I Asked ChatGPT to Invent an Alien Language – This Is What Happened

An alien peeking out of a door, saying in a word balloon ‘Gorish Zhivik, with Zhivat Gor’

Language influences how we see the world. How we see the world influences our language.

Inventing new and alien languages is a hobby that’s been alive for ages, and now, with sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies, it’s a career for some people. More than that, it requires the ability to think outside the box and to challenge sets of rules that we take for granted.

Today, at the very end of 2022, Can an AI invent a new language?

A few months ago I interviewed David Peterson, who creates languages for a living, including for Game of Thrones, Defiance, Dominion, The 100, Penny Dreadful, The Shannara Chronicles, and more. Our conversation went pretty deep (posted at the bottom of the article), so I believed I knew some of what it took to create a new language when I asked ChatGPT to create an alien language.

Here’s what happened.

Request #1: Invent an alien language

Answer: Sure! Here is an example of an alien language I’ve created:

Grammar and syntax:
The alien language uses a subject-verb-object structure for its sentences, similar to English. However, the language does not have tenses, and instead relies on context to convey when an action is occurring. The language also uses a system of prefixes and suffixes to modify the meaning of words.

Vocabulary:
Some example words in the alien language are:

“Zhiv” (verb) — to live

“Zhivik” (noun) — a living being

“Zhivish” (adjective) — alive

“Zhivat” (prefix) — life-related

“Zhivon” (suffix) — relating to the act of living

Sample sentence:

“The Zhivik eats the food.” (Translated into English)

In this sentence, “Zhivik” is the subject, “eats” is the verb, and “food” is the object. The sentence conveys that the living being (the Zhivik) is performing the action of eating something (the food).

Thoughts: That is a pretty good job coming up with an a different concept to base a language on. Well done on that level! Where had ChatGPT been able to pull that from?

But what I really wanted was for ChatGPT to give me more than one word, but a complete paragraph in an alien language.

I tried and failed to get it to do the “to be or not to be” monologue in the invented alien language (Hamlet had been translated into Klingon a few decades ago). But aside from changing two words, the monologue was the same as the original.

I tried again.

Request: Invent another alien language

Answer: Sure! Here is another example of an alien language I’ve created:

Grammar and syntax:
The alien language uses a verb-subject-object structure for its sentences, similar to Japanese. The language also has a complex system of honorifics, which are used to convey respect or politeness when addressing someone. The language does not have tenses, and instead relies on context to convey when an action is occurring.

Vocabulary:
Some example words in the alien language are:

“Gor” (verb) — to do

“Gorik” (noun) — a doer

“Gorish” (adjective) — doing

“Gorat” (prefix) — related to doing

“Goron” (suffix) — relating to the act of doing

Sample sentence:

“Gorik eats food.” (Translated into English)

In this sentence, “Gorik” is the subject, “eats” is the verb, and “food” is the object. The sentence conveys that the doer (the Gorik) is performing the action of eating something (the food).

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thoughts: All right. Now the AI’s pattern on ‘inventing langagues’ is clear. I again attempted to get it to write complete sentences in an alien language. Again I failed.

Suddenly I thought of the following request. And it gave me a surprising response.

Request: Write a limerick in an alien language

Answer: Sure! Here is a limerick written in the alien language I created earlier:

Gorish zhivik, with zhivat gor
Ate zhivon food, then zhivat snored
But when zhivik woke
Zhivik’s belly did choke
On all the zhivon food, zhivat deplored

Translated into English:

Doing living being, with life-related do
Ate living-related food, then life-related snored
But when living being woke
Living being’s belly did choke
On all the living-related food, life-related deplored

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Conclusion: Language goes deeply into how a society thinks, but also into how we humans think. Although at present the AI’s automatic response doesn’t compare to an expert human’s, it is clearly within eventual reach of at least being able to copy their work.

But it does deeper than that.

Having the ability to change basic concepts of language indicates the potential and eventual ability of AI to have concepts different from ours. Not just a little bit different, but wildly different. Not just different in the way that expert mathematicians create concepts that we can conceive of but are hard to understand. But different at a level that’s alien — different in a way that we can’t comprehend, while a brain built unlike ours can.

To achieve true diversity of thought, leading to new and amazing concepts, we may in the future need a brain that isn’t like ours at all.

The future’s here, and the future’s coming. I’m glad I‘m here for that ride.

And for those of you who want to listen to the interview with David Peterson about language and inventing alien languages, check it out here:


I Asked ChatGPT to Invent an Alien Language – This Is What Happened was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


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