Private conlangs in the comics

Yesterday’s Sally Forth (by Jim Keefe):

Ted and Sally are recalling an absurd private language they constructed for themselves to talk about nearby people in public — a language that only they would know. Their Monkeyish was absurd because, with only 12 words (7 of them prepositions!), there was clearly almost nothing that they could say.

Ted suggests that they should learn an actual language (though then they’d risk being understood by some of the people around them; people who try to use French or Italian in this fashion often discover that there are more undetectable speakers of these languages around them than they might have imagined).

Conlangs — constructed languages — are normally created to facilitate communication in society, but people also create (often spontaneously) private languages for use just by themselves or by themselves and a few intimates. From Wikipedia:

An idioglossia (from the Greek ιδιογλωσσία idioglōssia, from idio– “personal” and glōssa “tongue”) is an idiosyncratic language invented and spoken by only one person or very few people. Most often, idioglossia refers to the “private languages” of young children, especially twins, the latter being more specifically known as cryptophasia, and commonly referred to as twin talk or twin speech.

For deliberate concealment, people often use a  systematic deformation of some existing language (called a secret language, play language, or language game), like Pig Latin.

(There are substantial literatures on conlangs , idioglossias, and play languages.)

3 Responses to “Private conlangs in the comics”

  1. kenru Says:

    My family had our secret language…”igid” was inserted. Wigidee wigidould tigidalk ligidike thigidiss. I doubt if it fooled anybody; but it was fun to do.

    • Robert Coren Says:

      It wasn’t just your family; I remember some of my middle-school classmates using a language very much like that. I believe they called it gibberish.

  2. [BLOG] Some Thursday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky takes a look at the appearance of a conlang in […]

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