Human language is a miracle, whether it’s English or Chinese or Swahili. But for some humans, it’s just not good enough.
For hundreds of years, intrepid dreamers, visionaries, madmen and women, cranks and idealists have been inventing languages. Some for fun — Klingon. Some for world peace — Esperanto. Some for a good yarn — Tolkien’s “elvish.”
And a whole lot more for all kinds of reasons — Frendo, Glosa, Rikchik, Toki Pona. It is a magnificent, persistent obsession.
This hour, On Point: The history of invented languages, and why it never ends.
Joining us from Philadelphia is Arika Okrent, author of “In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language.” She has a joint Ph.D. from the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Psychology’s Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience Program at the University of Chicago — and she has earned her first-level certification in Klingon.
You can read excerpts from several chapters of the book.