Íxhadl epal Iţkuil

/ conlangs ithkuil / 4 min read /

The title means ‘the beginning of hypothetical Ithkuil learning’.


Ithkuil is extremely complex, it’s an apriori language, which means its grammar and lexicon bear very little resemblance to those other languages you might know. It was not intended to be learned at all! The author, John Quijada was purportedly very surprised when he started getting letters from crazy Russians who asked him about learning the language. Those Russians fell for an unproved and highly doubtful idea that learning Ithkuil at a native-like level could improve one’s speed of thought. The very question of learnability of the language is a matter of debate that arose several times on Ithkuil subreddit.

Why would you even want to learn such a thing?

You might be insane

And even perfectly sane people sometimes do crazy things. Personally, I regularly feel frustrated about the real world and want to evade it for a while. Yet, I never use psychedelic drugs or other substances. When I want to end up in a state of altered consciousness at some point, I begin reading Ithkuil grammar (In Ithkuil I’d say: Ul-lnoa utçoi’l itpapk to udrûltánlêšt’ai epai’l Iţkuil). The ability to imagine unimaginable things and looking at usual things at unlookable angles gives the weirdest psychedelic experience.

You might be a poet or a philosopher

Another great use for Ithkuil is writing poetry. Its immense descriptive power allows you to describe anything you can imagine without limits (provided the semantic roots you need have already been assigned) in a very precise yet succinct manner, opening vast grounds for experiment. John Quijada himself has been exploring this path recently as he is composing lyrics to his songs, and I must say, the results are quite different from lyrics written in natural languages.

Another good use for Ithkuil is philosophical discourse. Precision, controlled ambiguity, lexicon based on principles that lie deep at the roots of human cognitive processes as well as other unique Ithkuil features provide the ground for very accurate descriptions and speculations about the ultimate questions of life, the universe, and everything.

You might be a wannabe Illuminatus

Want to organise your own secret society which will use a refined language for all internal communication? With the immense complexity Ithkuil will always stay out of reach of most people and the freedom to construct any metaphors without the need to use culturally predefined meanings makes Ithkuil a good candidate as a substrate for a code language of any kind. Currently the community of people interested in Ithkuil itself resembles a secret society.


Sadly, there is no nice and easy way to learn Ithkuil. With the final version existing for only 3 years by now, all paths to teach and learn the language are still being explored. Here I just present my own vision of how hypothetical learning could begin.

First of all, read the grammar (online or buy a book). If you cannot handle the complexity well, put it aside after reading, then come back to it after a while. The grammar, being a definitive guide to the language, gives the most detailed description and empowers you with the ultimate might of the language.

However, if you still fail to understand what Ithkuil looks like (and thus make a transition to the practical use of the language), you can read wonderful beginner lessons on the subreddit. They give a thoughtful and deep introduction, yet, unfortunately, are incomplete.

Then, after you get the basic feeling of the language, you can try using it! Try to decipher, scarce though they are, existing Ithkuil texts (including LCC5 Relay text that was not linked on the official texts page), and try to create your own texts! You can fashion yourself a nickname in Ithkuil, translate your favorite motto or short poem, or story, and even write your own!

Finally, if you have any questions, you can ask them at the Ithkuil subreddit.

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