How to Create a Language

Three Methods:Sample PhrasesUsing an AlphabetUsing Grammar

From the Klingon language in the Star Trek universe, to the Na'vi language from James Cameron's Avatar, fictional languages can go a long way towards making a work of fiction feel "real" and "lived-in". Making a fictional language can be an intense undertaking - for instance, J.R.R. Tolkien famously studied linguistics as an academic before penning the Lord of the Rings novels, which incorporated multiple languages of his own creation. However, depending on the scope of the project, it's also possible for amateurs to create their own fictional languages for fun or as part of a self-constructed fictional world.

Sample Phrases

Sample Dothraki Phrases

Sample Klingon Phrases

Sample Na'vi Phrases

Method 1
Using an Alphabet

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    Name your language. You have full control over it! Make sure it sounds like a language name though!!
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    Start with pronunciation. You can choose how to pronounce the language, giving it the overall sound and feel you're going for. However, to make it more thorough and professional, you'll have to do some background to take it beyond sounds.
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    Create the language's alphabet. This is where you can get creative. It could be anything you want. You have some choices:
    • Use pictographs or symbols. Many languages, like Chinese, use pictographs or symbols to represent their spoken language. If you choose to do this, you'll also have to come up with a pronunciation for each symbol. Each symbol will have its own unique sound. Numbers are a good example. This is a beautiful but cumbersome route.
    • Make up an alphabet or syllabary. Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, Hindi, Japanese, Arabic... Create a set of symbols which represent individual letters or entire syllables, or even diphthongs.
    • Use an alphabet already in existence. If you use our Latin alphabet, for example, you will simply have to create new words for things rather than coming up for an entirely new pronunciation system.
    • Combine different alphabets. Add accents to existing letters (ex: Spanish's ñ) to create new letters or sounds.
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    Create the vocabulary. These are the words for your language. You should start off by making common words first, and then move on to less common words.
    • Start with the foundation words, the words that will be used very often. These are words like "I", "he", "his", "and", "a", "to", and "the". Then move on to verbs such as "to be", "to have", "to like", "to go", and "to make". Don't forget about a e i o u y that makes a big part in accents.
    • Move on to common things. As your vocabulary grows, start naming everything you can think of. Remember countries, body parts, action words, etc. Don't forget numbers!
    • If you're stumped, remember you can borrow words from other languages. You can even alter the word. For example, the french word for man is homme. The Spanish word—hombre—is almost the same, with only a few letters/the pronunciation changed.
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    Build up your own dictionary. Open the dictionary and begin copying words with their translations. Not only will this be helpful if you forget how to say something, but it will ensure you don't miss a word.
    • Try to make the words easily pronounceable—you don't want to be stuck with tongue twisters every time you open your mouth.
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    Make your words appear natural. One common pitfall for language makers is to use too many apostrophes in vocabulary words.
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    Create the grammar rules for your language. These describe how sentences are formed. You can copy many from existing languages, but you should change some rules to stay original.
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    Decide how to pluralize nouns. You need to have a way to tell the difference between "book" and "books". Many languages add an -s as a suffix. You could choose to add a suffix or even a prefix to your words. You may even add a whole new word! (Examples: If book = Skaru, then books may equal Neskaru, Skarune, Skaneru, Skaru Ne, or Ne Skaru, etc.!))
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    Decide how create the tenses of the verbs. These will tell when something happened. The three main tenses are past, present, and future.
    • You may also want a way to tell the difference between words like "swim" and "swimming". But it's not necessary. For example in the French language, "Je nage" can mean "I swim" OR "I am swimming".
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    Create replacements for other suffixes. These are things like -ly that turn English adjectives into adverbs, and -ness that turns words into nouns.
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    Figure out how to conjugate verbs. Conjugation is how a verb is modified to show who is doing it. In English, we say "I like" and "He likes".
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    Write sentences using your new language. Start off with a simple sentence like "I have a cat." You can then move on to more complex sentences, like "I like to watch television, but I prefer to go to the movies."
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    Practice. Just like learning a foreign language, it will take practice before you can use your language with ease.
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    Test it out on everyone. You will love the confused look on their faces, you may look like a weirdo, or even a jerk, but don't let it discourage you!
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    Teach other people your language, if desired. If you want to be able to use the language with your friends, you should teach them. You can even try to spread your language to as many people as you want.
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    Store your rules in a dictionary or phrase book. This way you will always have something to refer to if you need help remembering your language. You can even sell them to make a little extra money!
    • If you want to make your language well known, then write dictionaries of the language (including its alphabet) to learn your language, and give them out to everyone you want to use the language with.

Method 2
Using Grammar

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    Name your language. This is the most fundamental property in all languages. You have many names to choose from. You can even use a made up word from your made up language like 'Victory' or 'Great Language'. The choice is all yours.
    • Start off with the highly frequently used words such as 'and' or 'I' or 'one' or 'the'. It is recommend that you use short words since they are commonly used. An example would be 'ant', 'es', or even 'loo' for the word 'and'.
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    Start thinking about the grammar rules. For example, if the word bird is 'Vogelaviatiolap', why not make the word birds 'Vogelaviatiolaps'? The "s" added at the end makes a word plural in many languages. If you want to add complication, you can add genders like most European languages, like French and German. For example, if you want the word 'horse' to be a boy, you may want 'the horse' to be 'Mat Fereder', but a 'cat' to be a girl, you may want, 'the cat' to be 'Fet Kamaow'.
    • Note that some languages don't have plural words at all. In Japanese, for instance, "cat" and "cats" are both ネコ (neko). Languages can work very differently, especially when they're from two very distant places. Experiment with potential grammar rules.
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    Consider basing your language on an existing language. For example, in my made up language, 'Vogelaviatiolap' means Bird. If you haven't guessed, it comes from the following:
    • 'Vogel' comes from German, which means bird
    • 'aviatio' comes from English. It's uncompleted though, because the word is part of the term 'aviation'
    • 'lap' comes from Onomatopoeia. It's a completed term, but it is supposed to come from 'Flap!'
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    Consider basing some of your words from other words you have invented. For example, if you invented the word 'China' as 'Khinssa', 'Drink' as 'Bever', and the word 'Accident' as 'Casnondelibreaten', why not make the word 'tea' as 'Khincasnonbever' or 'Bevernondelibreatekin' or even 'Khinssacasnondelibreatenibever'!
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    Get inspiration from existing alphabets and words.
    • Why not add some non Latin Characters such as ß? You can even make the whole language not based on the Latin Alphabet at all like Chinese!
    • You can even take some words of languages, altering them or not. You can make the word 'pen' as 'penn' or even 'pen'. Using the dictionary can ensure you not missing a single word.
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    Remember to keep track of all your creations, preferably in writing!
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    Use your language. Get used to using it yourself, and spread it to others. Once you feel confident about your language, experiment and expand:
    • Grab a book / novel and translate it to your own language.
    • Teach your friends this new language.
    • As soon as your friends understand your language, communicate to them with it.
    • Be fluent in your own made up language and start spreading this to your friends, family and strangers!
    • Write your own poem / novel / story with your own made up language.
    • If you're really ambitious, set a goal of helping others become fluent in the language. One day, maybe you can make it the official language of a country!


  • Practice your language frequently so that you don't forget it!
  • Don't forget punctuation!
  • As a shortcut, and for a bit of interesting background, add connotation to various letters, preferably vowels. To do this, think of various words that begin with/have a lot of a certain vowel. For example: austere, acrimony, ebullient, embolden; in this case, the vowel A might carry with it a negative meaning, whereas E would be positive. Then, even if you forget your own words without the help of your dictionary, you could still make a good guess based on the composition of the letters.
  • Make sure that it is a language that while speaking, you don't get a literal knot in your tongue!
  • Remember you should know how to write it. For example we write it from left to right, in Arabic it's right to left, Chinese is in columns, and so on.
  • Make sure that you and your friend(s) all follow a systematic language system. In other words, make sure that you follow the same guidelines.
  • Make sure you practice saying and spelling out many basic words in your language, English examples: is, who, when, of, why, if, what, where, can, may, etc.
  • Don't use random letters. It should make some sense, so that it will be easier to learn and speak with [Example: Don't use oh as e, hello as llo, and See ya as c yah).
  • When starting off, follow closely to a language you like. This will make grammar much easier to make. You must avoid simply copying the grammar rules, however, as this would technically turn your language into a code.
  • Try not to make your words sound like utter and complete gibberish just add a little extra than our regular English language. We don't want a knot in your tongue after speaking to your friends. Just put marks over the letters or make up something right on the spot, you might have to take some time on this!
  • Basing letters on objects (pictographs) is an easy way to start a writing system.
  • Try this with a group of friends. It's much more fun when there are other people that can understand your language.
  • If you want to make other languages, you can use this language as a model and change some letters or sounds to create a different language. This makes your first language a proto-language—a language that branches off into a family of languages.
  • When making a writing system, take a break about every five minutes and come back to it or all your letters will begin to look identical.
  • Email or text your friends the language so that they won't be so confused.
  • Making prefixes or suffixes that mean something and adding them together to create words could help. For example if the syllable 'tah' meant true, 'ky' meant story, and 'fen' meant traditional then 'Tahky' means a true story, 'fenky' means traditional story, 'Fentahky' means a true traditional story, and 'Tahfen' means a true tradition.
  • If you want to type your language find a font creator (Handwriting Font Creator). then install the font and type it in a word processor. If you know your way around photo editors then you should create an image for each character so it's more web friendly.
  • Try to describe the word in your own language based on the meaning as it is easier to understand. Example: danger focus based on risk.


  • Unless you mean to do this, check that the words you are translating aren't slang words so that if, however, you want to translate what you're saying you will be able to do it easily.
  • Take time away from your language when in the creating process or you may become frustrated and give up. This happens often and may then discourage you.

Things You'll Need

  • A notebook or computer to write down your alphabet and some basic words
  • A guide of root words to use.

Article Info

Categories: Fictional Languages