In his Cthulhu Mythos, H. P. Lovecraft includes several snippets of the R'lyehian language, including the "Cthulhu chant":

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

We have a vocabulary list available, that gives us a decent taste of the words - for instance, 'ai means speak or call.

Does this bear any resemblance to any natural languages? Do we know the inspiration for the words?

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    [χθ̪ʊːɫʱʏ ɸt’ɒːʛ̃] :P
    – as4s4hetic
    Feb 27, 2018 at 23:24

1 Answer 1


Ostensibly, the transcription we have of R'lyehian is supposed to be a crude attempt to represent utterly inhuman sounds with the Latin alphabet. Most of what I can find on R'leyhian claims that it attempts to be an un-Earthly language: it does not distinguish between parts of speech, for example. It seems likely to me that Lovecraft at least attempted to invent a fully a priori conlang here.

I've found a Quora answer claiming the language "has basic elements of Welsh and German glottals," but it's unclear what exactly that means and where they got that information from.

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    The Quora answer is likely talking about vowels/consonants present in the language, like glottal stops and similar sounds, that are present in German/Welsh but not present in english? But are there any sound recordings of how R'lyehian is supposed to be said?
    – user160
    Feb 27, 2018 at 21:04
  • @Riker To my knowledge, we only have the transcription in the Latin alphabet, so we don't know for sure that the language has glottal stops and similar sounds, much less that it took inspiration from Welsh and German. Especially considering that transcription was supposed to represent something decidedly inhuman, I'd wager it unlikely we can really reconstruct an inventory based on it.
    – Sparksbet
    Feb 28, 2018 at 3:41

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