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Created byFazlallah Astarabadi or Muhyî-i Gülşenî[1]
Date14th–16th century
Ottoman Turkish
Language codes
ISO 639-3zba
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Balaibalan (Ottoman Turkish: باليبلن, romanizedBâleybelen[a]) is the oldest known constructed language.[b]


Balaibalan is the only well-documented early constructed language that is not of European origin, and it is independent of the fashion for language construction that occurred in the Renaissance. In contrast to the philosophical languages which prevailed then, and the languages designed for facilitating worldwide communication or for use in literature or film most prominent today, Balaibalan was probably designed as a holy or poetic language for religious reasons, like Lingua Ignota and perhaps Damin. Balaibalan may also have been a secret language which was only known by an inner circle.

It may have been created by 14th century mystic Fazlallah Astarabadi, founder of Hurufism, or collectively by his followers in the 15th century,[2] or may have been Muhyî-i Gülşenî, born in Edirne, a member of the Gülşenî sufi order in Cairo; in any case, the elaboration of the language was a collective endeavour.[1][3]

The sole documentary attestation of Bâleybelen is a dictionary, copies of which are to be found in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris and in the Princeton University Library.

Linguistic properties

Balaibalan is an a priori language, written with the Ottoman alphabet (Arabic script). The grammar follows the lead of Persian, Turkish and Arabic; like Turkish, it is agglutinating. Much of the lexis appears wholly invented, but some words are borrowed from Arabic and the other source languages, and others can be traced back to words of the source languages in an indirect manner, via Sufi metaphor. For example:


  1. ^ Also transcribed Bala-i-Balan, Bālaïbalan, Balibilen or similarly.
  2. ^ Lingua Ignota is older, but is an invented vocabulary embedded in Latin grammar, not a full language.


  1. ^ a b Foundation, Encyclopaedia Iranica. "GOLŠANI, MOḤYI MOḤAMMAD". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  2. ^ Kehl-Bodrogi, Krisztina; Heinkele, Barbara Kellner; Beaujean, Anke Otter (1997). Syncretistic Religious Communities in the Near East. BRILL. ISBN 9004108610. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  3. ^ Koç, Mustafa (2008). "BİLİM TARİHİNİN İLK YAPMA DİLİ BÂLEYBELEN" (PDF). International Congress of Asian and North African Studies. 38: 269–278. Retrieved 19 July 2022.


  • A. Bausani, Geheim- und Universalsprachen: Entwicklung und Typologie. Stuttgart, 1970: Kohlhammer Verlag.
  • A. Bausani, Le lingue inventate : linguaggi artificiali, linguaggi segreti, linguaggi universali - Roma : Ubaldini, 1974.
  • F. Bergmann, Résumé d'études d'odontologie générale et du linguistique générale, Paris, 1875
  • Silvestre DeSacy, Kitab asl al-maqasid wa fasl al marasid, Le capital des objets recherchés et le chapitre des choses attendues, ou Dictionnaire de l'idiome Balaïbalan. Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Impériale [Paris], 9: 365–396.
  • E. Drezen, Historio de la Mondolingvo, Moskvo 1991: Progreso.
  • Charles Häberl, Bālaybalan, in Encyclopædia Iranica, to appear. [1]
  • M. Koç, Bâleybelen: İlk Yapma Dil. Istanbul, 2005.
  • Bausani, Alessandro (1954). "About a curious "mystical" language BÂL-A I-BALAN". East and West. 4, No. 4 (JANUARY). Istituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente: 234–238.