How to fail at conlanging

Useful and interesting article for all conlangers.

J.S. Bangs

While listening to Conlangery recently I was impressed by one of the host’s suggestion to “try different things and see what works.” It’s an anodyne, nearly cliché bit of advice, but it prompted me to wonder: how, exactly, does something in a constructed language “not work?” After all, you’re inventing a language. You get to make up the rules; whatever you invent works if you say it does. Doesn’t it?

Yet anyone who has been conlanging for more than a few months will recognize that this isn’t actually the case. I felt this intuitively, but it still had trouble articulating what exactly it meant for something to “not work” in an invented language. So I’ve compiled a list below of common conlang failure modes. These are things which frequently happen to conlang creators which cause their languages to go awry, and I think that almost all conlangers should be able…

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