Language fascinates me. I strongly believe everybody speaks their own language, and that this fact escapes us because most people confuse “a set of words” with a language – ignoring the web of conceptual structure between the words that truly defines a language.
To illustrate this difference, I’ve invented two languages (in the “set of words” sense) that don’t require you to learn a new set of words or grammar. You will still be speaking your language, because the relationships between the words will remain the same – only the words themselves change. Here they are!
To speak straightforward english, you need only prepare the sentence you wish to say, and then invert the meaning of every single word. For example:
“I am hungry” becomes “You aren’t full?”
“Let us have lunch” becomes “Forbid them give dinner.”
“Do you understand me,” becomes “Don’t I confuse you?”
Notice that sometimes inverting meaning is difficult. What is the inversion of lunch? It could also be breakfast, but this depends upon what time of day it is. If it’s in the early morning, dinner is probably a better inversion. If you are about to eat lunch and it’s mid-afternoon, then perhaps breakfast is the correct inversion.
“Try speaking this language” becomes “fail hearing that nonsense.”
“It will get easier with time” becomes “Nothing won’t give harder against space.”
No pressure, though.
Verbal Caesar Shift
The verbal caesar shift is based upon a primitive cipher algorithm: take each letter, and move it ‘forward’ 13 letters of the alphabet. This cipher is easily broken when you give someone a piece of paper and the encrypted message. It sounds ridiculous if you do it with the spoken language.
For example, “this is a secret cipher” becomes “Guvf vf n frperg zrffntr.”
The idea here is to first get the sentence you wish to speak, and then visualize it in your imagination. Now, perform the caesar shift – moving each letter forward 13 characters – and then pronounce the results of that transformation.
If you want to get really clever about it, instead of ‘moving each letter 13 characters forward’, you can set up rings of consonants and vowels. For example, imagine just changing the vowels forward one character:
a -> e -> i -> o -> u
So then, ‘this is a secret cipher’ becomes ‘thos os e sicrit cophir’
That’s a little easier to pronounce. But it’s still close to the original. To make it harder for eavesdroppers to understand, set up cycles for other phonemes:
f -> s -> th -> sh -> ch
Gets us to
“shoth oth e thicrit thosir”
Because these transformations always affect the same word in the same way, with a small amount of practice – maybe an hour – you can train yourself to speak one of these nonsense languages with your friends, and the strangers around you will assume that you’ve either been doing drugs, or are a mathematician. It’s hard to tell the difference these days.