Top 10 Fictional Languages
We here at GeekOut South-West like to use words. We like to write words down and share words with you. Sometimes other geeks like to share words that don’t even exist – Not until they’ve put them down. There are plenty of made up languages out there which are awesome to listen to, or are downright ridiculous. This week, we’re going to check out our Top 10 Fictional Languages.
10) Furbish – Furby
Alright, you might not think of this as “a fictional language”, but hear me out. When you first get a Furby, you will be greeted with those soulless eyes, judging your every movement. Then, you’ll hear the screams and agony of a thousand souls.
Or you’ll just hear a Furby trying to tell you that it’s hungry.
In all honesty, Furby gets a pass onto this list, as it was such an absurd pick, I really couldn’t avoid putting it in. If you loved or hated your Furby as a kid, chances are you’ll recognise the language I’m talking about. The hugely broken language is effectively no different to babble, however it turns out there is a full dictionary out there. If you’re interested, I found a Furby dictionary, so check it out!
9) Na’vi – Avatar
A surprisingly complex language to go relatively low on this list, the Na’vi language is the official language of the blue people of Avatar. True, it is technically a well defined language. James Cameron had come up with a couple of words, so went out of his way to contact the University of Southern California. He wanted a linguistics expert, which he managed to get ahold of.
For what is basically a one off film, although what a film it was, the Na’vi language is incredibly concise. If you’re interested in learning more about it, as well as updates to the language, there is an official blog.
8) Dovahzul – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I almost let the Na’vi beat this, but I actually couldn’t. I wanted to, but this is one of the most defined languages from The Elder Scrolls franchise. See, you could say that Dark Elves have a rich lush language, which they bloody well do you n’wah… But the Dovahzul language is a lot more direct and forceful, which is why I decided to throw this one into the list. It’s not flashy, but it’s memorable.
Let’s be honest, kids around the world were screaming “Fus Ro Dah!” at people. There are memes dedicated to Fus Ro Dah. We won’t talk about any arrows in knees, but instead what I will say is people are clearly invested in Dovahzul. It’s a language that some people out there have written a whole 53 page eBook on. So if you want to learn Dovahzul for yourself, here’s the PDF.
A fun one to add to this list, I wanted to talk about nonverbal languages and I think Journey is the best video game of this. In Journey, you communicate with other players and with things in the world with a series of jumps and noises. Your noises aren’t a verbal noise either, but rather just the noise of a fluttering, excited person. Well, a chime noise but who’s taking note on what type of noise a robed being like this makes?
The joy of Journey is the path you take to get to your destination, the way you interact with the world. It’s an exciting world, which I think is even better with the lack of words. Indeed, a nonverbal language is pretty rare in both film and video games. I wish we could see more of it, or even more examples of sign language being implemented in either.
6) Dothraki – Game of Thrones
With an impressive array of words at its disposal, the Dothraki language is really well thought out. Dothraki is one of Game of Thrones fictional languages, which was originally created as a couple of words and phrases. This was then extended over time for the TV production of Game of Thrones, where they brought in linguist David Peterson. This extended the language, but it was limited by a few factors.
The constraints were already in place, as it was started off by George R. R. Martin in the book. However, this didn’t stop David Peterson and he came up with a believable, easy to learn language which followed the rules of the book. When you think of it in that respect, it’s a pretty incredible feat that commands respect.
5) Parseltongue – Harry Potter
So now we’ve finished with some of the more technically impressive tongues, here’s why Parseltongue sits firmly in the middle of the list.
In the Harry Potter universe, Parseltongues are pretty much either feared or revered. It’s a skill that many a witch or wizard would either love to have, or be too afraid of. The symbolism of the snake in Harry Potter is everywhere, to where we’re now seeing more of that symbolism in Fantastic Beasts. So a Parseltongue is a huge skill – and also a huge problem in the world.
Harry himself is a Parseltongue, able to make hissing noises to communicate with snakes. This can command snakes, or at least converse with them. No, this isn’t something you’d want to learn yourself, as you’ll have a bunch of folk asking if you’re feeling okay… But it’s almost a status symbol and that’s why it makes the list.
4) Minionese – Despicable Me
Only an animated film can make a bunch of clone-like “Minions” into a star. Despicable Me is a now classic, which owes a lot of its success to the Minions. These yellow guys who speak a lot of gibberish actually have their own special language, which is known as Minionese. You may be surprised at this being so far up the list, but ultimately, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the construct of the language.
There’s some simple English in the language, some of which is “altered” English, such as “Apple” to “Bapple”. Then, there are actual Minionese words which come into the picture. Interestingly, in Despicable Me 3, they do go on as to say that Minionese is it’s own language, as Gru seems to have a Minionese dictionary. In the meantime, we’ll just have to make do with sites like the Despicable Me Fandom site.
3) Simlish – The Sims
When they’re not frantically obsessing over llamas, The Sims have a seriously complex language that many gamer are used to. You can make out a lot of the words the characters of The Sims use, as they use them frequently in similar contexts. Indeed, as a kid, I was able to remember the words they would say when greeting, when they wanted the loo or when they were getting uhh, frisky.
The Sims is an excellent game with a language that has been around since The Sims 1 in 2000. Simlish has had a lot of people look into the construct of the language, which has made people come up with dictionaries and more. Simlish takes many real life inspirations, however the most memorable Simlish words are simpler noises.
Take whatever you want away from this entry, as it might not be as linguistically or grammatically correct as the rest of the verbal languages on this list… But who cares? If you’ve played The Sims, you knew this language the moment I mentioned it.
2) Quenya – The Lord of the Rings
A beautiful looking script made by a man who adored language, J R R Tolkien is, in my opinion, the ultimate fantasy language writer. You can find a lot of influences in his languages, as the man was fascinated with Finnish, Latin, Greek, Old Germanic and many other languages, which was the basis for him writing his Elvish race. Quenya was born out of a necessary attention to detail, more than a mere desire to have his people speak a different language.
Quenya has a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to it, which is incredibly complex. I have seen real world languages with less information on it than Quenya, so this had to be higher up on the list from that front. Numbers are detailed, nouns, verbs, you name it – This language is ready to be learned and spoken. If you want to learn it yourself, check out this awesome resource website.
1) Klingon – Star Trek
Admit it. You thought of fictional languages and this one either topped your list, or was right up there. Klingon has been the go-to staple for geeks speaking fictional languages. Since its inception in the late 70’s, the Klingon language has undergone a lot of changes. Originally, the language was indeed some random gibberish that they made up, but the Star Trek writer wanted an official language for them… So he commissioned it.
The Klingon language became a universally recognised language, although it did take some time to get there. There are now people across the world who actually speak the language for more than just a desire to be different. There are plays re-written in Klingon, websites that translate to Klingon and much more. Basically, this is the ultimate geek language, insofar as it’s become more than fictional – It’s become reality.
Some languages came about out of necessity rather than desire. These next two languages sort of came about because they just had to. One of them is because of how frequently people would mention the characters, the other because it’s faster.
Huttese – Star Wars
Yes, Jabba the Hutt officially has a language and it’s called Huttese. This language is a bit of a strange one, as it’s not really got much of a construct to it. You could argue that really the language is just a bunch of phrases, but that’s okay. We’re going to count it as a language, as people in the Star Wars universe understand it, you wermo’s!
The Hutt people are a very influential trade race, which means that most aliens would want to learn it. This also comes in handy if you wanted to avoid any Stormtroopers overhearing what you had to say. Regardless of the fact we hear it enough, it’s rarely been highlighted in a big way.
Anyway, if you’d like to learn more about Huttese, there is a great resource website to try and learn some phrases.
OMG WTF?! FYI…
Text Talk is not really a language, but a lot of people have come to say that it is. When mobile phones took off, all of the youngsters of the world started to talk in ROFLs and LOLs (I know this one, that means Lots Of Love, right?! What do you mean Laugh Out Loud?)
I can’t go on too long about this one. This was born entirely out of necessity to save text space. Rather than sending 2 text messages worth of texts, people would write much smaller words, often losing the vowels. No matter what, Text Talk has been around for quite some time. This often means we see it over on the internet as well, as mobiles and the internet have become very much one in the same for some people.
Either born out of necessity or because a race needed one, it looks like we’ve added a variety of new words to our lexicons. Whether you’re now going to go out there and speak Furbish, or perhaps Quenya or even Klingon, hopefully you’re a bit more learned in the way of geek languages. So next week, we’ll be here again with another Top 10 list for you. Help us choose next week’s list in the vote below.
Once again, we come to the end of a Top 10. It’s always sad wrapping these up, especially when we have so many new languages we could wrap this up with. But before you go, let me know if I forgot your favourite fictional language. Is the order all wrong? Did you agree with the list? As ever, share your thoughts and opinions with us in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.