From Elvish to Klingon

I know what you were thinking as soon as you saw this title. I can read your mind, so I know that you were thinking something like this:

This is obviously a fluffy but nerdy book. It must be a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted exploration of geeky so-called “languages,” written to appeal to those to go to movies and conventions dressed as Star Trek characters. I know that I can’t take it seriously, because it’s written by the author of Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon.

That’s what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong. Oh so wrong. This collection of essays — with the full title of From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages — is a scholarly study of a couple of dozen invented languages, including not only Elvish and Klingon but also Esperanto, Hawaiian, and Modern Hebrew.

How can those last two possibly be “invented,” I hear you ask. Well, read the book and find out!

Editor Michael Adams, a professor at Indiana University, has assembled eight essays by a variety of scholars, essays with titles that range from “Confounding Babel: International Auxiliary Languages” through “Gaming Languages and Language Games” to “Revitalized Languages as Invented Languages.” There are also eight appendices, all written by Adams himself, each one corresponding to (and commenting on) one of the chapters, complete with footnotes. See, I told you it was scholarly!

But don’t let these observations put you off from reading the book. It’s not always easy reading, but it’s still fun and it’s well worth the effort. You’ll learn a lot.

Categories: Books, Linguistics