fictional languages
It is always easier to immerse yourself in a culture if you know the language. In this list, you will find not only some of the greatest fictional languages but also resources for learning them. Some of these languages are critical to understanding the book, while some have social significance and yet others were created to add an extra dimension to the book.



Anthony Burgess

Nadsat is the invented slang used by teenagers in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. The name comes from the English transliteration of надцать, the Russian word for the suffix ‘teen’. While heavily influenced by Russian, Burgess also took inspiration from “Romany, Cockney rhyming slang, the languages of the criminal underworld, the English of Shakespeare and the Elizabethans, armed forces slang; and the Malay language.” Figuring ‘nadsat’ out is not only integral to understanding the book, but also one of the most rewarding parts of the process.

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Where to learn: Memrise | Dictionary



Suzette Haden Elgin

Láadan is a constructed language (conlang) created by Suzette Haden Elgin for her novel Native Tongue. A linguist, Elgin developed Láadan to test if a language aimed at expressing women’s views would bring about social change if adopted by enough women. Láadan provides women with vocabulary, which is missing in English and other languages, to have an unambiguous conversation about what matters to them. Unfortunately, this fictional language was not adopted by women, but that doesn’t take away from Láadan’s relevance.

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Where to learn: Lessons



George Orwell

Created by George Orwell for 1984, Newspeak is the official language of Oceania. Characterised by its restricted grammar, and continually reducing vocabulary, it is designed to limit thought by decreasing the ability to express oneself clearly. For example, while the word ‘free’ existed in Newspeak, “…it could only be used in such statements as ‘This dog is free from lice’ or ‘This field is free from weeds’. It could not be used in its old sense of ‘politically free’ or ‘intellectually free’ since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless.”

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Where to learn: Principles | Vocabulary List



Richard Adams

Created by Richard Adams for Watership Down, Lapine is the language of the rabbits; in fact, the name itself is rooted in the French word for rabbit, ‘lapin’. Adams has said he wanted the language to sound ‘wuffy, fluffy’ and has used it primarily for the naming of rabbits, their mythological characters, and to express concepts unique to rabbits. It was constructed on an as-needed basis as opposed to being carefully crafted.

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Where to learn: Vocabulary List



George R.R. Martin

The language of the nomadic Dothrakis was created by David Peterson of the Language Creation Society for HBO’s television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. In addition to using the words and phrases mentioned in the books, he also drew inspiration from other languages, like Turkish, Estonian, Inuktitut and Swahili, to develop the language. As of June 2015, Dothraki has a vocabulary of about 4,000 words, and its own grammar.

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Where to learn: Tutorials | Dictionary



J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien created several Elvish languages well before he wrote The Hobbit. In response to an early review of the novel, Tolkien wrote “ … The ‘stories’ were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. … I should have preferred to write in ‘Elvish’.” In The Lord of the Rings, Quenya and Sindarin are the chief Elvish languages in use.

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Where to learn: Tutorials | Dictionary | Resources




Created by Hergé , Syldavian is the fictional West Germanic national language of Syldavia, as seen in the Tintin comics. While the language was modeled on Marols, a Dutch dialect spoken in and around Brussels, it was influenced by other Central European languages as well. Hergé did not create a grammar for Syldavian, but Mark Rosenfelder of Zompist has documented and analysed the known facts.

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Where to learn: Grammar


Devanshi has been reading ever since she can remember. What started off as an obsession with Enid Blyton, slowly morphed into a love for mystery and fantasy. Even her choice of career as a lawyer was heavily influenced by the works of Erle Stanley Gardner and John Grisham. After quitting law, and while backpacking around India, she read books on entrepreneurship, taught herself web design and delved into social media marketing. She doesn’t go anywhere without a book.

She is the founding editor of The Curious Reader. Read her articles here.