Be seated, cadets.
Today’s lesson will be a short primer on constructed languages. Important for some, curiosities for others, those of you who end up drawing crypto-archaeological duties will encounter some of them while investigating the ruined colonies of the Sword March, and those of you who go on to information warfare will no doubt investigate these further in your specialization year at the academy.
A constructed language is exactly what it appears to be – a language that’s been constructed. Okay, smartass, you might ask, what exactly is meant by that? Your usual run-of-the-mill language, the kind that tradesmen demolish by day and violent youth reinvent by night, has evolved and grown like a living organism over thousands of years. A constructed language, on the other hand, has been planned to adhere to certain rules and has word structre that hasn’t been tainted by constant assimilation of terms from bordering tribes. A constructed language has no words that ‘break the rules’; in fact, they generally can’t have words that break the rules. An intersting note: technically, a programming language is a constructed language – it has a strict guideline for its words and its grammar must be adhered to vehemently for it to work.
Ironically, it’s very likely that the most well-known constructed language has the least number of fluent speakers (12, according to the last census). Anyone had a conversation in Klingon lately? Anyone? No, didn’t think so. But have you heard of it? If you’re reading this briefing, odds are you sure fucking have.
Good old wrinkly-headed Klingons have their very own constructed language. The vocabulary may be small and it might be limited to things you’ll find on a spaceship, but it has rules, sentence structure just like any other language. You can learn Klingon online thanks to the Klingon Language Institute (Warning! Their website contains DANGEROUSLY high levels of Web 1.0 late-90s design. Proceed at your own risk, citizens – I can guarantee you the fleet has no interest in issuing corrective lenses to a whole squadron.)
And now, the fleet’s most famous Klingon-language death metal band: Stovokor
Anyone who’s done a milk run to the Red Dwarf will no doubt have seen Esperanto plastered about all the walls. It speaks volumes to the age of the old mining ship that she bears a language so old. Esperanto dates back to our ancestral home, that shiny blue-green marble called Earth. Envisioned as a tool for easing diplomatic and business transactions in an era where our ancestors finally had the means to travel and communicate across the globe, it is perhaps one of the most functional of the constructed languages.
A curious thing about constructed languages and the human brain… the human brain needs to be rewired to ingest secondary languages, but it only needs to have those neural pathways opened up once. In other words, if you want to learn a third or fourth language, your stupid mushy brain only needs to learn the new language instead of training itself to not think in your primary tongue like it had to do when you learned your second language. If your second language is easy to learn – such as a constructed language, which has rules that make sense – you can get that hard bit out of the way with far less contortion of your grey matter. The mighty Wikipedia has an article about this phenomenon.
There is, if I recall correctly, a copy of an ancient learn-yourself-some-Esperanto website (a website is a primitive 2D representation of hyperdata, cadets) in the searchable archives. Try the following reference code: http://en.lernu.net/
In the Second World War (the one on Earth, that is) the forces of the United States Marine Corps recruited members of the Navajo tribe to serve as radio operators. The Navajo would relay tactical information via radio in codes based on their native tongue. This was done for a multitude of reasons, mainly being that deciphering a language is much harder than simply trying to break a code, and the Japanese had sweet fuck-all chance of learning Navajo.
Much in the same vein, LOLCODE is being advocated by some of the geeks over in fleet security on the USS Pythagoras. Based on the verbal-only language of lolcats, there’s high hope that the sheer nonsensicalness of LOLCODE will render it unbreakable to any robotic eavesdroppers. LOLCODE may even be so bizarre that it will melt the brains of any cybernetic interlopers.
It’s still in the early stages of development, but operating code can be written using the existing, limited number of operands. Some sample LOLCODE:
HAI CAN HAS STDIO? I HAS A VAR IM IN YR LOOP UP VAR!!1 VISIBLE VAR IZ VAR BIGGER THAN 10? KTHXBYE IM OUTTA YR LOOP KTHXBYE
It is of interest to note that the syntax of LOLCODE is only correct if written in ALL CAPS.
And as we began with the speak of geek, so returneth we to the speak of geek.
J. R. R. Tolkien was mad for the crazy silly detail he invested in not only constructing the language of the Elves of Middle Earth, but also creating a linguistic evolution for them. Dude dropped mad science in creating Quendian, Avarin, Eladrin, Sindarin, etc., etc. No, I didn’t actually know any of those names before finding them in (you guessed it) Wikipedia’s article about the Elvish languages of Middle Earth.