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April 20, 2013

Inventing A Language

The primary reason English is such a complicated, difficult, frustrating and yes fascinating and enduring language is that...

...the English language absorbs, distorts and even makes up its own words and even, sometimes, rules of language.

Every aspect of popular culture, technology and foreign intrusion - which could be military, culinary or cultural - is, to some degree welcome and just another unlikely piece of this larger piece we call the English language.

And sometimes big changes come from the most unexpected places.

Like movies.

Remember the film "Avatar" from a couple of years ago? Besides being blue, the Na’vi had their own language.

That meant that the film producers had to come up with their own language.

Who invents a language?

If you need to develop a completely new language, where do you begin?

One place to begin is with someone who knows, studies and even teaches a variety of languages. It turns out that any given language is complicated but not necessarily terribly difficult. Most languages were developed somewhat haphazardly over time. But with a little work and focused intent, it's quite possible.

Any language is essentially learning vocabulary and applying a few basic principles.

Here's a website that profiles the maker - and the making - of the Na'vi language - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/secretlife/scientists/paul-frommer/.

I wrote a blog post here when Avatar first came out. You can see it here - http://www.esl-lesson-plan.com/archives/2010/01/fictional_languages_avatar_style.php#more.

If you want to get an introductory lesson in Na'vi, take a look here - http://learnnavi.org/.

And if you get really inspired, and want to develop your own language, here is a great place to begin - http://conlang.org/.

If you are not finding the study of English confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing, you're just not looking closely enough.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing, constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


Also: If you'd like to have Morf visit your school or help with your program this summer, you can contact him at mmorf(at)mail.com.

Posted by mmorf at April 20, 2013 03:50 PM


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