Jörg Rhiemeier's Conlang Page
The Conlangers' Jargon File
This file lists a number of words and phrases commonly used by
conlangers (what do you expect from people who make up entire
languages for fun or profit, than making up words?), as
encountered in fora such as the CONLANG mailing list or
the Zompist Bulletin Board. Mainstream linguistic terminology,
which is also frequently used (not always correctly) by
conlangers, is not included here.
As for my conlang.
A fictlang spoken in an alternative
timeline. Famous example: Brithenig.
A natlang already
did except worse. The observation that most
"exotic" features conlangers may come up with are actually found
in at least one of the 6000-odd natlangs
of our planet.
An artistic language, i.e. a language designed with an artistic
purpose. Many artlangs are fictlangs.
An international auxiliary language.
A term coined by Geoff A. Eddy for
a diachronic conlang obtained by
applying the sound changes of one language to another
language. Famous example: Brithenig, which applies the sound
changes of Welsh to Latin (more or less). Bogolangs are often
A conlang that is very concise in written form (term coined by
Raymond A. Brown). See
Constructed language. Also used as a verb: to conlang = to make
Someone who makes conlangs. Similarly:
artlanger, auxlanger, engelanger etc.
A constructed writing system.
A constructed (fictional) world.
- cookie cutter conlang
A conlang in which everything is unnaturally regular and
symmetric, from the phoneme inventory to the inflectional
paradigms. A symptom commonly found
- diachronic conlang
A conlang (usually a fictlang) with a
simulated linguistic history; usually created by applying a
Grand Master Plan to a
An engineered language, i.e. a language designed to fulfill specified
objectively testable design criteria. Often used more laxly to mean a
Excessive apparent irregularity which,
unlike maggelity which is really
irregular, only hides a very complicated regularity,
especially in spelling. (After a conlang named "Etabnanni" by
A conlang (usually an
auxlang) that structurally resembles a western
A fictlang spoken by extraterrestrial beings.
A fictional auxlang, i.e. a language used as an
auxlang in a fictional world.
A fictional language, i.e. a language spoken in a fictional world.
A conlang pieced together from parts of many other languages
that poorly play together (named after Frankenstein's Monster).
See also kitchen sink conlang.
A conlang with bizarre, exotic features, such as one without
- Grand Master Plan (GMP)
A chronologically ordered list of sound changes for a diachronic conlang.
"To get jankoed" = to get asked by Janko Gorenc, a guy from Slovenia
who collects number words from languages, for number words from one's
- kitchen sink conlang
An excessively complicated conlang (one which has "everything including
the kitchen sink").
A loglang that is based on the design
principles set out by J. C. Brown for his Loglan
A logical language, i.e. one based on formal logic.
A fictlang that is not set in a specific
conworld, but represents an extinct language or
one spoken by a tiny community in our world. (The term is derived from
of Lost Languages, a collaborative
project that provides a common framework for such languages.)
Excessive irregularity, especially in spelling. (After a conlang named
"Maggel" by Christophe Grandsire which had a baroque irregular
orthography.) Compare etabnannery.
- monster raving loony (MRL)
A nickname for an unusual morphosyntactic
alignment wherein subject and object of a
transitive clause are marked with the same case, but intransitive
subjects with a different case.
A natural language, as opposed to a conlang.
Resembling a natlang. This expression
is used among auxlangers
and artlangers with somewhat different
meanings, as most "naturalistic" auxlangs are still too
schematic to qualify as "naturalistic" as understood by
artlangers. Many naturalistic artlangs
are diachronic; this is generally
considered the best way of coming up with a truly naturalistic
- nooblang, n00blang
A linguistically naïve conlang made by
a novice conlanger (a newbie).
An oligosynthetic language is one that builds its
vocabulary from a small (at most a few hundered), closed set
of lexical roots. No oligosynthetic
natlang is known so far, but several
oligosynthetic engelangs have been
made. See also speedtalk.
A diachronic conlang developed from
A language (may be a natlang,
conlang or reconlang)
used to evolve a diachronic conlang from.
A reconstructed language, such as Proto-Indo-European.
(Sceptics claim that such reconstructed languages are
untruthful enough to consider them
Romance language, especially Romance conlang. Romlangs are popular
altlangs but frequently considered overdone.
- shotgun phonology
A phoneme inventory that looks as if it has been selected by
firing a shotgun at an IPA chart. Famous example: Klingon.
The opposite of a cookie cutter
An extremely concise engelang wherein the
number of phonemes per morpheme approaches one. (From the story
Gulf by Robert A. Heinlein.) A speedtalk is
always oligosynthetic. See
- translation relay
Perhaps the most sophisticated form of the telephone game ever
invented. In a translation relay, each player translates a text
written in a conlang of the previous player into his own
conlang. Each player only sees the previous player's version
of the text, with glossary and grammar notes, and does not
know the original version of the text. In a translation
relay, translation errors tend to sum up and the meaning of
the text drift away from the original version, which makes
part of the fun.
Yet another English pronunciation
thread. A very common kind of off-topic thread on the CONLANG
mailing list, usually erupting when someone describes the sounds of his
conlang in terms of sounds of English - which
vary quite much between local varieties, especially the
vowels. There is a family of similar expressions, such
as YAEGT (yet another English
grammar thread) or YASPT (yet
another Swedish pronunciation thread).
© 2012 Jörg
Last update: 2012-03-19