Constructed Worlds and Languages

I know that this may not make sense to some of you but I have an extreme interest in creating constructed worlds and languages of my own and seeing others’ constructed worlds and languages.

Do any of you do that? Do any of you know of interesting web sites or books that I can review?


Any good science fiction book constructs a world.

Makes perfect sense to me, Misanthrope – not only am I a student of linguistics and a writer, but I’m a role-playing geek all grown up.

For invented languages, I’m sure you’ve consulted the two or three best-known examples:

  1. Esperanto
  2. The Klingon Dictionary, by Marc Okrand
  3. Elvish, a la J.R.R. Tolkien

There are others, of course, but using these as a starting point and adding any other real-world language knowledge you have should work fine. For what it’s worth, the linguistics program at SUNY Albany included a course in Klingon after I graduated.

For world creation, it’s always better to learn how than to just consult source books. Orson Scott Card published a guide to writing fantasy and science fiction several years ago, and I think he deals with this topic well. I don’t much care for Card for other things, but he makes some good suggestions. For hard-core world-building in a fantasy setting, you should consult the Rolemaster game supplement titled Character Law and Campaign Law.

I know that most of this info seems to be focused on a narrow field of creativity, but let’s face it: gamers and SF writers are the most prolific world-builders out there, because they have to be. Only neurotics are better at building castles in the sky, and only psychotics can live in them.

–Da Cap’n

I recommend taking a look at the “Dune” series by Frank Herbert. I think my copy of the first book in the series has a glossary and a map of the world Arakkis (Dune) at the back of it. There are actually 6 books in the series, I think. All of them are pretty good stories with excellent ecological descriptions of the planets on which the events occur.

One complete set of morals for sale to highest bidder, new in box.

Tolkein actually invented several language used in Middle Earth. As I recall:

Two versions of Elvish (Quenya and Sindarin)
The Black Speech
and probably more.

Of these, the two elvish were the best developed.

Misanthrope: I have created a language of my own, and i also have an interest in constructed cultures (I also have created an alphabetic system for my conlang). In fact, I am on a conlang mailing list right now (Go to EGroups and search for ‘conlang’). The list is full of nice, helpful people (sometimes the discussions are pretty intense in aspects of language, but there often is banter, and translation exercises). I have absolutely no training in linguistics, but i don’t let that intimidate me (I have my current project up at: Here. My conlang is a mix of features I find interesting. I do not have the dictionary of words up yet (still working on it), but i do have the basic grammar up.

The most well known conlangs are the auxlangs (I have no interest in them, nor the evangelical attitude that comes with their followers cough, cough). There’s of course Esperanto, Logban, Interlingua. There’s also a Germanic derived one called Folkspraak (of all auxlangs this one is most interesting to me). It’s based off of the major Germanic languages, and it’s at the langmaker page: LangMaker
There are a lot of resources on the net to get started creating conlangs. Try:

Constructed Language links at Yahoo

Conlang FAQ

Scattered Tongues Homepage

Constructed Human Languages

Internet Resources for Constructed Languages

Constructed Languages

I wonder do any of the resident linguists or linguistics students here fiddle with conlangs?

Horror! the egroups and langmaker links didn’t work! i’ll try again:


Oh and my sig was the subject of a recent translation exercise on the conlang list (it means: “If you can understand this, you know too much”:

“Oa tu beral haonar kelo, tu faikal gehayun”

I know some of the other replies metion Tolkien but he’s the chief of the invented language tribe. Tolkien was a linguist and started the whole middle earth universe as a canvas to paint his new cultures, societies, and languages on. It was to him just one grand experiment. There are scads of books, including dictionaries and guides to the Tolkien worlds on the market.

You guys are great. Thanks to you, Doobieous, for a post by you in another thread prompted me to start this thread. I’ll check out these sites.

I certainly am aware of Tolkein, Herbert, and the like, who created constructed worlds and languages for use in their novels. While I enjoyed reading both The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (but not the Similarron (?) yet), as well as the Dune series, I’m looking for information outside of fiction-based constructed worlds and languages.

Anyway, thanks to all and I’ll continue to investigate.


Misanthrope: No problem :). Tolkien himself called conlanging “The secret vice”. Which means it’s something many people do but won’t admit to because they think it would sound silly or childish to another person. Tolkien also helped with his cousins language ‘Nevbosh’ which i believe was a kind of gibberish they would use amongst themselves.

I got into it because I am fascinated with language and the thought that one person creates this entire language from the floor up, and controls what goes in or out. :slight_smile:

“Oa tu beral haonar kelo, tu faikal gehayun”