A few conlangs have language regulators or academies. Have any of these ever been faced with naturally occurring linguistic change and changed the official version of the language to match?

Please consider only grammatical, morphological, or syntactic changes, and not simply the inclusion of new words, as I expect that to be very common.

  • 1
    Wouldn't pretty much any spelling reform fall into that category? The issue with figuring out an answer though, is that "language regulators" are rather rarely concerned with issues of grammar, and even less so of syntax (The French Académie's dictionary was originally planned to be accompanied by a grammar, which never got anywhere)
    – Circeus
    Feb 7, 2018 at 4:14
  • @Circeus To be honest spelling issues hadn't even occurred to me. If there was a natural phonological shift and the regulators were pressured into adopting it that would count I think.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 7, 2018 at 4:35

2 Answers 2


It would seem that Esperanto is one such that not only has done so, but actually has an Academy to guide and legitimize the process.

This article makes note of several, such as new ungendered pronouns (ŝli < ŝi au li; ri = they s.) and the degendering of formerly masculine nouns (dentisto =/= male dentist).

I'm sure that these proposals are coming from the community of speakers themselves and are being agreed to by consensus before any kind of official blessing.

  • One of the answers there says "As others have mentioned, the Academy of Esperanto is supposed to document changes in language usage, rather than initiate them." If that's true I'm not sure it really counts as the type of academy I'm asking about. But, then two sentences later is "In the rare cases where the Academy has tried to dictate how people should speak, the language community tends to ignore the Academy." so I guess it should count.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 8, 2018 at 1:32
  • 1
    Either way, fair enough! But then again, I guess the French are pretty good at ignoring their Academie as well!
    – elemtilas
    Feb 8, 2018 at 3:21
  • sli or ŝli? Jul 27, 2020 at 18:41
  • @AntonSherwood -- fixed! Thanks for bringing this to my attention!
    – elemtilas
    Jul 27, 2020 at 20:10

L'Académie has done this in the past, and is dealing with the blowback today.

French, as people tend to know, uses gender in its grammar. Originally, there were feminine forms such as philosophesse in widespread use, but in the 1600s, around the time L'Académie was founded, the idea that "the masculine prevails over the feminine" became a standard French published grammars and dictionaries used, and they explicitly declared this to be the case not because it was an existing linguistic rule in French but because the language should reflect the "natural" male-dominant society of the time. So words such as la philosophesse was declared grammatically incorrect: le philosophe was the only proper term. (Besides, they probably chuckled, it's not like the little ladies could really think anyway, amirite?)

No really, they said that. And L'Académie, who still don't like girl cooties, was on board and kept enforcing that. So you'd see situations where, for instance, if you had an symphony orchestra of entirely female musicians, they'd be referred to as les musiciennes (fem.pl). If they added a single man to the orchestra, now the group is les musiciens (masc.pl), even though the man is outnumbered 100:1.

The blowback happening now, which les immortels (of course, never les immortelles) are fighting hard against, is to tweak French to be a bit more inclusive, by doing things like creating constructions analogous to the "Latinx" term, changing some nouns so that the feminine form is fully accepted as grammatically equal to the male, and perhaps even considered the default; to use an example I just made up, if you referred "an engineer" as a generic, you'd use une ingénieure instead of un ingénieur. And even stopping that stupidity where a single man changes the entire grammatical gender of a group, regardless of how outnumbered he is.

  • But the question is about conlang language academies.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 29, 2020 at 23:50
  • Fair enough, but it does provide a real-life example. Jul 30, 2020 at 2:19

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