First edition of Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels

The image at the right shows the beginning of the first edition of Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World in Four Parts by Lemuel Gulliver, better known as Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, published in 1726. This was a watershed work of fiction in the history of conlanging. Although several novels used imaginary languages prior to Swift's work, his is the first to continue to be widely known to the present day. Swift includes tantalizing snippets of several languages like Brobdingnagian, Laputan, and Houyhnhnm, but there is no record of his going any further in the development of his conlangs.

Below are some quotes from work:

" of them, who ventured so far as to get a full Sight of my Face, lifting up his Hands and Eyes by way of Admiration, cried out in a shrill but distinct Voice, Hekinah Degul: the others repeated the same Words several times..." ~ Part I, Chapter i.

Hekinah Degul probably means something similar to "What in the Devil!" according to Paul Odell Clark's A Gulliver Dictionary (Chapel Hill, 1953).
"But I should have mentioned, that before the principal Person began his Oration, he cryed out three times, Langro Dehul san: (these Words and the former were afterwards repeated and explained to me). Whereupon immediately about fifty of the Inhabitants came, and cut the Strings that fastened the left side of my Head, which gave me the Liberty of turning it to the right, and of observing the Person and Gesture of him that was to speak." ~ Part I, Chapter i.

"The Word Houyhnhnm, in their Tongue, signifies a Horse, and in its Etymology, the Perfection of Nature." ~ Part IV, Chapter iii.

A great online source of information on Gulliver's Travels is available here.

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