Friday, October 2, 2015

Five top books with invented languages

David J. Peterson created the Dothraki language for HBO's Game of Thrones. His latest book is The Art of Language Invention.

One of Peterson's five best books with invented languages, as shared at
Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Though Nabokov didn’t create a full language for Pale Fire, he created an interesting sketch of what we today would call an a posteriori language—a language based on real world sources. In Pale Fire, Nabokov follows the exiled former ruler of an imaginary country called Zembla, but even within the fictional context of the story, it’s not quite certain how “real” Zembla is supposed to be. One gets the same slightly unsettling sense from the Zemblan language, which at turns looks plausibly Indo-European, or completely ridiculous. Though used sparingly, the conlang material enhances the overall effect of the work, adding another level of mystery to the already curious text.
Read about the other books on the list.

Pale Fire's John Shade is among John Mullan's ten best fictional poets. The novel appears among Jane Harris's five best psychological mysteries and Edward Docx's top ten deranged characters. It is one of Tracy Kidder's six best books as well as the novel Charles Storch would save for last. It is one of "Six Memorable Books About Writers Writing" yet it disappointed Ha Jin upon rereading.

--Marshal Zeringue