One of the earliest examples of conlang
, the Lingua Ignota
was a language invented by Hildegard von Bingen
in the 12th century a.d.
It contained over 1100 words invented by the abbess of Rupertsberg, primarily within the spheres of religion, familial relationships, body parts, illnesses, ranks of nobility, days, months, clothing, household instruments, plants, and a few birds and insects. Her use of the language remains somewhat a mystery, but there is much evidence pointing to the fact that it was not an attempt at a universal language like Esperanto, but was instead a secret language. In fact, the name "Lingua Ignota" translates to unknown language.
The Lingua Ignota contains only nouns and a few adjectives. For this reason, it can only be used within the context of another language. Its use would have been very similar to that of slang, in which certain notions can be kept hidden from those not familiar with the words.
Hildegard claimed that the Lingua sprang from divine revelation, in the same way as her "unheard music".
A list of sample words from the Lingua Ignota with Latin translation: