Linguistics Artificial Languages
by
Arika Okrent
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0164

Introduction

Artificial languages are languages that have been consciously devised, usually by a single creator. They are also sometimes called planned languages, constructed languages, or invented languages. Specific types of artificial languages may be called fictional languages, auxiliary languages, or interlanguages. This article does not cover jargon, contact languages, creoles, or other systems that arise organically out of group interactions. Nor does it include language games, codes, or other re-encoding of existing languages. While there is overlap between the formal languages of logic, mathematics, and computation and the ideas behind some of the artificial languages covered here, this article deals specifically with languages intended to be spoken by humans. For centuries, people have consciously invented languages for the following reasons: to make language less arbitrary, ambiguous, and irregular; to provide a vehicle for international communication; for artistic purposes. Language creators have often believed that their artificial languages would bring about such benefits as clearer thinking or world peace. Artificial languages have generally not been of much interest to linguists because of their association with fringe elements and their lack of historical derivation, speech communities, and native speakers who can vouch for the correctness of implicit rules. They can, however, shed light on the way language has been viewed in different eras, and in the rare cases where they do develop speech communities (or even, in the case of Esperanto, native speakers), they have been examined within the theoretical frameworks of sociolinguistics, language acquisition, creolization, and revitalization. There have been over 1,000 artificial languages proposed since the 17th century. Many of them were published as brief sketches, but a few notable ones were worked out in great detail, and some of those managed to attract a following. This article discusses several general overviews of the history of artificial languages as well as bibliographies of published proposals and lists of languages categorized in various ways. In addition to a few journals and collections of works about artificial languages, there are papers devoted to specific languages of interest. Artificial languages can be categorized into types, which largely, but not completely, overlap with specific time periods: a priori languages (17th century) have vocabularies based on abstract combinatorial principles and are usually claimed to be representations of true conceptual structure (also called philosophical languages); a posteriori languages (19th and 20th centuries) have vocabularies based on natural languages and are usually proposed as easily learned vehicles of international communication (also called interlanguages or auxiliary languages); artistic languages (modern) have characteristics determined by their creators’ aesthetic goals (also called fictional languages or conlangs).

General Overviews

There are a number of overviews that discuss artificial languages within a larger historical context. Eco 1995 deals primarily with the early period from the dark ages to the Renaissance. The period from the Renaissance through the 20th-century preoccupation with international languages is the focus of Large 1985. Yaguello 1991 and Okrent 2009 cover the same period, but Yaguello is oriented toward the languages of fiction and mystics and Okrent follows the history into the current modern era. Adams 2011 is a compact overview of the history of language invention through the modern era. Bausani 1974 includes projects from outside of Europe and North America. Pei 1968 covers the history from the perspective of his own advocacy for an international language.

  • Adams, Michael. 2011. The spectrum of invention. In From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring invented languages. Edited by Michael Adams, 1–16. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    An accessible introduction that looks at language invention as a creative endeavor and discusses its motivations.

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    • Bausani, Alessandro. 1974. Le lingue inventate: Linguaggi artificiali, linguaggi segreti, linguaggi universali. Rome: Ubaldini.

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      A history of language invention and language creativity. Includes discussion of secret and mystical languages, as well as language games, including some from the Middle East and Africa. In Italian.

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      • Eco, Umberto. 1995. The search for the perfect language. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

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        Focused on theological and mystical approaches during the pre-Renaissance preoccupation with finding the original language of Adam. Good background on the history of ideas leading to the era of 17th-century a priori languages. Academic style.

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        • Large, J. A. 1985. The artificial language movement. Oxford and New York: B. Blackwell.

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          Good scholarly account of projects within their contemporary intellectual environments.

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          • Okrent, Arika. 2009. In the land of invented languages: Esperanto rock stars, Klingon poets, Loglan lovers, and the mad dreamers who tried to build a perfect language. New York: Spiegel & Grau.

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            Engaging popular history that makes a good introduction to the subject. Includes reporting on active language communities.

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            • Pei, Mario, 1968. One language for the world. New York: Biblo and Tannen.

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              An opinionated argument in favor of the need of an international language that includes a lot of background on previous attempts to provide one.

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              • Yaguello, Marina. 1991. Lunatic lovers of language: Imaginary languages and their inventors. London: Athlone.

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                In addition to discussion of 17th-century philosophical languages, covers imaginary language in fiction and spiritual movements.

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                Reference Works and Lists of Languages

                There are various works that catalogue a large number of artificial languages in one place. They also categorize the languages in different ways and give descriptions and examples of the individual languages. The most comprehensive bibliography of artificial language projects is Dulichenko 1990, which draws on the lists provided in Couturat and Léau 1979, Monnerot-Dumaine 1960, and Stojan 1929 among others. Albani and Buonarroti 1994 is less technical and covers the more general topic of linguistic creativity. Dulichenko 1983 lists Soviet projects from the post-WWII era. The list at the website for Okrent 2009 (cited under General Overviews), In the Land of Invented Languages, includes recent languages and can be sorted in different ways. The Bibliography of Planned Languages lists language works along with their library call numbers.

                • Albani, Paolo, and Berlinghiero Buonarroti. 1994. Aga magèra difùra: Dizionario delle linguie immaginarie. Bologna, Italy: Zanichelli.

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                  A vast encyclopedia of creativity in language. Not only about languages created for human communication. Contains 2,900 entries on works and people associated with aspects of language creation, play, and communication from literature, the arts, and popular culture.

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                  • Bibliography of Planned Languages.

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                    A large bibliographical listing of original and secondary sources on individual languages excluding Esperanto. Includes multiple works on Volapük, Ido, Ro, Occidental-Interlingue, Novial, Interlingua, Glosa, Modified English, Latin-derived projects, pasigraphies, and a priori and a posteriori languages. Includes library call numbers.

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                    • Couturat, Louis, and Léopold Léau. 1979. Histoire de la langue universelle. Hildesheim, Germany: G. Olms.

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                      In French. A reprint of a 1903 book, along with its 1907 supplement, originally written as a report for submission to a committee deciding which universal language was best to promote.

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                      • Dulichenko, Aleksandr D. 1983. Sovetskaja interlingvistika: Annotirovanaja bibliografija za 1946–1982 gg. Tartu, Estonia: Tartuskij gosudartstvennyj universitet.

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                        In Russian. Annotated bibliography of projects specific to Soviet region in the post-WWII period. Difficult to find.

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                        • Dulichenko, Aleksandr D. 1990. Mezhdunarodnye vspomogatelʹnye ia︡zyki. Tallinn, Estonia: Valgus.

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                          In Russian. Annotated bibliography of over nine hundred languages. Organized in chronological order, with indexes for language and author names. Difficult to find.

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                          • In the Land of Invented Languages.

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                            A web version of the list of five hundred languages appearing in the index of Okrent 2009 (cited under General Overviews). Can be sorted by language, author, or date. Includes language samples.

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                            • Monnerot-Dumaine, M. 1960. Précis d’interlinguistique générale et spéciale. Paris: Librairie Maloine.

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                              In French. Lists 382 languages, including a large number of Esperanto offshoots. Stojan, Petro E. and Universal Esperanto Association. 1929. Bibliografio de internacia lingvo: Historia sistema katalogo de filologia, lingvistika kaj poliglota literaturo pri universala alfabeto, filozolia gramatiko, signaro, gest-lingvo, pasigrafio, internacia helpa lingvo kaj logistiko. Geneva, Switzerland: Bibliografia servo de Universala Esperanto-asocio. In Esperanto. Difficult to find. Lists 350 languages.

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                              Journals and Collections of Papers

                              There are not many journals or anthologies that cover artificial languages in general. Collections of works about particular languages are listed under the headings for those languages discussed in A Posteriori Languages and Interlinguistics, Esperanto, Artistic Languages, Tolkien, and Klingon. Language Problems & Language Planning, a peer-reviewed journal on the topic of conscious intervention in language, features many articles about artificial languages. The International Language Review published articles advocating for or describing new language projects in the 1950s and 1960s. InKoj focuses on application of artificial languages to problems in philosophy. Fiat Lingua posts quality contributed articles, mostly about artistic languages. Adams 2011 offers coverage of artistic languages not found elsewhere.

                              Original Descriptions of Individual Languages

                              Long lists of descriptions and grammars of artificial languages can be found in Reference Works and Lists of Languages and Journals and Collections of Papers. A few of them merit singling out here because they are well-known or of special interest. Wilkins 2002 is the most well-known of the 17th-century philosophical language grammars. Sprague 1888, Zamenhof and Phillips 1889, and Gajewski and Sudre 1902 are grammars of Volapük, Esperanto, and Solresol, the most well-known projects of the late 19th century. Ogden 1934 describes Basic English, which got a good deal of attention in the 1930s and 1940s. Loglan and Lincos (Brown 1960 and Freudenthal 2000) got attention in scientific and mathematical communities in the 1960s. And Okrand 1992 is a grammar of Klingon, a language associated with the wildly popular movie and TV franchise Star Trek.

                              • Brown, James Cooke. 1960. Loglan. Scientific American 202.6: 53–63.

                                DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican0660-53Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                An explanation of a language based on the principles of modern logic and a justification for its use as an experimental tool. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                • Freudenthal, Hans. 2000. Lincos: Design of a language for cosmic intercourse. Burlington, MA: Elsevier.

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                                  A description of a language designed to communicate messages to outer space in a way that would incrementally teach the language in increasingly complex steps. Originally published in 1960.

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                                  • Gajewski, Boleslas, and Jean François Sudre. 1902. Grammaire du solrésol ou langue. Paris: Universelle De François Sudre.

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                                    A grammar of Solresol, a language based on the notes of a musical scale. In French.

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                                    • Ogden, C. K. 1934. The system of Basic English. New York: Harcourt, Brace.

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                                      A list of 850 Basic English words and justification for proposing a language using only those words.

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                                      • Okrand, Marc. 1992. The Klingon dictionary: English-Klingon, Klingon-English. New York: Pocket Books.

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                                        A grammar and dictionary of Klingon, a language invented for the Star Trek movies.

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                                        • Sprague, Charles Ezra. 1888. Handbook of Volapük: The international language. London: n.p.

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                                          The most popular English translation of the original German grammar of Volapük, an international language that was very successful in the 1880s.

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                                          • Wilkins, John. 2002. An essay towards a real character and a philosophical language, 1668. Bristol, UK: Thoemmes.

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                                            A grammar of the most thoroughly worked out of the 17th-century philosophical languages. By a founding member of the Royal Society. (Electronic version on EEBO.)

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                                            • Zamenhof, L. L., and Henry Phillips. 1889. An attempt towards an international language. New York: H. Holt.

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                                              A widely circulated English version of the original proposal for Esperanto, the most successful artificial language yet.

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                                              A Priori Languages

                                              A priori languages have words structured around abstract combinatorial principles rather than the roots of existing languages. Usually each letter or sound in a word stands for some kind of conceptual category. They heyday of a priori languages was the 17th century, but there have been more modern a priori projects. Knowlson 1975, Lewis 2007, and Slaughter 1982 discuss various language projects that were proposed in the 17th century in the context of the social and intellectual environment of the time. Shapiro 1969 and Subbiondo 1992 do this as well, but with a particular focus on the language of John Wilkins. Dalgarno, et al. 2001 focuses on the project of Wilkins’s contemporary George Dalgarno. Libert 2000 discusses modern a priori languages as well.

                                              • Dalgarno, George, David Cram, and Jaap Maat. 2001. George Dalgarno on universal language: The art of signs (1661), the deaf and dumb man’s tutor (1680), and the unpublished papers. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                An English translation of Dalgarno’s 1661 language proposal Ars Signorum along with biographical material, other writings, and interpretive commentary.

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                                                • Knowlson, James. 1975. Universal language schemes in England and France, 1600–1800. Toronto and Buffalo, NY: Univ. of Toronto Press.

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                                                  A wide-ranging historical survey of language creation from 1600 to 1800.

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                                                  • Lewis, Rhodri. 2007. Language, mind and nature: Artificial languages in England from Bacon to Locke. Ideas in Context 80. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                    Detailed historical analysis of the intellectual environment in which early language invention thrived.

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                                                    • Libert, Alan 2000. A priori artificial languages. Munich: Lincom Europa.

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                                                      Includes descriptions of some little-known modern a priori languages like Fitusa, Suma, and Babm.

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                                                      • Shapiro, Barbara J. 1969. John Wilkins, 1614–1672: An intellectual biography. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                        A biography of John Wilkins, tracing the events and thinking which led to his grand philosophical language project in addition to his role as a founding member of the Royal Society.

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                                                        • Slaughter, M. M. 1982. Universal languages and scientific taxonomy in the seventeenth century. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                          Places 17th-century language projects in the context of scientific developments and preoccupations of the time. Traces the influence of Aristotelian classification theory on the projects of the era.

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                                                          • Subbiondo, Joseph L., ed. 1992. John Wilkins and the 17th-century British linguistics. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: J. Benjamins.

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                                                            A collection of papers about Wilkins’s project. Includes a section on the sources predating his language, and another on the role his religious and scientific work played in the development of his ideas.

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                                                            A Posteriori Languages and Interlinguistics

                                                            A posteriori is a term for the type of artificial language that became popular at the end of the 19th century that refers to structural design principles: roots for words in a posteriori languages are based on words in natural languages. Interlinguistics refers to the study of languages with the purpose of serving as an international auxiliary language. For the most part, a posteriori languages are intended for such purposes, so they are grouped together here. Esperanto is the most successful a posteriori interlanguage. Blanke 2003 is a guide to the scholarly literature on interlinguistics and Schubert and Maxwell 1989 is a collection of papers on various aspects of interlanguages. Smith 2011 provides an overview of international auxiliary languages of all structural types (not just a posteriori) and Libert 2008 looks specifically at languages created in the wake of Esperanto’s success. Liu 1998 and Usui 2008 cover views on interlinguistics in Asia.

                                                            • Blanke, D. 2003. Interlinguistics and Esperanto studies: Paths to the scholarly literature. Language Problems & Language Planning 27.2: 155–192.

                                                              DOI: 10.1075/lplp.27.2.05blaSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Comprehensive study of literature on interlinguistics. Guide to collections, festschrifts, conference proceedings, dissertations, and periodicals. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                              • Libert, Alan. 2008. Daughters of Esperanto. Munich: Lincom Europa.

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                                                                An analysis of the linguistic features (phonology, morphology, semantics) of languages derived from Esperanto. Includes some that are quite obscure, even in the interlinguistics literature.

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                                                                • Liu, H. 1998. Interlinguistics in China. Language Problems & Language Planning 22.1: 76–87.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1075/lplp.22.1.06haiSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  A look at works published about Esperanto and interlinguistics in China since the 1950s. Notable for being one of the few overviews of artificial language in Asia. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                  • Schubert, Klaus, and Dan Maxwell. 1989. Interlinguistics: Aspects of the science of planned languages. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1515/9783110886115Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    A collection of papers from top scholars in interlinguistics. Sections on design features, socio- and psycholinguistics, literature, and terminology.

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                                                                    • Smith, Arden R. 2011. Confounding Babel: International auxiliary languages. In From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring invented languages. Edited by Michael Adams, 17–48. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                      A general overview of the history of international auxiliary languages, including sections on a priori languages and language simplification projects.

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                                                                      • Usui, Hiroyuki. 2008. Interlinguistics and Esperanto studies in the social context of modern Japan. Language Problems & Language Planning 32.2: 181–202.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1075/lplp.32.1.06usuSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        How the view of the idea of an auxiliary language in Japan differed from that of Europe. Japanese responses to development of Esperanto movement. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                        Esperanto

                                                                        Esperanto, as the most successful and widely known artificial language, has the largest body of literature associated with it. Boulton 1960, Forster 1982, Lins 1988, and Janton and Tonkin 1993 are treatments of the history of the development of the language and language community. Boulton 1960 is a biography of the creator of Esperanto, Ludwig Zamenhof. Forster 1982 gives a detailed history of the Esperanto movement. Janton and Tonkin 1993 is a more compact general overview of the history of this history. Lins 1988 deals with the way Esperantists were persecuted under Hitler and Stalin. Tonkin 1997 offers a curated selection of scholarly papers on Esperanto. Esperanto has been the magazine of the main international Esperanto organization since 1905. Zamenhof 1963 and Wells, et al. 1978 specifically address the linguistic structure of the language.

                                                                        • Boulton, Marjorie. 1960. Zamenhof, creator of Esperanto. London: Routledge and Paul.

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                                                                          A detailed, readable biography of Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto. Connects his ideas about language with his ideas about religion and humanist movements.

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                                                                          • Esperanto. 1905–1946.

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                                                                            Magazine published by of the Universal Esperanto Association since 1905. Issues through 1946 are available online from the Austrian National Library, as are issues of various other Esperanto magazines.

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                                                                            • Forster, Peter G. 1982. The Esperanto movement. The Hague: Mouton.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1515/9783110824568Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Definitive history of the development of Esperanto as a language and a living community.

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                                                                              • Janton, Pierre, and Humphrey Tonkin. 1993. Esperanto: Language, literature, and community. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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                                                                                An overview of the development of Esperanto language and community. Shorter and less comprehensive than Forster 1982. Translated from French.

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                                                                                • Lins, Ulrich. 1988. Die gefährliche Sprache: Die Verfolgung der Esperantisten unter Hitler und Stalin. Gerlingen, Germany: Bleicher.

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                                                                                  History of Esperanto movement under Hitler and Stalin. The Esperanto language community was persecuted by both regimes. Includes description of how Esperanto was received in countries besides Germany and Russia as well. German translation of the Esperanto version, La dangera lingvo, which is hard to find.

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                                                                                  • Tonkin, Humphrey, ed. 1997. Esperanto, interlinguistics, and planned language. Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America.

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                                                                                    Collection of articles from the journal Language Problems & Language Planning about Esperanto language and community.

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                                                                                    • Wells, J. C., and Center for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems. 1978. Lingvistikaj aspektoj De Esperanto. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Centro de Esploro kaj Dokumentado pri la Monda Lingvo-Problem.

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                                                                                      A linguistic analysis of Esperanto language written by a well-known linguist. In Esperanto.

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                                                                                      • Zamenhof, L.-L. 1963. Fundamento de Esperanto: Gramatiko, ekzercaro, universala vortaro. Marmanade, France: n.p.

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                                                                                        The source of the basic sixteen rules of Esperanto grammar, originally published in 1905. Online version (from 1913) available online at HathiTrust. In Esperanto with explanations in five other languages including English.

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                                                                                        Prominent Linguists’ Views

                                                                                        The topic of interlinguistics has generally been ignored by the academic field of linguistics, but some prominent figures in early-20th-century linguistics were actively involved in discussion of the possibility of an international language. Otto Jespersen had his own project, Novial, described in Jespersen 1928. The author argues against the strict separation of the notions of “natural” and “artificial” as applied to language in Jespersen 1929. Edward Sapir promoted the cause of interlinguistics in Sapir 2008. Norman McQuown wrote a comparison of Esperanto and German in McQuown 1936. André Martinet argued that linguists should take more interest in artificial languages in Martinet 1946.

                                                                                        • Jespersen, Otto. 1928. An international language. London: Allen & Unwin.

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                                                                                          Known for his work on English grammar, here Jespersen surveys proposals for international languages and describes his own proposal, Novial.

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                                                                                          • Jespersen, Otto. 1929. Nature and art in language. American Speech 5.2: 89–103.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/451754Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Questions the separation of languages into “natural” and “artificial,” arguing there is much that is deliberately formed in natural language. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                            • Martinet, André. 1946. La linguistique et les langues artificielles. Word: Journal of the International Linguistic Association 2:37–47.

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                                                                                              Martinet, a prominent French structuralist and member of the International Auxiliary Language Association, points to the practical success of Esperanto as a reason that linguists should take scientific interest in such languages.

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                                                                                              • McQuown, Norman Anton. 1936. A comparative study of Esperanto from the standpoint of modern German. MA thesis, Univ. of Illinois.

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                                                                                                Known for his work on the indigenous languages of Latin America, McQuown wrote this comparative study of Esperanto and German for his MA thesis.

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                                                                                                • Sapir, Edward. 2008. The problem of an international auxiliary language (1925–1933). In The collected works of Edward Sapir. Vol. 1, General linguistics. Edited by Pierre Swiggers and Philip Sapir, 245–290. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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                                                                                                  Sapir is a foundational figure in anthropological linguistics. This section of Swiggers’s volume contains an introduction to Sapir’s view on international languages and four of his original works on the subject, including his take on the optimal features for an international language and his case for the necessity of promoting such a language. Originally published in 1936.

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                                                                                                  Artistic Languages

                                                                                                  Some artificial languages are created with the only goal of conforming to the aesthetic objectives of the creator. Those objectives may be part of a literary endeavor or the immersive world of a game. Evans 1971 discusses Nadsat from A Clockwork Orange and Jackson 2011, in addition to Nadsat, looks at Newspeak from Nineteen Eighty-Four. Meyers 1980 discusses a broad range of languages from science fiction, and Watt 2011 deals with linguistic experimentation in the works of Joyce, Beckett, and Muldoon. Portnow 2011 looks at languages created for video games. Artistic languages may also be created entirely for the personal satisfaction of the creator, as with the inventor profiled in Foer 2012. Rosenfelder 2010 is a how-to guide for language creators, and Fiat Lingua is the journal of the Language Creation Society, an organization promoting the art of language invention.

                                                                                                  Tolkien

                                                                                                  The languages created by J. R. R. Tolkien which appear in his Lord of the Rings trilogy have more scholarly literature associated with them than any other artistic language. Overviews of Tolkien’s linguistic work and surrounding scholarship are given in Hostetter 2007 and Weiner and Marshall 2011. Parma Eldalamberon and Vinyar Tengwar are journals of Tolkienian linguistics. There are descriptions of the linguistic features of the languages in Salo 2004 and Stevens 1968. Tolkien’s own perspective on the motivation for his language creation is given in Tolkien 1984.

                                                                                                  Klingon

                                                                                                  The Klingon language, created for the Star Trek franchise, has a large following for an artistic language. Okrand, et al. 2011 gives an overview of its development and a brief profile of the community of speakers. Hermans 1999 and Wahlgren 2004 are academic theses written about the community.

                                                                                                  Histories of Other Specific Languages

                                                                                                  There are some interesting individual languages that have been written about in a scholarly way. Collins 2001 is about a musical language. Garay 1988 discusses a scheme to simplify English. Higley 2007 covers the first documented artificial language. Slind 2011 deals with an interlanguage based on Germanic rather than Romance roots. It is rare to find works on projects that are neither European or North American, but Russell 2013 is about an Armenian invention.

                                                                                                  • Collins, Paul. 2001. If only geniuses knew how to scheme. In Banvard’s folly: Thirteen tales of renowned obscurity, famous anonymity, and rotten luck. By Paul Collins, 90–108. New York: Picador USA.

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                                                                                                    A very readable, entertaining history of Solresol, a language based on the notes of the musical scale that had some popularity in the 19th century.

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                                                                                                    • Garay, K. E. 1988. “Empires of the mind”? C. K. Ogden, Winston Churchill and Basic English. Historical Papers/Communications Historiques 23.1: 280–291.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.7202/030989arSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      An account of Basic English, a proposal to limit English to 850 words for the sake of forcing clarity and making English easier to learn, and the support it received from Winston Churchill.

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                                                                                                      • Higley, Sarah L. 2007. Hildegard of Bingen’s unknown language: An edition, translation, and discussion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1057/9780230610057Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        The definitive book about the first documented artificial language, created by Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century. Includes analysis and historical context, as well as a translation of the original from Latin and a dictionary of words in the language.

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                                                                                                        • Russell, James R. 2013. The Sehlerai language. Fiat Lingua FL-000011-00.

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                                                                                                          A study of an obscure 19th-century language from Armenia, the only such language to come from the Near East. Includes the original material and provides historical context.

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                                                                                                          • Slind, Marvin G. 2011. Elias Molee and Alteutonic: A Norwegian American’s “universal language.” Norwegian-American Studies 36:85–104.

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                                                                                                            An account of the work of Elias Molee, a prolific language inventor who advocated for an international language based on Germanic rather than Romance word roots.

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                                                                                                            Acquisition

                                                                                                            Esperanto is most commonly acquired as a second language. Maxwell 1988 investigates the common claim that it is the easiest second language to acquire. Esperanto is the only artificial language that also has native speakers. They are usually children of parents who meet through Esperanto and do not speak each other’s national languages. With Esperanto as the language of the home, the children become native speakers. There have been some studies of their language acquisition processes. Bergen 2001 reports on a study of native Esperanto speakers. Corsetti and Tolomeo 2004 looks at the phenomenon of overregularization specifically. Lindstedt 2006 argues that Esperanto is optimized for acquisition. Versteegh 2009 compares Esperanto acquisition to creolization.

                                                                                                            • Bergen, Benjamin K. 2001. Nativization processes in L1 Esperanto. Journal of Child Language 28.03: 575.

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                                                                                                              Effect of learning Esperanto as a first language on some aspects of linguistic structure. Study of eight native speakers. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                              • Corsetti, R., M. A. Pinto, and M. Tolomeo. 2004. Regularizing the regular: The phenomenon of overregularization in Esperanto-speaking children. Language Problems & Language Planning 28.3: 261–282.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1075/lplp.28.3.04corSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                Study of language diaries kept by parents of five Esperanto-speaking children looking at the phenomenon of overregularization in what is already a very regular language. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                • Lindstedt, J. 2006. Native Esperanto as a test case for natural language. SKY Journal of Linguistics 19:47–55.

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                                                                                                                  Gives an account of what seem to be nativization effects in native Esperanto-speakers and argues that nativization effects are not found because Esperanto is optimized for language acquisition.

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                                                                                                                  • Maxwell Dan. 1988. On the acquisition of Esperanto. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 10:51–61.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0272263100006951Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Addresses the claim that Esperanto is easier to learn than other languages by analyzing two “five-country experiments.” Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                    • Versteegh, Kees. 2009. Esperanto as a first language: Language acquisition with a restricted input. Linguistics 31.3: 431–587.

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                                                                                                                      Looks at the case of Esperanto first language acquisition as unique, somewhat related to creolization processes but different in important ways. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                      Sociolinguistics

                                                                                                                      Very few artificial languages have developed active speech communities. Most sociolinguistic studies are about Esperanto. Kumura 2009 looks at Esperanto culture as that of a minority language. Wood 1979 discusses the idea of Esperanto as a culture in general. Dasgupta 1987 calls for more attention to it as a sociolinguistic phenomenon. Dulicenko 2010 discusses the history of the sociological aspects of interlanguages in Russia, and Fettes 1996 is an overview of surveys of Esperanto community characteristics. Sherwood 1982 is mainly concerned with linguistic variation in Esperanto. There are reports on Klingon as a speech community in Hermans 1999 and Wahlgren 2004 (both cited under Klingon).

                                                                                                                      • Dasgupta, Probal. 1987. Toward a dialogue between the sociolinguistic sciences and Esperanto culture. Language Problems & Language Planning 11.3: 305–334.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1075/lplp.11.3.04dasSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Survey of opinions about the creation of Esperanto culture from within the movement and case for why sociolinguists should pay closer attention to the phenomenon of Esperanto culture. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                        • Dulicenko, Aleksandr. 2010. The idea of an international artificial language at the dawn of early Soviet sociolinguistics. Russian Linguistics 34.2: 143–157.

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                                                                                                                          A history of the idea of artificial languages in Russia from the 18th century through the 1930s and the changing attitudes toward the idea in the sociolinguistic context. In Russian. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                          • Fettes, Mark. 1996. The Esperanto community: A quasi-ethnic linguistic minority? Language Problems & Language Planning 20.1: 53–59.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1075/lplp.20.1.07fetSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Overview of surveys of the Esperanto speech community from 1927 to 1992. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                            • Kumura, Goro Christoph. 2009. Esperanto as a minority language: A sociolinguistic perspective. Beitrage der Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Interlinguistik 16:11–24.

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                                                                                                                              Comparison of Esperanto and minority languages that finds them alike in many ways. Ideals important in maintenance of both kinds of communities. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                              • Sherwood, Bruce Arne. 1982. Variation in Esperanto. Studies in the Linguistic Sciences 12.1: 183–196.

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                                                                                                                                Addresses linguistics variation in Esperanto and the question of how a working standard can be maintained. Illinois Working Papers in Linguistics.

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                                                                                                                                • Wood, Richard E. 1979. A voluntary, non-ethnic, non-territorial speech community. In Sociolinguistic studies in language contact: Methods and cases. Edited by William Francis Mackey and Jacob Ornstein, 433–450. The Hague: Mouton.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1515/9783110810752Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  A thorough essay on what culture means in a language community formed by choice, seen as a new phenomenon in need of study.

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                                                                                                                                  General Linguistic Analysis

                                                                                                                                  The existence of artificial languages has sometimes warranted general discussion of how they place with respect to natural languages. Comrie 1996 and Koutny 2009 specifically address the question of typology as it relates to artificial languages. According to Moret 2004, the rise of artificial language movements and the success of Esperanto in particular have made it necessary to reevaluate the criteria for what was natural and artificial in language. Specific linguistic features of artificial languages are the subject of Libert and Moskovsky 2011 and Fiedler 1999.

                                                                                                                                  • Comrie, Bernard. 1996. Natural and artificial international languages: A typologist’s assessment. Journal of Universal Language 1:35–55.

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                                                                                                                                    A comparison of Esperanto and English with respect to typological features. With examples from other languages. Concludes that English is more neutral than Esperanto as an international language.

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                                                                                                                                    • Fiedler, Sabine. 1999. Plansprache und Phraseologie: Empirische Untersuchungen zu Reproduziertem Sprachmaterial im Esperanto. Frankfurt and New York: Peter Lang.

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                                                                                                                                      Research on the use of fixed phrases, such as idioms and multiword expressions, in Esperanto. In German.

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                                                                                                                                      • Koutny, Ilona. 2009. Esperanto from the perspective of language typology. Beitrage der Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Interlinguistik 16:117–130.

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                                                                                                                                        After addressing the question of whether the approaches of linguistic typology are applicable in the case of artificial languages, attempts a typological classification of Esperanto.

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                                                                                                                                        • Libert, Alan, and Christo Moskovsky. 2011. Aspects of the grammar and lexica of artificial languages. Frankfurt: Peter Lange.

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                                                                                                                                          Description of the linguistic features of various languages.

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                                                                                                                                          • Moret, Sébastien. 2004. D’un vice caché vers une nouvelle conception de la langue: Les langues artificielles et la linguistique. Cahiers Ferdinand de Saussure 57:7–21.

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                                                                                                                                            How the success of Esperanto necessitated a reevaluation of the defining characteristics of language. In French. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                            Relation to Natural Language Revitalization and Creolization

                                                                                                                                            It has been argued that the natural language phenomena of revitalization and creolization share similarities with the development of artificial language communities. The section on Sociolinguistics includes works which touch on this theme. Moody 2002 discusses the artificial sign language Gestuno in his account of the development of a natural international sign language. Romaine 2011 and Schreyer 2011 do explicitly cover artificial languages in their discussions of language revitalization and Liu 2001 discusses them as well in its account of creolization under unique conditions. Lo Bianco 2004 sees English in its capacity as a de facto international language as an interesting point of comparison for artificial languages.

                                                                                                                                            • Liu, Haitao. 2001. Creoles, pidgins, and planned languages: Language evolution under special conditions. Interface 15.2: 121–177.

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                                                                                                                                              Evaluations of the similarities and differences between the social and linguistic aspects of creoles, pidgins, and planned languages.

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                                                                                                                                              • Lo Bianco, Joseph. 2004. Invented languages and new worlds. English Today 20.02: 8.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0266078404002032Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Overview of various invented languages and their motivations. Some discussion of how their goals for international communication play out against the reality of English as an international language. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                • Moody, Bill. 2002. International sign: A practitioner’s perspective. Journal of Interpretation, 1–47.

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                                                                                                                                                  A discussion of the international sign language, sometimes called pidgin sign, that arises when deaf people who speak different sign languages come together at international events. Includes discussion of a consciously invented project called Gestuno.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Romaine, Suzanne. 2011. Revitalized languages as invented languages. In From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring invented languages. Edited by Michael Adams, 185–225. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                    Discusses efforts to revive languages such as Hebrew, Cornish, Welsh, Hawaiian, and Breton, and how elements of artificiality are introduced by those efforts.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Schreyer, Christine. 2011. Media, information technology, and language planning: What can endangered language communities learn from created language communities? Current Issues in Language Planning 12.3: 403–425.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/14664208.2011.604965Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Notes the successful use of information technology as a contributing factor in the spread of the popular fictional languages Klingon and Na’vi among fans and suggests ways to apply those techniques of spread to bolstering endangered languages. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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