I was recently watching Season 1 of Game of Thrones, and my favorite scenes have always revolved around Daenerys Targaryen and her husband Kahl Drogo. They speak a language called Dothraki, a language that has been developed, and which is translated for the viewer the way a foreign French film might be. It is a language that is fully functional, with its own idioms and grammatical rules. But it isn’t the only language created specifically for a fictional world. What follows is an examination of languages that exist only in fictional worlds, but they are languages you could potentially learn and master.
As mentioned above, Dothraki was created for Game of Thrones, through hiring a language creator named David Paterson. He was able to work out a realistic language that went on to be featured in the show. Interestingly enough, whenever an actor would ad lib in Dothraki, the language had to be retrofitted to accommodate the improvisation. Paterson’s dictionary included over 3,000 words, as well as extensive descriptions of the proper way to form a variety of sentences. If you want to ride with the Khalasar, or help the Mother of Dragons take the Iron throne, you can always pick up conversational Dothraki.
This is one of the better known fictional languages, originally created by linguist Marc Okrand for the warrior race on the hit television series Star Trek. There have been a number of books published about the Klingon language and its accompanying organization, The Klingon Language Institute. Plenty of fans have used the language to conduct marriage ceremonies, write poetry and songs, and adapt well-known works. In fact, there’s even an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet available in Klingon.
This language originated in the J.R.R. Tolkien world of Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit), and it is a very complex fictional language, complete with its own alphabet. Tolkien himself created the language: in fact, he started constructing the language before he started any of his better-known works. Tolkien studied Finnish and Welsh, and those are the languages upon which Elvish is based. And what is particularly interesting about Elvish is that it has multiple dialects.
Anyone who has ever heard of Superman knows about Kryptonite, his only weakness, and Krypton, his planet of origin. What they may not know is that Kyrptonian is a language they could learn to speak, if they so chose. While it isn’t as widely used as some of the other languages mentioned, it is a complex and dynamic language, with a resounding fan base.
Jennifer Bustance is a California-based freelance writer, playwright, and novelist. Her plays have been performed all over the country, and her prose has appeared in various online and print publications. Jennifer is a teaching artist with the Playwrights Project, San Diego Writers, Ink, and UCSD Extension. She is the Playwright in Residence at the Scripps Ranch Theatre and a founding member of their New Works Studio. She has an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.
In addition to writing blogs for us, Brian Gruters manages translation projects for corporate clients. He started with Language Translation in 2015.
Brian brings several years of experience as a Spanish to English translator to his work. He has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Arizona and a master’s in Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
As a writer, Brian is mostly interested in language, science, and environmental conservation issues. He writes for various publications, as well as his blog, briangruters.com.
Jennifer Bustance is a California-based freelance writer, playwright, and novelist originally from Troy, Michigan. Her plays have been performed all over the country, and her prose has appeared in various online and print publications.
Jennifer is a teaching artist with the Playwrights Project, San Diego Writers, Ink, and UCSD Extension. She is the Playwright in Residence at the Scripps Ranch Theatre and a founding member of their New Works Studio. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.
Chris Maroulakos has worked at Language Translation since 2007, and he is currently the director of operations. He has been a blogger and managing editor for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear since 2008, and he also worked as a blogger and associate editor for NBC San Diego's SoundDiego music blog.
Chris holds certifications in SDL Trados Studio for Translators (Advanced Level), SDL Trados Studio for Project Managers, and SDL MultiTerm for Translators and Project Managers. He is Inbound Certified by HubSpot and also has certifications in Localization and Localization Project Management from California State University Chico, the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), and the Localization Institute.
He graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a BA in Communications and with minors in Italian and International Studies.