Vorlin is a constructed language (conlang) developed in the 1990s by Rick Harrison. Harrison was the editor of the magazine Journal of Planned Languages and prepared a detail bibliography of conlangs. Both the author and the language received respect from the conlang community.

The underlying design principle of Vorlin was that it should be "a compromise between technical and aesthetic criteria" and "avoidance of extremes". This concept is the definition of the Vorlin word vor, the first syllable in the name of the language, while lin is the word for "language".


Vorlin was first published at March 21, 1991. It started as an attempt to create an optimal international auxiliary language (IAL), following principles expressed in Rick Harrison's own article "Proposed Guidelines for the Design of an Optimal International Auxiliary Language". In 1997, however, Harrison announced in his article "Farewell to Auxiliary Languages" that he had given up work on creating an IAL. Nevertheless, the Vorlin project continued and received support, maintaining the initial design principles.

The language underwent drastic changes during the late 1990s as Harrison and Vorlin supporters conducted experiments. With the publication of the document "The Language Vorlin" at June 21, 1999, Harrison declared the basic structure permanent.

In 2002, Rick Harrison announced that he was putting Vorlin "into the freezer for a while," leaving open the possibility that he would revisit the matter in a few years. As of 2005, nothing new has come from Harrison regarding Vorlin.

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The following is a description of Vorlin as it stood at its last revision in 1999.


In "The Language Vorlin", Rick Harrison describes the "country of Vor", which may be viewed as prototype of a constructed culture, a common feature of artistic languages. That is consistent with his later preference of artistic languages over auxiliary languages. The culture is reflected in the design, which strives to achieve cultural neutrality and to find the middle ground.

These are some interesting cultural elements:

Alphabet and sound[]

Vorlin uses the whole set of Latin alphabet with one exception. The letter "q" once represented the "ng" sound ŋ, but in 1999, Harrison replaced it with a character unique to Vorlin: "an n with a crossed tail". The eng "ŋ" (U+014B) character was an acceptable alternative. During that time when Unicode was not popular, he allowed the micro sign "µ" (U+00B5), available in Latin-1, as a stop-gap, and the old "q" as a last resort.

The chart below shows the order of letters, their sounds, and their names in Vorlin. Each letter represents one phoneme.

letter IPA name
a a ɑ lac
b b beb
c ʃ cuc
d d ded
e ɛ e hec
f f fuf
g g geg
letter IPA name
h h huz
i i lic
j ʒ jej
k k kuk
l l lel
m m mom
n n nar
letter IPA name
o o hoc
p p pup
r ɾ ʀ ɻ rer
s s sus
t t tut
u u luc
v v vev
letter IPA name
w w wu
x ə hxc
y j yi
z z zez
ŋ ŋ raŋ

Words and morphology[]

Vorlin generally has self-segregating morphemes. It is considered a posteriori, adopting its words from a number of sources, mostly from Germanic, Slavonic, Latinate and Sinitic languages. A few words are a priori, and a few are taken from other artificial languages.

Basic root words are nouns. They are built in a manner comparable to Volapük, CVC, CVCVC, CVCVCVC, and so forth. Suffixes may have the form V, VC and VCC. Function words may take other forms. Compound words are formed by agglutination. They will not have more than two consecutive consonants and will not begin with a consonant cluster. Vorlin allows borrowing of foreign terms, which may not follow the rules for native words.

Open word classes other than nouns are formed by adding suffixes. The five vowels are the most central to the design.

Root Word -a
to salt
be good
being at
be happy
be happy towards...
¹Discussions later preferred disallowing that construct.

The language has very little inflections. Nouns are not marked for definiteness, number or gender. Verbs are not marked for tense, but there are several aspect markers. There are also affixes for causatives, degree, agent, patient, and so on.

Capital letters are reserved for proper nouns only. When proper nouns form compounds, there is only a capital letter at the beginning of the proper noun. Even the beginning of a sentence is not capitalized.


The basic word order is subject-verb-object (SVO). A simple intransitive sentence can have SV or VS syntax. Adjective and adverbs appear before the words they modify; prepositional phrases generally appear after the items they modify. There is a relative clause structure, enclosed by wel ... da to appear before the noun it modifies. The nominalized clause structure is enclosed by ke ... das, where das may be omitted at the end of a sentence.

Questions are formed by appending ma or inserting question words without changing word order. Commands are formed by beginning with du (do) or ne (do not).


laho Migel. = Hello, Miguel.
ti fili ma? = How are you?
ya fili. = I am fine.
ku filo don buk? = Which book does he/she like?
buk loko yas hus. = The book is in my house.
man lokakso yas hus re buk. = The book was put in my house.
yas sib lokakso yas hus re roda buk. = My brother/sister put the red book in my house.
ya havo yun hansib wan dus femsib. = I have one brother and two sisters.
ya vilo vidakso buk loku yas hus re ti. = I want to show you the book in my house.
wel tis kat fajo da ful pe gute gani. = The bird that your cat ate used to sing nicely.
mer luka ful mer gute gani. = A happier bird sings better.
ku vilo ke ya fajo tan le pitsa. = He/she wants me to eat this pizza.
hanku libo femku. femku non libo hanku. = He loves her. She does not love him.
ne libo wel non kuno libo ti da diŋ. = Don't love a thing that cannot love you.
loha. = Goodbye.

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