Conlang/Appendix/Glossary

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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. This glossary seeks to give fair warning of discrepancies between mutually incompatible dialects of technical jargon, rather than setting down a single self-consistent dialect that would then be inconsistent with various usages encountered in the field (which happens a lot in any technical subject that's been around for a while).

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 wouldn't cover fusional language, but fusional covers language and implies the sense of fusion.
  • there would be 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.

Named theories and models are also listed here; both those traditionally treated as proper nouns, such as Optimality Theory, and those not, such as universal grammar or word-and-paradigm morphology.


abjad 
A script whose symbols represent consonant sounds. Vowels may be omitted altogether, but often are optionally representable by diacritics on the consonant symbols, and provision may be made for representing vowels in exceptional cases where the vowel does not accompany a consonant. In most such systems, the vowel follows the consonant. Contrast alphabet, abugida.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
ablative case 
A case sometimes indicating removal from the marked noun, in which case it is a variety of locative. In English, likely introduced by preposition from. Usage varies greatly between languages. The term ablative comes from a Latin verb meaning take away.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
ablaut 
Change of a word form by altering a vowel (or vowels). The more usual form of apophony, also called vowel mutation; contrast consonant mutation.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
abugida 
A script whose symbols represent consonant sounds with default associated vowels, and diacritics to change these vowel defaults. Contrast abjad, syllabary.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
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)
adposition 
A preposition, postposition, or (more rarely) circumposition.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
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)
affricate 
a consonant that starts plosive and releases fricative, usually with the same place of articulation.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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; Intermediate)
allophone 
Any of the phones representing a phoneme in a given language.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
alphabet 
A script whose symbols represent speech sounds, including vowels. If only consonants are represents, that's either an abjad or an abugida.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
alphasyllabary
Another name for an abugida.
altlang 
Alternative history language. An artlang meant to be what some historical natlang would have evolved into in some alternative history.   (conlanging; Types)
alveolar 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation by constricting airflow between the alveolar ridge and the tongue. May be apical or laminal.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
alveolar ridge 
The ridge at the top of the mouth just behind the teeth and before the hard palate.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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; Intermediate)
anaphora 
1. The act of referring with an expression to some referent that depends on context. The referring expression is the anaphor. See pronoun.
2. More noarrowly, when the reference depends on a preceding expression. The preceding expression is the antecedent. Contrast cataphora, postcedent.
  (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
apical 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation using the tip of the tongue (the apex). See coronal.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
apophony 
Change of a word form by altering a phoneme (or phonemes). Most often a change of vowel, called ablaut or vowel mutation; changing a consonant is consonant mutation. More often inflectional, sometimes derivational.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
approximant 
Of a consonant, having manner of primary articulation by constricting airflow (so it's not a vowel) but not enough, or in such a way as, to cause turbulence (so it's not a fricative). All approximants are either liquids or glides; they're sonorants just below the vowels in the sonority hierarchy.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
articulator 
Of a consonant, an organ used to constrict the airflow at a point of articulation. Active if it moves, passive if it doesn't; the tongue is especially commonly used as an active articulator.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
artlang 
Artistic language. A conlang created as art.   (conlanging; Types)
aspect 
Structure of the action of a verb with respect to time.
1. The unmodified term usually refers to grammatical aspect, which is arrangement of the action indicated by inflection of the verb.   (Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Conlangery)
2. Lexical aspect is a property of the verb independent of inflection, necessarily involving a smaller set of possibilities since it excludes details of a particular instance of the verb.   (external: Conlangery)
  (linguistics)
assibilation 
A sound change in which a consonant becomes sibilant. Cf. palatalization.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
assimilation 
In phonology, change of a phone to sound more like another nearby phone. May be either regressive or progressive; synchronic or diachronic. See harmony.   (linguistics; Intermediate, Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
back 
Of a vowel or semivowel, having the highest part of the tongue toward the back of the mouth.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
backness 
Of a vowel, how far back in the mouth the highest part of tongue is positioned when pronouncing it.   (linguistics; Intermediate; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
boustrophedon 
Of writing, alternating between lines left-to-right and right-to-left. The word is borrowed from Ancient Greek, meaning ox-turn-fashion (turning in the manner of an ox when plowing a field). In some boustrophedon writing, the glyphs are reflected right-to-left on lines going opposite directions; in rongorongo the glyphs are rotated 180 degrees between lines, a variant sometimes called reverse boustrophedon that, as far as we've heard, occurs in no other natural script.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
calligraphy 
The art of visually beautiful writing. The roots of the word mean beautiful writing.   (linguistics; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Conlangery)
case 
Of a noun, its grammatical function in the sentence. Nouns are often inflected for case. Case distinctions vary by language. Case categorization is typically similar to semantic thematic relation but coarser-grained.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
cataphora 
anaphora when the reference depends on a following expression. The following expression is the postcedent.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
central 
1. Of a vowel or semivowel, having backness intermediate between front and back.
2. Of a consonant, not lateral.
When a sound is described as a semivowel, central refers to backness; whereas when the same sound is descried as an approximant, central means not lateral.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
centum language 
Any Indo-European language in which the palatovelars of Proto-Indo-European merged with the plain velars. Contrast satem language; the two types are named after the words for hundred in respectively Latin and Sanskrit, which illustrate the contrasting phonetic evolution patterns.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
click 
A lingual ingressive. Typically quite loud, though softer in a few of the natlangs that have them. Found in some natlangs in southern Africa and a few in eastern Africa, and in Damin.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
coarticulation 
1. Of a consonant, having more than one place of articulation. See secondary articulation, doubly articulated.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
2. assimilation
coda 
The part of a syllable after the nucleus, if any. Consonantal.   (linguistics; Intermediate, Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
conjugation 
1. Inflection of a verb.
2. A paradigm for a verb.
  (linguistics)
conlang 
Constructed language. A language deliberately invented by someone.   (conlanging; FAQ)
consonant 
1. A speech sound with constricted air flow through the vocal tract. Distinguished by voicing and by how and where the air flow is restricted — manner and place of articulation. Contrast with vowels, which have higher sonority.   (Beginner, Intermediate)
2. A glyph written to represent a consonant sound.
  (linguistics)
consonant harmony 
Assimilation between non-adjacent consonants. Much less common than vowel harmony. A relatively common form is coronal harmony, whereby coronal fricatives (such as /s/ and /S/) assimilate to the same place of articulation.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
consonant mutation 
Change of a word form by altering a consonant (or consonants). May indicate grammatical information or reflect grammatical context. Form of apophony less common than ablaut.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
coronal 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation using the front of the tongue. Contrast dorsal.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
creaky voice 
Voicing with the sides of the larynx —the arytenoid cartilages— pulled closer together, reducing airflow and loosening the vocal folds. Also called by a variety of other names, in various contexts, such as vocal fry.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
cursive 
Of a script, using symbols meant to be easy to write rapidly by hand. The term is also used for modern cursive handwriting in which consecutive letters within a word usually flow one into another.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
dative case 
A case indicating a recipient or beneficiary. Typically the indirect object; in English, often introduced by preposition to or for. The term dative comes from a Latin verb meaning give.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
debuccalization 
A form of lenition in which a consonant's place of articulation changes, typically moving back toward the glottis. Latin root buuca means mouth; thus, removal from the mouth (i.e., removal to the glottis).   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
declension 
1. Inflection of a noun.
2. A paradigm for a noun.
  (linguistics)
dependent 
An element of a compound grammatical structure that is not the head. See also dependent clause.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
dependent clause 
A clause qualifying 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 
1. Of language change, taking place over time.   (linguistics)
2. Of linguistic study, concerned with language change over time.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
3. Of a conlang, having its own internal fictional history.   (conlanging; Types)
Contrast synchronic.
diacritic 
A glyph whose function is to modify another glyph. Cf. abjad, abugida.   (linguistics; Appendix/CXS)
diglossia 
A situation where two dialects of a language are used by a single population. In the usual case, one dialect is vernacular and the other formal. The formal dialect is often an earlier form of the language, is used in writing, and is not natively spoken.   (linguistics; FAQ; sister: wikipedia)
diphthong 
A combination of two vowels forming the nucleus of a syllable. One of the two is always weaker, and may even be treated as an approximant; if the first is weaker, it may be called an on-glide, and the diphthong is rising; if the the second is weaker, an off-glide, and falling. See also glide.
  (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
disfix 
An inflection that removes part of the word form it's applied to. May be described, with additional conceptual baggage, as a subtractive morpheme (at some stretch to the notion of morpheme, since a subtractive morpheme is not only bound but has no form of its own).   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
domed 
Of a consonant, pronounced with the tongue bunched up.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
dorsal 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation using the back of the tongue (dorsum). Contrast coronal.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
doubly articulated 
Of a consonant, characterized by two airflow restrictions of the same manner, which are therefore both considered primary articulations. A special case of co-articulated.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
duplifix 
Reduplication, when viewed as an affix.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
egressive 
Of a speech sound, produced with an outward airflow though the mouth and/or nose. The outward airflow may be produced either by the lungs (pulmonic), by the glottis (glottalic), or by the tongue (lingual); most human speech sounds are pulmonic egressive. Contrast ingressive.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
ejective 
Of a consonant, produced by an airstream from the glottis closed and moving rapidly upward.   (linguistics; Advanced)
emoticon 
A sequence of characters depicting a facial expression, used to express emotion. Most often punctuation characters. Modern use of emoticons in electronic discussion is generally traced to a proposal in 1982.   (linguistics; FAQ; sister: wikipedia)
endocentric 
of a compound grammatical structure, having a head. Contrast exocentric.   (linguistics)
englang 
Engineered language. A conlang designed to meet objective criteria.   (conlanging; Types)
epiglottal 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation in the lower pharynx, by constricting airflow via the aryepiglottal folds at the top of the larynx against the epiglottis. May be classed as radical or laryngeal.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
epiglottis 
A flap in the lower pharynx protecting the larynx, so food doesn't go down the wrong way when swallowed. Place of articulation for epiglottals.   (linguistics; sister: wikipedia)
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)
exocentric 
of a compound grammatical structure, not having a head. Some linguistic theories require every compound structure to have a head. Contrast exocentric.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
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)
flap 
A consonant whose manner of primary articulation momentarily blocks airflow by throwing the active articulator against the passive articulator. Differs from a stop because the block is instantaneous so there's no pressure build-up; differs from a single-contact trill because the articular is moved by muscular contraction, rather than by vibration due to the airflow. Commonly synonymous with tap; if not, the difference may be that the articulators in a flap strike tangentially whereas in a tap they strike directly.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
free morpheme 
A morpheme that can occur alone as a word; contrast bound morpheme.   (linguistics)
fricative 
1. Of a consonant, having manner of primary articulation by forcing airflow through a narrow enough opening to produce turbulence. A glottal fricative may instead be called a glottal transition, avoiding awkward questions about whether the sound is a consonant or a vowel and whether the vocal cords themselves are technically part of the vocal tract. The word fricative is from a Latin verb meaning rub.   (Intermediate, CXS; sister: Wikipedia)
2. Of a vowel, varying usage refers to some part of a blending between a fricative consonant and an immediately following vowel; typically, between a sibilant and a high vowel. The term "fricative vowel" is sometimes used for the consonant colored by its anticipation of the vowel, sometimes for the vowel ostensibly colored by residual turbulence from the consonant, and sometimes for the different phenomenon of a syllabic fricative consonant.   (sister: Wikipedia)
  (linguistics)
front 
Of a vowel or semivowel, having the highest part of the tongue toward the front of the mouth.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
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; Intermediate)
futhark
See runes.
gemination 
The lengthening of a consonant.   (linguistics; Intermediate, Advanced)
gender 
A way of classifying nouns into groups. May be completely unrelated to sexual gender.   (linguistics; Beginner)
genitive case 
A case typically indicating the marked noun owns another noun, or that the other noun is attributed to the marked noun. Similar to the possessive case in English. The term genitive comes from a Latin word meaning origin/birth.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
glide 
1. An approximant that differs from a vowel only by being slightly more closed. Linguists may differ on whether some approximants correspond to a vowel, hence whether they should count as glides. It's generally agreed that lateral approximants are not glides.
2. An approximant that occurs in the transition to or from the nucleus of a syllable.
3. A vowel treated as a consonant, i.e., not the nucleus of a syllable. See diphthong.
  (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
glottal 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation at the glottis. The terminology here is debated, in that the vocal tract is ostensibly what the sound passes through after being generated at the glottis, thus does not include the glottis, making the glottis ineligible as a place of articulation; but natlangs often, not always, treat these speech sounds as consonants rather than vowels. See glottalized, glottalic.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
glottalic 
Of a speech sound, produced with airflow initiated by the glottis. Contrast pulmonic, lingual. The term glottal is also occasionally used for glottal, generally not for glottalized.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
glottalized 
Of a speech sound, having its basic identity colored by a partial or total closure of the glottis. A secondary articulation. See creaky voice.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
glottis 
The opening of the vocal cords; in practice, the vocal cords themselves. See glottal, glottalic.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
glyph 
An elemental symbol used in writing.   (linguistics; Beginner; sister: Wikipedia)
grammar 
The study of the rules governing the use of a given language.   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
grooved 
Of a consonant, pronounced with the sides of the tongue raised so that airflow is a narrow stream directed at the teeth. See sibilant.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
hard palate 
The front of the roof of the mouth. Lined with bone (technically, the bone itself is the hard palate), whereas the back of the roof of the mouth is soft tissue, the velum.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: wikipedia)
harmony 
In linguistics, assimilation between non-adjacent sounds. The term is not usually used without specifying the type(s) of sound(s) involved. Most common is vowel harmony; see also vowel-consonant harmony, consonant harmony.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
head 
The element of a compound grammatical structure that primarily defines the nature of the structure. Most often the structure is a phrase, in which case the head is a word (such as the preposition in a prepositional phrase); but also, if a word is viewed as a collection of morphemes, the head of the word would be a morpheme. Other elements of the structure are called dependents. Especially associated with universal grammar, but the term head can be used descriptively without that conceptual framework. See endocentric.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: paper)
head-final 
Of an endocentric grammatical structure, having its head at the end. Sometimes called left-branching. Contrast head-initial.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
head-initial 
Of an endocentric grammatical structure, having its head at the start. Sometimes called right-branching. Contrast head-final.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
headless
See exocentric.
height 
Of a vowel, how open the mouth is when pronouncing it. Termed high or low for how far the jaw drops, thus low for more open, high for less.   (linguistics; Intermediate; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia)
hieroglyphs 
Any of certain particularly ancient scripts whose symbols appear to be pictograms. Generally the term has become attached to a script before it was deciphered. The term hieroglyphic comes from roots meaning sacred writing. The classic example is Egyptian hieroglyphs; others include Cretan, Anatolian, and Mayan.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wiktionary)
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)
ideogram 
A written symbol representing an idea/concept. A script made up of logograms is am ideographic system. An ideogram provides no information about the sounds used to express its meaning. In this inclusive sense, most logograms are ideograms. The term ideogram is sometimes used in a more exclusive sense to mean a symbol representing an idea independent of language (potentially raising questions about the nature of written language).   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wiktionary)
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)
Indo-European 
A family of related languages historically spoken in India, Europe, and points between. Reconstructed common ancestor Proto-Indo-European.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
inessive case 
A locative case indicating location within the marked noun.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
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)
infraglottic cavity
See laryngeal cavity.
ingressive 
Of a speech sound, produced with an inward airflow though the mouth and/or nose. The inward airflow may be produced either by the lungs (pulmonic), by the glottis (glottalic), or by the tongue (lingual). Contrast egressive.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
instrumental case 
A case indicating the marked noun is the means by which the action is accomplished.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
intervocalic 
Of a consonant, occurring between two vowels. Lenition often occurs intervocallically.   (linguistics; sister: Wiktionary)
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; Intermediate)
kitchen sink 
Of a conlang, having many exotic features with no apparent reason or overall scheme.   (conlanging; Types)
labialized 
Of a consonant, produced with the lips puckered, creating an additional resonance cavity between the lips and teeth and thereby altering the sound. The same effect for a vowel is called rounding. Occurs in most languages but might not be phonemic.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
laminal 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation using the blade (top surface of the front, just behind the tip) of the tongue. See coronal.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
language 
A language is a learned system for using sequences of words for general sapient communication. Description of a language is usually analyzed into morphology and grammar. Scientists struggle over just what language is, but it appears to be strictly a behavior of sapient beings; thus far no non-human animal has been shown to use a language with the complexities of human communication, and most non-human communications (such as those of birds, a much-studied case) clearly aren't even remotely comparable. It's difficult to determine whether even some human communication systems qualify, such as rongorongo. See also written language.   (linguistics; FAQ; sister: Wiktionary;  external: Language Log)
laryngeal 
1. Of a consonant, having primary articulation in the neighborhood of the larynx. Certainly includes glottals; may or may not include epiglottals.   (sister: Wikipedia)
2. One of a hypothesized series of consonants in Proto-Indo-European, based on indirect evidence of effect on vowels in daughter languages. Though called "laryngeals" by early proponents who thought their place of articulation might be glottal, epiglottal, or pharyngeal, current speculation also includes uvular and velar. See Hittite.   (sister: Wikipedia)
  (linguistics)
laryngeal cavity 
The interior space of the larynx. Divided by the vocal cords into the vestibule above, connecting to the pharynx, and infraglottic cavity below, connecting to the trachea (windpipe).   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: wikipedia)
laryngealized 
1. glottalized.
2. creaky voice.
  (linguistics)
larynx 
The voice box, from which {{Template: project into the vocal tract; connects from the windpipe (and thence the lungs) to the lower pharynx. See vocal cords, laryngeal.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: wikipedia)
lateral 
Of a consonant, produced with airflow along the sides of the tongue while airflow is blocked along the center of the mouth. Produces an L-like sound. The usual English sound /l/ is an alveolar lateral approximant; there are others, even lateral clicks.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
lative case 
A locative case indicating some sort of motion to the marked noun. In English, likely introduced by preposition to or into. Cf. ablative.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
lenition 
A sound change in which a consonant becomes more sonorous, or disappears altogether. The term lenition originally means weakening. Lenition tends to happen to a consonant in an intervocalic position.   (linguistics; I:Sandi, I:Sound changes; sister: Wikipedia)
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; sister: Wikipedia)
lingual 
Of a speech sound, produced with airflow initiated by the tongue. This involves a double closure (coarticulation), one at the back of the mouth (either velar or uvular) and one farther forward; usually the sound is described by its forward articulation. Lingual ingressives are called clicks; lingual egressives don't usually occur in natlangs, an exception being Damin. Contrast pulmonic, glottalic.   (linguistics; Advanced)
linguistic universal 
A pattern that usually holds for natlangs. Idea pioneered by Joseph Greenberg. Compare universal grammar.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
liquid 
Of a consonant, being either lateral approximant or rhotic. A hybrid classification; lateral approximants and rhotics feel similar, subjectively, placed at the same level on the sonority hierarchy and often having similar phonotactics in natlangs. The choice of term recalls a similar term hygrós (ancient Greek meaning moist) used by Dionysius Thrax over two thousand years ago (though he also included nasals).   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
locative case 
A case indicating the marked noun specifies a location. The term is sometimes used to designate a specific case in a language, sometimes to describe a general property of a case with a more specific name. Estonian and Finnish each have a half dozen or more locative cases. The term locative comes from a Latin word meaning place.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
loglang 
Logical language. A conlang based on formal logic.   (conlanging; Types)
logogram 
A written symbol representing a whole word or phrase. A script made up of logograms is a logographic system. Logographic systems are generally very large and impure, with some symbols representing syllables or individual sounds.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
manner of articulation 
Of a consonant, how the air flow is disrupted. Compare place of articulation.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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 
Classically, 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. Alternatively, some linguists view a morpheme as a process; see subtractive morpheme.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
morpheme-based morphology 
An approach to morphology in which morphemes are combined to produce a word form. Contrast lexeme-based, word-based.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
morphology 
The study of the internal structure of words.   (linguistics; Beginner)
morphome 
A coherent part of the form of a word, without necessarily any meaning attached to it. Term coined for use in word-and-paradigm morphology, where parts of a word form don't have meanings.   (linguistics; Advanced; external: CONLANG-L)
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)
mutation
See apophony.
nasal 
1. Of a consonant, produced with air flow through the nose rather than through the mouth. Contrast with oral. Compare nasalized. See velum.   (Intermediate; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia)
2. Of a vowel, nasalized.
  (linguistics)
nasalized 
Of a speech sound, produced with some air flow through the nose in addition to air flow through the mouth. Both consonants and vowels can be nasalized. Not to be confused with nasal. See velum.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
natlang 
Natural language. A human language that occurred naturally, as opposed to a conlang.   (conlanging; FAQ)
Natural Semantic Metalanguage 
A proposed framework in which the semantics of all human languages would be built up from a common set of semantic primes. The primes, language-independent irreducible meanings, would be combined into semantic molecules. The theory was proposed by linguist Anna Wierzbicka in the early 1970s.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
nucleus 
1. The core sound in a syllable; the peak, most sonorous, usually a vowel.   (linguistics; Intermediate, Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
2. Synonym for head.
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)
obstruent 
A speech sound with an obstructed airflow; anything from fricatives on down on the sonority hierarchy. Contrast Sonorant.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: wikipedia)
occlusive
See plosive.
oligoisolating 
Of a language, having few morphemes with an isolating structure (very low morpheme/word ratio). No found in nature; conlang Toki Pona is oligoisolating. Prefix oligo- means few. Contrast oligosynthetic.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
oligosynthetic 
Of a language, having few morphemes with a high morpheme/word ratio (synthetic). Arguably not possible in nature; conlang aUI is claimed as an example. Prefix oligo- means few. Contrast oligoisolating.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
onset 
The part of a syllable before the nucleus, if any. Consonantal.   (linguistics; Intermediate, Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
Optimality Theory 
A model of language in which the surface forms of language are generated from underlying representations by optimizing between competing constraints; OT for short. Constraints are not involable rules, rather may be overriden by higher-priority constraints. Most of the specifics are supposed to be universal, languages differing only by relative priorities of the constraints. Controversial; notably, critics suggest OT cannot account for successively applied rules. Usually applied to phonology, but sometimes also to higher-level concerns such as syntax. Proposed in 1991.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia;  external: wikia)
oral 
Not nasal: of a consonant, produced with air flow through the mouth; of a vowel, produced without air flow through the nose.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
palatal 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation by constricting airflow between the hard palate and back of the tongue (dorsum). Compare retroflex.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
palatalized 
1. Of a consonant, having its basic identity colored by narrowing of airflow between the tongue and the hard palate. A secondary articulation; as if the consonant were closely followed by a palatal approximant.   (sister: Wikipedia)
2. Of a speech sound, having undergone a sound change either causing or caused by either a palatal consonant, palatalized consonant, or front vowel. Often ends in assibilation.   (Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
  (linguistics)
paradigm 
A complete pattern of all the ways a word can vary by inflection. Cf. declension, conjugation.   (linguistics)
partitive case 
A case indicating the marked noun is partial in nature, atelic; covers a variety of situations. Notably Finnish, Estonian, and Quenya have such a case.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
patient 
A thematic role: The participant of a situation upon whom an action is carried out.   (linguistics; Advanced)
peak
See nucleus.
person 
Of a noun, how it relates to the speaker and the audience.   (linguistics)
pharyngeal 
1. Of a consonant, having primary articulation in the upper pharynx, by constricting airflow in the pharynx (the throat) using the root of the tongue.
2. Of a consonant, either having primary articulation either in the pharynx or epiglottal.
See radical.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
pharyngealized 
Of a speech sound, having its basic identity colored by constriction of the pharynx or epiglottis. A secondary articulation.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
pharynx 
The upper part of the throat; roughly, the part of the throat that is also part of the vocal tract. Has three parts, the nasopharynx at the back of the nasal cavity, oropharynx behind the mouth, and laryngopharynx connecting to the larynx and esophagus. See velum, radical.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: wikipedia)
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)
phone 
A language sound made using the vocal tract. See allophone.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
phoneme 
A minimal sound element of language that can distinguish words from each other. See allophone.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
phonemic 
Of a feature of speech sound in a language, capable of changing the meaning of a word. For example, in English, vowel height is phonemic while rounding is not. Compare phoneme.   (linguistics; sister: Wiktionary)
phonetics 
The study of the sounds of human speech. There is no concept of phoneme in phonetics.   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
phonology 
The study of the sound system of a specific language. May deal with both phones and phonemes.   (linguistics; Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
phonotactics 
Of a language, the rules of how phonemes can be combined.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
pictogram 
An ideogram that uses a picture to suggest its meaning.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
place of articulation 
Of a consonant, where along the vocal tract the air flow is disrupted. Compare manner of articulation. See coarticulation.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
plosive 
Of a consonant, having manner of primary articulation where airflow is blocked.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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.   (linguistics; Advanced; external: Conlangery)
postalveolar 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation by constricting airflow between the inner side of the alveolar ridge and the tongue.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
postcedent
See cataphora.
postposition 
A word that marks the end of a modifying phrase. Cf. adposition, preposition.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
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. Cf. adposition, postposition.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
prepositional object 
An object introduced by a preposition.   (linguistics)
primary articulation 
Of a consonant, the constriction of airflow that gives the consonant its character. If the consonant is co-articulated, distinguished from the secondary articulation, which only colors the consonant without changing its identity. See doubly articulated.   (linguistics)
progressive assimilation 
Assimilation in which a later sound is influenced by an earlier one.   (linguistics)
pronoun 
An anaphor whose referent is a noun.   (linguistics; Beginner, Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
pulmonic 
Of a speech sound, produced with airflow in/out of the lungs (controlled by the muscles of the diaphragm). Human speech sounds are most commonly pulmonic egressive. Contrast lingual, glottalic.   (linguistics; Advanced)
R-colored vowel 
A vowel with the quality of a rhotic approximant. Technically, a vowel whose third formant is shifted downward in frequency. The concept may be partly or entirely dispensed with; some rhotic syllable nuclei may be interpreted as rhotic approximants, while others may be treated as diphthongs of an uncolored vowel with an R-colored neutral vowel. If R-colored vowels aren't really vowels, then rhotic approximants aren't semivowels.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
radical 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation in the pharynx. May mean specifically articulation in the upper pharynx by airflow constriction using the root of the tongue (the word radical comes from Latin radix meaning root); but in some usage, radical also includes epiglottal.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
recursion 
The property of a language that a sentence can contain a sentence within it as a subpart, allowing unlimited depth of nesting ("I know that they know that I know that they know that..."). Noam Chomsky has claimed recursion is universal to human language, a claim recently challenged by Daniel Everett citing Pirahã as a counterexample. Considerable controversy has ensued.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
reduplication 
Change of a word form by repeating part of it. Prominently used in Austronesian natlangs; scattered uses elsewhere, e.g. in English.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
regressive assimilation 
Assimilation in which an earlier sound is influenced by a later one.   (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)
retroflex 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation between the front of the tongue curled back to some degree or other, and a place on the roof of the mouth at or behind the alveolar ridge. With a fully curled-back tongue, the active surface is subapical; sometimes retroflex is used to include apical and laminal sounds, in which case the subapicals may be called true retroflex; but generally not other tongue positions such as domed. May be alveolar, postalveolar, or palatal.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
rhotic 
Of a consonant, being qualitatively R-like. It's generally agreed which consonants are rhotic, but there has been some difficulty identifying a technical criterion to explain it; consider how little the alveolar approximant and alveolar trill have in common, as sounds. Rhotics behave similarly in human languages; their resemblance is phonological rather than phonetic. Some linguists consider approximant rhotics to be glides. See R-colored.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
rime 
The combination of nucleus and, if present, coda of a syllable; all of the syllable except the onset if any.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
rounded 
Of a vowel, produced with the lips puckered, creating an additional resonance cavity between the lips and teeth and thereby altering the sound. The same effect for a consonant is called labialization. Occurs in most languages but might not be phonemic.   (linguistics; Intermediate; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia)
rounding 
Of a vowel, either the property of being rounded, or the binary property of whether or not the vowel is rounded.   (linguistics; Intermediate; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia)
runes 
Alphabetic glyphs of a certain style using straight lines that make them easy to inscribe on stone. Specifically, runes refer to certain alphabets used for Germanic languages: in particular, several futhark (fuþark) for Scandinavian languages, and the futhorc (fuþorc) for Old English. See also Cirth.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis 
The hypothesis that a person's language affects how they think.   (linguistics; FAQ; external: Conlangery)
satem language 
Any Indo-European language in which the labioovelars of Proto-Indo-European merged with the plain velars while the palatovelars didn't. Contrast centum language; the two types are named after the words for hundred in respectively Sanskrit and Latin, which illustrate the contrasting phonetic evolution patterns.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
script 
1. A writing system, used to represent language. This is the sense in this wikibook; we use it interchangeably with writing system. Scripts do not necessarily correspond one-to-one with languages; a language may be written using multiple scripts, and a script might be used to write multiple languages. Usually if a language is exclusively written, one would describe it as a language rather than as a script.  (Beginner, Intermediate)
2. Calligraphy, especially cursive handwriting.  (sister: Wikipedia)
  (linguistics)
secondary articulation 
1. Of a co-articulated consonant, a constriction of airflow that only colors the consonant, without determining its character. Whatever the manner of the primary articulation, secondary articulations are approximant. See doubly articulated.
2. Also sometimes used of a vowel, indicating a secondary constriction that colors the vowel without changing its identity.
  (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
semantic molecule
See Natural Semantic Metalanguage.
semantic prime
See Natural Semantic Metalanguage.
semantics 
Aspects of meaning, as expressed in language or other systems of signs.   (linguistics)
semiconsonant
See glide.
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)
semivowel
See glide.
sibilant 
Of a fricative or affricate, a hissing quality; secondary feature caused by airflow between tongue and sharp edge of teeth which raises the frequency. Occurs in English alveolar and postalveolar fricatives/affricates.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
simulfix 
Apophony, when viewed as an affix.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
soft palate
See velum.
sonorant 
A speech sound with unobstructed airflow; anything strictly above the fricatives on the sonority hierarchy. Sonorants are usually voiced. Contrast obstruent.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: wikipedia)
sonority hierarchy 
An ordering of speech sounds according to how free the air flow is. Vowels are more sonorous than consonants, sonorants than obstruents. Linguists disagree on some details of the ordering.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
sound change 
Alteration of a speech sound, either synchronically depending on context  (Intermediate), or diachronically  (Intermediate); may be phonemic or not.   (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. SOV languages include Latin, Sanskrit, and Japanese.   (linguistics; Beginner)
speech sound
See phone.
spirant
fricative. From a Latin verb meaning breathe, blow.
spirantization 
A form of lenition in which a stop or affricate changes to a fricative (spirant).   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
stop
See plosive.
strident 
1. Of a consonant, belonging to a conventional set of loud sounds. Always includes the sibilants; sometimes only the siblants, sometimes also some lower-frequency fricatives/affricates.   (sister: Wikipedia)
2. Of a vowel, highly pharyngealized combined with an epiglottal trill. Commonly used in discussing Khoisan languages.   (sister: Wikipedia)
3. Of a vowel, fricative.
  (linguistics)
subapical 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation using the underside of the tongue tip. See retroflex, sublaminal.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
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.   (Advanced)
3. nominative case.
  (linguistics)
sublaminal 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation using the bottom side of the front of the tongue; suggests a part of the tongue further back than {Template:Conlang/ref|subapical}}.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
subtractive morpheme
See disfix.
suffix 
An affix that attaches to the end of a word.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
suppletion 
The occurrence, in different inflections of a single word, of multiple, etymologically separate forms. English examples are went as a form of go, or good better best.   (linguistics; I:Comparison, I:Irregularities; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
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)
syllabary 
A script whose symbols represent syllables. Compare abugida.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
syllabic consonant 
A consonant serving as the nucleus of a syllable.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
syllable 
Basic unit of sound, of which words are made; a cluster of speech sounds with a sonorous peak. Use of written symbols to represent syllables is older than use of written symbols to represent individual phonemes. Some linguists view some languages as not having syllables.   (linguistics; Intermediate, Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
syllabic synharmony 
A form of vowel-consonant harmony in which all sounds in a syllable take on the same frontness. Noted of the Proto-Slavic language.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
syllabogram 
A written symbol representing a syllable. See abugida).   (linguistics)
synchronic 
1. Of changes in a language, taking place due to some factor other than time (such as adjacency in an utterance).
2. Of linguistic study, concerned only with language as it exists at a given time, disregarding changes over time.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
3. Of a conlang, not having an internal fictional history.   (conlanging; Types)
Contrast diachronic.
syntax 
The study of how words are arranged into sentences.   (linguistics)
synthetic 
Of a language, having high morpheme/word ratio. Cf. analytic.   (linguistics; Intermediate)
tap 
A consonant whose manner of primary articulation momentarily blocks airflow by throwing the active articulator against the passive articulator. Differs from a stop because the block is instantaneous so there's no pressure build-up; differs from a single-contact trill because the articular is moved by muscular contraction, rather than by vibration due to the airflow. Commonly synonymous with flap; if not, the difference may be that the articulators in a tap strike directly whereas in a flap they strike tangentially.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
telicity 
Of an activity, the property of achieving some sort of completion. In English this may be captured by the distinction between doing something in an hour (telic) versus doing something for an hour (atelic). May interact in various ways with tense and aspect in various ways in different languages. See partitive case.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Conlangery)
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)
trill 
A consonant whose manner of primary articulation is airflow causing vibration of the active articulator so that the articulators make intermittent contact, typically two or three times though more contacts, or just one, are possible. See also tap.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
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, even if they explore language features that it swirls around.   (linugistics; Advanced)
unvoiced
See voiced.
uvula 
A fleshy projection hanging down from the middle of the back edge of the roof of the mouth. It closes off the nose when swallowing (as the epiglottis closes off the larynx}}. Quite visible if you can get a good look, in a mirror, down your throat past your tongue. See velum.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: wikipedia)
uvular 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation at the uvula, by constricting airflow between the uvula and back of the tongue.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
velar 
Of a consonant, having primary articulation at the velum, by constricting airflow between the velum and back of the tongue.   (linguistics; CXS; sister: Wikipedia)
velarized 
Of a consonant, having its basic identity colored by narrowing of airflow between the tongue and the soft palate. A secondary articulation.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
velum 
The back of the roof of the mouth. Also called the soft palate; soft tissue, whereas the front of the roof of the mouth is lined with bone, the hard palate. The uvula hangs down from the velum. The velum, together with the uvula, can partly or entirely block airflow to the nose and mouth. See pharynx.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: wikipedia)
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)
vestibule
See laryngeal cavity.
vocal cords 
Two folds of tissue stretching across the laryngeal cavity, capable of vibrating to produce voicing. Also called vocal folds.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: wikipedia)
vocal tract 
The anatomical cavity through which sounds pass after being generated. For human beings, this consists of the nasal and oral cavities, pharynx, and laryngeal cavity.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
vocalic R
See R-colored vowel.
vocality 
Of a speech sound, either the property of being voiced, or the binary property of whether or not the sound is voiced.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
voice 
1. 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.   (Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
2. Of a speech sound, voicing.
  (linguistics)
voiced 
Of a speech sound, produced with the vocal cords vibrating.   (linguistics; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
vowel 
1. A speech sound with unconstricted air flow through the vocal tract. Distinguished by height, backness, and subtler features such as rounding. Contrast with consonants, which have lower sonority.   (Beginner, Intermediate)
2. A glyph written to represent a vowel sound.
  (linguistics)
vowel-consonant harmony 
Assimilation between non-adjacent sounds involving both vowels and consonants. Much less common than vowel harmony. Noted in some native languages in British Columbia, Canada; see also syllabic synharmony.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
vowel harmony 
Assimilation between non-adjacent vowels. Common in agglutinative languages. The most common form of harmony.   (linguistics; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia;  external: SIL)
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. VSO languages include Welsh and classical Arabic.   (linguistics; Beginner)
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; Beginner; external: SIL)
word-and-paradigm morphology
See word-based morphology.
word-based morphology 
An approach to morphology in which a word follows a paradigm to produce word forms. Also called word-and-paradigm morphology; sometimes abbreviated WP. Contrast morpheme-based, lexeme-based.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
word form 
An inflected form of a lexeme.   (linguistics)
WP
See word-and-paradigm morphology.
writing system
See script.
written language 
Language in written form; however, this could mean either a written encoding of spoken language, or a language whose form is written. When there is an associated spoken language, the written form may use a different register, and may also contain some purely written elements, e.g. emoticons. Some conlangs are purely written with no spoken form, such as X.   (linguistics; FAQ)

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)
Babel Text 
A common exercise in conlang application, translation of the story of the Tower of Babel, Genesis 11:1–9. Proposed as a standard exercise by Jeffrey Henning, who hosted some four or five hundred such translations on the langmaker website.   (conlanging; Beginner, Appendix; sister: Wikisource;  external: langmaker (archived))
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)
Daniel Everett 
Linguist who has studied the Pirahã since the late 1970s. Early in his career he followed Noam Chomsky's methodologies, but has since come to the position that Pirahã is a counterexample to some of Chomsky's theories of universal grammar, especially universality of recursion, resulting in heated controversy; Chomsky has called Everett a "charlatão puro" (pure charlatan).   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia)
David Bell 
Conlanger who created artlang ámman îar, spending over four decades on it. 1942–2007.   (external: page)
David J. Peterson 
Co-founder of 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)
Dionysius Thrax 
Grammarian, circa 170–90 BCE, attributed creator of the oldest surviving language grammar, highly influential on grammars since.   (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, engelang, 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)
Jeffrey Henning 
Conlanger who authored the Model Languages newsletter in 1995–6 and later hosted the langmaker website until circa 2009. See Babel Text.   (conlanging)
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.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia)
John Quijada 
Creator of logical philosophical language Ithkuil. California-based, bachelor's degree in linguistics. Sometime speaker at Language Creation Conferences.   (conlanging; external: Ithkuil FAQ)
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)
langmaker 
A major conlanging website maintained until about 2009 by Jeffrey Henning. Resources hosted included (amongst others) descriptions of roughly two thousand conlangs; four or five hundred Babel Texts; and the Model Languages newsletter archive.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia;  external: archive.org)
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; FAQ; 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)
Model Languages newsletter 
A series of articles about conlanging written in 1995–6 by Jeffrey Henning. A prominent on-line conlanging resource, hosted on the langmaker website until its demise.   (conlanging; external: archive.org)
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)
Rosetta Stone 
A stone monument discovered in the Nile Delta in 1799, repeating a decree in three different scripts, which famously provided the key to deciphering Egpytian hieroglyphics. The decree was issued in 196 BCE. Weight a little over half a ton, inscribed surface around a square yard (or, square metre). Ancient Greek, demotic, and hieroglyphic; actually deciphering the latter took about another 20 years.   (conlanging; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
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)
SCA 
Well-known computer program for automatically applying sound changes to words, written by Mark Rosenfelder. The original program was written in the C programming language in 2000 CE. He wrote up upgraded version in javascript, running on a web brower and supporting unicode, in 2012.   (linguistics; Intermediate; external: SCA)
Secret Vice
See A Secret Vice.
SIL International 
A non-profit corporation that promotes study and documentation of languages around the world, especially endangered ones; literacy; and translation of the Christian Bible into those languages. Extensive linguistic research and resources are provided by SIL. The United Nations formally recognizes SIL in a consulting role.   (linguistics; sister: Wikipedia;  external: site)
Smiley Award 
An annual award by David J. Peterson to a noteworthy conlang, given since 2006.   (conlanging; FAQ; 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.
Victoria Fromkin 
Creator of the Pakuni language in the 1970s for TV show Land of the Lost franchise, and later created a Vampire language for the 1998 movie Blade (but for the sequel Blade II, after her death, her notes on the language could not be found and another linguist was hired). 1923–2000. UCLA professor of linguistics.   (conlanging; FAQ; sister: Wikipedia)
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.   (conlanging; external: Dr. Weilgart’s Story)
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)
Yoda 
Character in the Star Wars movie franchise, noted linguistically (though Star Wars has been notoriously thin on linguistic interest) for peculiar word ordering in English that seems to suggest his native language may be OSV.   (conlanging; Beginner; sister: Wikipedia)
Zompist Bulletin Board 
A popular on-line conlanging discussion form maintained by Mark Rosenfelder.   (conlanging; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)

Languages and scripts[edit]

Most of these are conlangs. Only list natlangs when of particular interest to conlangers (or we'd drown in a sea of them!). Constructed scripts will usually, though not always, be subsumed by their associated languages; see also the remarks on written language in the FAQ, at What's a "Language"?.

List conlangs only when they have gotten some attention in the conlanging community; don't list your own conlangs here (unless they've gained some fame/notoriety in the community). Any conlang that has a Smiley Award or an ISO language code presumably qualifies. Likewise any script with an ISO script code. As a rule, provide ISO codes for constructed languages/scripts, omit for natural ones.

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.   (artlang; Intermediate, Advanced; external: Smiley, page)
Anatolian hieroglyphic 
A script used in Asia Minor (Anatolia) on Crete from roughly 1300–700 BCE. Historically sometimes called Hittite or Luwian hieroglyphs. Deciphered. Displaced by alphabetic script.   (script; sister: Wikipedia)
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.)   (engelang; 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.   (artlang; 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.   (natlang; I:allophones, I:polypersonal, A:alignments; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Omniglot Conlangery)
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.   (altlang; 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.   (altlang; Types; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Smiley, page)
Burmese script 
An abugida developed in southeast Asia circa 1000 CE, still in use for Burmese and several other languages in and near Burma (Myanmar). About forty glyphs, incuding diacritics. Cursive form began to shun straight lines from around 1600 CE due to use of a writing surface likey to be punctured by a stylus when writing straight lines (palm leaves).   (script; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Omniglot)
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.   (engelang; sister: Wikipedia)
Cirth 
A writing system created by J.R.R. Tolkien. Within Tolkien's fictional universe, a system of symbols invented by the Sindar (aka gray elves) for their language, Sindarin. Alphabetic. Suitable for carving in hard serives where curves are difficult; Tolkien drew inspiration from runic natural scripts. ISO script code Cirt.   (script; sister: Wikipedia)
Cretan hieroglyphic 
A script used on Crete from roughly 2100–1700 BCE. Not generally agreed to have been deciphered. About 700 glyphs. No ISO script code (at this writing).   (script; sister: Wikipedia)
cuneiform 
A script developed in the Sumerian civilization circa 3000 BCE, which evolved and continued in use for about three millennia. One of the oldest scripts. Number of glyphs varied over time from roughly 1000 to 600. Specifically developed for use on clay tablets using a blunt wedge; the word cuneiform means wedge-shaped.   (script; sister: Wikipedia)
CycL 
A logical language constructed for knowledge representation in a long-term research project attempting to produce AI through accumulation of knowledge.   (engelang; Types; sister: Wikipedia)
Damin 
A ceremonial language, no longer extant, believed to have been constructed, of some natives of the Gulf of Carpentaria (the big rectangular notch on the north side of the coast of Australia). Notable for some very unusual linguistic features; clicks, otherwise not found outside Africa; only two pronouns, first-person and not-first-person; very small vocabulary of root words; regular adjective-reversing prefix.   (engelang; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
Dothraki 
An artlang created for the 2011 HBO television series Game of Thrones by David J. Peterson. See also Valyrian.   (artlang; FAQ; sister: Wikipedia)
Egyptian demotic 
A cursive script used in Egypt from roughly 650 BCE to 450 CE. Derived from hieratic. The term demotic can also refer to the modern Greek language, and to a logographic Vietnamese script.   (script; sister: Wikipedia)
Egyptian hieroglyphic 
A script used in Egypt (Anatolia) on Crete from roughly 3200 BCE to 400 CE. One of the oldest scripts; ancestor of most alpahbets now in use. Started with fewer than a thousand glyphs, eventually grew to about five thousand; logograms, syllabograms, and alphabetic letters. Modern decipherment due to the Rosetta Stone.   (script; sister: Wikipedia)
Elder Futhark 
The oldest runic script, used for Germanic languages at least from the second century CE. Twenty four runes.   (script; 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.   (artlanging; 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.   (auxlang; Types; wikibook; external: Omniglot)
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.   (auxlang; sister: Vikipedio)
Finnish 
A natlang of northern Europe. Related to Estonian, unrelated to the Scandinavian language family. Heavily influenced Tolkien's artlang Quenya. Agglutinative; vowel harmony; a fairly large repertory of cases, notably including a partitive case and an elaborate system of locative cases.   (natlang; I:Case, I:Mood, A:Vowel harmony; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Omniglot)
futhorc 
A runic script used for Old English and Old Frisian from roughly the fourth century CE. Evolved from the Elder Futhark, also influenced by ogham. Around forty letters; named fuþorc after the sounds of the first six.   (script; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia)
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.   (auxlang; Types; sister: Wikipedia;  external: criticism, page)
hieratic 
A cursive script used in Egypt from roughly 3200 BCE to 650 BCE after which it was supplanted by demotic. Primarily ink on papyrus.   (script; sister: Wikipedia)
Hittite 
A natlang spoken in Mesopotamia between three and four thousand years ago. The earliest attested Indo-European language. Deciphered around World War I, providing evidence for the previously abstract hypothesis of laryngeals in Proto-Indo-European (PIE); though some linguists have suggested the ancestor of Hittite may be a sister rather than daughter of PIE.   (natlang; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Omniglot)
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.   (auxlang; Types; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Omniglot)
Ilomi 
An auxiliary language by conlanger Larry Sulky.   (auxlang; Types; external: review, page)
Interglossa 
An auxlang developed by Lancelot Hogben, first published in 1943. Purely isolating. ISO language code igs. See Glosa.   (auxlang; 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.   (auxlang; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
Ithkuil 
A logical philosophical language designed by John Quijada to express thoughts precisely and very densely. Winner of the 2008 Smiley Award.   (engelang; Types, Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Smiley, page)
Khoisan 
A group of African languages that, alone amongst extant natlangs, use clicks. Grouping originally proposed by Joseph Greenberg. Not related to other languages, not all related to each other either; two of them are isolates.   (natlang; Advanced; sister: Wikipedia)
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".   (artlang; 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.   (engelang; 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.   (natlang; wikibook; external: Omniglot)
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.   (auxlang; 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.   (artlang; 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.   (engelang; 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.   (engelang; 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.   (engelang; Types; wikibook; external: page)
Mayan hieroglyphic 
A pictographic script used by the Mayan civilizaiton of Mesoamerica roughly from the third century BCE to the sixteenth century CE. The only native Mesoamerican script deciphered (as of this writing). Mixture of logograms and syllabograms; the syllable notation focuses on vowels. Numerals using base twenty, with a zero symbol, and 1–19 using a secondary base of five.   (script; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Omniglot)
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.   (artlang; 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.   (engelang; 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.   (auxlang; Types; wikibook; external: Omniglot)
ogham 
A rune-like script used for early Irish languages starting from perhaps the fourth century CE, or earlier. Originally twenty letters in four groups of five; later another set of five were added. Characters are attached to a continuous line, allowing rather arbitrary writing directions. It's been suggested ogham may have been an encoding of another alpahbet, though which other alphabet is no agreed upon. Used in neo-paganism mainly for divination.   (script; sister: Wikipedia)
Pakuni 
An artlang created in the 1970s for children's TV show Land of the Lost by Victoria Fromkin. About three hundred words; spoken within the story world by a race of primitive humanoids. Meant to be potentially educational, simple enough for kids to learn.   (artlang; FAQ; sister: Wikipedia;  external: FrathWiki, Pop Apostle)
Pirahã 
A natlang spoken by the Pirahã tribe (estimated 250–400 speakers) in the Amazon rain forest, studied since the late 1970s by linguist Daniel Everett, with notoriously peculiar features. According to Everett, the associated culture has no art or storytelling, and the language no vocabulary for number or time, and no verb tense, very few phonemes and can also be whistled. The pronoun system seems to be borrowed from an unrelated language. Everett, who started the study under the auspices of SIL International using Chomskyist methodology, after studying the Pirahã became an atheist and opponent of the universal grammar hypothesis.   (natlang; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Omniglot)
Primitive Quendian 
Created by J.R.R. Tolkien as a common ancestor for his elvish languages. See diachronic; Quenya, Sindarin.   (artlang; sister: Wikipedia)
Proto-Indo-European 
Reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Easily the most intensively researched proto-language, using the comparative method notably based on classical Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit.   (natlang; 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 code qya. Cf. Sindarin.   (artlang; Types, I:phonotactics, I:infixes, I:nouns, I:polypersonal; wikibook)
Qþyn|gài 
An artlang created by conlanger Henrik Theiling. Polysynthetic; evidentiality; clicks.   (artlang; Intermediate; external: page)
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.   (engelang; Types; sister: Wikipedia)
rongorongo 
A system of written symbols used on Easter Island (aka Rapa Nui; the southeast corner of the Polynesian Triangle, about 2000 miles/3500 kilometres west of South America). In the mid-nineteenth century, diseases and slave raids eliminated almost all the island's population, apparently including the last people who knew how to read rongorongo. Linguists now disagree on whether or not it is actually writing as such.   (script; Intermediate; sister: Wikipedia)
Sanskrit 
A natlang spoken originally about 1500 BCE in south Asia. Earliest form is called Vedic Sanskrit. Later form served as a lingua franca in India through to after 1000 CE. Now used in various liturgical and philosophical tranditions. See Proto-Indo-European.   (natlang; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Omniglot)
SASXSEK 
An auxlang created by conlanger Dana Nutter in 2003. Designed for simplicity with power.   (auxlang; 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.   (artlang; 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.   (auxlang; Types; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Omniglot)
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.   (auxlang; Types; sister: Wikipedia;  external: assessment)
Spocanian 
An artlang created by Dutch conlanger Rolandt Tweehuysen, starting in the early 1960s. Uses word order to indicate verb tense; resultative case indicates that the referent ceases to exist. Very large vocabulary, around 25,000 words.   (artlang; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
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.   (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.   (artlang; 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).   (engelang; Types; sister: Vikipedio;  external: page)
Tengwar 
A writing system created by J.R.R. Tolkien. Within Tolkien's fictional universe, a system of symbols invented by the elf Fëanor, designed to be painted with a brush, with the form of each symbol describing features of the represented speech sound. Can be used to write any spoken language, by choosing a mapping of sound features onto form features (a mode of the tengwar). ISO script code teng. (An earlier writing system within Tolkien's legendarium, by a different elf, Rúmil, is also sometimes called tengwar.)   (script; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia;  external: Amanye Tenceli)
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.   (artlang; 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.   (fauxlang; Types; external: archive)
Thauliralau 
An artlang created by conlanger Jim Henry in the 1990s. Spoken by non-humanoid. Inflections largely carried by articles rather than nouns or verbs.   (Intermediate; external: page)
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.   (engelang; Types; wikibook; sister: Wikipedia;  external: page)
Valyrian 
A diachronic family of artlangs created for the 2011 HBO television series Game of Thrones by David J. Peterson. Parent language High Valyrian, descendants Astapori Valyrian and Meereenese Valyrian. See also Dothraki.   (artlang; FAQ; sister: Wikipedia)
Verdurian 
A fictional language created by conlanger Mark Rosenfelder for a Dungeons & Dragons world, circa 1995. Borrows from, without resembling, various European natlangs.   (artlang; 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.   (artlang; 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.   (auxlang; Types; wikibook; external: Omniglot)
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.   (altlang; 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).   (engelang; Types; sister: Wikipedia)
X 
A purely pictographic conlang created by David J. Peterson. A trigger language.   (artlang; 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.   (engelang; Types; external: page)


  Sources