The most popular TV and film shows are the ones that fully immerse you in their world. Preply, a leading provider of language tutors, has been analyzing the popularity of fictional languages on our screens.
While great acting, elaborate film sets and extravagant costumes are a must for any successful franchise, there is one other element that really makes these universes successful. Creating languages is actually one of the most effective ways to really bring these fictional worlds to life.
But writers can’t just have their actors reading complete gibberish on screen. Fan bases would quickly pick up inconsistent phrases and it can kill that realistic touch. That’s why these languages are constructed just as carefully as the rest of the scripts themselves.
Mega-fans of these shows and films adore learning these languages, to show off their love for these ‘cultures’. With online learning offering everything nowadays, including fictional language programs, die-hard fans have easy access to these. Before online learning, only those with access to fictional language dictionaries could even attempt, and these weren’t easy to come by before Amazon started selling almost everything known to man.
Preply’s League of Languages has carefully analyzed these fictional languages and ranked the top 5 in order of popularity. This was done by evaluating just how established these languages are with the number of confirmed words, along with average monthly Google searches and mentions on Twitter.
Thanks to the workings of J.R.R. Tolkien, when we think of an elf, it’s no longer the helpful
creatures that make toys in Santa’s workshop. Instead, it’s the elegant, beautiful, immortal creatures that inhabit Middle Earth.
Elvish ranked as the most popular fictional language. With over 7000 words in the Elvish dictionary, it is certainly the most evolved.
While The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books have been around for decades, it’s the Peter Jackson films that really brought this world to life to the masses.
In fact, more people in the world now speak Elvish than Irish, showing just how dedicated the fans really are. However, it may be easier said than done to learn Elvish. Not only is there a whole new alphabet and script to learn, but there are a total of 10 different variations of the language.
Other fantasy worlds have taken inspiration from Tolkien for their own languages. World of Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons use dialect from Tolkien’s Elvish, with inspiration taken from words, sounds and grammar.
Tolkien wasn’t just a great writer, but also a talented linguist. He spoke Finnish, Latin, Welsh and Greek. These languages were used as a basis for Elvish and many native speakers of these dialects will understand hints from their mother tongue in the movies.
The second most popular language in The League of Languages. George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is one of the most successful shows in television history. One of the most memorable characters is the Dothraki tribe.
Known for their brutality, it was only natural for Martin to give them their own language to show just how isolated they were from the rest of Westeros.
Since the release of the first episode in 2011, over 1.2 million people have started to learn Dothraki. While Martin did stipulate in the books that the Dothraki had their own dialect, he actually only ever wrote a few words of the language himself.
That’s why David Peterson was brought in to help. While he may have been a member of the Language Creation Society, he was approached by producers for the role. Instead, he actually won a competition to do so. I think we can all agree that the best man won!
Number 3 in the League of Languages, Klingon, needs no introduction to sci-fi fans. While many people have attempted to learn the language or can use basic words and phrases, there are actually 100 people who can speak it fluently.
Speaking the language may be difficult enough, but understanding and writing the written text of Klingon may be one of the most difficult on Earth (or space!).
You may think you have got the hang of Klingon when you’ve learned the alphabet, but that can all be turned around, literally. Letters are pronounced differently upside down.
Interestingly, many people associate Spock with the Klingon language. However, he was not actually from the Klingon race at all.
Na’Vi is the fictional language spoken on the planet of Pandora in Avatar, ranked at number 4 in the League of Languages. When James Cameron wrote Avatar, he wanted to make sure the world was as realistic for the viewers as possible.
Na’Vi took inspiration from numerous Polynesian languages. However, Cameron had very specific factors when choosing words and phrases. He worked with Professor Paul Frommer to create the dialect but put in a requirement that it must be easy for the actors to learn and pronounce.
That’s why Na’Vi is quite possibly the easiest fictional language for English speakers to learn.
It may be spoken by one of the most repulsive characters on our screens, but the native tongue of Jabba the Hutt, Huttese, the 5th most popular fictional language.
However, it isn’t a completely developed language, yet. Popular among criminals in the Star Wars universe, it is the most common tongue of the characters, aside from English.
The basis for forming Huttese was from Quechua, the native language of the South American Andes. Star Wars fans are famous for their commitment to the franchise and it probably won’t be long before Huttese is fully developed, allowing fans to fully immerse themselves in their favorite worlds and characters.
So, did your favorite fictional language make the cut? Perhaps you might be inspired to learn one, or at least a few basic phrases. With fictional languages becoming increasingly popular, who knows, perhaps it will replace Spanish or French lessons in schools in the not so distant future?