Lingua Ignota

Lingua Ignota
Lingua Ignota
Hildegard von bingen - litterae ignotae.jpg
St. Hildegard's 23 litterae ignotae.
Pronunciation[ˈlinɡʷa iːɡˈnoːta]
Created bySt. Hildegard of Bingen, OSB
Date12th century
Language codes
ISO 639-3
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

A Lingua Ignota (Latin for "unknown language") was described by the 12th century abbess of Rupertsberg, St. Hildegard of Bingen, OSB, who apparently used it for mystical purposes. To write it, she used an alphabet of 23 letters denominated litterae ignotae.[1]


She partially described the language in a work titled Lingua Ignota per simplicem hominem Hildegardem prolata, which survived in two manuscripts, both dating to ca. 1200, the Wiesbaden Codex and a Berlin MS (Lat. Quart. 4º 674), previously Codex Cheltenhamensis 9303, collected by Sir Thomas Phillipps.[2] The text is a glossary of 1011 words in Lingua Ignota, with glosses mostly in Latin, sometimes in German; the words appear to be a priori coinages, mostly nouns with a few adjectives. Grammatically it appears to be a partial relexification of Latin, that is, a language formed by substituting new vocabulary into an existing grammar.[3]

The purpose of Lingua Ignota is unknown, and it is not known who, besides its creator, was familiar with it. In the 19th century some[who?] believed that Hildegard intended her language to be an ideal, universal language. However, nowadays[when?] it is generally[according to whom?] assumed that Lingua Ignota was devised as a secret language; like Hildegard's "unheard music", she would have attributed it to divine inspiration. Inasmuch as[vague] the language was constructed by Hildegard, it may be considered one of the earliest known constructed languages.

In a letter to Hildegard, her friend and provost Wolmarus, fearing that Hildegard would soon die, asks ubi tunc vox inauditae melodiae? et vox inauditae linguae? (Descemet, p. 346; "where, then, the voice of the unheard melody? And the voice of the unheard language?"), suggesting that the existence of Hildegard's language was known, but there were no initiates who would have preserved its knowledge after her death.

Other Languages
asturianu: Lingua ignota
беларуская: Lingua Ignota
català: Lingua Ignota
Deutsch: Lingua Ignota
español: Lingua ignota
Esperanto: Lingua ignota
euskara: Lingua ignota
français: Lingua Ignota
italiano: Lingua ignota
la .lojban.: nalseljunbau
Nederlands: Lingua Ignota
português: Língua ignota
русский: Lingua Ignota
українська: Lingua Ignota