The Art of Conlanging

By Meldon

What does Lord of the Rings and Star Trek have in common? Nothing, you might think. Wrong! They both have constructed languages (conlangs): Klingon (and various other almost unknown languages like Vulcan) and Elvish (Quenya/Sindarin and various minor languages)!

I hope to give you some advice on conlanging (constructing languages). For those serious conlangers you should visit wwwDOTlangmakerDOTcom Not only does it have conlangs, but it gives advice on how to start conlanging as well as a directory of conlang websites, conlanging resources) and also new words (like prochristination- putting off going to church) that are usually more humorous than anything.

First of all, why conlang at all? A respectable question. Conlanging is like any art form: you do it for yourself and no one else. Because of the audience of this site, I'll list probably your reason: fantasy worlds demand new languages. Unlike in Star Trek, not everybody speaks English.

Conlangs come in many intensities: the most simple is a jargon, simply new words sprinkled into an existing langauge for flavor. But we'll talk later about that.

So I will give you a guide that will help you get started conlanging to create a believable language for your fiction!

Next Chapter: I don't even see the code anymore! (Ciphers)

Resources to get started:

Quenya Language Course: Quenya is the form of Elvish that J.R.R. Tolkien imagined as the Elf-Latin, a literary language in the Third Age of Middle-earth. This is hands down the best resource for seeing a conlang not in theory, but practice. The amount of detail that went into this 20 Lesson Course is absolutely mind-blowing. It is not for the linguistically faint of heart, but by the end, you should have a firm grasp on Quenya, although as Tolkien did not publish every thing there is to know, Quenya grammar and vocabulary are by no means complete. The Third Age Elven vernacular, Sindarin, is much harder (in my opinion) and no one has compiled a comprehensive course in it.

To get to it, go to Google, type in "Quenya", and hit "I'm Feeling Lucky". The site it is hosted on, Ardalambion, is also a great resources for all of Tolkien's conlangs.

List of Possible Topics (! means the topic has been covered)


!Naming Languages

!Model Languages


!Orthography (Spelling)


A Conlanger's Tradition: The Babel Text

Auxlangs (International Auxillary Languages)

Natlangs (Natural Languages) as Model Languages

Conlang Spotlight: Esperanto [L.L. Zamenhof]

Conlang Spotlight: Quenya [J.R.R. Tolkien]

Conlang Spotlight: tlhIngan Hol [Marc Okrand]

Natlang Spotlight: English (Understanding the Evolution of English)

Natlang Spotlight: American Sign Language (Linguistic perspectives on ASL)

Miscellaneous Topics in Linguistics