When Fake Countries Use Real Languages

Often in cinema or television, storytellers create fake countries with their own culture and language, which are crucial for making these fictional places seem real. Sometimes, they go out of their way to use a real language that grounds their fictional nation’s authenticity. Here are three perfect examples of this kind of language use in action.

San Lorenzo

The Republic of San Lorenzo, as imagined by celebrated American writer Kurt Vonnegut in his novel Cat’s Cradle, is an island nation in the Caribbean, somewhere in the same region as Puerto Rico. As with most inhabited islands in this region, San Lorenzo’s language was impacted by centuries of slave trade, colonialism, and immigration. It is a form of Creole, a highly unique version of older root languages.

Creole is the predominant language in this region. Haitian Creole has a largely French linguistic base. Other forms of creole are based on English, Arabic, Chinese, and Malay, depending on the history and location.


In 2007 and 2008, MTV Lietuva created a series about a fictional country named Baltish. This nation was a vehicle for parody and satire on the fates of many central European countries in the post-Soviet era, and how they had absorbed some of the worst traits of both new capitalism and old communism. “Broken English,” a mix of heavily accented real English with Russian, formed the basis of the Baltish language.

The name “Baltish” itself is a corruption and derivation of the term “Baltic States,” and the barbed, often merciless commentary and criticism of society was highly regarded by the Lithuanian audiences that enjoyed the show.


For many years, Wakanda has been a fictional African country in the Marvel Comics universe, but now the country has both a face and a language on the big screen. According to Marvel’s film Captain America: Civil War, the language of Wakanda is a “clicking language” known as Xhosa. This language choice was quite deliberate, as it is Nelson Mandela’s native tongue.

In comic book lore, Wakanda is an isolationist, but highly-advanced African nation rich in an extremely valuable and rare mineral known as “Vibranium.” Because of this, the country has enjoyed an advanced level of technology and has never been colonization by foreign powers. The Marvel movie chose to acknowledge this fictional history by giving Wakanda’s leader, Black Panther, a language from the region.

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