There are long boring discussions about non-natural language taxonomies. Many of these imply that a conlang is a natural-looking (not an engineered language), artistic (not for community use, let alone global use), that generally is built with the same methodology of Tolkien's Elvish--- and everything else is not a conlang.

There are websites dedicated to conlangs where those communities aggressively chase off people who want to discuss auxiliary languages (better Esperantos), things that make no effort to be artistic (e.g. engineered languages, which have no fanciful conworld, false history, etc), or things that are not distinct enough (e.g. relexes, which would also exclude oddities like con-dialects, which are just mild relexes of English)

So, taxonomically, what are the bounds of "non-natural language" that we expect to allow here?

  • 2
    "Many of these imply that a conlang is a natural-looking (not an engineered language), artistic (not for community use, let alone global use), that generally is built with the same methodology of Tolkien's Elvish--- and everything else is not a conlang." Really? I haven't seen such a definition before.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 16:12
  • 3
    I'd recommend going with what Wikipedia includes, which has artlangs, auxlangs, and englangs, but not programming languages or other such things with "language" in the name.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 16:13
  • @curiousdannii David Peterson wrote an excellent taxonomy article is some blog probably back around 2012. I can't find it anywhere now. You'll just have to trust me. Zompist is a conlang forum, you can go experimentally see what happens if you participate wrong there, re misunderstanding that community's idea of what counts as a conlang. Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 19:10
  • I'd actually be interested to learn what forums actively chase auxlang qua invented language discussions away! Even in the aftermath of the Great Sundering, the discussion of auxlangs as invented languages was always welcome at Conlang-L (I know, I participated in many discussions abouts IALs, philosophical languages, etc.) Other forums I am or have been involved in have been similarly welcoming. Relexes are not invented languages, so are considered off-topic. Constructed dialects are on-topic if they are dialects of an invented language. If you're in the Gnoli Triangle, you're on-topic!
    – elemtilas
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 1:52
  • @elemtilas Yeah, but that (gnoli triangle) is the definition of what is on topic for that mailing list. You'll have to take my word that there are flame wars on the internet. Also, I think the exclusion of relexes was an aesthetic decision of someone rather than a decision based on what relexes are, I wrote a blog post on it- fakelinguist.wakayos.com/?p=473 Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 14:59
  • I understand there are flame wars. Hence the Great Sundering. The Gnoli Triangle is not a manifesto of what is on-topic for Conlang-L; rather it is a general statement on what types of invented languages actually exist. Relexes, generally speaking, are excluded because they are codes or cyphers. They may be entirely aesthetic: but a pretty code is still a code! I actually read this blog post of yours a number of years ago! I actually agree with you that relexes have their place & uses. SE-Constructed Languages is not that place.
    – elemtilas
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 15:20

3 Answers 3


To borrow a definition from one of my answers

"Constructed languages" on this site refers to artificially created languages for intelligent beings, not machine languages. In the absence of another qualifier a "language" is, as I wrote on another site, a system for communicating propositional and conceptual information to other beings. This is different from communication. Programming languages can definitely be used to communicate - and they carry meaning - but that doesn't make them languages. Purely referential communication (using symbols to directly refer to things in the world without metaphorical extension) is not enough to be a language, language must be able to communicate abstract concepts that are beyond any sensory or referential basis.

The community here has already shown that artlangs, auxlangs, and englangs are all on-topic. We also have questions on relexes and con-dialects. I don't think I've seen a question on a con-writing system, but I have one in mind, and I expect it would be seen as on-topic too.

In general, Stack Exchange sites do not need to preemptively decide on the on-topicality of tangential topics. We have the tag for questions asking whether something should be seen as a conlang, and if there is a future edge case question then we can discuss the specific merits of that question when it arises.


There is no place for advocacy here. This is a question and answer site, not a discussion forum.

What the scope is concerned, International Auxilliary languages, languages created for use literature or film (artlangs), philosophical languages, languages designed for a special purpose (e.g., to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) are all on topic.

Also language projects that are mere stubs and not fully fleshed out and questions about language design are on-topic, IMO.

Some things are clearly off-topic: Formal languages as discussed in automata theory and theoretical computer science, programming languages, and maybe other things only accidentally being named "language".


I haven't been active on this site yet, but I am active on other internet conlang sites (like the Conlang Bulletin Board, Zompist Bulletin Board, and Conlang Mailing List) and I'm surprised at the description in the original post. (That said, I don't have experience maintaining threads about conlangs of my own on these sites.) My answer here is mainly based on my perspective about what I've seen on these other sites.

My experience is that, at least for many people, pushback is strongest against advocacy of auxiliary languages. Yes, many people on these sites are more interested in "naturalistic" conlangs, but I think there are definitely people who would be interested in discussing linguistic aspects of auxililary languages and engineered languages. (For example, the Conlang Mailing List has seen a fair number of posts by the creators of engineered, non-naturalistic constructed languages.)

An issue that often seems to come up is that the set of people who are interested in posting about auxiliary languages overlaps significantly with the set of people who are interested in promoting auxiliary languages. It is tiresome when people who think they've come up with the next Esperanto make posts arguing about why their language is the greatest, especially if it's obvious that the poster hasn't taken much time to study linguistics or the alternative existing auxiliary languages that already exist.

I think the Stack Exchange model of questions and answers is inherently more hostile to advocacy efforts than the bulletin-board or mailing-list discussion paradigms, so I wouldn't think that would be as big a problem on this site, and I expect that there should accordingly be less hostility towards on-topic posts about auxiliary languages and engineered languages here. None of these subjects seem inherently off-topic for a site about constructed languages.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .