Conlangers Anonymous

Are you sometimes, or indeed frequently gripped by the urge to create languages?

Do your doodles often become new alphabets?

Do you feel compelled to create worlds in which your languages and alphabets might be used?

If so, help is at hand in the form of Conlangers Anonymous, an organisation founded by Francis Lodwick in 1694 and discussed in the Speculative Grammarian, the premier journal of satirical linguistics.

Conlangers Anonymous apparently helps “conlangers see the agonizing human cost—and professional cost—of their obsession. The hours spent constructing a language could be better spent in real human interaction with friends, family, and your World of Warcraft guild. The effort poured into creating fake language data for fun could be expended on falsifying data for papers in refereed journals, leading to tenure.”

6 thoughts on “Conlangers Anonymous

  1. I am not an addict, I can stop anytime. 🙂

    Actually, I do sometimes get the URGE to create new alphabets. I have gone weeks in a row obsessively inventing scripts or even working on my regular penmanship. But, I’m not committed enough that it becomes a problem.

    The pragmatist in me forced me to stop trying to create a language in my teens and the temptation, while present, isn’t that strong. It’s quite simply (in my view) an utter waste of time in a world of over 6,000 languages many of which are going to become extinct. The compulsion is never strong enough to counteract that realization.

    Do you feel compelled to create worlds in which your languages and alphabets might be used?

    I would regard this as the beginnings of a potential sci-fi or fantasy novel or video game. I wouldn’t consider this a waste of time if one has some writing ability and creativity. Unlike an entire language, another person could conceivably read about this fictional world or play a video game in it. No one is likely to learn your conlang.

    No offense.

  2. It’s been a long time since I did any conlanging, but as with a lot of people, it played a large role in getting me interested in linguistics.

    I never did anything with conscripts, with one exception. The exception was the time I took the Proto-Canaanite, Phoenician, and Hebrew scripts, and created hypothetical descendents for them, i.e. scripts that could have hypothetically evolved from said ancestors via the usual processes of cumulative modification. My post on the subject can be found here:

    It’s not too late to take one of the scripts I came up with, make a hypothetical descendent for it, and post it on a blog, thus simulating even more centuries of hypothetical script evolution.

  3. It is weird that “conlanging” had turned into such a bad or somehow bad thing. I do spend time now translating a simple story I wrote in English into Ayvarith, and I have fun with that. Well, I do this only in my free time at work mainly, but never felt like it wouild endanger my life, specially that I’m the only speaker of it!

  4. Don’t take Conlanger’s Anonymous (or anything else in SpecGram, for that matter) all that seriously. Conlanging isn’t a bad thing (though one could reasonably argue that “conlanging”, as a word, is a bad thing). Like any hobby (for example, say—chosen completely at random—writing for a satirical linguistics journal), it can be taken too far. Conlangers just get more grief than most for doing something which other people not only don’t want to do, and can’t do, but which many people can’t even understand what it is once it’s done—particularly if the words “ergative”, “ejective”, or “elative” come up, just to give a few examples.

    One of the current senior editors of SpecGram is a very active member of the Language Creation Society (, so it makes conlangers a plump, juicy target. By hilarious coincidence, many of the aspects of the letter written in the advertisement happen to apply to him.. he was at the time working on a 600+ character loopy alphasyllabary with ligatures for a language with 30 cases when he should have either been sleeping or playing World of Warcraft. I was disappointed that it didn’t have the grammaticalization of Last Thursdayism, though.

    Many satirical linguists are micro-conlangers, too, in that they invent snippets of languages and scripts (or even just features thereof) in order to lampoon linguistics. It’s all just grist for the satirical mill.

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