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From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages Hardcover – Nov 10 2011


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Review


"From Elvish to Klingon shows clearly what makes invented languages fascinating - their logic, beauty, fun, and (often) high moral purpose." - The Boston Globe


"Written by a variety of expert scholars and linguaphiles, From Elvish to Klingon is both informative and accessible, and offers something for uninitiated novices, fluent users of invented languages, and everyone in between." - Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America


About the Author

Michael Adams is currently Associate Professor of English and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Indiana. He has contributed to and edited many journals as well as numerous linguistic works, including the Middle English Dictionary and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. He is the author of Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon and co-author of How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction to the English Language.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Amazon.com: 7 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Interesting mix of history, linguistics and social context May 29 2012
By J. Velson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm no linguist, and nowhere near a cunning one (har har). And to be sure, I think this book isn't really about linguistics - at least as I understand the discipline. Instead, it's a series of relatively non-technical essays that look into the structure, history and context of constructed languages.

Far from exclusively focusing on the science fiction/fantasy languages implied in the title, it also includes expository treatment of internet slang, Newspeak (of 1984 fame), modern revival languages with constructed elements such as Hawaiian, Breton, and Hebrew, and early attempts to create utopian universal languages. Heck, the book even takes a stab at looking at the dialogue of Joyce.

The treatment each language receives varies slightly, but in general it couches the structural and phonological descriptions of constructed languages in the history of their development and the way decisions in the constructed languages play out in their speaking communities. Each bit of context is given to help you understand the motivations behind many of the (often idiosyncratic) people that created these languages, or, if no one creator exists, the interactions between the people in charge. The technical descriptions of the languages, by the way, are unusually accessible given the clearly academic origin of some of the writing. I can't remember a single instance of IPA making its way into the text, for example (although there is a short section in 1337). For those who want additional discussion of the languages, every chapter has an appendix, though it may not contain what you want.

I liked this book, but I will easily say that it's not for everyone. The writing style is academic and thus at times very dry, particularly when moving through the histories of early constructed languages in the late 19th century that I'd never heard of. I managed to power through to read the (alas, breathtakingly short) chapters on Elvish and Klingon, but many others may want to skip them and move to the other self-contained chapters.

The book also is more enjoyable in parts if you have the right external context. Two chapters in this book stand out to me in particular. One covers Newspeak and Nadsat, two constructed languages/jargons from 1984 by George Orwell and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. The other covers "Oirish," the attempt to differentiate Irish English as a written language from Standard English, as written by James Joyce in his many novels - including, at the end, a discussion of Finnegans Wake. Reading about the way language is used in books you've never read is sometimes interesting, but you will get more out of it if you've read those books. Given that I have a realistic idea of how many people have attempted to read (let alone completed) Finnegans Wake, I would advise the average reader to just skip that chapter.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Fabulous Read April 20 2013
By Ricardo De La Torre - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a language lover and a fan a Tolkien, this book called out to me. The entire book held my attention and stimulated my mind as I read about the histories and descriptions of the languages covered. The Appendixes added some great extra information as well, so if the basic chapters don't satisfy you, there's plenty more to read. I highly recommend this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Insights into invented language Jan. 4 2014
By Bill Pruett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The collection of essays on invented languages was an eye-opener. Gym Tolkien's complex, highly developed Elvish to the "like Topsie it just growled" Klingon to the barely noticed invented language used in 1984, this was a fascinating read. For the lay person, it got a little technical at times, but even those parts were worth wading through.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Most interesting Aug. 17 2013
By Peter D. Relyea - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is most interesting to me because my hobby is Foreign Languages. Elvish is very interesting reading and can be a jumping off to other more involved books. I can’t wait to get into the subject of Elvish. Pete
Great book. Feb. 15 2014
By Garrison56 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book for all those that like foreign languages, made-up languages, and fans of invented languages. Many good examples of invented and revitalized languages are discussed.


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