Books with Secret Languages

My third novel, Symbiosis, is about identical twin girls called Talulah and Taliah. It is a psychological thriller. Talulah and Taliah speak to each other in a cryptophasia. A cryptophasia is a secret language developed by a set of twins, which only they understand.


Here are 6 authors who invented/alluded to idiosyncratic languages in their writing:

James Joyce – Finnegans Wake (1939) – Written in Paris over a period of 17 years, much of Finnegans Wake is written in an idiosyncratic language, made up of a combination of portmanteau words, multilingual puns and English lexical items.

 J. R. R. Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings (1954) – Tolkien had a penchant for creating languages. In The Lord of the Rings he described in intricate detail the linguistics of Middle-earth. A number of constructed languages were envisaged.

H.P. Lovecraft – Various books/stories – In Lovecraft’s writing the language R’lyehian is a hieroglyphic lettering system, which was brought to earth by the spawn of Cthulhu. Lovecraft never gave a name to this language, but his fans did.


Anthony Burgess – A Clockwork Orange (1962) – Set in a dystopian near future, this violent and at times comical work employs an imaginary teenage dialect called nadsat that is in part inspired by Russian. A glossary is provided. Click here to read my review.

Russell Hoban – Riddley Walker (1980) – Set in the English county of Kent, 2000 years after a nuclear war, Riddley Walker is written in an idiosyncratic language, composed of a phonetic transliteration of a Kentish accent.

Chris Beckett – Dark Eden (2012) – In this science fiction novel, the descendants of 2 people who crashed on a planet called Eden, communicate in an unsophisticated language. The inhabitants of Eden do not yet have words for much of their environment.



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