If you're fascinated by alien languages and futuristic human slang, you're in luck. Eastern Michigan University, with the help of linguistics-loving scifi author Suzette Haden Elgin, has put together an exhaustive list of scifi novels that feature every flavor of strange, imaginary language. A couple of weeks ago we posted a beautiful diagram showing the lineage of most Western languages, and now with this list you can move forward into the possible future of those languages.

The best part is that the U Michigan list doesn't just include the best scifi books that contain alien languages and futuristic human ones. It also includes books with linguist heroes (there are surprisingly many, including awesome novel The Sparrow, as well as Elgin's own Native Tongue), animal languages (think Rendezvous With Rama), and books that use linguistic theory.


For some reason, Iain M. Banks' Feersum Endjinn isn't included here, despite the fact that it's written in a weird space patois. However, the list is packed with intriguing stories I now want to devour, like this one: We Have Always Spoken Panglish, by Suzette Haden Elgin, which is apparently about "a linguist from 'the U.S. Corps of Linguists' [who] tries to save an endangered extraterrestrial language." Another is Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker, set in a postapocalyptic, Dark Ages-style England about 2000 years from now, and written in a future version of English. Hoban is also the author of A Mouse and His Child, a book that turned my brain inside-out as a kid (please ignore the movie version of it).

Linguistics in SciFi Book List [Eastern Michigan University] (Thanks, Sacha!)