Date of Award

3-1-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors

Department

English

First Advisor

Kimberley Brown

Subjects

Artificial languages -- Aesthetic aspects, Language and languages, Artificial languages -- History, Artificial languages in literature, Speculative fiction

DOI

10.15760/honors.527

Abstract

Constructed languages are becoming more ubiquitous in literature and popular fiction. Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, authors in speculative fiction have developed their own created languages for the purposes of illustrating fictional cultures. This paper examined conlangs from an artistic and literary perspective by asking two questions: first, how do conlangs operate in a literary text and enhance a reading of that text through its inclusion, and second, how are conlangs valid as their own art projects? This first involved a historical and literary lens on the background of constructing languages by reviewing the literature on conlangs up to now, and then using independent research to come to new conclusions about the subject. This included an interview with a noteworthy language creator for several popular fiction franchises. In addition, this paper also included a brief phonological analysis of two different languages from two notable speculative fiction authors in the context of the work that they inhabit, by summarizing their phonetic inventories and phonotactics. The analysis concluded that the phonology of the work communicates some level of cultural knowledge to the reader, while also helping place the texts within the larger realm of certain literary movements, such as modernism and postmodernism, while also speculating on the validity of created languages themselves as art forms with their own unique history and potential for impact on the cultural landscape.

Persistent Identifier

http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/24376

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