictive definitions to clearly exclude phenomena such as agglutination. Polysynthetic languages often use incorporation and polypersonal agreement.   (Advanced)
postposition 
A word that marks the end of a modifying phrase.   (linguistics)
pragmatics 
The study of the ability of natural language speakers to communicate more than what is explicitly stated.   (linguistics; Beginner, Advanced)
predicate 
1. In traditional grammar, one of the two parts of a sentence, saying something about the subject.
2. In some formal treatments of grammar, a boolean-valued function asserting a property of a single element or a relation between multiple elements. Sometimes predicator to distinguish from the traditional sense of predicate.

     (linguistics)

prefix 
An affix that attaches to the beginning of a word.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
preposition 
A word that marks the start of a modifying phrase.   (linguistics)
prepositional object 
An object introduced by a preposition.   (linguistics)
recipient 
A thematic role: participant of a change of ownership that acquires ownership, as the student in "The librarian gave the book to the student."   (linguistics)
relative clause 
A dependent clause that qualifies a noun. Contrast adverbial clause.   (linguistics)
relex 
A conlang that too closely imitates a pre-existing language. Shortened, and generalized, from linguistic term relexification.   (conlanging; Types)
relexification 
A process of language change in which most or all of the lexicon of the language is replaced by vocabulary from another language (the lexifier). Origin of the generalized conlanging term relex.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis 
The hypothesis that a person's language affects how they think.   (linguistics; FAQ)
semantics 
Aspects of meaning, as expressed in language or other systems of signs.   (linguistics)
semiotics 
The theory of how signs are used to communicate meaning; encompasses both linguistic and non-linguistic sign systems. Founded by Ferdinand de Saussure, who called his work semiology.   (linguistics)
SOV 
Common language type in which the neutral ordering of the three main sentence elements is subject-object-verb. About 40% of natlangs are of this type. VOS languages include Latin, Sanskrit, and Japanese.   (linguistics; Beginner)
subject 
1. In traditional grammar, one of the two parts of a sentence, specifying the noun that performs the action; see predicate.
2. As a thematic role, the only participant of an intransitive clause.
3. nominative case.   (linguistics; Advanced)
subordinate clause 
1. A dependent clause; that is, a clause qualifying any other element in the sentence.
2. An adverbial clause; that is, a clause that doesn't qualify a noun.   (linguistics)
suffix 
An affix that attaches to the end of a word.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
SVO 
Common language type in which the neutral ordering of the three main sentence elements is subject-verb-object. About 40% of natlangs are of this type. VOS languages include English, French, Mandarin, and Russian.   (linguistics; Beginner)
synchronic 
Of a conlang, not diachronic.   (conlanging; Types)
syntax 
The study of how words are arranged into sentences.   (linguistics)
synthetic 
Of a language, having high morpheme/word ratio. Cf. analytic.   (linguistics)
tense 
Of a verb, when the action happens — past, present, future, etc.   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate)
thematic relation 
Of a noun, its semantic function in the sentence. A categorization of nouns typically similar to grammatical case but finer-grained. Also called thematic role, especially when used with a more grammatical emphasis.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
theme 
A thematic role: participant of a situation that does not change state, as the book in "The librarian gave the book to the student."   (linguistics)
theta role 
thematic role, in the phrase structure approach to syntax.   (linguistics)
transformational grammar 
In linguistics, an approach to grammar as a formal process of generating sequences of words based on phrase structure rules. Associated with Noam Chomsky. The form of the rules is generally presumed universal. The transformational grammar approach may present conlanging hazards (see related caveat on theory and practice).   (linguistics)
transitive 
1. Of a clause, relating two noun arguments to a verb. The arguments are called the agent and patient.
2. Of a verb, mediating a transitive clause.
Cf. intransitive, ditransitive.   (linguistics; Advanced)
trigger system 
An alignment system in which any theta role in a sentence can be the focus/trigger of the sentence, marked only as the trigger rather than for case while the verb is marked to indicate the trigger's role. Conlang device inspired by Austronesian alignment; however, incompatible with more recent theory on how Austronesian alignment works.   (conlanging; Advanced; external: discussion)
tripartite 
Of a language, following an alignment pattern that distinguishes the agent of a transitive verb (ergative case), patient of a transitive verb (accusative case), and subject of an intransitive verb (absolutive case). Less common than either nominative-accusative or ergative-absolutive.   (linguistics; Advanced)
universal grammar 
The hypothesis that grammar arises from innate structure of the human brain. Associated with Noam Chomsky. Controversial; fortunately, conlangers have no stake in the controversy.   (linugistics; Advanced)
verb 
1. A word that denotes action performed by or on a thing (sometimes, the trivial action of being).
2. The part of a sentence that specifies the central action of the sentence. One of the three main parts of a sentence.

    (linguistics)

voice 
Of a verb, which participant in the action is the subject — whether the subject does the action, has the action done to it, or does it to itself.   (linguistics)
VOS 
Rare language type in which the neutral ordering of the three main sentence elements is verb-object-subject. Most natlangs put the subject before the object. Some Austronesian and Mayan languages are VOS.   (linguistics; Beginner)
VSO 
Language type in which the neutral ordering of the three main sentence elements is verb-subject-object. About 15% of natlangs are of this type. VOS languages include Welsh and classical Arabic.   (linguistics; Beginner)
word-based morphology 
An approach to morphology in which a word follows a paradigm to produce word forms. Contrast morpheme-based, lexeme-based.   (linguistics)
word 
A standalone unit of language. May be used in either a concrete or abstract sense; generally clear from context, but, for precision, prefer word form or lexeme.   (linguistics)
word form 
An inflected form of a lexeme.   (linguistics)

People and things[edit]

List conlang-related people, organizations, discussion fora, and books (or other works) here. Languages belong in a separate section, below. Most people of interest are likely to be conlangers of note; presumably if a conlang is suitable to list below, so is its creator here. Books about conlanging are especially likely to be relevant; we probably don't want to try to list every work that uses a conlang, as the list could get unmanageably long. If you think you or your work/forum/whatever should be listed, it's probably best to ask on the talk page for someone else to make that call and, if yes, write the entry.

A Gateway to Sindarin 
A 2004 book on Sindarin by David Salo. Purists wishing to distinguish Salo's extrapolations from Tolkien's notes may refer to the language described in Salo's book as Neo-Sindarin.   (conlanging; external: Tolkien Gateway)
A Secret Vice 
An essay by J.R.R. Tolkien, first delivered as a talk around 1931 and later revised and redelivered, presenting what is now called artlanging. A major milestone in the history of conlanging. Tolkien "outs" himself as an artlanger, distinguishes between auxlangs and artlangs, discusses the relation of mythology to language, and discusses phonaesthetics.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia)
Arika Okrent 
Author of a book about conlangs, In the Land of Invented Languages, 2009. PhD in psycholinguistis (psychology of linguistics) at the University of Chicago in 2004. While researching the book, attended a Language Creation Conference.   (psycholinguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
AUXLANG-L 
A mailing list created in 1997, split off from CONLANG-L..   (conlanging; external: AUXLANG-L)
Broca's area 
A part of the human brain related to producing speech. Located toward the front of the dominant hemisphere (which is usually the left hemisphere since most people are right-handed). See Wernicke's area.   (neurology; FAQ; sister: Wikipedia)
cellar door 
This phrase has been cited as an exemplar of a euphonious (beautiful-sounding) English phrase. J.R.R. Tolkien, describing his attitude toward Welsh in 1955, wrote, "in Welsh for me cellar doors are extraordinarily frequent".   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
Claudio Gnoli 
Conlanger who created conlang Liva, and subsequently proposed what is now called the Gnoli triangle.   (external: page)
CONLANG-L 
A mailing list created in 1991, that drew together language creators into a community. The term conlang is derived from the name of the mailing list. In early 1997, auxlang advocacy was banished to a separate list AUXLANG-L as CONLANG-L moved to a server at Brown University.   (conlanging; FAQ; external: CONLANG-L)
David J. Peterson 
Co-founder the Language Creation Society, and its president for several years. Has created a number of conlangs for television and movies, including Dothraki for Game of Thrones.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
David Salo 
Linguist. Author of A Gateway to Sindarin, 2004; provided translations for the Lord of the Rings movies, 2001–2003. At the time of the LOTR movies, was in graduate school.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia)
Edward Powell Foster 
Creator of auxlang Ro. Reverend, from Ohio, 1853–1937.   (conlanging; external: archive)
Ferdinand de Saussure 
Linguist and semiotician, considered amongst the founders of the twentieth-century forms of both subjects. 1857–1913.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
Geoff Eddy 
Creator of altlang Breathanach. Suggested bogolang for an altlang in which the historical sound changes of one natlang are applied to another natlang (as with Breathanach, arguably Brithenig, etc.).   (conlanging; external: archive)
George Orwell 
Pen name of journalist and author Eric A. Blair, who described fictional language Newspeak.   (journalism; sister: Wikipedia)
Giuseppe Peano 
Italian mathematician and linguist, creator of Latino sine flexione, 1858–1932.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
Gnoli triangle 
A triangle showing the mixture of practical, technical, and artistic motivations for a conlang; the pure motivations are at the corners, auxlang engeland and artlang. Proposed by conlanger Claudio Gnoli in the late 1990s.   (conlanging; Types; external: page)
Gottfried Leibniz 
German polymath, one of the inventors of differential calculus. 1646–1716. Attempted to create Characteristica universalis. 1614–1672.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia)
Hildegard of Bingen 
Twelfth century German Benedictine abbess, who created Lingua Ignota. Noted for contributions to natural science; long considered a saint in various branches of Roman Catholicism; named a Doctor of the Church in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Since a 2010 proposal by the Conlanging Librarian at the Language Creation Society, her feast day of September 17 has gained some traction in the internet conlanging community as a conlanging holiday, when conlangers wish each other a happy Saint Hildegard's day.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Conlanging Librarian)
Ill Bethisad 
An alternate history project started in 1997 around Brithenig. At last check, more than 75 contributors, more than 30 conlangs including Brithenig and Wenedyk.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build A Perfect Language 
A 2009 book about conlangs by psycholinguists Arika Okrent.   (conlanging; external: page)
James Cooke Brown 
Creator of Loglan. 1921–2000. Sociologist, science fiction author.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia)
Jan van Steenbergen 
Dutch linguist and conlanger. Coauthor of auxlang Interslavic and author of altlang Wenedyk.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
Johann Martin Schleyer 
Creator of auxlang Volapük. German Catholic priest, 1831–1912. Claimed the idea for Volapük came to him after a parishioner couldn't send mail to their son in America because US postal workers couldn't read their handwriting.Volapük.   (conlanging; sister: Wikiedia)
John Wilkins 
Creator in the seventeenth century of an influential philosophical language. 1614–1672. Anglican Clergyman.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia)
Joseph Greenberg 
US linguist who investigated linguistic universals. 1915–2001.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
J.R.R. Tolkien 
Creator of Quenya and Sindarin. 1892–1973. Philologist, professor, and lifelong artlanger. A major influence on conlanging as a whole; see The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, A Secret Vice.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia)
Language Construction Kit 
A widely recognized introduction to conlanging by conlanger Mark Rosenfelder, first on his website and more recently also in dead-tree form.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
Language Creation Conference 
A university-hosted conference on conlanging. Recently, a two-day conference held in odd-numbered years at a university, except the first one-day in 2006. So far, hosted by universities in North America and Europe.   (conlanging; external: page)
Language Creation Society 
A non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting conlanging, founded in 2007. Runs the Language Creation Conference.   (conlanging; external: page)
Logical Language Group 
A non-profit organization formed in 1987 to develop Lojban.   (conlanging; external: page)
L.L. Zamenhof 
Creator of Esperanto. 1859–1917. Medical doctor, born of Polish-Lithuanian Jewish parents in an area of partitioned Poland with many ethnic groups at odds with each other; believed a common language could promote peace. His idealism earned him the Esperanto nickname Doktoro Esperanto, meaning Doctor Hopeful, from which the language got its name.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia)
Marc Okrand 
Creator of the Klingon language in the 1980s for the Star Trek franchise, and later the Atlantean language for 2001 Disney movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire. US linguist; has studied native American languages.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia)
Mark Rosenfelder 
Prominent conlanger, a.k.a. Zompist. Maintains the zompist.com website, including the Zompist Bulletin Board and Language Construction Kit; creator of conlang Verdurian. Author of several books, including the dead-tree edition of the Language Cconstruction Kit.   (conlanging; external: zompist.com)
Noam Chomsky 
US linguist centrally associated with the universal grammar hypothesis and transformational grammar.   (linguistics; Advanced)
Otto Jespersen 
Creator of auxlang Novial. Danish linguist, 1869–1943. Significant contributions to theory of structural linguistics.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
Paul Frommer 
Creator of the Na'vi language for 2009 film Avatar. US communications professor with a PhD in linguistics.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia)
Rex May 
Creator of conlang Tceqli. US cartoonist.   (conlanging; sister: Vikipedio;  external: page)
Rick Harrison 
US-based conlanger active in the internet conlanging community mainly during the 1990s. Creator of conlangs Vorlin and Esperanto sen fleksio.   (conlanging; sister: Vikipedio;  external: archive)
Sally Caves 
Pen name of Sarah Higley; conlanger, science fiction writer, and professor of English at the University of Rochester in upstate New York. Creator of artlang Teonaht. In science fiction, noted for creating character Reginald Barclay of the Star Trek franchise. Author of 2007 book Hildegard of Bingen's Unknown Language, about Hildegard's conlang Lingua Ignota.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
Secret Vice
See A Secret Vice.
Smiley Award 
An annual award by David J. Peterson to a noteworthy conlang, given since 2006.   (conlanging; external: page)
Sonja Lang 
Creator of philosophical language Toki Pona. Toronto-based linguist. Formerly Sonja Elen Kisa.
The Hobbit 
A fantasy novel for children by J.R.R. Tolkien, published in 1937; now considered classic children's literature. Contains an undercurrent of linguistic appreciation and insight, and some quotable quotes sometimes used in a linguistic or conlinguistic context.
The Lord of the Rings 
An epic fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, first published in 1954–1955; one of the best-selling novels of all time (as of this writing, only surpassed by Don Quixote and A Tale of Two Cities). Provides a significant slice of Tolkien's legendarium and conlangs of Middle Earth, which he'd been developing since World War I. In the successful movie adaptation from 2001–2003, translations into Tolkien's languages were handled by conlanger David Salo.
W. John Weilgart 
Creator of philosophical language aUI. 1913–1981. Born in Vienna. In childhood, had vision of beings from space and was told by a psychiatrist to describe visions to other people as dreams or poems; studied linguistics, earned a doctorate in psychology, and created aUI, "the language of space". His 1968 book on aUI starts with a poem about a visitor from space.
Wernicke's area 
A part of the human brain related to understanding language. Located (usually?) toward the back of the dominant hemisphere (which is usually the left hemisphere since most people are right-handed). See Broca's area.   (neurology; FAQ; sister: Wikipedia)
Zompist Bulletin Board 
A popular on-line conlanging discussion form maintained by Mark Rosenfelder.   (sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)

Languages[edit]

Languages of interest for conlangers, with explanations of why they are of interest. Many are conlangs, but some natlangs are also listed too.

These should be languages that have gotten some attention in the conlanging community; don't list your own conlangs here (unless it's gained some fame/notoriety in the conlanging community). Any conlang that has a Smiley Award or an ISO code presumably qualifies.

This list is an opportunity to explain how each language fits into the big-picture perspective of conlanging; this high-level view is often difficult to deduce by studying detailed resources about each language (to which this list will usually provide an outgoing link).

ámman îar 
An artlang created over many years by conlanger David Bell. An ergative-absolutive language, likely started the trend of ergative conlangs. Set in a corner of J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional world. Winner of the 2010 Smiley Award.   (Intermediate, Advanced; external: Smiley page)
aUI 
A philosophical language first published in the 1960s by philologist and psychoanalyst W. John Weilgart, in which words are built up as sequences of a small set of semantic primes — 31 single-phoneme morphemes. Billed as "the language of space", the idea being that human corruption is encoded in the vast vocabularies of human languages. ("aUI" = space mind/spirit sound; space language.)   (conlanging; Types; sister: Wikipedia)
Ayeri 
A conlang created by conlanger Carsten Becker starting in 2003, exploring the concept of trigger language. Its creator has since written extensively on how Ayeri differs from Austronesian alignment.   (conlanging; Advanced; external: page)
Basque 
A natlang commonly studied by conlangers as a particularly pure example of ergativity. Language isolate spoken in the Basque Country of Spain and France. Agglutinative; most verbs only occur in non-finite form with auxilliary verbs showing polypersonal agreement.   (wikibook; sister: Wikipedia)
Breathanach 
An altlang created by conlanger Geoff Eddy in 1998. Supposes Latin supplanted the native Celtic language of Ireland; thus Q-Celtic to Brithenig's P-Celtic. Part of Ill Bethisad.   (Types; sister: Breton Wikipedia;  external: Ill Bethisad wiki)
Brithenig 
An altlang created by conlanger Andrew Smith in 1996. Considered the classic example of its type, supposes that Latin displaced the native Celtic language of Great Britain, and applies to it the same language transformations that turned Old English into Modern English. Winner of the 2013 Smiley Award. ISO language code bzt. See also Ill Bethisad.   (Types; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Smiley, page)
Characteristica universalis 
A logical language proposed, but never constructed, by Gottfried Leibniz, as a formal basis for an imagined calculus of logic. Inspired by Wilkins's philosophical language.   (sister: Wikipedia)
CycL 
A logical language constructed for knowledge representation in a long-term research project attempting to produce AI through accumulation of knowledge.   (Types; sister: Wikipedia)
Dothraki 
An artlang created for the 2011 HBO television series Game of Thrones by David J. Peterson.   (sister: Wikipedia)
elvish 
A significant genre of fictional conlangs are languages for elves. J.R.R. Tolkien's most extensive diachronic family of languages were elvish, especially Quenya and Sindarin. The adjectival form elvish, rather than elfin, was an aesthetic preference of Tolkien's.   (sister: Wikipedia)
Esperanto 
An auxlang first created in the late 1800s by L. L. Zamenhof; first published in 1887. The most widely spoken conlang; spoken by possibly as many as two million people, spoken natively by about 1000–2000 people. Intended to promote peace through communication. Indo-European; Slavic phonemes, largely Slavic semantics, Roman alphabet, primarily Romance vocabulary. ISO language code eo, epo.   (Types; wikibook)
Esperanto sen fleksio 
An auxlang created by Rick Harrison. The name means Esperanto without inflection, though more precisely it has fewer inflections. Inspired by Latino sine flexione. Harrison called it a dialect of Esperanto, to emphasize it wasn't meant to be a reform of Esperanto such as Ido.   (sister: Vikipedio)
Glosa 
An auxlang developed by Ronald Clark and Wendy Ashby, circa 1972–1992, building on Interglossa. Purely isolating. Claims to be modeled on Italian with similarities to German. Has been criticized, though, as a relex of English.   (Types; sister: Wikipedia;  external: criticism, page)
Ido 
An auxlang created in 1907 as an attempted reform of Esperanto, taking a minority of the Esperanto community with it, in an event known as the schism, or even the Great Schism, from which there are still resentments more than a century later. Ido vocabulary is more Romance. The Ido community further split over additional reforms. Ido is estimated to have about 100–200 speakers. ISO language code io, ido.   (Types; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia)
Ilomi 
An auxliary language by conlanger Larry Sulky.   (Types; external: review, page)
Interglossa 
An auxlang developed by Lancelot Hogben, first published in 1943. Purely isolating. ISO language code igs. See Glosa.   (sister: Wikipedia)
Interslavic 
An auxlang coauthored by Jan van Steenbergen, for communication between, and with, speakers of Slavic languages; circa 2006. Largely based on Old Church Slavonic.   (sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
Ithkuil 
A logical philosophical language designed to express thoughts precisely and very densely. Winner of the 2008 Smiley Award.   (sister: Wikipedia;  external: Smiley, page)
Klingon 
An artlang created in the 1980s for the Star Trek franchise by Marc Okrand. Possibly a few dozen fluent speakers; reportedly a couple once taught their son to speak it natively. OSV, agglutinative, sound inventory very guttural-heavy, deliberately skewed toward a war-like mentality. No verb to be, a contrarian choice that later presented a challenge when translating "To be or not to be".   (Types; wikibook)
Láadan 
An engelang created by linguist and science fiction author Suzette Haden Elgin, meant to embody the perceptions of women. Supposes a strong form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and that Western languages favor the perceptions of men.   (FAQ; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia)
Latin 
A natlang spoken originally by the ancient Romans. Served, in various forms, as a European auxiliary language for about two millennia, through Vulgar Latin, Church Latin, and Neo-Latin. Ancestor of several major western European languages — the Romance languages — through Vulgar Latin. Heavily inflected.   (wikibook)
Latino sine flexione 
An auxlang created by mathematician Giuseppe Peano, published in the early twentieth century. Simplification of Latin, citing inspiration from remarks of Gottfried Leibniz. The name, Latino sine flexione, means Latin without inflections.   (Types; sister: Wikipedia)
Lingua Ignota 
Perhaps the earliest known full-blown conlang, created in the twelfth century by Hildegard of Bingen. Subject of a 2007 book by Sarah Higley.   (sister: Wikipedia)
Liva 
An engelang created by Claudio Gnoli, starting around 1995. As often happens, there was some artistry mixed in, and a few years later Gnoli proposed what's now called the Gnoli triangle.   (Types; external: archive)
Loglan 
A logical language developed from the 1950s onward by sociologist Dr. James Cooke Brown as a tool suitable to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Brown asserted copyright control over aspects of the language, which caused a fork of the project, Lojban.   (Types; wikibook)
Lojban 
A logical language started in 1987 as a fork of Loglan by members of Loglan's language community, in reaction to copyright claims on Loglan by its creator. Initially a relexification of Loglan. At this writing, development of Lojban is ongoing. ISO language code jbo.   (Types; wikibook)
Na'vi 
An artlang created for the 2009 movie Avatar by Paul Frommer. Ejective consonants, providing an exotic sound manageable by the movie actors. Conjugation by infixes; nonconfigurational.   (wikibook)
Newspeak 
A fictional planned language described by George Orwell in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. In-story, the language is designed by a totalitarian state to prevent dissident thoughts by making them impossible to express; see Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.   (sister: Wikipedia)
Novial 
An auxlang created by linguist Otto Jespersen, first published in 1928. Jespersen split off from the Ido movement. German and Romance roots. ISO language code nov.   (Types; wikibook)
Primitive Quendian 
Created by J.R.R. Tolkien as a common ancestor for his elvish languages. See diachronic; Quenya, Sindarin.   (sister: Wikipedia)
Quenya 
An artlang created by J.R.R. Tolkien. One of the most developed of Tolkien's elvish languages. Strongly influenced by Finnish. ISO language quote qya. Cf. Sindarin.   (wikibook)
Ro 
A classification language created in 1904 by Edward Powell Foster. Alternating consonants and vowels progressively narrow meaning. Supporters included Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System.   (Types; sister: Wikipedia)
SASXSEK 
An auxlang created by conlanger Dana Nutter in 2003. Designed for simplicity with power.   (Types; sister: Vikipedio)
Sindarin 
An artlang created by J.R.R. Tolkien. One of the most developed of Tolkien's elvish languages. Strongly influenced by Welsh. ISO language code sjn. Cf. A Gateway to Sindarin; Quenya.   (sister: Wikipedia)
Solresol 
An auxlang created by François Sudre, from 1827 through a posthumous book in 1866. Words are built from seven phonemes, represented especially by the seven notes of the western musical scale (do through si), with alternate representations including the seven colors of the rainbow.   (Types; sister: Wikipedia)
Speedwords 
Aka Dutton Speedwords. An auxlang created by Reginald J. G. Dutton, developed over much of the early-to-mid twentieth century with the latest revision published in 1951. Has been assessed by conlangers as a relex of English.   (Types; sister: Wikipedia;  external: assessment)
TAKE 
το άνευ κλίσι Ελληνικό, Greek without inflections. A conlang created by conlanger Ray Brown around 2010. Analogous to Giuseppe Peano's Latino sine flexione. The idea of a Greek variant on Peano's idea was discussed on the CONLANG mailing list from 2006; Brown's 2010/11 effort used Classical and Koine Greek, avoiding Modern Greek. Mailing list discussion suggested a fictional background in which Alexander the Great survived to turn west and conquer the Mediterranean, which would make the language a fauxlang; Brown found the historical background constraining, and by late 2010 disavowed it, billing the project an intellectual exercise, thus an engelang.   (Types; external: page)
Talossan 
A micronational language created by Robert Ben Madison in 1980 for his micronation Talossa, which he founded in 1979 at the age of 14. Has a mythical history in which it dates back to the Roman Empire. ISO language code tzl.   (Types; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
Tceqli 
A logical language inspired by Loglan, that took a turn toward the naturalistic. Created by Rex May. Letter "q" in its orthography represents sound /N/ ("ng" in usual English spelling), "tc" represents /tS/, so "Tceqli" is pronounced roughly as "Cheng-Lee" (the basis for a pun on the language's web page).   (Types; sister: Vikipedio;  external: page)
Teonaht 
An artlang created over decades by conlanger, science fiction writer, and professor of English Sally Caves. Well-reputed in the internet conlanging community. OSV. A distinctive feature is its Law of Detachability. Winner of the 2007 Smiley Award.   (sister: Wikipedia;  external: Smiley, page)
Texperanto 
A fauxlang created by conlanger Rex May, set in an alternative history where L.L. Zamenhof emigrated to the Republic of Texas.   (Types; external: archive)
Toki Pona 
A twenty-first century conlang facilitating Taoist thinking, created by linguist Sonja Lang in 2001. Few words, no inflections at all, uncomplicated meanings, simple grammar.   (Types; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
Verdurian 
A fictional language created by conlanger Mark Rosenfelder for a Dungeons & Dragons world, circa 1995. Borrows from, without ressembling, various European natlangs.   (Types; sister: Wikipedia)
Vorlin 
A conlang created by conlanger Rick Harrison, first published in 1991; underwent major changes later. Original billed as an IAL, but continued after its author announced he was no longer developing an IAL.   (Types; sister: Vikipedio;  external: page)
Volapük 
An auxlang created in the later 1800s by German Roman Catholic priest Johann Martin Schleyer. Most successful auxlang before Esperanto, which was first published about ten years later. Vocabulary derived from German roots. ISO language code vo, vol.   (Types; wikibook)
Wenedyk 
An altlang created by conlanger Jan van Steenbergen. Well reputed altlang in the internet conlanging community; blends Vulgar Latin and Slavic features supposing the Romans conquered Poland, as part of Ill Bethisad.   (Types; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
Wilkins's philosophical language 
A seventeenth century classification language created by John Wilkins. Planted the idea of this type of philosophical language, later considered amongst others by Gottfried Leibniz and Peter Roget (of Roget's Thesaurus).   (Types; sister: Wikipedia)
A purely pictographic conlang created by David J. Peterson. A trigger language.   (FAQ; external: page)
Ygyde 
A twenty-first century philosophical language created by Andrew Nowicki. Two-letter morphemes used in compounds; consecutive vowels mark word boundaries.   (Types; external: page)
   Sources