Can you tell which written languages are real?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/12/10/can-you-tell-which-written-languages-are-real.html

2 Likes

Well, Blis symbolics was obviously not a traditional written language, because c’mon. And I recognized Klingon, and Atlantean would be painfully slow to write in with human hands. Never heard of Quikscript or Shavian! Very neat.

But are they categorizing Tengwar as a real language?

5 Likes

None of Tolkien’s scripts, nor the Standard Galactic Alphabet?

1 Like

D’ni (from Riven) in the first example!

The third looks like it’s Glagolitic, which I used as a basis for one of my own conlangs.

ETA: Ge’ez, not Glagolitic, which isn’t an example. Dang. This is what I get for being excited.

Edited to add an unrelated question: if I were working on a conlang, is there a good place to go to get feedback?

2 Likes

They also seem to list D’ni as a real language. Which is interesting since its from a 90s adventure game. :thinking:

6 Likes

…I’m pretty sure I count more than 5 fake languages there.

4 Likes

Definitely got Blis/Atlantean/Klingon, but was duped into not selecting Shavian/Quickscript, since, even though the script itself is contrived, they’re still used to write out real-world language (choosing instead Buhid & Cree)

1 Like

There’s one in there, but they don’t seem to recognise it as such, even though they label it with its correct name. @Vert has the details, hidden behind a spoiler tag.

2 Likes

If people regularly use or communicate in some way in a recently created language (like Klingon) is it still “fake”? Does that also mean Cherokee is a “fake” language, since compared to some others, the written version is relatively young?

9 Likes

I got 3 out of 5, which is pretty good I think.

I thought Telugu and Thai were fake.

1 Like

That’s where I’ve seen that script before! Ashamed I didn’t catch that.

2 Likes

I half-expected to find a string of emoji in there after reading this.

3 Likes

Their definition of “fake” is “contrived 20th Century [sic] creations,” which is… vague. That date cut-off means Shavian and Quikscript are on the list but not Pitman shorthand, even though there’s no functional difference. They’re all quite different from a 20th century conlang (some of which they missed in their “fake” list, so…). I suspect if they included 19th scripts, things like Cherokee still wouldn’t be on there, as they’re basically not including new writing systems for existing languages (that didn’t already have writing systems), which is reasonable. They just got sloppy and didn’t include scripts that should have been on the list.

What I’ve read about Klingon suggests that few to no people actually speak it. Apparently the grammar is quite difficult, especially for English speakers, so most people who claim to speak it actually speak a pidgin at best, at worst are speaking what is essentially coded English (i.e. word swaps).

3 Likes

Ughh. Basic mistake being made. The orthographic representation of a language is not the language itself. Just as a map is not the place. A writing system is an arbitrary set of squiggles that a group of language users have decided can represent their language in written form, but it is not the language. It happens to be the case that the Roman alphabet does a lot of work representing all kinds of languages not at all related to Latin, very much including English. In the inset image in the post, two of the writing systems are from one language [Japanese].

ok, end rant.

9 Likes

True, but that is also true of dying languages.

2 Likes

Bonus points for clearly taking these samples from Omniglot (every single one is a transliteration of that site’s title!) but not giving them any credit.

7 Likes

Well, there are some languages here that no one has spoken in centuries, but the difference is that at least at some point people did speak them.

1 Like

I was reading the greek and russian representations as omniglot, but had no clue what that was referencing. Thanks!

1 Like

All of them.
Or none of them. Every language was “made up” at some point.

Wot, no Rongo-Rongo? nb the neat thing about the Evans’ syllabary for Cree is the the vowel for each syllable is changed by rotating the character.