Tower of Babel. Click for more information


Conlanging, like any specialization, has acquired its own set of distinctive terms. Below is a list of commonly encountered terms used in the art and craft of conlanging.

artlang: Short for "artistic language." A language created for artistic or aesthetic reasons, whether to stand on its own merits or to be used in fiction. Examples include Ayeri, Verdurian, Teonaht, Tolkien' Elvish languages, Klingon, etc.

auxlang: Short for "auxiliary language." These conlangs are designed for the express purpose of serving as a means of international communication, with lesser or greater degrees of success. The best known auxlang is Esperanto, which was devised as a neutral means of communication. Other auxlangs include Ido, Volapük, Interlingua, Solresol, and Ro.

Babel text: Genesis 11:1-9. This text, the story of the Tower of Babel, is frequently used by conlangers as a translation exercise. By utilizing a common text, conlangs can be compared both with each other and with natlangs. The concept of using these verses as the standard translation "test drive" was devised by Jeffrey Henning, creator of

canon: The "official" source of information on a particular conlang. Klingon speakers talk of the Okrandian Canon (from Marc Okrand).

conlang: Short for "constructed language." Types of conlangs include artlangs, auxlangs, and engelangs. Other names for conlangs include model languages, artificial languages, imaginary languages, invented languages, or planned languages.

conlanger: One who invents languages.

engelang: Short for "engineered language." These conlangs include loglangs as well as unique languages (like Ithkuil) designed to meet specific objective criteria.

loglang: Short for "logical language." These conlangs are designed using philosophical and/or logical parameters, often allowing only unambiguous statements. Examples include Loglan and Lojban.

natlang: Short for "natural language." These include English, French, Spanish, Gaelic, Finnish, Tibetan, Quechua, Basque, etc., etc., etc.

glossopoeia: (gloss-o-pea-ah). From the Greek words "tongue/language" and "to make." Another term for the artistic construction of languages. An alternative form is glossopoesis. Glossopoeic is the adjective and a glossopoeist is a conlanger. The word was coined by Steve Deyo (former editor of Glossopoeic Quarterly) in the early 1990s. Compare to the English word mythopoeia "myth-making."

naming language: A minimalist conlang used for the purpose of creating names for people, places, and things either in fiction or in a gaming environment. A naming language usually concentrates on sounds and words only, without any major focus on grammar.

neography: Literally, "new-writing." A writing system designed for a conlang (or even a natlang). A neography can also be designed to stand on its own (without a conlang) as an artistic exercise.

Back to About page.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional