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4 Fictional Languages and Their Origins

4 Ficitional Languages And Their Origins

Article by Amanda Pereira.

Learning a new language is no easy task and, as you can probably imagine, creating one is even harder. But many movies and television shows have to do exactly that. The people who create these new languages not only have to make sure they fit with the type of characters who will be speaking it, but they have to make sure the words are pronounceable and believable. To make new languages, these language wizards have to draw inspiration from existing languages and use them to make something new. Thus, comes the creation of the fictional languages that fans not only love, but are actually starting to learn. Here we share with you a few fictional languages that you yourself can learn and become fluent in.

Klingon, Star Trek

While the Star Trek franchise features many different fictional languages, arguably, Klingon is one of the most famous and well-known fictional languages, not only from the franchise but in general. Klingon was first created and spoken in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, by actor James Doohan, and then was fully fleshed out and turned into a language by linguist Marc Okrand.

Okrand created the alien language based off what was in the 1979 film, but also added some English sounds so the language could easily be spoken by the actors. This is probably why so many ordinary people have become fully fluent in the language of Klingon. Since creating the language Okrand has written books about the language including a Klingon dictionary. Not to mention, the language has become so popular that there is a Klingon Language Institute that promotes the Klingon language and culture. The Klingon language has gained so much popularity, that there have even been wedding ceremonies performed in Klingon.

English: “Today is a good day to die.”
Klingon: “Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam.”

Na’vi, Avatar

The world was sent into a frenzy when James Cameron’s Avatar came out in 2009. The blockbuster film featured incredible CGI that blew away viewers, one thing that fans of the film haven’t been able to get enough of is the fictional language, Na’vi, that is used in the movie by the Na’vi race. While the movie was released in 2009, Cameron began developing the language in 2005 with professor Paul Frommer, as Cameron wanted the language to be as developed as possible before filming the movie. The Na’vi language was inspired by several different languages, including Native American and African languages.

Since the films release Frommer has developed the language further hoping it will become as commonly used as Klingon.

English: “Where do you come from?”
Na’vi: “Nga za‘u ftu peseng?”

Elvish language, Lord of the Rings

For his novels, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, writer J.R.R Tolkien had to create several different languages, most notable being Elvish language, which is used by many characters in the book and film series. There are several different Elvish languages including Quenya and Sindarin. Tolkien had begun developing these languages in 1910 before he wrote any of the books. As a lover of languages Tolkien was familiar with many but based his Elvish languages on Finnish and Welsh.

Just like Klingon, the Elvish languages have become so popular that many fans have actually become fully fluent in them and regularly converse in them.

English: “I’m the faster rider. I’ll take him.”
Sindarin: “Hon mabathon. Rochon ellint im”

Dothraki, Game of Thrones

Dothraki is one of the languages used in the hugely popular television series, Game of Thrones. For his book series, Song of Fire and Ice, writer George R.R. Martin created the Dothraki people who speak the language of the same name. The books feature a few words in Dothraki, but the actual language was fully fleshed out and created by David Peterson of the Language Creation Society for the television show. The language became public in 1996 when the first book of the Song of Fire and Ice series came out, and in 2009 Peterson was brought on to develop it into a full language for the show. Peterson drew inspiration for the Dothraki language from Mongolian as the Dothraki people are based off Mongolians and some Native American cultures.

As a result of the shows popularity, not only have many new-borns been named after characters, but several websites and organizations have been created that are dedicated to teaching the languages from Game of Thrones.

English: “The queen is beautiful.”
Dothraki: “Khaleesi zheanae.”

From the day they were created, the popularity of these languages hasn’t stopped growing, and with such loyal fan bases it’s hard to imagine them disappearing any time soon. Who knows, if these languages get any bigger than they already are, wintranslation might have to start offering translation services for these languages too! Could you translate any of them?

 

Frédérique Mantha

Frédérique Mantha is a graduate from the University of Ottawa, from which she holds a BA in Translation with Specialization in French-Spanish-English. As an Account Manager, she manages several French and multilingual clients. Frédérique also continues to translate into her mother tongue French; she does volunteer translations for TED among other projects. She also dedicates some of her time to writing blog articles and creative content. Before joining the team at her current position, Frédérique completed a Recruitment Internship at wintranslation, having gone through the experience herself, today she effectively manages our growing internship program.

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