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date: 13 November 2019


  • Fred Kameny

An artificial language, intended for universal use, devised in the early 19th century by the French music teacher Jean-François Sudre. Each word was to consist of one to five syllables, with each syllable corresponding to one of the seven notes of the diatonic scale. In principle, therefore, the language could be spoken, written, played, or sung. Solresol enjoyed a vogue and drew the attention of such figures as Berlioz and Victor Hugo, but even by the utopian standards of the universal-language movement, it stood out for its impracticality. Among its drawbacks were a severely limited lexicon (fewer than twenty thousand possible combinations of five syllables or fewer) and the need for users to have a good ear. The language largely disappeared after Sudre’s death in 1862.


  • J.-F. Sudre: Langue musicale universelle inventée par François Sudre, etc. MS. corrections. (Paris, 1866)
  • U. Eco: La ricerca della lingua perfetta nella cultura europea (Rome, 1993)
  • P. Collins: Banvard’s Folly: Thirteen Tales of Renowned Obscurity, Famous Anonymity and Rotten Luck (London, 2001)