There are hundreds of constructed languages that have influenced the world of science fiction and fantasy. Whether they originated from literature or video games, there is no doubt that the ability to create an entire fictional language from one’s imagination is indeed impressive. Some have become iconic markers in popular culture while others have inspired fans to learn these languages as a whole. Lets have a look at some interesting languages that I have come across throughout my childhood.
Black Speech (The Lord of the Rings)
Created by the legendary J.R.R. Tolkien, Black Speech is the mother tongue throughout Mordor. It has been known that the language was created by Sauron to be the prime language of all his servants thus making it the main mode of communication between Orcs, the Nazgûl and other servants throughout the dark fortress of Barad-dûr. The One Ring itself illustrates “pure” Black Speech – since the language has degenerated from the time of Sauron’s reign until the Third Age – and is written in Elvish letters because the speech did not have a unique script. Tolkien’s creation of such a fantastical script and language still continues to amaze me today. It is no shock that many fans have tattooed the inscription on their bodies or carved them out of wood as decorative keepsakes.
Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.
One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
Klingon (Star Trek)
This list would not be complete without the famous Klingon speech. Designed by Marc Okrand and James Doohan (Scotty) who devised the language’s basic sound, this remarkable language continues to be mastered by fans worldwide. Complete with proper grammar, nouns, numbers, alphabets and everything that goes into creating a complete language, this language has long outgrown the boundaries of television and film to become an exciting learnable language .
My life for Aiur. Any StarCraft fan would know the race that utters this very phrase. Khalani is the telepathically spoken language of the Protoss, a personal favorite followed closely by the Zerg. As my very first video game, I will never forget the endless hours I spent playing StarCraft: Brood War in the late 1990s. There have been several translations of their phrases as well as a written language preserved by the Nerazim/Dark Templars.
Yet another Marc Okrand signature creation, the Atlantean language from Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a fascinating one. Designed to have its own grammar, numerals and alphabets, I still remember having a slight obsession with it’s unique writing system and utilizing the alphabets as secret codes when communicating with friends. Hey, don’t look at me that way. The McDonalds near my home was giving away figures and cards inscribed with the alphabets in Happy Meals so I had to take advantage of this discovery.
Huttese (Star Wars)
A lingua franca in the Star Wars Universe, this unique language that was created by Ben Burtt – sound designer for the Star Wars movies – is spoken by a range of communities. From residents of Tatooine to the mighty Jabba the Hutt himself, Huttese makes my list as notable creation. Lets just hope that when you hear it again it the future, Jabba doesn’t have a price on your head.
What are some of your favorite fantasy languages?
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