Thursday, July 13, 2006


'Mänti' is a created language I have worked on since I was a child. I have a fascination with words and language and this is one form of expression for me that is very personal and creative. Quite often I have a sensation or feeling that I can't find a word in English (my native language) for, so I create one in Mänti.

The name of my language comes from the Finnish word for pine tree. I chose this word because I love trees and they grow copiously in parts of Scandinavia, and I have a particular fondness for the languages of Scandinavia. Many of my words have a Scandinavian or Baltic look to them.

One of my favourite Mänti words is kellokült which means 'lateness' or 'tardiness'. Its literal translation is 'clock debt' or 'clock guilt'.

I also use a concept known as 'word pairs' to describe certain abstract words such as 'footwear' which is kõet saapat in Mänti (literally: 'shoes boots').

Though very different from English, some Mänti words are recognisable enough: nööt (night), buss (bus), kuppi (cup) etc.

I've written a whole chapter in my book 'Born On A Blue Day' about how I experience words and learn languages (I know ten currently) and include some of my Mänti words.

I'll try and write something about Mänti grammar soon...


Anonymous said...

Hello Daniel!

Thank you for sharing what you have to say with others online.

I myself have an interest in Scandinavian languages, especially Finnish. I would certainly enjoy reading about Mänti if you wrote about it. I am also creating a langauge of my own, called Arktiska. You can read about it if you would like at

I, too, have a fascination with languages and love to learn them.
Icelandic is my favorite language and I just began to learn it two weeks ago, og ég elska íslensku!

I would be honored to be able to communicate with you online, at least, so please send me an e-mail if you have the time to

Once again thank you and I hope to hear from you. Vertu blessaður!

LeilaHella said...

hello Daniel,

i was very happily surprised, when heard of your hobby and interest of so many languages, including Estonian. It is my native language :)

lot of luck to you. will try to read Mänti and find new connections through it. really nice to know there are such people like you :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Daniel.

I am not sure if you have discussed or read about this before. J.R. Tolkein made many languages based on his knowledge of real-life language. They are quite in depth.

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,

today an article about you appeared on the Dominion Post, New Zealand, taken from the Telegraph.
I always find interesting reading about savants, like in Olver Sachs' books, and I'm happy you have managed to come a step forward and tell everybody about your feelings.

Anyway, myself I'm a foreigner in NZ, from Italy, and I've previously lived in Spain. I'd like to learn about your approach to learning languages. My one is to learn sounds and expressions before the grammar. As a result I find myself speaking a bit with local accents, while others retain their mother tongue accent forever. Anyway it takes me a couple of years in a foreign country before getting fluent. Much longer than the week it takes you!
I'd like to know if you've tried learning tonal languages like Mandarin (am not sure whether Finnish or Islandic can be classified as tonal, though).

Thank you,

San Nakji said...

I would love to hear more about your language! It sounds wonderful!

Mike Smullin said...

As a Web Developer, I can relate.

Many times when an experienced computer programmer (e.g. having learned several languages and the various pros/cons to each of their syntax) cannot find a way to express themselves efficiently, they consider creating another language of their own.

This is how computer programming languages have evolved since Fortran was created in 1954, and I imagine it is a lot like human language. The difference being there are probably less than 50 words in each computer language, so learning/adaptation happens much faster.

Anonymous said...

Nice Blog! Thank you, I am eager to learn more about the Mänti!

São Paulo - Brazil

" Aja hiljaa sillalla! "

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,

I am a linguist myself (a recently qualified translator/interpreter). I was just wondering, when you say you know 10 languages, which level do you know them to? For instance, would you feel comfortable reading a newspaper article in the language or holding a conversation in it?

I ask this because your ease in learning languages may be useful for the people who research Second Language Acquisition. If you have reached fluency in all ten languages, it would be a remarkable feat. I only speak two languages but I am comfortable interpreting in and out of both. Have you ever considered working in languages and linguistics?

Daniel Tammet said...

To Emanuele, no I haven't yet attempted to learn a tonal language such as Mandarin. I am hoping to learn BSL (British Sign Language) among the languages I next intend to learn.

To Jonathan D, my knowledge in the 10 languages varies from one to another, depending on the level of exposure I've had to each. I've spoken Lithuanian on a daily basis when I lived there as a volunteer English teacher several years ago, have email correspondences with friends (native speakers in their respective languages) in French, German and Spanish, given a live TV interview in Reykjavik entirely in Icelandic, written one of today's blog posts entirely in Esperanto (with an English translation) and so on. I'm currently reading as much as I can in Welsh for an upcoming TV interview that will be in that language. I think knowing lots of different languages makes it easier to learn new ones.

Anonymous said...

Hi ! I'm French and also have a real passion for languages. But a question comes to my mind when I see what you're able to do. Now you've experimented how to create a language, why not use one without any known root ans an easy gramar for most of the world population ? That would be great... Think about it ;o) !

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel!

I would like to invite you to a discussion ( "The language skills of an autistic savant" )which is in the Kielikoulu ( Language School ) folder of Finland Forum.
Finland Forum ( 8600+ registered members )is at:

The language of the forum is English.

LeilaHella wrote: "Really nice to know there are people like you." Yes,people like you make this world of ours a much more interesting place to live in. I wish you all the best!

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel, I am looking forward to reading your book. A guy I met today told me about you when I told him that I taught myself Icelandic (only to simple conversational level). I am also learning Japanese. I havent your incredible aptitude for languages but your story makes me enthusiastic to believe that I can learn a lot faster than I expect.
Maths has never been a natural skill for me but I have always seen numbers in my head in colour. 1 is black, 2 is light blue, 3 is yellow, four is green, 5 is blue black, 6 is brown, seven is red, 8 is greenish yellow, 9 is dark brown, 10 is black, 11 is light yellow...
You are the first person I have heard of who sees them the same way, but your vision is obviously on a whole different level to mine.
I was wondering, with your interest in language, if you have tried the visual language of drawing?
I studied classical drawing at a school here in Sydney, Australia, and I drew white plaster casts for one year, before being allowed to paint and draw the human figure.
What I experienced was that as I drew so much I began to actually feel the 3D forms of the sculptures in my mind. One day I suddenly saw in my mind a blue room with floor, sides and ceiling all cross hatched with white grids. In the centre of the room, floating, was a golden metallic blob, like golden mercury.
Then as I looked at things to draw them, the blob instantly changed into the shape of the thing/s. Then I found I could take that form and turn it and move it anywhere in space and then basically print what I say onto paper with my pencil.
It is considered that drawing is the original language, at least of complex thoughts, and as you would know most written scripts derive from simple drawings originally.
Drawing is also mathematical for me, in an intuitive way. After much daily drawing I found that I could put a pencil point on a 5 metre wall exactly in the centre width ways to within a few millimetres. Sort of visual measuring.
I would love to hear your thoughts on these ideas,
Regards, Dave , Australia

Brandon said...

Hey Daniel!

Have you thought of learning Italian considering your Spainsh and French fluency?

Could you please share some of the ways you teach yourself other languages?

Gracias y bueno suerte!

LeonieDover said...

Hello Daniel, I was very interested to read about you inventing your own language. My daughter , who is 7 years old and autistic has been making up her own words
UTTFIELD meens someone who is all alone
HOTCH HOTCH is someone carrying a baby
WEENYBREEF is an upside down triangle
VENNIBEE is a carrot
MEENANNA is a rabbit
HOYWIMMITOS are lines on the forehead
LEVELS are stubble on an unshaven face
a BAKEYHEAD is when you are over stimualted
There are many more. She also has an exceptonaly brilliant memory. I think that she too is a genius. Problem is that she is not attending school right now because the Norfolk school that she goes to cannot cope with her behavior. I have been reading parts of your book to her. She LOVES the part about which numbers are beautiful. she wants me to tell you that her favourite number is the number 3. Although last year she had a huge obsession with the number 6.

Rick Miller said...

Saluton, Daniel!

Mi ĵus legis malgrandan ekzemplon el via libro, "Naskita je Blua Tago", kaj mi baldaŭ aĉetos kopion por mi mem. Mi ja volas legi tiun ĉapitron pri la lingvo Mänti.

Ĉion bonan al vi.

Aksel said...

Hello, Daniel!

You're amazing! I'm also very interested in languages! I live in Norway. There I am learning English and German at school, and Esperanto on my own. (I use the online courses at How do you manage to learn that many languages that fast?! :O I am deeply impressed.
I've been learning Esperanto for about a half year now, yet I am not that good :P I guess I do a lot of mistakes, also in my English.

Here are some questions:
Where did you learn Esperanto? And when did you start? How long did it take before you mastered it?

Hoping for an answer;

Saluton, Daniel!

Vi estas fantaziega! Mi ankaŭ tre interesiĝas pri lingvoj! Mi loĝas en Norvegio. Tie mi lernas la Anglan kaj la Germanan en lernejo, kaj Esperanto en la Interreto. Kial vi povas lerni tiom multajn lingvojn tiom rapide? Mi estas tre impresata.
Mi lernis Esperanton dum duona jaro, sed mi ne estas lerta. Mi supozas ke mi faras multajn erarojn, ankaŭ en la Angla.

Ĉi tie ioj demandoj:
Kie vi lernis Esperanton? Kaj kiam vi komencis? Kiam vi majstris ĝin?

Mi esperas por respondo;

Anonymous said...

Hello, Mr. Tammet.

I, myself, am a language-creator. The language that I am working on is called Lingens, and derives almost completely from Latin (of which, I have very little knowledge between declenations and a few conjugations, however, the verb conjugation is changed greatly.

Unfortunately, I do not share your interest with Scandinavian languages, mostly because I do not know anything about them. I prefer Romance languages and Japanese. I know basic French (je sais que vous parlez francais), as I am in French 1 at the top of my class, and a few tidbits of Spanish and Italian. My Japanese is very good, but, my vocabulary and knowledge of kanji is scarce. Anata wa nihongo o hanase masu ka?

Anonymous said...

Heeei snakker du Norsk Daniel?

Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard of the ZBB? Its an internet forum specifically for the creation of languages and those that partake in this wonderful hobby. Natural Languages can be discussed as well. I'm a member and my language is called Classical Diūn. I hope you consider joining, you'll make a wonderful contribution to our forum. Anyway, here's the link:

And my language if you're interested:ūn

And a poem I wrote:

Hitid toi voh hetet numne
Sīd toi hado
Dinidom de tōnicnumne
Phodadom toi voh ziōcte
Ha toi dōcco vis miscam hani mani
Tia hotu heta hēdo
Vis toi hēdo vānum vis no hani mane
Tia toida nomo siun mu
Vinponom toi phīnbā nomi
Nadōcc du hīs
Mōtepidom mun na visme
Ga nomi vis dinid de ginhetahe
Sīd toi hado


Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel.

I agree with Saem; you'd make an excellent part of the ZBB! I'm sure I'm not the only one who is interested in knowing more about Mänti and how it works on the inside. I'm no expert on the Scandinavian languages, but I hope to learn more about them if ever you decide to show us more about Mänti's grammar: hopefully looking at that one language will open doors to the others. :)

Plej bonaj deziroj al vi. :)

~ James
(05 March '08)

Fritter said...

I also have a love for languages, and am considering being a linguist for a career. I can speak three languages, English [my native tongue], [Simple] French [I still have some work to do with Francais] and Kaadin, which is a language of my own creation [pronounced kAdin]. I've written poems and translated some songs using my language.

I read about Manti in your book, and it inspired me to create my own language.

Sa amori parlisas, jegtiyelo resapir-ru parlisas, ka ustoso du morika avan Manti.
Anun en bose teg!

Dur Mijo,

lisa_marie said...

Hi Daniel,

After hearing about you from a friend, I was more than interested in finding out more about your perceptions of the world.

Just out of curiosity, have you ever considered learning Japanese or Chinese? Since these languages already use "pictures" to represent characters I was wondering if this would interfere with your own interpretation of words? Do you think these languages would be easier to learn than some of the ones you have already mastered?

As a psychologist, I am fascinated by the untapped resources that each of us posess in our brains.

Do you ever feel like you're being poked and prodded because you have abilities that others don't? Or do you enjoy sharing your inner world with others?

On that note, I am looking forward to reading your books!

Coatless said...

Hei Daniel

Mä luin your mänti idea, but so far only see it as your personal language. Does it exist as a language with registers? What is the grammar like? I see it is listed as with Scandinavian aspects. I find this interesting havbeing just read about Palomi and Rauma and Yiddish. Suomi is complicated and I wonder if there are ways of simplifying / distilling elements from it so that it can be learnt faster and as a more consistent Finno-ugaric construct. Its ways of feeling the world are q mielenkiintosta to me. In fact I constructed these 2 words from suomi - runokoota kuuruskolla


Anonymous said...

Hello Daniel,

I find your stories fascinating, and Manti is one of the best I have heard.

It reminds me of a language I used to speak as a young child (6 years and older) but the name and the language are long gone.

I would certainly enjoy learning more Manti and perhaps if you wrote a Manti-English dictionary it would be a very fascinating read.