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12 Fictional Film and TV Languages You Can Actually Learn

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While many movies, books, and TV shows take place in alien or fantasy worlds, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to speak their fictional languages. Here are 12 that you can start studying right now.

1. NADSAT

In the 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, author Anthony Burgess created the language Nadsat for his teenage characters who used it as slang throughout the book and later in the 1971 movie adaptation. The fictional language is essentially English with some borrowed Russian and Gypsy words and terms, along with childish phrasing. Nadsat is derived from the Russian word for teen; it also borrows from cockney slang and German.

Example: “I read this with care, my brothers, slurping away at the old chai (tea), cup after tass (cup) after chasha (teacup), crunching my lomticks of black toast dipped in jammiwam (jam) and eggiweg (egg).”

2. ELVISH

Before he even started to write The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, author and linguist J.R.R. Tolkien developed the Elvish languages Quenya and Sindarin for Middle Earth. Quenya is the language of the High Elves of Eldamar, while Sindarin was spoken by the Grey Elves of Telerin. Tolkien based Elvish on Finnish and Welsh, along with a few elements of Greek and Latin.

Example: “Êl síla erin lû e-govaned vîn.” — “A star shines on the hour of our meeting.”

3. HUTTESE

Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt created Huttese for Return of the Jedi in 1983. Burtt derived the language from an ancient Incan dialect called Quechua. It’s a fictional language that is mainly spoken by Jabba the Hutt and his species on Tatooine, but many other characters can speak Huttese, such as C-3PO, Anakin Skywalker, and Watto from 1999's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Example: “Wee now kong bantha poodoo.” — “Now you’re bantha fodder.”

4. KLINGON

Created from only a few words and phrases, Klingon was first used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, but it became a full-fledged language five years later for Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. Linguist Marc Okrand created and developed the alien language from words originally made up by actor James Doohan (who played Scotty) in the original film. In 1985, Okrand, who also created the Vulcan language, later wrote The Klingon Dictionary, which includes pronunciation, grammar rules, and vocabulary from the Star Trek alien species. Over the years, many plays from William Shakespeare were translated into Klingon, such as Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing.

Example: “bortaS bIr jablu'DI' reH QaQqu' nay.” — “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

5. MINIONESE

Despicable Me co-director Pierre Coffin created Minionese for the animated movie and its sequels. While the language might sound like gibberish or baby talk, Coffin, who also voices the Minions, borrowed Minionese from other languages, such as Spanish, French, Japanese, Tagalog, Korean, and English.

“I have my Indian or Chinese menu handy. I also know a little bit of Spanish, Italian, Indonesian, and Japanese. So I have all these sources of inspiration for their words,” Coffin told the Los Angeles Daily News. “I just pick one that doesn’t express something by the meaning but rather the melody of the words.”

Example: “Le jori e’ tu” — “For better or worse”

6. PARSELTONGUE

J.K. Rowling created Parseltongue for the Harry Potter book series. It’s the fictional language of serpents and those who can speak it are known as Parselmouths, who are descendants of Salazar Slytherin, with Harry Potter as an exception. Rowling even wrote a user guide to Parseltongue on her website, Pottermore.

7. LAPINE

Author Richard Adams created the fictional language called Lapine in his 1972 novel Watership Down and its sequel Tales from Watership Down. It’s primarily spoken to make the rabbit characters sound more “wuffy, fluffy” and comes from the French word lapin, which means rabbit. "I just constructed Lapine as I went—when the rabbits needed a word for something, so did I," Adams explained during an Reddit AMA.

8. DOTHRAKI

Linguist David J. Peterson developed the Dothraki language for Game of Thrones from George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novel series. He created the language for the nomadic warriors with a combination of Arabic and Spanish sounds, along with Swahili and Estonian. Currently, there are over 3100 Dothraki words. Peterson also wrote Living Language Dothraki: A Conversational Language Course, so Game of Thrones fans could also learn and speak the language.

In 2015, “Khaleesi” Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), the wife of the Dothraki ruler “Khal," was a very popular name for newborn baby girls.

Example: “Dothras Chek!” — “Ride well! Godspeed!”

9. ALIENESE

To give the world of the 31st century more realism and depth, Futurama co-creator David X. Cohen created an alien language called Alienese, which was mainly used as background graffiti and store signs for in-jokes. It was a simple substitution cipher that fans quickly decoded. This forced the writers of Futurama to create another language called Alienese II, which was math-based and more complex to figure out.

10. MONDOSHAWAN

Although it’s referred to as the Divine Language, Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) speaks the Mondoshawan alien language in 1997's The Fifth Element. It’s a limited language with only 300 to 400 words in total that director Luc Besson created. Jovovich had to memorize and refine the language before filming began. By the end of production, Besson and Jovovich were speaking Mondoshawan to each other between takes.

11. ATLANTEAN

Disney hired linguist Marc Okrand (the same linguist who created Klingon for Star Trek) to develop a living language for 2001's Atlantis: The Lost Empire. He made Atlantean as the “mother language” for the animated film’s screenwriters and concept artists. The fictional language was derived from Indo-European words with a mix of Sumerian and North American languages. Okrand created a complex writing and language system with writer's scripts, an Atlantean alphabet, and reader's script for the Disney animated film.

12. NA'VI

James Cameron was developing Avatar for 15 years before it was released in December 2009. While Cameron was developing the filmmaking technology to bring the 3D film to fruition, he also brought on University of Southern California linguist Dr. Paul Frommer to help bring the alien culture of the Na’vi to the big screen. The pair worked for months, creating a language that was a mixture of Ethiopian and New Zealand Māori languages to develop a lexicon with more than 1000 words. Since the release of Avatar, Frommer has continuously added new words and expanded the grammatical rules of Na’vi on his website, so fans could learn to speak the alien language.

“The sound system has to be all nailed down first, so that there is consistency in the language,” said Dr. Frommer. “When you create a language, you experience the joy of rolling sounds around in your mouth, hearing unusual sounds, playing with the sounds and structural properties of language—it’s a process that took about six months for the basics,”

Example: “Oel ngati kameie.” — “I see you.”

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10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
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In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

IFC Films

Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

IFC Films

In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

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Play the Sneakers Computer Press Kit from 1992
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In September 1992, the computer hacking movie Sneakers hit theaters. To correspond with its launch, members of the press received a floppy disk containing a mysterious DOS program that, when launched, asked for a password. Once the reporters "hacked" their way in, they found the Sneakers Computer Press Kit. Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can play at being the film press of 1992.

It's hard to characterize exactly what this electronic press kit is. Is it a game? Sort of. It's essentially a very gentle computer hacking simulator, in which the "hacking" consists entirely of guessing passwords (complete with helpful prompts from the program itself), and the payload you discover is silly stuff like mini-biographies of Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, and Sidney Poitier. Still, it's a good match for the film itself, which helped set the template for Hollywood depictions of computer hacking.

A paper folder lies open on a wooden floor, with a black floppy disk on top. The folder is labeled SNEAKERS in giant red letters, as is the floppy. Inside the folder is printed material. On the right flap of the folder are instructions on how to load it.
Inside the Sneakers Computer Press Kit's paper folder. (The right flap contains installation instructions, along with a note that the studio will FedEx printed material if the user doesn't have access to a printer.)
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Always remember: "My voice is my passport. Verify me." Now, get cracking on this press kit and don't be flummoxed—if you can't figure out a password right away, just wait a moment.

(Incidentally, Sneakers did also include printed materials for the press, in case they lacked a computer and/or the patience to deal with this approach. But who in the world would look at that, when they could play with this? There's also a method in the Computer Press Kit that allows the user to print out more detailed materials—provided they have a printer, and it's attached to a particular printer port on the computer.)

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