The book, as I remember it, was pre-90's, and involved a planet or multi-planet system where they had invented three artificial languages, each of which had a different emphasis (kind of like computer languages), one good for, say, farming, one for science, one for war, etc... I don't remember the different varieties. The only other thing I remember was that they kind of all got together at the end of the book for some big sing along or something.

  • Do you mean the author invented languages, or someone in-universe? If these are natural languages in the setting, there's a chance you have a vague memory of C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet. There are 3 species on a planet, each with a different focus (adventure/epics, science/philosophy, building/mining). I believe there's a comment in the book that one language is better for poetry and one is better for science. There is an interspecies gathering where they all get along, laugh, and maybe sing. Lewis didn't develop the languages much, but it has a linguistic theme.
    – Jetpack
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 13:23

1 Answer 1


I bet this is The Languages of Pao (1958) by Jack Vance.

A linguist is hired to create custom languages to reform the planet of Pao.

From the summary on Wikipedia:

Somewhat later, the predatory Brumbo Clan from the planet Batmarsh raids the virtually defenseless Pao with impunity, and the Panarch Bustamonte is forced to pay heavy tribute. To rid himself of the Brumbos, he seeks the aid of Palafox, who has a plan to create warrior, technical and mercantile castes on Pao using customized languages (named Valiant, Technicant and Cogitant) and other means to shape the mindsets of each caste, isolating them from each other and the general populace of Pao. To achieve this, each caste gets a special training area where it is completely segregated from any outside influence; the necessary land is confiscated from families, some of which have held it for countless generations — which creates some disaffection in the conservative Paonese population and earns Bustamonte the name of a tyrant.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.