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September 9th, 2008


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fayanora
05:41 am - The Cthulhu language?
The language of which the phrase "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" is a part of fascinates me. But not knowing what it's called makes it hard to Google. Anyone know some good sites about this conlang?

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From:wire_mother
Date:September 9th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
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i don't know any sites, but a Satanist named Philip Marsh wrote a short (38 page) essay, titled R'lyehian as a Toy Language, analyzing the language and its appearances in the works of a number of authors (from Lovecraft to Lumley). you can buy it here (it's the third one down).

so, you could look for "R'lyehian", but i think that's just the name given to it by Marsh.
[User Picture]
From:fayanora
Date:September 11th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC)
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Thank you!
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From:fayanora
Date:September 11th, 2008 12:23 am (UTC)

PS

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You know, that reminds me... Anton LaVey used that language in a ritual in his book The Satanic Rituals. And I have that book.

Still, not knowing how to pronounce it...
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From:wire_mother
Date:September 11th, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)

Re: PS

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he did, indeed. as i recall, the Lovecraftian rituals in that book were actually written by Michael Aquino. Marsh explicitly rejects that work for a number of reasons, notably because Aquino's method of constructing those words "has resulted in [Aquino's] 'Yuggothian' having phonetics ('sounds') and spellings unlike any of the alien languages in the Cthulhu Mythos" (p.8).
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From:kipple
Date:September 9th, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
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A few resources:

http://www.yog-sothoth.com/wiki/index.php/R%27lyehian
http://cthulhufiles.com/
http://bookofaltnames.peppermill-marketing.com/

First is the only one specifically about the language, but the others may have useful information as well.
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From:gwalla
Date:September 9th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
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It's not really a conlang. It's gibberish that looks like it could be a language. Lovecraft never actually developed a grammar or even meanings for the words.
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From:kiaransalyn
Date:September 10th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC)
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Seconded. If you want to use Google to find out about that phrase do a search for HP Lovecraft and Cthulhu.

Lovecraft's skill was with the English language not with any constructed language.
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From:ubykhlives
Date:September 10th, 2008 08:20 am (UTC)
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It's gibberish that looks like it could be a language.

I wouldn't even give it that much credit. :) As soon as I saw the word fhtagn, I thought "Ah. Gibberish." It also seems to suffer from the Marvel Comics syndrome - inserting random apostrophes in an attempt to make a language look more foreign.
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From:powerpuffpunk
Date:September 10th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
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Here-here. Warren Ellis solved that problem in The Orbiter, when John Cost, who returned in a space-shuttle thought lost for ten years!, opened his mouth ... - and a blue dialogue-bubble emerged. No gibberish. No half-arsed conlang. Just blue!

The soliders who opened the shuttle respond with "What did he just say!?"

Excellent.
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From:gwalla
Date:September 10th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
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That was a pretty good comic, although it's got a pretty big plot hole: why, if Cross's space travel experience was so awesome and amazing and pleasant, which it's presented as being in the third act, was he Ax Crazy and speaking in tongues when he arrived back on Earth?
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From:powerpuffpunk
Date:September 11th, 2008 03:06 pm (UTC)
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I didn't understand that either. And the brains--Terry and the other two--didn't even ask! It's like it never happened - or that the shuttle landed on a bunch of people. It seems like Warren started off a bit more cynically.
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From:oneironaut
Date:September 22nd, 2008 10:17 am (UTC)
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That bothered me too. I like to think that we're supposed to come away with the understanding that Cross is a Judas goat and it took a while for his programming to assert itself, but I think Ellis actually just lost the thread a bit.
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From:ubykhlives
Date:September 10th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
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Now that's originality - I like it!
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From:gwalla
Date:September 10th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
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Well, to be fair, it's supposed to be an approximation of some alien phrase that is unpronouncable by humans.

But yeah. Lovecraft, like a lot of early sci-fi writers (and lesser sci-fi writers to this day), had a tendency to reach for the punctuation shaker whenever he wanted some alien flavor.
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From:oneironaut
Date:September 22nd, 2008 10:20 am (UTC)
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Arg! Is there nowhere I am safe from TVTropes links? And twice in one thread! That's hours of my life I'll never get back!

(When I complained about this phenomenon to a friend of mine who has the same problem, and told her it was particularly maddening because, being media-savvy, aside from some (most) of the examples there's not a lot of information on TVTropes I don't already have, she replied, 'New words for things you already know about! What could be more fascinating?' That's almost topical here.)
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From:allegrox
Date:September 12th, 2008 09:27 pm (UTC)
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Come on, now. The lettor h does a lot of magical things. For all we know, it could make the f pharyngealized. That would be perfectly reasonable.

Also, if the consonants bother you, watch out for Georgian. You will soil yourself.
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From:ubykhlives
Date:September 13th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
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That would be perfectly reasonable.

I suppose so, although it's phonetically very implausible. There's strong evidence that the Ubykh phoneme /vˁ/ is the pharyngealised counterpart of /f/ (there's no /fˁ/ in Ubykh, and nor is there a plain /v/), and it's been hypothesised that the reason why is that there's insufficient phonetic distinction between [f] and [fˁ] to maintain a phonemic contrast through pharyngealisation alone. Out of interest, do you know of any languages with phonemic /fˁ/?

One idea that sprang to mind was that the /h/ might be a representative for an unclear whispered vowel, especially considering that it comes between two voiceless consonants... or maybe it represents a fricative phoneme produced by scratching one's leg against one's carapace. I guess we really don't know. :)

Also, if the consonants bother you, watch out for Georgian.

I'm quite aware of the vagaries of what Caucasian languages do to consonants. ;)

But that said, even the vast Georgian sequences like brʧʼqʼviali sparkling and gvprʦkvnis they're peeling us display obvious patterns, and the rules that outline what is and isn't permissible are quite stringent (and furthermore, because /r l m n/ in Georgian may be able to be syllabic, clusters are not really much more difficult than those of Czech). There seems to be no pattern to what's happening in this Lovecraftian stuff... not to mention that /h/ seems to be serving about three different purposes!
From:xybre
Date:September 18th, 2008 01:21 am (UTC)

Remember

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Remember, in the Author's mind the universe is chaotic, and it's beings unknowable, uncaring, and having the potential to drive a typical man insane simply with their presence. Additionally, on one of the first occurrences of the word "Cthulu" the author says that it was a sound not made by human speech organs and it was the best he could due to pronounce it. Consider it from the perspective of onomatopoeia combined with glossolalia.

In all reality, he probably just used a sort of evil Lewis Carrol method, grabbing words, voiding them of their vowels, and mashing them together. I find it somewhat irksome that Cthulu is a water-being and the root word is almost certainly the Greek "khthonios" which refers to dwelling withing the deep regions of the earth.
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From:fayanora
Date:September 18th, 2008 07:04 am (UTC)

Re: Remember

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Ah, yes... the "many angled ones."
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From:oneironaut
Date:September 22nd, 2008 10:12 am (UTC)
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gvprʦkvnis they're peeling us

This (or variations thereon) is the sample Georgian word I see most frequently, but never has the context been so chillingly appropriate.

Edited at 2008-09-22 10:12 am (UTC)
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From:fayanora
Date:September 22nd, 2008 10:17 am (UTC)
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ROTFLMAO!

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