For some, this is an unbelievably nerdy pastime that has no logical reason to exist. However, for the gaming community, artlangs should be learned in order to get closer to their favorite characters and fictional worlds. They are essentially invented languages whose sole purpose is to bring more depth to an artistic culture. The name itself is the result of the linguistic blending between “artistic” and “language” called portmanteau. Today, we’ll immerse ourselves in the languages created as cultural extensions to the fictional worlds of video games.
1. Dovahzul from Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
All gamers must have heard and even played in the fascinating universe of Skyrim from the comfort of their gaming Paradise. Dovahzul is a formidable non-English language that belongs to the dragons from this fictional world. The ancient Nordic nations used to master it and harness its magical powers against the Dragon rulers. Only a few characters from the game can still understand this enigmatic language, including Dragons and the Greybeards.
It covers a 34 characters alphabet that Dragons used to learn by scratching runes with their sharp claws against rocks. This is why the encryptions seem to be a series of scratches and dots.
What is really beautiful about it is that the community of fans had a lot of saying in its structure. They contributed on forums with conjoined efforts to improve vocabulary, grammar, and even whole phrases. Because of this today Dovahzul enjoys the complexity and depth of a real language that is the epitome of a strong and amazing culture.
To respect the pragmatism and cold-blooded nature of Dragons, the language doesn’t enjoy a rich vocabulary and the construction of sentences is usually laconic. However, some word combinations can conjure powerful magical effects. Thus, it is worth learning this constructed language.
“Zu’u Dovahkiin” – I’m the Dragonborn
2. D’ni from Myst and Riven
This adventure puzzle video game has not received its own secret language by chance. The minds behind this production, namely the Miller brothers, have lived their childhood enriching their fascination with the work of the father of artlangs, J. R. R. Tolkien. The title spells as in D’nee” which means “new beginning.” A lost civilization created this mystic artlang and their culture revolved around the Art. This was a magical skill that guided them to write books which were serving as portals to the worlds they describe called Ages.
This civilization was destroyed because of a hazard that two men created. However, few people survived this catastrophe and lived to take this culture further. The first excerpts of this language didn’t appear in the game, but in the Aitrus’ map from the Book of Ti’ana and the community started to learn it.
“Lenah biv kenen tenesh erthbantee meh keelentee roob rekeelen fahets kenen ten ril-tsan” – Every journey is simply a series of steps, but the first step is not always simple.
3. Hylian from The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda does not offer only quality play time, but it is also a valuable gem in terms of artlang. This fictional world has not created one but several different languages that characterize a certain species or even era. However, the dominant presence belongs to the Hylian lingo.
This constructed language has used one of the Japanese writing systems as inspiration, namely “katakana.” In regards to this, the characters represent syllables and not individual letters. Although many characters speak Hylian, the language has seen many transformations throughout time, which resembles the real world and its alterations brought about by time factor or the evolution of a culture. The Old English has turned into Modern English as well as Ancient Hylian has given way to Modern Hylian.
“Bagu shu jhatas ab hilane at lintes ab ru.” – I could speak Hylian if I learned it.
4. Tho Fan from Jade Empire
Tho Fan is one of the most complex constructed languages in the world of gaming. The creators of the game wanted the Jade Empire Universe to be as close to reality as possible. So, they actually hired a linguistic who designed this new lingo in just four months. The expert wanted to come up with sounds that reflected the in-game civilization.
Consequently, since in the beginning, the language was a device of the servant world, the words sounded soft and respectful. However, later on, the change of the main plot forced the Imperialist class to adopt Tho Fan. Due to this turn of events, the language had to underline the elegance of the elite.
As the developers employed expert help, Tho Fan is now a 2,500-word language that has its own grammar rules which make it sound different from our reality.
So, these are some of the best artlangs that are a living proof of the complexity the gaming world enjoys at this very moment. If you are an artlang fan yourself, you can leave us a geeky comment!