Today is all about the granddaddy of all fictional "conlangs" (constructed languages). In his novels of Middle Earth, J. R. R. Tolkien invented dozens of new languages to convey a sense of otherness about this fantasy world. In some places, he claimed the languages came first and the world and stories came second -- merely as fulfillment of the desire to "see" people speak the languages! Most well-known of them, I think, are his "Elvish" languages. Although the Elves had several different writing systems, the one you may see the most often is Tengwar. Isn't it gorgeous...?
|Source: TeX Stack Exchange|
|Source: Vinyar Tengwar masthead|
The letters remind me a bit of the Georgian Nuskhuri script, with maybe a hint of Devanagari (Sanskrit) in places. Tolkien included many examples of Tengwar in illustrations throughout the books, including an "Easter Egg" containing his own name in the title pages of The Lord of the Rings.
The actors in the Peter Jackson movies got in on the Tengwar love, too. Eight of the main nine actors all got tattoos of the Tengwar transcription of the English word "nine," to honor their hard work and Fellowship. John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) may have been a spoil-sport, but Peter Jackson ended up getting one too, and even the awesome Ian McKellen (Gandalf) was up for it...
Tolkien's Elvish scripts may be impressive, but the actual languages he devised may be even more so. The one I've always loved the most is Quenya, which you can see from its Wikipedia entry has been quite fleshed out and developed by fans. I don't know how many fluent Quenya speakers there are in the world, but the enthusiasts surely number in the thousands. Here's an example of some Quenya poetry you can listen to.
To further convey the fey and mellifluous nature of Quenya, let me quote the first part of a famous poem called Namárië ("Farewell"), included in Book II of Lord of the Rings, transcribed and linguistically analyzed by Helge Fauskanger:
Ai! laurië lantar lassi súrinen,
Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind,
yéni únótimë ve rámar aldaron!
long years numberless as the wings of trees!
Yéni ve lintë yuldar avánier
The long years have passed like swift draughts
mi oromardi lissë-miruvóreva
of the sweet mead in lofty halls
Andúnë pella, Vardo tellumar
beyond the West, beneath the blue vaults of Varda
nu luini yassen tintilar i eleni
wherein the stars tremble
in the voice of her song, holy and queenly.
In the 20th century, there were several attempts to create new languages to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Put simply, this is the idea that the language you speak affects the way you think, and the way you see the world. Tolkien may not have been thinking about this when he created Quenya and the Tengwar, but I've got to believe that if you had such harmonious sounds (and such flowing letters) swirling around in your brain, it's got to lead to at least slightly more bliss and grace.
Even more: Could Quenya be the best language to use when attempting to induce ASMR... or trance... or nirvana...?