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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 Linguist Marc Okrand created and developed the alien language from words originally made up by actor James Doohan (who played Scotty) in the original film.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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Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
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10 Things You Might Not Know About Tina Fey
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Tina Fey has transformed modern comedy more than just about anyone else. From the main stage of Second City to the writer’s room of SNL to extremely fetch comedy blockbusters, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey has built a national stage with a dry, eye-popping sarcasm and political satire where no one is safe. She has a slew of Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG, PGA, and WGA awards to prove it—plus a recent Tony nomination (her first). But, more importantly, she’s the closest thing we have to a national comic laureate.

Here are 10 facts about a fantastically blorft American icon.

1. SHE DID A BOOK REPORT ON COMEDY WHEN SHE WAS 11.

Fey got a very early start in comedy, watching a lot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart, and Norman Lear shows as a kid. Her father and mother sneaked her in to see Young Frankenstein and would let her stay up late to watch The Honeymooners. So it’s no surprise that she chose comedy as the subject of a middle school project. The only book she could get her hands on was Joe Franklin’s Encyclopedia of Comedians, but at least she made a friend. "I remember me and one other girl in my 8th grade class got to do an independent study because we finished the regular material early, and she chose to do hers on communism, and I chose to do mine on comedy," Fey told The A.V. Club. "We kept bumping into each other at the card catalog."

2. THE SCAR ON HER FACE CAME FROM A BIZARRE ATTACK THAT OCCURRED WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD.

Fey’s facial scar had been recognizable but unexplained for years until a profile in Vanity Fair revealed that the mark on her left cheek came from being slashed by a strange man when she was five years old. “She just thought somebody marked her with a pen,” her husband Jeff Richmond said. Fey wrote in Bossypants that it happened in an alleyway behind her Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, home when she was in kindergarten.

3. HER FIRST TV APPEARANCE WAS IN A BANK COMMERCIAL.

Saturday Night Live hired Fey as a writer in 1997. In 1995 she had the slightly more glamorous job of pitching Mutual Savings Bank with a radical floral applique vest and a handful of puns on the word “Hi.” In a bit of life imitating art, just as Liz Lemon’s 1-900-OKFACE commercial was unearthed and mocked on 30 Rock, the internet discovered Fey’s stint awkwardly cheering on high interest rates a few years ago and had a lot to say about her '90s hair.

4. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO BE NAMED HEAD WRITER OF SNL.

Four years after that commercial and two after she joined Saturday Night Live’s writing staff, Fey earned a promotion to head writer. Up until that point, the head writers were named Michael, Herb, Bob, Jim, Steve. You get the picture. She acted as head writer for six seasons until moving on to write and executive produce 30 Rock. Since her departure, two more women (Paula Pell and Sara Schneider) have been head writers for the iconic show.

5. SHE’S THE YOUNGEST MARK TWAIN PRIZE WINNER.

Established in 1998, the Kennedy Center’s hilarious honor has mostly been awarded to funny people in the twilight of their careers. Richard Pryor was the first recipient, and comedians who made their marks decades prior like Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg, and George Carlin followed. Fey earned the award in 2010 when she was 40 years old, and the age of her successors (Carol Burnett, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, David Letterman ...) signals that she may hold the title of youngest recipient for some time.

6. SHE WROTE SATIRE FOR HER HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER.

Fey was an outstanding student who was involved in choir, drama, and tennis, and co-edited the school’s newspaper, The Acorn. She also wrote a satirical column addressing “school policy and teachers” under the pun-tastic pseudonym “The Colonel.” Fey also recalled getting in trouble because she tried to make a pun on the phrase “annals of history.” Cheeky.

7. SHE MADE HER RAP DEBUT WITH CHILDISH GAMBINO ON "REAL ESTATE."

Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) first gained notice as a member of Derrick Comedy in college, and Fey hired him at the age of 23 to write for 30 Rock. Before jumping from that show to Community, Glover put out his first mixtape under his stage name. After releasing his debut album, Camp, in 2011, Gambino dropped a sixth mixtape called Royalty that featured Fey rapping on a song called “Real Estate.” “My president is black, and my Prius is blue!"

8. SHE VOICED PRINCESSES IN A BELOVED PINBALL GAME.

Between the bank commercial and Saturday Night Live, Fey has an intriguing credit on her resume: the arcade pinball machine “Medieval Madness.” Most of the game’s Arthurian dialogue was written by Second City members Scott Adsit (Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock) and Kevin Dorff, who pulled in fellow Second City castmate Fey to voice for an “Opera Singer” princess, Cockney-speaking princesses, and a character with a southern drawl. (You can hear some of the outtakes here.)

9. SHE USED MEAN GIRLS TO PUSH BACK AGAINST STEREOTYPES OF WOMEN IN MATH.

Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan in 'Mean Girls' (2004)
Paramount Home Entertainment

There’s a ton of interesting trivia about Mean Girls, Fey’s first foray into feature film screenwriting. She bid on the rights to Rosalind Wiseman’s book that inspired the movie without realizing it didn’t have a plot. She initially wrote a large part for herself but kept whittling it down to focus on the teenagers, and her first draft was “for sure R-rated.” Fey also chose to play a math teacher to fight prejudice. “It was an attempt on my part to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math. Even though I did not understand a word I was saying.” Fey used a friend’s calculus teacher boyfriend’s lesson plans in the script.

10. SHE SET UP A SCHOLARSHIP IN HER FATHER’S NAME TO HELP VETERANS.

Fey’s father Donald was a Korean War veteran who also studied journalism at Temple University. When he died in 2015, Fey and her brother Peter founded a memorial scholarship in his name that seeks to aid veterans who want to study journalism at Temple.

"He was really inspiring," Fey said. "A lot of kids grow up with dreams of doing those things and their parents are fearful and want them to get a law degree and have things to fall back on, but he and our mom always encouraged us to pursue whatever truly interested us." Fey also supports Autism Speaks, Mercy Corps, Love Our Children USA, and other charities.

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Build Your Own Harry Potter Characters With LEGO's New BrickHeadz Set

Harry Potter is looking pretty square these days. In a testament to the enduring appeal of the boy—and the franchise—who lived, LEGO has launched a line of Harry Potter BrickHeadz.

The gang’s all here in this latest collection, which was recently revealed during the toymaker’s Fall 2018 preview in New York City. Other highlights of that show included LEGO renderings of characters from Star Wars, Incredibles 2, and several Disney films, according to Inside The Magic.

The Harry Potter BrickHeadz collection will be released in July and includes figurines of Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, and even Hedwig. Some will be sold individually, while others come as a set.

A Ron Weasley figurine
LEGO

A Hermione figurine
LEGO

A Dumbledore figurine
LEGO

Harry Potter fans can also look forward to a four-story, 878-piece LEGO model of the Hogwarts Great Hall, which will be available for purchase August 1. Sets depicting the Whomping Willow, Hogwarts Express, and a quidditch match will hit shelves that same day.

[h/t Inside The Magic]

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