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Hi, I'm going to do a project of language design, that is the creation of an artificial language like it happens, for example, for the aliens of some sc-fi movies. (Famous examples are the aliens in District 9 and Chewbecca in Star Wars (of course ;)). It is also called "conlang" (constructed language). This is a project for the Sound Design course of of my Art School and the final work should be some kind of a "speaking installation", where the speech is an artificial language.

My plans are to collect a database of sounds/phonems from human speeches of different languages, in addiction to synthetic sounds,and find a way to re-arrange them on the fly when triggered by an interaction with the audience, in order to create "sentences".

The techniques used to create aliens/creatures languages for movies and videogames have been widely discussed, also here on SSD. What I'd like to know instead, if there are examples of artificial language design in Sound Art or Arts in general.

No videogames or films involved this time ;)

Any help or suggestion is much appreciated!! Thanks! Max

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Cool stuff, was just thinking about this topic last night. Very ambitious project, please post updates as you go along! –  lucafusi Jan 21 '12 at 19:36

3 Answers 3

Tolkien's Middle Earth languages comes to mind, although of course they have been used in the Lord of the Rings films. Also Anthony Burges' A Clockwork Orange uses Nadsat, a conlag based on Russian.

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Two people come to mind when I think of language and sound art.

Diana Deutsch and Kurt Schwitters

Kurt Schwitters has a famous sound work called "Ursonate". It is phonetically based and may give you some ideas of structure or the way a language can sound. Links to listen to "Ursonate" on this page: http://www.ubu.com/sound/schwitters.html

Diana Deutsch is a psychologist rather than artist but has some great research on sound and speech and perception. You can find a lot online about her work.

Hope you find this helpful.

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excellent reference with ursonate...how did i forget the whole dada movement?! –  Shaun Farley Jan 27 '12 at 19:52

What a great project, I'd also be really interested in hearing your results. Sounds like perfect Max/MSP territory. Program in some universal rules taken from aspects of languages around the world as a basis for your sound triggers possibly? Play around with convolution, you could take the articulation of one language and convolve it to another? Soundhack could be a great tool for this or logic's space designer. Best of luck... Phil

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