Authenticity in Alien Worlds: The Art of Creating Languages

Whether you’ve ever consciously thought about it or not, chances are you’re familiar with a constructed language.

From Star Trek’s Klingon, to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish, to Avatar’s Na’vi, to Dothraki and Valyrian in Game of Thrones, these fictional languages have lent a degree of authenticity to the worlds they occupy.

According to Christine Schreyer, Associate Professor of Anthropology at UBC Okanagan (and the creator of the Kryptonian language for the film Man of Steel), the act of constructing languages (or ‘conlanging’) is not only a natural human inclination, it’s one way that Hollywood immerses their audiences in new worlds.

Why Alien Dialogue Should Not Be in the Audience’s Native Tongue

When it comes to videos, movies, and games that involve fictional or alien cultures, nothing draws an audience in like a constructed language.

“Sometimes the viewer loses that immersion feeling if their own language is used,” Christine says. “The more you can use a created language the more immersive it is. Even if the dialogue shifts to English later on – at least it’s had that draw at first and an emotional connection has been made.”

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