I am writing a fantasy novel and I have created a few languages for it, these being Twergit (pronounced /'twer-git/ - I don't know IPA so I'm using Merriam-Webster pronunciation symbols, a guide can be found here: https://www.merriam-webster.com/assets/mw/static/pdf/help/guide-to-pronunciation.pdf), Faean (/'fā-in/), Urg-va (/ȯrg-'vä/), and Tharzhnik (/'thärzh-nik/). I am wondering if I should include a glossary in the back with english translations of text in other languages that appears in the book like Christopher Paolini did in Eragon to help readers understand characters that speak in my conlangs.

3 Answers 3


It depends what the purpose of the languages is, and how they are used.

If there are only short stretches, and the meaning can be inferred from context, or is not vital to the story (like a comment on the weather or so), then a gloss might not be needed. In that case the purpose of using conlangs is mainly for atmosphere, to create a sense of strangeness or the unknown. Having other characters talk in an unknown language does not necessarily require the protagonist/reader to understand it -- this is what happens in real life after all when cultures meet.

However, if it is important to the plot, you want to make sure that the reader can understand it (and they might not be able to infer the meaning).

In the end it is your choice. You did go through all the work of creating these languages, rather than using random character sequences in your novel, so you might want to provide a gloss for your readers' benefit. It would also signal that you put the effort in, and that you give attention to details, which might make the readers overall enjoy it more.



As a reader, I like when there is a glossary at the back. I also like a nice map at the front! It's always a pleasure to see that an author either took the time and effort to make a language or hired a language inventor to do that job properly. So my vote is YES.


I would learn IPA. It's everywhere and it is the de facto standard in use by the language creation community. It'll make your life and everyone else's so much easier!

I would make your lexicon count by not just having a list of X = Y entries. Rather, give us some cultural, historical, linguistic background that may not have been specifically included in the text. Take a look at Tolkien's numerous appendices to see what I mean.

Might also want to rise above Paolini's dubious glossopoetic and literary output. I've never heard anything particularly good about either for all that he was hailed as a genius. There are better models to look at and learn from.


It depends on the style of your work. Adding such kind of glossary emulates a quite old-fashioned style of adventure books taking place in exotic regions, or travel journals to such regions. So when this is fitting to the overall setting of the story, it is fine.

It is also kind of OK when it does not really contribute to the atmosphere of your story and just provides some bonus bits of information for the fans of the work.

In fact, I cannot see any strong reason against it (saving a few pages of paper in a printed book, especially when you need additional 16 pages of paper because of binding restrictions might be one).

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