6

I'm pretty certain that there are works of fiction purely in a fictional language. For instance I'd be surprised if some uber-geek hasn't written some fan fiction entirely in Klingon. I also know there are many stories where the characters in the story learn and become fluent in a foreign/fictional language as the plot progresses. Finally I know there are stories that use a smattering of a foreign/fictional language in their text/exposition.

That being said what is the first science-fiction or fantasy work that fully committed to the leap? Have any stories started out in English for example and as the character starts to learn the native language the exposition gradually changes to be mostly or completely in that language? Something like chapter 1 is entirely English, and by the time we reach chapter 100+ it is >= 90% fictional language X? It occurs to me that this would be an interesting and maddening type of story to read.

While I would certainly accept an answer with a transition between two contemporary1 languages like English to Spanish, or Roman Latin to Ancient Greek, I would be especially interested in knowing the first instance an author attempted this with a fictional language that was made out of whole cloth for the story.

After some more poking around on this site I found this answer which mentions Feersum Endjinn. According to the linked Wikipedia article approximately 25% is written in basically a pidgin English. That type of language switch isn't on topic for this question, because with a basic to good knowledge of English you can clearly read the other language. For that reason a difference caused by a pidgin/creole/dialect isn't what I'm looking for. If someone wants to press the boundary between a creole vs a language though I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.


1: Languages commonly spoken at the same period in history.


I've edited based on a Meta discussion.

  • 2
    As a kid I had a pokemon ROM that worked like that. It started out in German (my native language), turned into English after a few hours and finally degraded to Japanese. Unfortunately my language skills didn't improve as quickly as I progressed through the game. – CodesInChaos Nov 3 '15 at 22:32
  • Almost certainly not desired. But I don't know how they managed to create it. Perhaps an incomplete fan translation of another incomplete fan translation. – CodesInChaos Nov 3 '15 at 23:03
  • The book In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent seems like a good point for research. I'm planning on checking it out from the library, and will update with anything I find. – Erik Nov 5 '15 at 16:48
  • Related: Was Tolkien the first to invent languages purely for fictional works? — which asks for "the first" and got a list. – Peregrine Rook Nov 9 '15 at 16:24
  • Well, both. It's related in that it's about languages created for works of fiction.  But also, I found this question through the (featured) Meta discussion, and I thought it was interesting that your question got closed when the other didn't. Then again, the other question was explicitly asking for the first example from the very beginning. – Peregrine Rook Nov 9 '15 at 16:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.