Anyone studying a fictional language?

Just curious if anyone has/does/will studied…study…whatever…a fictional language? Like Sindarian or Klingon? No, seriously…thinking about doing a fictional language myself.

I once looked at Esperanto which I didn’t like at all. On the other hand, I think that Tolkien’s creations are wonderful.

However, I wouldn’t personally learn any of them. There’s just not enough of a reason for me to do it. If I was the ‘dress-up playing’ type of guy, I guess I’d learn one to play the part. :smiley:

I am quite sympathetic to Esperanto as an idea, but absolutely not in love with the realization. It’s just a matter of taste, I guess.

@Cloud1241 Try Ithkuil! You would get a useless hobby for a lifetime, but even that wouldn’t be enough to succeed in learning it! :slight_smile:

Ithkuil…looks like a piece of cake! :smiley:

I wouldn’t put Esperanto under the category of “fictional language”, but I take the point.

I can’t imagine learning a language like Elvish or Klingon or Na’vi. I’m just not interested enough in any of those franchises. You’d have to be a real die-hard fan. I suppose you could learn the basics just for kicks. Are these languages developed enough to actually be used?

The motivation to learn Esperanto (at least for me) was to have access to an international community of people who are interested in making international connections. Esperanto is a useful tool, and it’s also an experience where you can have international communication and no one has the advantage of being a native speaker. I think that’s what leads most people to Esperanto. It’s a pretty different motivation from die-hard fans who want to learn a fictional languages from a franchise/property that they love like Star Trek.

While you can dislike certain aspects of Esperanto, and a theoretically better international language could be developed, the fact is that Esperanto exists and already has an international network of speakers, so it offers the chance to enjoy the benefits of an international language now. I don’t expect Esperanto to become the global auxialiary langauge, but it provides a chance to experience what it’s like to have a (comparatively) easy-to-learn-and-use international language where no country has native-speaker advantage.

As a language teacher, I was also interested in its possible applications in language learning. I suppose fictional languages might have some relevance there too. I would be very curious to hear if anyone has learned a fictional language reasonably well. I’ve never met such a person.

For me, the ideas of Esperanto are naive. To say that if we all speak a common language, all of a sudden we’ll be at peace or have a vehicle for peace, sounds like some sort of a bad joke. This is easy enough to prove with groups who speak the same language but fight among one another. I’m pretty sure that here in Australia - English people kill English speakers. And, the argument of that being about ‘cultural baggage’ is rather weak too.

Wanting Esperanto to become some ‘global auxiliary language’ is lauded as a noble idea but those ideas are based on a fairly limited understanding of human nature. Pure, poorly thought out idealism.

The only place I see it having any worth, as Bortrun mentions, is that no country would have a native speaker advantage. But then, Europe and north America have big advantages as it’s much easier for them to learn it than other areas. So, as nice as that idea is, it still not equal.

If we want this world to be peaceful and equal, we have to stop talking about doing it and start doing it!

Yes, Esperanto is not completely neutral. In order to be so, you’d have to replace its European word roots with randomly generated word roots. But, as I say, the main advantage of Esperanto is that it exists and has a community of speakers. Esperanto is the only lady at the dance. Although many people get a similar experience through English - for example, Europeans who are interacting through English. If you have a Dane, a Spaniard, and a Pole having dinner, they’ll almost certainly be communicating in English.

The creator of Esperanto was an idealist in many respects, but he had practical experience with language problems. His village was divided into 4 languages communities which couldn’t communicate with each other. He thought a neutral common language would help. It probably would have. That doesn’t mean it would have solved all the village’s problems, nor did he claim that it would.

I don’t think he claimed that if Esperanto was adopted as a global auxiliary language, we would all be immediately at peace. I don’t think Esperantists claim that either. But there are plenty of examples from history of conflicts that started because people couldn’t understand each other due to language conflicts. It is my personal opinion that we would be better off if we all had some common means of communication. All our problems would not be solved, but we would be better off.

I don’t think you’re acturately reflecting the ideas of Zamenhof or of Esperantists generally.

In addition to vocabulary, you’d also have to consider syntax, morphology and phonology.

I’m going on what I’ve had Esperantists have tried to assure me. Maybe they were desperate to get me onside because I just didn’t find the language interesting enough to warrant studying it.

There’s something I don’t really understand about the claim that there were 4 language communities and nobody could understand each other. Even less educated Jews spoke at least 2 or 3 languages at the time. That was extremely commonplace. With educations and what ever other experiences, that would have been more. My own great-grandfather spoke 8 fluently and around 3 or 4 more to some degree (as a travelling musician).

Of course, the other groups were probably not so into learning the languages around them but one other language wouldn’t be too much to expect.

He might have had some good ideas, but I don’t see how they could be achieved through any language, let alone this one.

I’m not his biographer, that’s just what he wrote. I believe the four communities were Jews, Poles, Russians, and Germans, although I might be wrong about that. It was the fact that the different communities couldn’t communicate well with each other which inspired him. I can’t comment on how many languages your great-grandfather spoke. I have no reason to doubt Zamenhof’s description of the conditions of his village. Perhaps the Esperantists you talked with oversold the likelihold of Esperanto leading to world peace. I don’t know. However, I’d still argue that everybody being able to communicate with everybody else is a better situation than that not being the case.

Phonology is not, I think, a major obstacle for anyone with Esperanto. It uses the 5 cardinal vowels and the consonant system is not very complex, although certain consonants, or consonant paris, will present some difficulties for some groups. The morphology was designed to maximize the range that you can get out of a limited number of roots. Changing it significantly would do away with the very heart of what makes Esperanto so simple and flexible. I don’t think it necessarily privleges anyone in particular, or to a great degree. The syntax is very flexible in Esperanto. Some complain that it should have a nominative marker rather than an accusative marker, and maybe it should, but the flexibility of the syntax still allows people to express a lot of things in their own way. I can say “Mi havas hundon” and Japanese speakers can say “Mi hundon havas”. Both are fine - that is admittedly a simple example. You could argue that the SVO word order has become “standard” because of the predominance of speakers using that word order, but it’s not required.

If you replaced the roots with randonly-generated ones, you’d have a pretty neutral language. But that’s just my opinion and others may disagree. But one of the reasons that Zamenhof chose the roots he did was because he thought they would be widely understand (both by native speakers and by non-native speakers who may have had exposure to English, German, or a Romance langauge). They were chosen not to privelege native speakers of Romance langauges (he was not one), it was done for pragmatic reasons. Given the small number of roots you need in Esperanto (and given the fact that many people today have had exposure to them already in one form or another), the burden of learning them is not huge. Even for Japanese speakers, it’s probably easier to learn the current roots than it would be to learn randomly-generated roots as some of the roots are have been absorbed in Japanese, and many others are familiar from studying English.

Although we really shouldn’t degenerate this into a debate on the merits of Esperanto. I think we may be getting a bit away from the OP’s original point.

I understand your points. At the end of the day, regardless of its ideas and intentions, I still find it boring. lol :slight_smile:

Fair enough :slight_smile: My interest in it was relatively short lived. It was interesting to get pen pals in different countries and to even meet some while traveling, but ultimately there wasn’t enough to sustain my interest. I expect that I’ll get back into it though.

Yeah, that’s really the only benefit I see in the language. It’s a nice thing but I’d rather do that through ‘real’ languages. I like the fact that languages belong to places, people, history, culture, etc. That’s why they are so attractive to me.

I learned Esperanto because of one thing: I was absolutely scared by the task of learning a new language. I thought about all the pain and suffering I’d have to go through just to be fluent in another language. I always thought that learning a new language just came naturally to those gifted few, but I really wanted to learn a new language, so I turned to Esperanto. I tried it for a few months and I have to say that it dispelled a lot of my fears. All those fancy terms could easily be understood if you actually took the time to look them up. So in short, Esperanto helped me understand what it felt like to learn a new language, sort of like an appetizer. :stuck_out_tongue:

I do plan on learning Klingon, although I have to admit that I haven’t started it yet. Why? Because I love Star Trek, and I believe that the ability to understand the Klingons when they speak in the show will enhance my viewing experience, and because it sounds like it would be so darn fun to speak. Plus, it has less than 2000 words so it wouldn’t be all that hard to memorize the entire lexicon. The Klingon language has a ton of “culture” behind it (both the alien culture created by the writers of Star Trek as well as the “nerd” culture of those devoted enough to speak it) as well as books and operas and music written in Klingon. There is only one known “native speaker” of Klingon, although he finally rejected the language when he reached four years old. I definitely won’t devote as much time to it as I do “real” languages, but it will be a fund diversion, and of course another mental challenge to keep the little grey* cells on their toes.

*Even though I am an American, and for the most part prefer the americanized spelling of things, for some reason I find the word “grey” more aesthetically appealing with its original “e”.