Constructed language

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Constructed languages , even artificial languages or artificial languages are languages that have been newly developed by a person or group for various reasons and for various purposes. They are in contrast to natural languages .

The general identifier for constructed languages ​​according to the international language standardization ISO 639-2 is the code art , whereby widely used languages ​​have received their own code.


The classification of the constructed languages ​​is difficult and never entirely clear. Over the centuries there have been innumerable attempts to develop languages. A classic distinction comes from Couturat and Leau:

  • A priori languages ​​are being reinvented from scratch. For example, they follow a philosophical system that is supposed to describe or classify the world in a culturally neutral way. Symbols for graphic representation are adopted from the existing languages ​​or scripts
  • A posteriori languages ​​follow existing languages.

Building on this, a posteriori languages ​​can be described according to the nature of their source languages. A more differentiated distinction can be made by specifying the language type from linguistics , whereby a certain type is only described for constructed languages. This oligosynthetic language type is characterized by an extremely reduced vocabulary (of a maximum of several hundred lexemes ), which means that more complex relationships can only be established through composition . The aUI 'or Toki Pona (2001 by Sonja Elen Kisa ) presented by John W. Weilgart in the 1960s are notable examples of this. By far the most practical way to classify constructed languages ​​is to judge by their intended purpose. This brief listing of broad categories is a classification based on well-known prototypes in the history of constructed languages.

Planned languages

As planned languages is referred to those constructed languages that have been created for interpersonal communication. Most often the aim is to facilitate international understanding between different cultures - in this case one also speaks of world auxiliary languages . Of these, Esperanto (published in 1887 by Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof ), its offshoots (so-called Esperantiden ) Ido (1907 by Louis de Beaufront ) and Interlingua (1951 by the International Auxiliary Language Association ) are examples. Well-known predecessors of Esperanto were the musical Solresol , which was developed from 1817 by the French music teacher François Sudre , and the Volapük, presented in 1880 by the priest Johann Martin Schleyer . None of the auxiliary world languages ​​has so far been able to find such widespread use that it is generally used as a lingua franca .

Controlled languages ​​represent a borderline case to constructed languages . These are characterized by strictly defined rules such as vocabulary , sentence order and textuality and must be designed in such a way that they are easier to understand for beginners of the language or that the text that is written in the language is suitable for translation . Extreme cases of controlled languages ​​are those natural languages ​​that limit themselves to a fixed basic vocabulary in order to establish this language as a world auxiliary language. With Basic English , Charles Kay Ogden tried in 1930 to make such an approach suitable for the world. A German counterpart to this was, for example, the colonial German developed in 1917 , called World German , by the natural scientist Wilhelm Ostwald . However, some of these projects were criticized for supporting a colonialist policy and, in this sense , wanting to promote language imperialism .

Logical languages

In a broader sense, so-called logical languages can also be counted among the planned languages. These languages ​​should enable communication between people that is as clear as possible and is based on logical principles. The best-known modern representative of these languages ​​is Lojban , which was created when a group around Bob LeChevalier split off from the Loglan project in the 1980s . The complete grammar was published in 1997 and is maintained to this day. Loglan was originally invented by linguist James Cooke Brown in the 1950s to test the so-called Sapir-Whorf hypothesis .

Philosophical Languages

Another category are the philosophical languages . These mostly a priori languages ​​claim to be able to express transcendent truths in the broadest sense that cannot be expressed with conventional languages. In the seventeenth century , John Wilkins (1668 in Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language ) and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz ( Characteristica universalis ) were prominent advocates of the view that one can and should develop a perfect language based on the knowledge of the sciences and thus should be able to automatically produce further truths. More modern philosophical languages ​​are the Toki Pona , which tries to pursue Taoist values with its minimalist structure , or Láadan , which was created in 1982 by Suzette Haden Elgin as a language that is tailored to the needs and feelings of women.

In addition to spoken planned languages, there are also sign languages such as Gestuno (1973), or logographic languages , such as the one with the Bliss symbols invented by Charles K. Bliss in 1949 .

Secret languages

The oldest language creations are probably secret languages, which are first recorded in ancient Greece. The lingua ignota , which was invented by Hildegard von Bingen in the 12th century , is often mentioned as the oldest constructed language with a known author . In fact, it is not a question of a language, but a list of around a thousand imaginary words, all nouns, with Latin and German equivalents added, whereby the factual grouping (church, calendar, housekeeping, natural history) and the Latin-German word inventory are closely selected Chapters of an older monastic textbook, the Summa Henrici , are based on. The more recent research suggests that the fantasy words served as mnemonic aids in the acquisition of the Summa Henrici syllabus and, if they were also used in internal communication in the monastery, they served entertainment rather than secrecy.

Also " twin language " that are a frequently encountered form of communication between twin siblings are sometimes classed as secret languages.

The special language of beggars and crooks in the German-speaking area - Rotwelsch - and the French Argot , which has been attested since the late Middle Ages, can also be counted among the secret languages, but are usually not considered as constructed languages.

Special languages

Special languages are languages ​​or forms of language that are only used by some of the members within a language community. They were also referred to as secret languages in the past after their often socially marginalized speakers were criminalized. In the majority population there was the idea that the speakers were organizing criminal activities in such a way that they covered their language. Today's special language philology has broken away from this, discarding the term “secret language” and replacing it with the non-judgmental “special language”. Special languages ​​have the function of strengthening group identity. Gender-linked special languages ​​also occur.

Medefaidrin can be mentioned as an example of a constructed special language . It is a language with a priori vocabulary " revealed by the Holy Spirit " to the initiators and its own script. Medefaidrin has been used by a small neo-religious community in Nigeria since the late 1920s and is no longer in use.

The Enochian language was developed around 1582 by the English scholars John Dee and Edward Kelley and is still used today as the liturgical language in new religious circles such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn .

Another example is the language of the Eskaya , a cultural minority on the Philippine island of Bohol . This language was created at the beginning of the 20th century and also has a largely a priori vocabulary and its own syllabary . This language is still taught today and is used by around 100 families in prayers, chants, and formal speeches.

Medefaidrin and the Eskaya language are strongly reminiscent of the medieval lingua ignota of Hildegard von Bingen , of which little more than a list of words and the alphabet has survived. The lingua ignota appears as an immature fetus of a constructed special language. The better developed Balaibalan , which was probably created in the 15th or 16th century in the Ottoman Empire , was probably intended as a special language.

Damin , the former special language of adult men on the island of Mornington in the north of Australia , differs from the already mentioned not only in its differently defined speaker group, but also in its extravagant phoneme inventory and its minimalist supply of morphemes . The language was taught as part of an initiation ceremony that the Christian mission has put an end to.

Fictional languages

Fictional languages ​​are mostly invented for artistic purposes, often as part of a fictional world . They can be found in literature or film or in role plays or computer games . Often fictional languages ​​are misleadingly referred to as fictional languages (invented, nonexistent). However, this belies the fact that many fictional languages have full vocabulary and generally have sophisticated rules about syntax and grammar . In the following two examples in particular, certain language communities have established themselves, which means that the languages ​​themselves - in contrast to the worlds for which they were invented - can no longer be described as fictitious .

Well-known examples

Formal languages

Formal languages ​​are all languages ​​that can be generated using formal grammars . They belong in the special field of logic and theoretical computer science . The study of formal languages ​​as such was initiated in the 1950s by Noam Chomsky , who proposed the theory of generative transformation grammar . Common linguistic theories state that, in principle, all languages ​​can be expressed as formal languages. For notation, depending on the subject, one uses, for example, the Backus-Naur form or the X-bar scheme .

The formal systems of logic were the earliest formal languages. The first is Gottlob Frege's conceptual writing from 1879. Logic systems can differ in their expressiveness, in this sense one speaks of propositional logic and predicate logic , for example . There are also differences with regard to the derivability relation used , e.g. B. with classical and intuitionistic logic .

Formal languages ​​have practical application primarily as programming languages (in the broadest sense). With them it is possible to formulate precise instructions that a computer can recognize and implement. The areas of application are diverse. Programming languages ​​are usually considered as:

Documentation languages

Documentation languages ​​are languages ​​that are used for documentation purposes to index various types of information . They are characterized by a controlled vocabulary , so that homonyms and synonyms are avoided. Depending on the area of ​​application, they are used in the form of thesauri , keyword catalogs (often using syntactic indexing ) or classifications (e.g. decimal classifications such as Paul Otlets and Henri LaFontaines Universal Decimal Classification ).

Written languages ​​and writing systems

Strictly speaking, all codified written formulations of a language should be viewed as constructed, because a written language can never be derived directly, but only through more or less arbitrary conventions that are always introduced and monitored by a person or a small group. In general, however, one speaks of a constructed written language if the Creator is known and the writing follows clear rules. These are mostly conventions that are developed based on one or more idioms of a national language and are therefore given their own name. The better-known examples are Nynorsk, created by Ivar Aasen in the 19th century , and Rumantsch Grischun, developed by Heinrich Schmid in 1982 . Constructed written languages ​​cannot always prevail. The Slovak written language developed by Anton Bernolák at the end of the 18th century was finally replaced by the newly codified written language that is still used today.

Examples of writing systems for natural idioms that have not evolved from other systems but have been more or less newly invented can be given: the Korean Hangeul ( Sejong , 1440s) and the North American alphabets of the Cree ( James Evans , 1840s), Cherokee ( Sequoyah , 1820s) and Osage (Herman Mongrain Lookout and Michael Everson , 2004/2014).

Game languages

As game Languages modifications as they use children and young people in all parts of the world often refers to existing languages. They are only to be understood as constructed languages ​​in the sense that they mostly consist of simple instructions on how real existing words are to be transformed.

A well-known example is the French Verlan ("rotation" from the French (à) l'envers , "upside down"), in which syllables are swapped.

The spoon language is an example from the German-speaking area. A lew is added after each vowel , which is followed by the original vowel. The Bernese Mattenenglisch works in a similar way to the Hamburger Kedelkloppersprook and the English Pig Latin . The first syllable is placed at the end of the word and another vowel is added to the beginning and / or the end of the word. Talking backwards is also a language game popular in various places.



In 1960 Hans Freudenthal introduced the Lincos language (abbreviation of Latin Lingua cosmica , "cosmic language"), which should make it possible to come into contact with extraterrestrials and to communicate with them. To do this, he developed a step-by-step mathematical structure that should enable every intelligent being to learn the language.

Voynich manuscript

The MS 408 of Yale University , better known as the Voynich manuscript (named after its discoverer Wilfrid Michael Voynich ) is a manuscript of 102 pages is (due to the foliation is assumed that there were originally 14 pages more) and is written in a script that has not yet been found on any other document. Despite thorough investigations, no one can say to this day whether the manuscript contains a message or consists only of a meaningless sequence of characters. Some researchers think it plausible that it could have been written in a constructed language.

Starck German

Starckdeutsch (also Siegfriedsch and Kauderdeutsch) is an artificial language that was invented in 1972 by the German painter and poet Matthias Koeppel . It is characterized in particular by doubling and strengthening consonants, diphthonging vowels and the exclusive use of irregular verbs. It is used in satirical poems, but the entire development work is to be understood as a parody of itself.

See also


Web links

Portal: Constructed Languages  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Constructed Languages
Wiktionary: Artificial language  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


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