As the amount of natural languages spoken in the world declines, the number of languages that are constructed by sociologists, scientists, or even hobbyists, is increasing. Sadly, the application of these constructed languages in everyday life are limited to personal interest or grammatical study, despite their intended uses ranging from foreign business communication, cultural development and culture creation, or even globalized use as the world’s primary language.
Constructed languages are defined as languages that have been entirely developed by humans for communication, or put simply, languages that have not been created or altered naturally and culturally. The practical use of these languages are to replace former languages or methods of communication, giving linguists a blank slate to create a functional language without verbal inconsistencies or strange grammar rules that natural languages have developed over consistent use.
The first recorded constructed language in history is called Lingua Ignota, and was developed in the 12th century by Hildegard of Bingen, an abbess of Rupertsburg who used the language for her religious divinations. During the Renaissance Era, multiple constructed languages were proposed and developed in an attempt to create a flawless, philosophical language. One of these languages, named Solresol, was developed later in the early 19th century. Solresol was based on the solfège method of music intervals, the theory being that it would be simple to learn and unbiased towards any group of people.
There are several constructed languages that have developed a large base of speakers, their popularity stemming from different reasons. Esperanto, developed in 1887 by Ludovich Zamenhof, is one of the most popular due to its simplistic and regular nature. Lojban, the successor to Loglan which was originally developed in 1955, is based off of the top five languages spoken worldwide and follows an extremely logical structure, from word construction to sentence construction to pronunciation of the vowels and diphthongs. The most complex constructed languages are Ithkuil and its deviation Ilaksh I, which are impossible to learn in their entirety but were created to explore the depth of human communication.
An example of Lojban in its spoken form.
The advantages of learning a constructed language are the same as learning a natural foreign language: brain development, a better understanding of grammatical structure, and the ability to communicate with another culture. The disadvantages a great number of current natural languages are facing are also the same for constructed languages: people need to speak them to keep them alive. Where natural languages have the disadvantage of commonly being confusing, incomplete in relation to other languages, or in a segregated part of the world, constructed languages have the advantage of being easy to learn, easy to speak, and in some cases will have a controlled grammar environment so that the language is not allowed to develop as a natural language does.
Ironically, the most popular constructed languages are ones that are either never utilized or never thought of as constructed. Computer coding languages such as C++ and Python are constructed languages, used to interact with machines. American Sign Language is a constructed language conveyed via hand motions, and can be learned by people from different cultural backgrounds with equal levels of difficulty. Popular fictional languages such as Tolkien’s Elvish language and Star Trek’s Klingon language, although not regularly applied outside of their respected genres, are arguably the most public examples of constructed languages.
A simple Google search of constructed languages will generate hundreds of top ten lists, wikis and learning sites, and even language generators. There are hundreds of constructed languages that exist, most of them existing for the purpose of study, some existing for globalization. As dozens of natural languages go extinct every year, choosing a constructed language for every day global use would essentially make all native languages and dialects secondary, creating the simple and universal method of communication that the world needs.
By Jonah Stephens