12th Century: The Unknown Language

Hildegard von Bingen - Litterae Ignotae

Saint Hildegard, a 12th century German Benedictine abbess, was a mystic, composer, and philosopher who wrote works on topics as diverse as theology, botany, and medicine. She began experiencing visions at the age of three, ultimately chronicling a lifetime of such visions with theological commentary in three volumes.

She also invented her own language, the Lingua Ignota (“Unknown Language”), which survives in a glossary of 1011 words, an alphabet, and in the following single passage:

O orzchis Ecclesia, armis divinis praecincta, et hyacinto ornata, tu es caldemia stigmatum loifolum et urbs scienciarum. O, o tu es etiam crizanta in alto sono, et es chorzta gemma.

The two sentences are actually mostly Latin; five words are in in Lingua Ignotabut only one of these is found in the glossary (loifol, “people”). The following is thus a translation:

O orzchis Church, girded with divine arms, and adorned with hyacinth, you are the caldemia of the wounds of the people, and the city of sciences. O, o, and you are the crizanta in high sound, and you are the chorzta gem.”

Lingua Ignota is the earliest known constructed language. Someone made a font of Hildegard’s alphabet.

Here is a sample from the glossary:

Abiza – House
Aieganz – Angel
Aigonz – God
Amozia – Eucharist
Bischiniz – Adolescent
Bizioliz – Drunkard
Diueliz – Devil
Fluanz – Urine
Fuscal – Foot
Haischa – Turtle Dove
Hilzmaiz – Stepmother
Hilzpeueriz – Stepfather
Hilzscifriz – Stepson
Inimois – Human
Jugiza – Widow
Jur – Man
Kaueia – Wife
Korzinthio – Prophet
Kulzphazur – Great-great-great-grandfather
Limzkil – Infant
Liuionz – Saviour
Maiz – Mother
Milischa – The hair of a man
Ornalz – The hair of a woman
Pereziliuz – Emperor
Peueriz – Father
Phazur – Grandfather
Pusinzia – Snot
Sancciuia – Crypt
Sciniz – Stammerer
Scirizin – Son
Vanix – Woman
Vrizoil – Virgin
Zains – Boy
Zanziuer – Confessor
Zizia – Mustache
Zunzial – Youth
Zuuenz – Saint

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One Response to 12th Century: The Unknown Language

  1. Pingback: The written, the spoken, and the audible a part of the soul and a blessing to humanity but also the trigger to those who love Crusades and the Inquisition | From guestwriters

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