Latest Issue

Will’s words

By William Skidelsky   November 2007

Lang uages, generally, are not created by design; they come about by accident. As such they are messy, inconsistent and constantly evolving. This explains, no doubt, the appeal of made-up languages, which can be fixed and logical in a way that real languages cannot. One of the most famous imaginary languages in literature is that envisaged by Borges in his short story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” The citizens of Borges’s fabulous country, Uqbar, hold to an extreme form of philosophical idealism, conceiving of the world as a “heterogenous series of independent acts.” One consequence is that their languages don’t contain…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect