You Won’t Believe That Isaac Newton Actually Tried To Invent A Language On His Own

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From the laws of motion to the work on gravity, Newton has many feathers in his cap. The celebrated physicist is also well-known for his contributions to calculus, optics, and alchemy. One of the lesser known facts about Isaac Newton is that he also tried to invent his own language when he was a young student.

Newton wanted to create a universal language that will be easier to comprehend. Newton envisioned a language devised such that it would follow an orderly fashion, whereby everyone could discern the meaning by simply hearing the word.

 “[L]et the names of the same sorte of things begin with the same letter: as of Instruments with s; Beasts with t; The soules passions with b, etc.”

Newton’s universal language has been explained in this video by the linguist Arika Okrent and illustrator Sean O’Neill:



Newton used prefixes and suffixes to indicate the word variations. For instance, Newton used the word “tor” for temperature. Subsequently, exceedingly hot was “owtor”, pretty hot would be “awtor”, warm was referred to as “etor”, indifferently cold identified as “aytor” while the word for extremely cold was “oytor”.


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Newton is part of the ingenious group called “ConLangers” who create new languages. The illustrious linguists belonging to this tribe include J.R.R. Tolkien who invented Elvish language for the Lord Of The Rings, David J. Peterson who came up with the Dothraki language for Game Of Thrones , the Caltech linguistics professor Paul Frommer who invented Na’Vi language for Avatar, and Mark Okrand who coined the Klingon language for Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.

None of these languages took root as the universal language, though there is quite a fan following for many of these lingos. Perhaps it was the very enormity of the task that made Newton move on to bigger projects, namely the gravity.


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