Tolkien Elvish, Na’Vi, and 10 Other Fictional Languages You Can Learn for Some Reason

Tolkien Elvish, Na’Vi, and 10 Other Fictional Languages You Can Learn for Some Reason

Sure, you could learn a useful language like Chinese or Spanish, but why waste your time with that when you could learn a maths language designed for extraterrestrials or the tongue of the angels themselves?

The 12 languages below were constructed for purposes ranging from giving movie characters something to say to fostering world peace. And best of all, if you have the time and patience, you can actually learn to speak (most of) them. The difficulty will be finding someone to talk to, though.


Photo: Dee Browning, Shutterstock
Photo: Dee Browning, Shutterstock

Probably the most well known language constructed for a fictional work, Klingon was created in 1985 by linguist Marc Okrand, but it’s based on sounds made by James “Scotty” Doohan and producer Jon Povill for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. After all those years, there are probably only 50-60 fluent Klingon speakers in the world — as its limited vocabulary is mainly about spaceships and weapons, it’s difficult to use in day-to-life.

How to learn Klingon: Aspiring speakers of Klingon can read Marc Okrand’s 1985 book The Klingon Dictionary, download the DuoLingo app — it offers a course in the language — or make new friends at your local Star Trek convention.

High Valyrian

The great thing about learning High Valyrian is that even though it’s a little used language in the mythology of the show, it’s as close to a living language as a constructed language can get in real life — as long as the Game of Thrones universe continues telling stories, there will be more words added to the already beefy 2,000-word High Valyrian lexicon.

How to learn High Valyrian: You can learn this language through carefully reading the subtitles in Game of Thrones and House of Dragons, or you can learn it through the DuoLingo app.


Watershed Down, author Richard Adams’ epic tale of bunny rabbits hopping around in English meadows, spawned excellent film and television adaptations — and its own language. According to Adams, Lapine is meant to sound “wuffy, fluffy,” and he didn’t actually invent enough words or rules to speak it, but fans stepped in and filled it out a bit. Even so, the Lapine word “silflay” (to go above ground to eat) was reportedly in use in some parts of the United States in the mid 1980s, even among people who never heard of the book/movie.

Where to learn Lapine: The online Introduction to Colloquial Lapine is a great resource, plus its circa 1999 look is nostalgic!


Esperanto is the most successful constructed language in history. Created by Warsaw based ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhof in 1887, Esperanto was intended as a universally known second language, so that everyone could communicate with everyone else and we’d have world peace. That didn’t exactly work out, but there are an estimated 2 million speakers of the language alive, and about 1,000 people who speak it as a first language, including George Soros!

How to learn Esperanto: There are a ton of resources for learning this language, from books, to dedicated apps, to YouTube channels.


The problem with English, according to D. David Bourland Jr., is the use of the verb “to be,” which allows “even the most ignorant to transform their opinions magically into god-like pronouncements on the nature of things,” so he invented E-Prime — English without all that be-ing.

If you are speaking E-Prime, you don’t say “My cat is named Piddles,” you say, “I call my cat Piddles.” You don’t say “It is hot as hell,” you say, “I feel hot as hell.” You can read more deeply into E-Prime in Bourland’s essay collections: To Be or Not: An E-Prime Anthology, More E-Prime: To Be or Not II, and E-Prime III: a third anthology.

How to learn E-Prime: It seems easy to read and speak E-Prime — just don’t use any form of “to-be” — but it’s actually maddeningly difficult. (I mean, “I have difficulty with it.”)


Simlish, the language spoken in The Sims series of video games, isn’t a learnable language, but its sounds and pictographs are nearly universally recognised among gamers. Invented in 2000 for use in the first Sims game, Simlish was made specifically to not be understandable in a concrete way, so players can imagine whatever conversation they’d like between Sims. Instead of meaning, Simlish is meant to convey pure emotion. Even so, some Similish “words” evolved and do mean something, for instance, “nooboo” translates to “baby.”

How to learn Simlish: You can’t. But you can play Sims games to experience it.


Created (or discovered) in the 1500s by occultist John Dee, Enochian is either the actual language of angels, or the invention of an off-kilter mind. I lean heavily toward the latter, but either way, “Celestial Speech” is a fascinating idea. In visions from his magic crystal, Dee saw a 21-letter alphabet, and channeled books, poetry, and more in the dream-language that was supposedly spoken universally before the fall of the Tower of Babel. Modern linguists say Enochian is constructed pretty much like English, but without articles or prepositions.

Where to learn Enochian: I love that we live in a world where you can have the sourcebook of 14th century occult language delivered to your house in a day for 20 bucks.


The language of Game of Thrones’ nomadic horse warriors, Dothraki was created by David J. Peterson, the same guy who invented High Valyrian. In keeping with its speakers’ lifestyle, it has 14 words for “horse” and none for “toilet.”

How to learn Dothraki: You can’t learn this language on DuoLingo, but you can learn it on this website.


Image: FOTOKIKA, Shutterstock
Image: FOTOKIKA, Shutterstock

Created by Sylvia Sotormayor, Kēlen is an attempt to imagine an entirely alien language by eliminating verbs altogether. All natural human languages have verbs, but Kēlen replaces them with “relationals.” Kēlen has everything else a real language has — rules, a lexicon, a system of writing — and text can be translated from it into any earthly tongue.

How to learn Kēlen: Go right to the source, the author’s website.


Photo: solarseven, Shutterstock
Photo: solarseven, Shutterstock

Kēlen is an artistic attempt to imagine an alien language for a fictional universe; Lincos (a portmanteau of lingua cosmica) is designed to be understood by actual aliens. Created in 1960 by mathematician Dr. Hans Freudenthal in his book Lincos: Design of a Language for Cosmic Intercourse, Part 1, Lincos is designed to be broadcast into space and be understandable by any possible intelligent extraterrestrial life form who receives the transmission. It’s all based on mathematics, so as long as the E.T.s can do maths, they should be able to figure out what the Lincos transmissions mean. The first Lincos message was sent from a radio telescope in 1999, and another in 2003. We haven’t heard back.

How to learn Lincos: The full text of Dr. Freudenthal book is online. Good luck reading it though — it’s way too dense and complicated for my earthling mind.

Tolkien Elvish (Sindarian and Quenya)

You can’t actually learn to speak the Elvish languages of Quenya and Sindarin from The Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion — the examples from Tolkien’s books are not internally consistent, and there’s not enough there to really make up a language. But both Quenya and Sindarin are heavily influenced by the Welsh language. Welsh is the perfect second language for a Tolkien fan: it sounds like a high fantasy tongue, it’s from the land of Druids where they invented the longbow, and you can actually use it to communicate with others. There are about 800,000 people who speak Welsh.

How to learn Welsh: Got to Wales. Or read some books, download DuoLingo, or take an online course.


It blows my mind that Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time and the only thing I remember about it is how dumb it was to call an element “unobtainium.” Anyway, there were apparently aliens in the movie that spoke a language invented by linguist Paul Frommer because director James Cameron wanted more than just some nonsense syllables for his blue (?) creatures. The Naʼvi vocabulary consisted of approximately 1000 words, and the actors in Avatar had to learn to speak the constructed language naturally. I’m not sure if they did it well or not.

How to learn Na’Vi: There resources to learn to speak Na’vi online.

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