The following discussion treats some of the categories of language in use by humans in the 21st century, with particular emphasis on 'created' languages.
· Naturally evolved families of languages such as Finno-Ugric, Indo-European and the like.
· Deaf manual alphabets
· Artificial languages for world unity (such as Esperanto)
· Artificial languages for entertainment, such as Elvish.
First, as an example of the development of natural languages, consider Sanskrit, and its related tongues. These are: Indo-Iranian (from which Sanskrit emerged), Baltic, Slavic, Armenian, Greek, Celtic, Italic, Romance languages, Germanic languages, Anatolian and Tocharian.
As an example of a sub-family, let's look at Germanic languages; German, English, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages.
There are more than 6000 natural languages in the world today, although for many reasons, an exact number cannot be arrived at. First, there is the argument about the distinction between a dialect and a language. It has been said that a language is a dialect with an army. Hence the argument.
It is estimated that within a century, half of these may go extinct, a loss as significant to the world as the loss of a species of plant or animal.
Natural languages are not however, the only means of communication for humans. Over the centuries, artificial languages have both been created or have evolved.
Deaf manual alphabets and sign languages are a mixture of those which evolved naturally and those which were purposefully created. In fact, sign languages for the deaf are still being created. ( See New Scientist, 21st October 2005, for a discussion of one of the newest to be studied.)
There are two types of created (non-sign) languages: those created for the purpose of fostering world unity and those created for the purpose of book/film/Television or even game console. These languages are also known as constructed or planned languages.
Artificial languages for world unity:
These are some of the more noteworthy ones:
· Volapuk, created 1890 by Father Schleyer
· Esperanto, created 1887 by Ludwig Zamenhoff
· Ido (reformed or modified Esperanto)
· Basic English created by C K Ogden (850 words suffice for everything)
· Neo by Arturo Alfandari 1937
· Solresol by Jean Francois Sudre 1798-1866
Artificial languages for entertainment.
In writing fantasy and science fiction, writers create other worlds. In doing so, they often create languages for their characters. Among the most famous of these is Elvish, the language created by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series. Tolkien was a philologist working at Oxford University, from 1925-1959. He had a love of language and a particular love for the Finnish language, which he had learned as an adolescent in order to read the epic poem, 'Kalevala'.
The events of WW1 had a profound effect on him,and he later used some of the things he observed and experienced in writing 'Lord of the Rings'. But his main desire in writing the story cycle, which began with 'The Hobbit', was to create a vehicle for the Elvish language, which he was in the process of inventing. Elvish comprises two sub-languages, Sindarin and Quenya, each with its own real vocabulary and logical rules of grammar.Quenya was the language of the High Elves, Elvish Latin as it were, while Sindarin was the language more commonly used. Tolkien also created Mannish languages, and languages for Orcs, Dwarves and Ents.
More information can be gained from the following books:
Tolkien: A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter Ballantine 1985. ISBN 0-345-32729-2
The Languages of Tolien's Middle Earth, Ruth S Noel. Houghton Mifflin 1980 ISBN 0-395-29130-5
Tolkien and the Silmarillion, Clyde S Kilby. Harold Shaw 1976 ISBN 0-87788-816-7
In the television series Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, originally in 1964, the first 'enemy' race convincingly portrayed was the Klingon race. The Klingons were invented by Lee Cronin (Gene L Coon) and their language was cobbled together in a few episodes and movies. Later, the Klingon language has been systematically created and now Klingon dictionaries, phrase books, grammars and even a Bible translation now exist.
For information on the Klingon language and customs, one can visit the official Star Trek site, where a considerable amount of information exists.
The television programme 'Earth Final Conflict', also created by Gene Roddenberry (though produced posthumously (and many believe, not in accordance with what Gene would have wanted)) features a race of alien visitors to Earth, called the Taelons. They are androgynous beings whose language is called 'Eunoia' which translates (as closely as possible) to 'Beautiful Thinking'. Eunoia is a non-linear language, which branches out to various possibilities, and has a peculiar relationship to tenses and verbs. For information on the Taelon language, the reader can visit the site for the programme 'Earth Final Conflict'. Sadly, no books exist on Eunoia.
Artificial languages for entertainment can therefore be seen to include (but are not limited to):
· Klingon, as in Star Trek. Creator, Marc Okrand.
· Eunoia, as in Earth Final Conflict
· Borg, as in Star Trek
· Elvish, as in the works of JRR Tolkien
· Andorian, as in Star Trek
This is an overview of categories of language, but there is much more that can be said.
Regarding Eunoia and Earth Final Conflict