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Constructed Languages: A Fascinating World of New Tongues

Constructed Language – Unfolding the Fascinating World

Are you interested in language and linguistics? Have you ever thought of a language that nobody has spoken or written before? If yes, then the world of constructed language awaits you! But what is a constructed language? How does one create a constructed language? How many constructed languages exist? These are some of the questions that this article seeks to answer in a lucid, yet engaging manner.

## What is a Constructed Language?

A constructed language, also known as a conlang, is a language created intentionally by an individual or a group. It is distinct from natural languages that have evolved over centuries due to deliberate planning and design. While natural languages have cultural, historical, and ethnic roots, constructed languages do not have any such legacy.

## The Purpose of a Constructed Language

The purpose of a constructed language is subjective and dependent on the creator. Some constructors do so for fun and personal satisfaction, while others aim to challenge linguistic theories, promote a cultural idea or movement, or to use in works of fiction such as literature, films, and video games. Constructed languages can also help people explore different linguistic possibilities, and in turn, improve the understanding of language in general.

## The Origins of Constructed Languages

The concept of creating languages entirely from scratch can be traced back to the 17th century Great Britain. There was no artificial language movement, but the idea of creating languages was rooted in philosophical and scientific curiosities. The 19th and early 20th century saw the growth of the artificial language movement. However, the interest in constructing languages saw a massive surge in the latter half of the 20th century. With the advent of technology, the internet, and the accessibility of resources, the creation of constructed languages evolved as an organized hobby.

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## How to Create a Constructed Language

The process of constructing a language is quite complex, involving a series of steps that need meticulous planning and execution. Firstly, the creator needs to decide the purpose of the language and the intended audience. The creator also needs to develop the language’s grammar, syntax, and lexicon. The next step is to create a script, designing a phonetic system, and determining how the words will be written or spoken. The creator must also devise a background or story of the language, prompting much of the constructed vocabulary and grammar.

## Characteristics of a Constructed Language

Every language is unique, and so is a constructed language. However, some specific features can be seen to be common to almost all artificial languages. The grammar and syntax of a constructed language offer significant differences from their natural counterparts. They are often less complex, employing a limited set of rules for structure and sentence construction. It allows for easier learning, and the creator can express themselves without the constraints of linguistic norms. A constructed language’s vocabulary can take inspiration from various sources, such as ancient languages, modern slang, or science fiction, depending on the creator’s whims.

One example of a constructed language is Esperanto, which is the most successful and widely spoken conlang. It was created in 1887 by L.L. Zamenhof, a Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist. His goal was to create a common language that could help unify people and promote peace. Esperanto follows simple grammar and has its roots in European languages. It also has an associated community of speakers who share the love and use of the language.

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## Constructed Languages in Popular Culture

Constructed languages have found their way into popular culture in different forms. The most famous example of a work of fiction that employs a constructed language is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth books. Tolkien was a language enthusiast, and he created several languages besides those spoken by the elves, dwarves, and orcs that inhabit his fictional world. He even designed a language called Quenya, which is inspired by Finnish and ancient Greek, and had an extensive vocabulary and grammar.

Fans of the Star Trek franchise might recall the Klingon language, another example of a constructed language. Klingon was designed by Mark Okrand, a linguist, for the 1984 movie “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.” Klingon has a rich vocabulary with many unusual sounds and deep etymologies, making it a language of geek culture legend. The language became so popular that, in 1992, fans founded the Klingon Language Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and exploring Klingon language and culture in the world and in popular culture.

## Pros and Cons of Constructed Languages

Constructed languages offer several benefits, such as the opportunity to explore creative linguistic possibilities and set the foundation for an associated fictional world or community culture. In addition, people interested in learning a new language can use constructed languages as a gateway or as an exercise in linguistic understanding. Also, they can promote cultural understanding and communication.

There are some downsides to constructed languages, though they are few. Firstly, most conlangs have a smaller vocabulary than natural languages, limiting expression to some extent. Secondly, despite the enthusiasm of their creator and associated communities, many constructed languages never gain significant footholds outside the small groups that create and use them.

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## Final Thoughts

The world of constructed language offers a fascinating and creative outlet for language enthusiasts and linguists alike to explore new linguistic domains. While conlangs are not meant to replace natural languages, they give language creators the opportunity to provide a new way of understanding language creation and structure. While great fun, constructing languages that can succeed outside its creator’s mind is uncommon. But for those willing to explore the possibilities, this is undoubtedly an exciting and enjoyable pursuit. So go ahead, dive into the world of constructed language, and let your imagination run wild!


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