ConLangs: How to Construct a Language

Several lines of handwritten manuscript in Caroline minuscule script, consisting of made-up words interlineated with Latin glosses.

The beginning of the Latin glossary for "Lingua Ignota," an artificial language constructed in the 12th century by Hildegard of Bingen, a German abbess, writer, composer, and mystic. (Public domain image courtesy of Hochschul- und Landesbibliothek RheinMain.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2018



Cite This Course

Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course explores languages that have been deliberately constructed, including Esperanto, Klingon, and Tolkien's Elvish. Students construct their own languages while considering the basic linguistic characteristics of various languages of the world. Through regular assignments, students describe the phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and writing system of their constructed language. The final assignment is a grammatical description of the new language.

Related Content

Norvin Richards. 24.917 ConLangs: How to Construct a Language. Fall 2018. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

For more information about using these materials and the Creative Commons license, see our Terms of Use.