Mary was the younger daughter of May and Walter Incledon. She was the originator of the idea of Animalic, and invented the language along with her older sister Marjorie. She then collaborated with Tolkien to produce Nevbosh – the ‘new nonsense’ language.

She was born in 1895 and died in 1940.


Animalic was composed almost entirely from English animal, bird and fish names, and the sisters could converse in it fluently. Tolkien was never fully instructed in it, but did know a good bit of the language. He remembered later that “dog nightingale woodpecker forty” meant “you are an ass”.


In “A Secret Vice”, Tolkien talked about the design and use of Nevbosh:

“Yet, though I shared in the vocabulary, and did something to affect the spelling of this idiom, it remained a usable business, and intended to be. It did become too difficult to talk with Animalic fluency – because games cannot take up all one’s time with Latin and mathematics and such things forced on one’s notice, but it was good enough for letters, and even bursts of doggerel song.

But I can only remember entire one idiotic connected fragment:

Dar fys ma vel gom co palt ‘hoc
Pys go iskili far maino woc?
Pro si go fys do roc de
Do cat ym maino bocte
De volt fac soc ma taimful gyróc?'”

Unfortunately Tolkien did not provide a translation for the verse, but provided the following vocabulary, showing an insight into how the language was created:

Words created using shifting of consonants:

– do = to
– cat = get
– volt = would
– pro = for
– ym = in

Words based on foreign languages (e.g. French, Latin):

– roc = ask
– go = I
– vel = old
– gom = man
– pys = can
– si = if
– pal = speak
– taim = fear
– volt = will, would
– fys = was, were
– co = who

Words produced by reversal of the original:

– woc = cow

Words created:

– iskili = possibly
– lint = quick, clever, nimble

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