Over the years, many TV shows, movies, and books have created fictional languages to add texture and depth to their worlds. But because these languages aren’t organic, they often have some missing words. Or, alternatively, the creators intentionally leave out a word from a fake language for comedic purposes. From sci-fi to fantasy, these fictional languages are made all the more enjoyable because of their missing words.
Dothraki, “Game of Thrones“
The people of the Dothraki Sea speak a constructed language called Dothraki. For the HBO series, linguist David J. Peterson created a Dothraki language that included over 3,000 words. Because they are passionate about horses, Dothraki includes 14 words for “horse.” Not surprisingly, however, the Dothraki have no word for “thank you.” After all, they aren’t the most gracious of people.
Klingon, “Star Trek“
As the Klingon language began to grow, the franchise’s producers felt that they needed someone to take all of the previously-uttered Klingon words from the series and movies and turn them into a proper language with syntax. Linguist Marc Okrand created the Klingon language for “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.” As befits their brusque, warrior-like culture, the Klingon language has no polite word for “hello.” The closest approximation is the greeting “nuqneH,” which translates to the rude-sounding “What do you want?”
The book and movie versions of “1984” both feature Newspeak, a version of English that is being simplified in order to simplify the minds of the people and make them easier to manipulate. Words like “bad” are replaced with “ungood,” with other words deleted entirely. The idea is to limit controversial thoughts by making them impossible to understand: the sentence “freedom is slavery” from the book couldn’t be understood by people who had no word or concept for “slavery.” Technical words are also deleted: Newspeak doesn’t even have a word for “science.”
Terry Pratchett’s beloved series of “Discworld” novels includes a number of dwarf characters. The dwarves speak a language called Kad’k. This language is funny because although the dwarves are miners by trade, they have no word for “rock.” While there are hundreds of words that describe different types of rocks, there is no general word for rock.
Mandalorian, “Star Wars”
The Mandalorians are featured heavily in the “Star Wars” comics: Boba Fett is probably the most famous of their group. Despite all their characteristic bravery, the Mandalorians do not have a word for “hero.” The reason for this is because the idea of not dying to protect your loved ones would be abhorrent in Mandalorian culture. Interestingly, they do have a word for coward: “hut’uun,” a word derived from their distaste for the Hutts.