Learn a second language...

In the Land of Invented Languages

A book by Arika Okrent
Arika got her Ph.D. at Chicago while I was there. She's not only one of the smartest people I know, she also wrote this little gem of a book.

From her website :

Just about everyone has heard of Esperanto, which was nothing less than one man's attempt to bring about world peace by means of linguistic solidarity. And every Star Trek fan knows about Klingon, which was nothing more than a television show's attempt to create a tough-sounding language befitting a warrior race with ridged foreheads. But few people have heard of Babm, Blissymbolics, and the nearly nine hundred other invented languages that represent the hard work, high hopes, and full-blown delusions of so many misguided souls over the centuries.

In In The Land of Invented Languages, author Arika Okrent tells the fascinating and highly entertaining history of man's enduring quest to build a better language. Peopled with charming eccentrics and exasperating megalomaniacs, the land of invented languages is a place where you can recite the Lord's Prayer in John Wilkins's Philosophical Language, say your wedding vows in Loglan, and read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in Lojban.

A truly original new addition to the booming category of language books, In The Land of Invented Languages will be a must-have on the shelves of all word freaks, grammar geeks, and plain old language lovers.

Go to her website.


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Spoken on Endor by short fuzzy creatures
According to the StarWars website, "Ewok language is liquid and expressive, and not that difficult to speak for other species. Actually, the Ewok language was created by altering and layering Tibetan, Mongolian, and Nepali languages. Sounddesigner Ben Burtt says: "I broke the sounds down phonetically, and red-edited them together to make composite words and sentences. I would always use a fair amount of the actual languages, combined with purely made-up words."

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While Ewokese realy makes no sense, the Ewok celebration song, heard at the end of Return of the Jedi (it was replaced in the new version), has been translated into English and has given rise to this sorry attempt at an Ewok dictionary (see also the"huttese" dictionary (as in the language spoken by the Hutt...)).

If you're ready to take that final step into geekdom, you can learn the lyrics to the Ewok Celebration song, affectionately called "yub nub", and sing along with Wicket and the others.

The Divine Language of the Fifth Element

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Spoken by the most beautiful alien of all
Big Badaboum! Ewoks may be fuzzy and cute but no alien looks as good as Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element. Leloo (her full name is a lot longer. hear it.) speaks what is refered to as "the divine language". Here is an excerpt from the movie.

Melaloy-re takhtad asountimon de Mondoshawan Metalkcta ligurat! Isperobera khrasma, perod'jun dat dero fergi hamas'met tatroskit zhit handlha...Tsouk tsouk...
Topometimbackta selovoy! Itoumalena palela fer kiko hammas statoncro bom sonoy dot pan-adindoskal.. nealla dindo... djalla boom... bada boom
hear it.

A Dictionary of the Divine Language is available online. If you can get your hands on it, there is also a book by Luc Besson in which he talks more about the language. As for Milla, did you know she was also a singer? She released her first album, The Divine Comedy in 1984 when she was 18. (Listen to samples at Amazon) She has recently toured with a now defunct band Plastic has Memory. She also has a new single out (Electric Sky) and an album under way. Learn more about Milla's music here, or visit www.millaJ.com for everything Milla. On a less vital note, my ex-cat was named Leeloo (she was lost in a custody battle), you can see a picture of her here.

tlhIngan Hol

The Klingon Language
By far the most developped alien language in the galaxy. The Klingon language was created for Paramount by linguist Mark Okrand (apparently, you can still find his name in bibliographies on Sino-Tibetan). The most complete ressource on the Internet is The Klingon Language Institute, directed by Lawrence Schoen (PhD, linguist at a Pennsylvania college). There you can learn to read, write and speak Klingonaase and buy a copy of Klingon Hamlet while you're at it.

In the meantime, here's your first lesson in tlhIngan Hol:

nuqjatlh? (Huh?)

nuqDaq 'oH puchpa''e (Where is the bathroom?)

Hab SoSlI' Quch (Your mother has a smooth forehead!)

You should read Teresa Lynn Wells M.A. thesis at Arizona State titles : "A Survey of the Artificial Language tlhIngan Hol: from creation to creativity" available here... There was a course offered in 1994 at the University of Koblenz called "The Semantics of Klingonaase" but I can't seem to find the course material online anymore...