Monday, May 27, 2024

Meme Monday: Fantasy Language Memes

It's a pretty well-known thing that JRR Tolkien invented languages --he was a philologist, after all-- and decided to create stories (and a world) for them. Hence, Middle-earth was born. 

Nowadays, Fantasy Languages (I lump SF Languages in here as well) are pretty common in SF&F literature. Of course, that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. 

When I write, I tend to gloss over the different languages themselves and focus on whether my characters can understand them, like so:

Sighing, I broke the seal. "I'd just like to receive a response from the Explorer's League," I grumbled.

 "What was that, Apprentice?" Elsharin called from the other room.

Crap. Wrong language. "I was hoping it was from the Explorer's League," I replied in Thalassian. "I sent them a letter about visiting one of their digs."

 I heard a brief, whispered conversation involving a lot of Thalassian words I didn't know, then Haleh spoke up. "It is good you wish to help, Cardwyn," she replied. "The Dwarves know much but are frequently too eager. A voice of" --she used a word I didn't know-- "would be good for them."

"Thank you, ma'am," I replied, making a mental note to look up the word she used, and opened the letter.

When I was younger, I would have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to invent words and string them together like they were a language. You know, like that found in Chris Paolini's Eragon books. 

“Atra esterni' ono thelduin
Mor' rana li'fa unin hjarta onr
Un du evari'nya ono varda

(May good fortune rule over you
peace live in your heart
may the stars watch over you)”
Christopher Paolini, Eragon & Eldest

Still, it's time to poke some fun at a stock part of SF&F literature!

There's always that one person in the back that
pushes their glasses up and says "Well, ACTUALLY..."
I know, because that would have been me.

And this is why I don't try to make up
languages any more. From ofwordsandbooks.

When not done well, I turn into Grumpy Cat.
From imgflip.

I never took Latin, but I was amused enough
by its usage in Harry Potter that I thought of this meme
first when I decided on this for Meme Monday.
From Memehunter.


  1. As far as fictional languages in MMORPGs go, I still think Dragon Nest's Song of the Goddess was so beautifully sung by Erutan. It's actually really hard to make up words that flow beautifully with music and rhythm and work aesthetically. I love listening to that track despite knowing it's gibberish :D

    1. Although it's not video game related, Vangelis' Conquest of Paradise from the soundtrack to 1492: Conquest of Paradise also features made up words that flow beautifully. (The movie? Eh, Ridley Scott has shown before and after the release of 1492 that he has kind of a casual acquaintance with history.)


      There's also Karl Jenkins' (the DeBeers Diamond Music composer) Adiemus albums, which also feature invented words.