Jörg Rhiemeier's Conlang Pages
What is a conlang?
Conlang is an abbreviation for constructed language.
Another frequently used word is artificial language. A conlang is
thus a language for human (or other sapient) beings that was designed by
a single individual or a work group, rather than being the product of
centuries of cultural evolution as "natural" languages (natlangs)
are. The art of making conlangs is called conlanging, or,
in a more sophisticated way, glossopoeia (Greek for
'making of tongues', often attributed to J. R. R. Tolkien, but
that does not seem to be correct). Programming languages and
similar systems, though undoubtedly
constructed, are usually not considered conlangs, because they aren't
languages in a stricter sense of the word.
You probably already heard of Esperanto, or of Quenya.
These two languages are the most famous representatives of the two main
branches of conlanging. Esperanto is an international auxiliary
language, or IAL or auxlang in short; it is meant as a
tool for international communication. Quenya is an artistic
language, or artlang in short; it is a piece of art. While
you can learn and use it, it is not meant as a tool for
international communication, but exists for the sake of itself. In the
case of Quenya, it is the national language of a fictional nation (the
High Elves of Middle-earth); this is often the case with artlangs, hence
such languages are sometimes referred to as fictional languages.
The line between auxlangs and artlangs is not always as
clear as one may think. There are languages that lie somewhere in
between. And there is indeed a third pole on the continuum. These are
the engineered languages or engelangs: languages designed
to meet objectively testable criteria (while the design criteria
of artlangs are more subjective notions).
Auxlangers and artlangers tend
to dislike each other. Artlangers are for
the most part put off by the proselytizing characteristic of the auxlang
movement and the constant debate which of the various proposals is best.
Auxlangers, on the other hand, consider artlanging a geekish waste of
useful resources - they say that instead of desiging languages nobody
would ever speak, the artlangers should help promoting an international
My own interest lies primarily in artlangs, especially naturalistic ones
(i.e., ones that resemble natural languages in their richness and
complexity). In my opinion, the race between the auxlangs is already as
good as decided - and English is the winner.
Essays and resources
The art of conlanging
Languages of Atla
Atla is the framework in which most of
my conlangs exist. The name is Old Albic for 'world'; think of
it as a set of fictional languages in the real world.
Hesperic is my
main conlang family. The Hesperic family is an early divergent
branch of Indo-European even more archaic than Anatolian.
ancestor of the Razaric ("Dwarvish") languages of Atla (work in progress)
ancestor of the languages of Neolithic Central Europe which
exerted a substratum influence on Hesperic (work in progress)
Languages of Akana
Akana is a collaborative
conworld to which I have contributed three languages.
Within my life, I made several conlangs which I later
discontinued because I was disaffected with the language, the
world setting or both.
League of Lost Languages
of Lost Languages (LLL) was a collaborative framework for fictional
languages in a world otherwise the same as the real world. It is
now defunct. Some of the languages I made for it are now part of
Atla, but the languages listed here are not.
Nur-ellen, a descendant of
Sindarin which was later to be reworked into Albic.
My conlang juvenalia - what I
remember of the conlangs of my youth.
Note: I am not responsible for the contents of the sites listed
collaborative conworld by ZBB members, with many conlangs.
Alurhsa, a very complete conlang
with more than 7,000 words, by Anthony Harris. In Alurhsa(!)
Ardalambion. The best
starting point for learning about Tolkien's languages.
A beautiful, Austronesian-inspired language by Carsten Becker.
Ill Bethisad is
a collaborative alternative history with many conlangs, such
(Romance with Welsh-like sound changes, by Andrew Smith, the
starting point of it
all), Kerno (the
Romance language of Cornwall, by Padraic Brown),
(Romance with Gaelic-like sound changes, by Geoff
(Romance with Polish-like sound changes, by Jan van Steenbergen),
(a Celtic language, by Deiniol Jones).
a hypothetical British Romance language by Raymond A. Brown, a
response on Brithenig, taking a different approach.
an interesting non-human language using both sound and gesture, by
Áneu Klísi Ellēnikó by Raymond A. Brown
is Greek stripped of its inflections, inspired by G. Peano's
Brad Coon, a language of fictional indigenous people of Antarctica.
Henrik Theiling's conlangs.
Kēlen, by Sylvia
Sotomayor, is one of the most beautiful conlangs I have ever seen. It
also features an interesting grammar without verbs as we know them.
The Klingon Language Institute.
Klingon is probably the most widely-spoken conlang except Esperanto
- like it or not.
is a very, very well-designed fictional Slavic language. Rock'n'roll!
Okuna by Matthew
Pearson, one of the most celebrated conlangs of our time. An
older version named Tokana is
Languages of David J. Peterson which he made for
Hollywood; older self-motivated conlangs of his can be found
on his old site.
by Denis M. Moskowitz is an alien sign language with an
interesting syntax, using tentacles.
Silindion, a gorgeous "Elvish"
conlang by Elliott Lash.
Conworld by Mark Rosenfelder, with many lovingly crafted conlangs.
The Voynich Manuscript is
a mysterious undeciphered codex, dated to the early 15th
century, which may be an early example of conlanging.
Briefscript Project by Raymond A. Brown, an attempt at a language
with shorter words. Interestingly, he doesn't use a huge phoneme
inventory like most designers of maximally concise languages - to the
contrary: he uses such a small phoneme inventory that he can use
the Latin alphabet as a syllabary.
Ithkuil by John Quijada,
designed for high efficiency, with
highly complex phonology and grammar.
feminist language by Suzette Haden Elgin.
Lojban, the most
language, a descendant of Loglan.
There is a
Toki Pona, a minimalistic
language by Sonja Elen Kisa - the yang to the yin of Ithkuil.
an interesting auxlang by Rex May, with self-segregating morphology.
invented by L. Zamenhof
in 1887. You may like it or not, it is the
most popular conlang worldwide, and perhaps the only one with native
speakers (in the real world, I mean). See also my
criticism of it. There is also a
Wikipedia in Esperanto.
flexione is, as its name implies, Latin stripped of (most of)
its inflections, proposed by Giuseppe Peano in 1903.
an elegant auxlang by Danish linguist Otto Jespersen (1928).
by James Chandler. There is also
a Wikipedia in
released by J. M. Schleyer in 1879, was the first IAL to find
thousands of adherents, before Esperanto eclipsed it.
© 2007-2021 Jörg
Last update: 2021-10-15