A sign of a quality project is its detailed elaboration. Only the very best games can afford an introduction to lore artlangs – languages artificially created for works of art.
Tolkien and his work are considered the progenitor of fictional languages in works of art. “The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.” Even the researchers of his work cannot say for sure how many such languages the professor himself created. The largest figure known by scientists is 21. So many languages that did not exist before, were able to count in the saga of Middle-earth.
Others followed Tolkien. Orwell’s Newspeak, rightist Le Guin, Lovecraft’s R’lyeh. The alien races in Star Track, Star Wars and Star Gate have their own languages. And this is a grain of sand in the sea of arlangs.
It is clear that invented languages could not do without and in games. Of course, these languages also differ in the degree of elaboration. Many of them are just a decorative element that enhances the entourage of another planet or universe. But some developers pay them as much attention as the author of The Lord of the Rings.
To better understand what we are talking about, let’s look at 5 famous examples of fictional languages in games.
Assassin’s Creed: Isu language
The “father” of the language of the mysterious Isu, who ruled the Earth in antiquity, became Antoine Henri, one of the leading game designers at UbiSoft, who has been with the company since 1997. Anri approached the creation of the language from a rather unexpected angle, deciding to use reverse linguistic design. Simplified – shape a new language by aging of existing ones.
There were two main tasks:
- create a language that at the same time will be as different as possible from modern and ancient languages, but look like their forerunner;
- to write into this language the symbols that already existed in the games of the series, attributed to Isu.
Using the old languages of the Indo-European group and the developments of linguists in the field of reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language, Anri and his team tried to present what their ancestor might look like if it existed.
The Proto-Indo-European language is a possible once existing ancestor of the Indo-European language family, which, among others, includes the languages of the Slavic, Celtic, Baltic, Romance and Germanic language groups.
The fact that the players, using the examples of its use that they have, managed in a few months, speaks about the thoughtfulness and consistency of the construction of the language partially decipher the writing of Isu.
TES V: Skyrim: dovahzul
Not without the participation of a fan base, but the TES universe over the years of its existence has acquired languages for almost all races. The language of the Imperials is based on English, Altmer – German, Nords – the languages of the Scandinavian peoples, and the Island dialect is completely based on a mixture of Quenya, one of Tolkien’s elvish languages, and English. Bethesda itself back in 1997 worked on the Daedric language, but in the end only the alphabet was modified.
A separate story with the dragon tongue in Skyrim. By the author dovakhzula became Adam Adamovich, one of the Bethesda Artists. The degree of elaboration of the dragon leaves much to be desired, but it is firmly inscribed in the world of the series and even has some well-known rules, for example, the absence of tenses and the formation of the plural by doubling the last letter and adding the ending -e. The writing that dragons gave to the ancient Nords was something similar to cuneiform.
Languages of the Warcraft universe
The Blizzard project is rich in artlangs. In fact, all races have their own language, created by processing the existing, most often – English. The only question is in the degree of their elaboration, tk. most of these languages are thought out just enough to fit into the lore and not look completely foreign.
World of Warcraft uses 2 languages, its own for each faction. The Horde plays this role orcish, the Alliance – general human. In turn, the latter is divided into dialects. In addition to the classical, there is a lower, simplified language, a kind of analogue of vulgar Latin, there is the “language of the slums” used by the undead. Still distinguish nerglish, on which the underwater inhabitants chat.
- Common language was created on the basis of English, with elements of Welsh and other ancient languages, and its writing is a hybrid of Latin, runic alphabets and some semblance of the Cyrillic alphabet.
- Orcish language more guttural. It actively uses closed syllables. In some ways, it is close to Tolkien’s “black dialect”, which was spoken by Sauron’s henchmen.
Interestingly, particularly corrosive Warcraft fans noticed that the structure of the orcs’ jaws should prevent them from pronouncing the sounds “o” and “y”. But they are the ones who dominate in their speech.
Protoss tongue Is another example of superficially worked artlang. This also has a lore rationale – the communication of protases occurs telepathically, and for other races their speech sounds meaningful only at the request of the speakers themselves.
IN khalani find traces of Indian, Arabic and – hello again to Tolkien – Elvish.
The developers themselves hint that the khalani is much more thoughtful than it seems and claim that they have his vocabulary. The fans trying to learn the Protossian language agree with them. But for linguists clear rules of this language have not yet been discovered… Or they keep his secrets to themselves.
The Sims: Simlish
Simlish. That’s for sure – the star of the world of gaming arlangs. But he could have become just another example of language processing!
From using pure English in the project Will Wright refused almost immediately – it seemed to him that the frequent repetition of understandable, well-known phrases would soon begin to annoy the player. At first, he and his team, which included, among others, actors Stephen Carein and Jerry Lawlor, tried to rely on foreign languages. We tried Latin, French, Estonian, Finnish, Ukrainian, the language of the Navajo tribe … And each time there were “but” – persistent associations with the sound of the language, problems with finding consultants, and so on. As a result, Wright relied on the imagination and the ability to improvise Kearina and Lawlor.
Simlish was meant to be funny nonsense. Phrases were created on the fly. And the initial version, the so-called “baby talk”, was just that – cute, entertaining, but empty. Although some of the words from the first Simlish already had a conscious meaning, like the legendary sul-sul – aloha, hello.
But, like real languages, Simlish has evolved, got structure and rules. It was first redesigned in 2003, and by the 2004 release of The Sims 2, the language already had a well-developed grammar and a fairly extensive vocabulary. For the next part, finalized alphabet, created on the basis of Latin and English, all symbols are no longer just beautiful squiggles. Moreover, for The Sims Medieval released in 2011, the guys from The Sims Studio came up with Old Simlian.
Simlish did not escape borrowing. However, they are also present in ordinary languages. Vous (“You”) comes from French, mik up (“Makeup”) – from English. Word plok (“God”) is a notion of Stephen Carein, and wolfem (“Dog”) was used by former partner Jerry Lawlor to refer to pets.
In addition to the origin of words, some general patterns are known – the predominance of the vowel “and” and the absence of throat sounds.
Each of these languages can be used for communication and writing. Of course, the set of words in them is limited, but this does not prevent fans from texting with these artlangs on thematic forums. If you like looking for connections between games and reality, then we recommend checking which of the characters in Assassin’s Creed, The Witcher 3, Dragon Age Inquisition or Skyrim suits you according to your zodiac sign.