The Insane Story of Ithkuil

Few people know that in 2006 I was determined to drop out of computer science completely. After an extremely busy year doing my master’s in networks & distributed systems at TCD and a decade and a half of programming under my belt, I had enough of it all. I wanted to do something to do completely different than computer stuff. My girlfriend (now wife) studied English, which got me interested in “human” (non-programming) languages. So, I decided to start from scratch and enroll as a first-year student of English. I had a great time, but after a year reality hit and I dropped out, did a PhD in computer science, the rest is history.

Nevertheless, by far my favorite class was linguistics — the scientific study of language: where do languages come from, how do they evolve and so on.

I forgot all about it until yesterday, when I found a The New Yorker article by Joshua Foer about a guy who spent 30 years of his life perfecting an invented language (conlang) named Ithkuil — a (human) language invented to be both concise and to be as unambiguous as possible.

To me this is interesting by itself, but what happens about three-quarters into the article turns the whole thing into a sci-fi movie plot. It’s insane.

You should read it.