Conlanging, the art of creating a language, is a very in-depth, but fun, process. It is considered an art form by many. The people who conlang are called conlangers. Conlanging isn't just a hobby, though. You can learn a lot about how real languages work by creating conlangs and improving them.
Why construct a conlang?
- To learn about linguistics and its various disciplines, including sound change, grammar and syntax shifts, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and more.
- To explore how the way we speak affects the way we think, ie. the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which holds that the language one speaks and thinks in day-to-day life affects how they view the world.
- To have private conversations or written communications with trusted individuals (also known as an idioglossia).
- For the creator's personal use only, for the sake of personal enjoyment as a hobby, for diary writing or as a form of artistic expression. (Famously, Tolkien's Elvish languages — which inspired him to works of fiction.)
- For use as a lingua franca to bridge gaps between people with different languages, on a regional or global scale. (Famously, Esperanto.)
- For use in a work of fiction, particularly in the contexts of alternate history, fantasy and science fiction. (Famously, Klingon, Na'vi, Dothraki and, after some time of being personal artistic languages, Tolkien's Elvish languages.)
What are the different types of conlangs?
For a more exhaustive list, see the next chapter.
- Engineered Languages (engelangs) — designed to meet objective criteria.
- Logical Languages (loglangs)— designed to remove the possibility of ambiguity from speech and meaning.
- Philosophical Languages — designed to express a particular viewpoint or philosophical ideal.
- Experimental Languages — designed to test a language hypothesis based on constructing the criteria for the hypothesis.
- Auxiliary Languages (auxlangs) — designed as common second languages for people with different native languages.
- International Auxiliary Languages (IALs) — designed to function as an auxiliary language for
- Artistic Languages (artlangs) — designed as or for works of art.
- Alien Languages (exolangs or xenolangs) — designed to create an alien and unusual language, often by incorporating elements of phonology impossible for humans or by violating "inviolable" rules of linguistics.
- Alternate Languages (altlangs) — designed as a plausible alternative result for an existing language based on its historical point of divergence.
Since each kind of conlang has a different goal, each involves a different process of creation.
The most common conlangs are artlangs. Many conlangers create a conworld to go with their conlang. They create a conrace, with a conculture. The process of creating a conworld is outlined in the Conworld wikibook.
The different types of conlangs will be discussed, with examples, in the next section.
Where do I start?
This wikibook is designed to help you, the conlanger, create a fairly involved conlang. It will take you step-by-step through the process.
As you work through the steps outlined in this wikibook, you will probably have numerous questions. A good central place to find resources, including community resources like mailing lists and blogs, is the Language Creation Society.