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A short introduction to glossopoiesis

8. Artistic languages

When the language creator's main aim - or, anyhow, his main benchmark - is aesthetic perfection, his activity becomes an art with full rights and his works may shine bright with harmony and beauty as poems do.

There is a clear link between creative use of language and artistic language creation, that has been exploited, among others, by avant-garde movements of the early 20th Century. A discussion of these attempts is beyond the scope of this article, but I'd like to name three examples. Zaum' was a "language" based on pure sound rather than meaning, created and promoted by Russian futurist poet A.E. Kruchënykh (1886-1968). He often described it using many epithets, among which are universal language and new Esperanto. Parole in libertà is a literary theory by Tommaso Filippo Marinetti (1876-1944), founder of futurism: this theory often resulted in poetic languages rich in neologisms and invented words. Another poetic language rich in invented words was that typical of Dadaism, a movement active in Zurich between 1915 and 1919.

The utmost achievements in this fields are however reserved to language creators.

Among those who put themselves to the test with artistic constructed languages, a pre-eminent role is almost universally assigned to J.R.R. Tolkien. Indeed, because of his precedence in time and the vastness of his work, however unfinished, most authors of artlangs seem to look at Tolkien in the same way that epic poets of the past used to look at Homer. Among the numerous languages by Tolkien, many are of artistic worth, and especially Quenya and Sindarin are to be considered as masterpieces of the genre.

With his dedication of a whole lifetime, Tolkien shows the main qualities of the poets of language creation: prominence of aesthetics over practical and theoretical considerations, search for a naturalistic framework, care for the slightest detail, and for every single morpheme of the language.

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