What would a conlang created to be an alternate version of an already existing natural language be classified as?

For example, a version of English that could have been spoken in an alternate steampunk-era Victorian England, or a conlang of the Finnish language in the year 2349. To be clear, I'm assuming that the conlang would be an actual, dedicated one, and not just a few "alternate" words thrown in for flavor; the examples I picked were just the first ones that came to mind.

(Bonus: is there a classification for a conlang created to be a conlang of a conlang in this same way?)


2 Answers 2


That would be an a posteriori conlang, in contrast with an a priori one. Wikipedia. The process of changing a language through time is called diachronic conlanging.

An example of a very well-done a posteriori conlang would be Carisitt which has been developed as if it was a natural language deriving from PIE (that is, it is also an example of diachronic conlanging). Examples of an a priori conlang are abundant, for instance all of Tolkien’s works.

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  • It certainly is - I’m an active member of multiple conlanging communities. However, I’m not really sure what to link as a reference for the above terms. Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 14:51
  • @Adarain I'll wait a little bit to see if any more answers come, though it's a fairly simple question. In the meantime, I suppose links to specific languages that fit the criteria would be good examples/references. Just having the correct terminology helps the most with looking up additional info.
    – eefara
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 15:31
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    A posteriori conlang is much more generic than the thing asked for in the question. Essentially all naturalistic conlangs (including Esperanto) are on the a posteriori side.
    – Sir Cornflakes
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 15:33
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    I just noticed that wikipedia actually has a section on this topic. Editing in Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 15:37

For naturalistic languages placed in an Alternative History setting the term Altlang (short from Alternative Language) is used.

An example of such an Altlang is Alternese (an alternative history English) by Justin B. Rye.

  • Oh, very cool. Are all altlangs diachronic conlangs?
    – eefara
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 18:16
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    At least all that I am aware of.
    – Sir Cornflakes
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 18:24

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