If you think you’re bad at learning languages, you could bypass that whole tedious process of learning some complicated foreign language and just go ahead and invent your own language! So called “constructed languages” or “conlangs” are actually not just things made up by children to have secret conversations which their parents wont understand, but are in fact a popular pursuit among serious linguists.

Many people would likely say we have enough languages in this world already so what possible good reason can there be to create a whole new one now? There are and have been in fact, numerous reasons for actually creating a completely new language.

As an academic exercise for linguists it is of course useful and popular and sure to look good on your CV. Movies and TV shows (and the books they are based on) often produce a conlang to add a little more authenticity and immersion to the fictional world and well known examples of this include Klingon from Star Trek, Na’vi from the movie Avatar and Dothraki from the books and TV series Game of Thrones. Being able to speak such a language would no doubt make you the life and soul of the party at the next Star Trek, Comic-Con, sci-fi, fantasy or any other related convention, however speaking Dothraki at your local pub may not go down quite so well.

Perhaps the most well known and actually used conlang is Esperanto which was created by Dr. L. L. Zamenhof in the 1880’s and his intention was to facilitate understanding and harmony between people of different cultures and countries. Esperanto has faced many challenges over the years, amongst them opposition from the Nazis who considered it potentially part of some global Jewish conspiracy (since Zamenhof was Jewish) and who set about killing anyone that spoke it, to the Soviets who banned it after Stalin decided it was a language of spies. Despite all these troubles Esperanto is spoken today by up to 2 MILLION people which is really quite impressive and in fact more than the population of many entire countries with ‘real’ languages.

For anyone with a burning desire to create their own language there are a number of resources and software to help with the process, such as The Language Construction Kit and others which you can read about here. There is also the Language Creation Society which has all sorts of news, resources and info related to conlangs.

Creating a whole new language, for whatever reason, may well be a fun and challenging (and financially rewarding if hired to do so) pastime but there are many real languages which are on the verge of extinction so it would perhaps be useful if authors and movie-makers would consider using those in their future projects to help give those languages a new lease of life instead of creating a whole new one.