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Constructed Languages 

Artificial, otherwise also known as constructed, planned, or auxiliary, languages are those languages whose phonologygrammar, and vocabulary have been intentionally constructed by people, rather than having developed naturally over an extended period of time. There are many possible reasons for constructing an artificial language. Among some of them are the following: (1) to facilitate international communication, e. g., EsperantoIdoInterlinguaVolapük; (2) to engage in linguistic experimentation, e. g., Loglan or Lojban; (3) to help create a fictional world, e. g., Klingon in Star Trek,Tolkien’s Quenya and Sindarin in Middle Earth; or Dothraki used in the Game of Thrones.

Efforts to introduce artificial languages into daily life have had very limited success. To date, there is no internationally recognized and universally used artificial language. All of them have a restricted range of use and do not usually have native speakers, although some Esperantists claim that they have successfully taught Esperanto as a first language to their children. For instance, Ethnologue reports that there are 200-2,000 first language speakers of Esperanto.



Structure and vocabulary
Artificial languages are sometimes divided into two groups.

  • The first group, by far the largest, is referred to as a posteriori languages. They are intended for use as auxiliary languages to facilitate communication across language boundaries. These languages use building blocks taken from natural languages. For example, Esperanto draws on several Western European languages, such as LatinGreekRomanceGermanic, and Slavic languages.
  • The second group is called a priori languages. They use invented elements, such as special symbols or numbers, to represent basic concepts. These are then grouped into logical systems based on a particular principle. A posteriori languages are closer to natural languages than a priori languages.

Below is a list of some of the better know a posteriori, or auxiliary, languages.

Date created
Basic facts
“World language”
1880 Johan Martin Schleyer 8 vowels, 20 consonants, based on English and German
“Lingvo Internacia’
1887 Ludwig Zamenhof 5 vowels, 23 consonants, based on Western European languages with some Slavic elements
Idiom Neutral 1902 Waldemar Rosenberger strongly influenced by Romance languages with some Slavic elements
Latino sin Flexione
1903 International Auxiliary Language Association Latin without inflections
Ido 1907 group of reformist Esperantospeakers a modified version of Esperanto
Occidental (Interlingue) 1922 Edgar von Wahl based on Romance languages
Novial 1928 Otto Jespersen Ido vocabulary + Occidental grammar
Interglossa 1943 Lancelot Hogben preliminary version
Interlingua 1951 International Auxiliary Language Association Romance-based grammar and vocabulary based on main Western European languages
Glosa 1981 W. Ashby and R. Clark based on Interglossa; contains a basic 1,000-word vocabulary derived from Greek and Latin roots


  • Auxiliary languages that were intended to be used for international communication are written with adapted versions of the Latin alphabet, e.g., Esperanto or Volapük.
  • There have also been some attempts to create scripts for fictional languages. The best-known constructed scripts dedicated to fictional languages are J. R. R. Tolkien‘s SaratiTengwar and Cirth. There are also a few others, such as the Klingon script (used in Star Trek movies), Aurek-besh (used in Return of the Jedi and other episodes of Star Wars), and D’ni (used in the computer games Myst and Riven).

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in some auxiliary languages is given below.

Esperanto Ĉiuj homoj estas denaske liberaj kaj egalaj laŭ digno kaj rajtoj. Ili posedas racion kaj konsciencon, kaj devus konduti unu la alian en spirito de frateco.
Volapük Valik menas labons leig e lib in dinits e dets. Givons lisäls e konsiens e mutons dunön okes in flenüg tikäl.
Interlingua Tote le esseres human nasce libere e equal in dignitate e in derectos. Illes es dotate de ration e de conscientia e debe ager le unes verso le alteres in un spirito de fraternitate


Language Difficulty
questionHow difficult is it to learn Constructed Languages?
There is no data for speakers of constructed language in terms of difficulty for speakers of English.

9 Responses to Constructed Languages

  1. Bill Chapman

    I don’t think you have stressed sufficiently here that Esperanto is head and shoulders above any other planned language in terms of usefulness.

    I’ve used Esperanto in speech and writing in about fifteen countries over recent years, and I recommend it to any traveller as a way of overcoming barriers and making friendly local contacts. I am no less British when I speak Esperanto, of course. Each speaker of Esperanto brings with him / her ideas and traditions from his native tongue, but that mother tongue remains intact.

  2. Brian Barker

    Bill Chapman is right. Esperanto is not a project, but has become a living language.

    Esperanto is in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide, according to the CIA factbook. It is the 17th most used language in Wikipedia, and in use by Skype, Firefox and Facebook. Google translate recently added Esperanto to its prestigious list of 64 languages.

    Native Esperanto speakers, include George Soros,World Chess Champion Susan Polger, Ulrich Brandenberg the new German Ambassador to NATO and Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet.

    It is wrong to consider Esperanto as European because in terms of syntax and in terms of its demographic use it is not.

    Its major growth areas are now in Asia and Africa.

    A glimpse of the language can be seen at

    • Irene Thompson

      Esperanto is nevertheless a constructed language with no first-language (i.e., native) speakers. Some individuals learn it as a second language.

      • Iu

        This is not true, Irene. I have personally met more than a dozen native Esperanto speakers.

        • Irene Thompson

          Do you mean that these people learned Esperanto as their first language? Or that there is a natural community of speakers that conduct their daily lives in Esperanto? Members of such a community would recognize “native” speakers by whatever criteria speakers of natural languages do. Are you a member of such a community? Also see criteria for ILR Level 5 to quality for native speech. I truly doubt that it is possible to develop criteria for what does or does not constitute a native speaker in an artificial language. Merely to recognize truly fluent and highly proficient speech.

          • TBBF

            There are certainly Esperanto speakers who have the language as their first; a good friend of mine was raised with Esperanto as her first language and didn’t begin learning a second language until school at five years of age. Esperanto is the language of her family life. Her mother speaks Cantonese and her father speaks Norwegian, and their main method of communication is Esperanto. If being born into the language isn’t being a native speaker, what is?

            Some use of google will also show up second and even third generation natives of Esperanto.

            • Irene Thompson

              Very interesting. My own son’s first language was Chinese Mandarin because we were living in Taiwan at the time our son started acquiring language (around age 2). We spoke Chinese in the home and, of course, outside of it. When we came back to the US, our son was immersed in a totally English-speaking environment and despite our best efforts to maintain his Chinese, it was, unfortunately, squeezed out by English. So is/was he a first-language speaker of Chinese?

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  4. Philipp Shary

    Dear constructed language fans,
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    Its aim is to make the world aware of SolReSol – one of the most beautiful constructed languages that can be expressed using colors, notes and numbers. Bright visuals and professionally recorded musical instruments included.
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