LINGUO: A Language Game

LINGUO: A Language Game is a prototype language-building party game where players construct new words and assign meaning to those words.


  • 3-5 Players
  • Linguo Deck of Syllables
  • 6-sided die
  • 60-second timer (phone, watch, hourglass, etc.)


Have you ever encountered a situation where a word didn’t quite capture the sentiment you wanted to communicate?

I’m hungry, and it’s making me irritable... Maybe I’m “hangry”? But I’m not actually hungry and angry. Maybe I’m “hungritable”? Hmm..

Or do you know of a word in one language that doesn’t make sense or exist in another?

Schadenfreude is a German word for “pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune".

The purpose of this game is to capture these unique aspects of language and experience them. Words are fluid, and their meaning changes over time based on cultural impacts. By playing Linguo, you get to see this process first-hand. It is likely that unique and interesting words are created that could very well become more real in the future.

Rules of Play:

You will find the instructions for playing the game below.

Phase 1 - Word-Making

  • Select a player to start the game. They are the chooser for the first round.
  • The chooser rolls a 6-sided die. This number determines the part of speech for the new word:

1-2 = noun (a person place or thing, eg. a house,the car, etc.)

3-4 = verb (a word used to describe an action, eg. to kick, he jumps, etc.)

5 = adjective (a word used to describe a noun, eg. a big dog, the pretty girl, etc.)

6 = adverb (a word used to describe a verb, eg.he ran quickly, she sleeps quietly, etc.)

  • The chooser draws 3 cards from the Linguo Deck. After reviewing the syllables on the cards, the chooser will then arrange the syllables to create a new word.

A blank X card represents nothing, but still counts against the number of syllables.

You can draw at most one blank card. If you draw more than one, continue drawing until you have two syllables.

  • Once the new word is built, the chooser will lay it face-up on the table and pronounce the word for the other players. The chooser may make subtle changes to the word to conform with grammar principles if desired, eg. helps, lovely, etc.
  • The other players will take a note card and write an example of this new word used in a sentence. The goal here is to give the word some context without explicitly defining it.
  • Once the other players have each written their sentence, the note cards will be passed to the chooser. The chooser will then read each new sentence aloud, laying the sentences face-up on the table. These sentences are all now considered legitimate contexts for the use of this word!
  • The chooser will set a 60-second timer.The other players have these 60-seconds to best illustrate a definition for this word. There should be no words, letters or numbers written in the illustration. Drawing stops when the time expires.
  • In turn, each player will share their illustration with the chooser. The chooser will review and decide which illustration they think best represents the new word and then toss the unchosen illustrations. The player of the selected illustration wins the round and collects the word, sentences, and selected illustration. These items are placed in a pile in front of that player representing that they’ve received a point. The winner of this round is now the chooser of the next round.
  • Continue playing rounds as long as desired. (I recommend 3-5 rounds.) When ready to conclude the game, finish the round and continue to Phase 2: Story Making.

Phase 2 -Story-Making

  • Starting with the player that has scored the most points, each player will select one of their words and use it in a sentence to help build a story. Each player should build on the story of the previous players.
  • Play will continue clockwise through each of the players. If the player does not have an unused word, they are skipped. This means the player with the most words will start and end the story.
  • Congratulations! You’ve completed your game of Linguo!

Game Elements:

This game contains several game elements that are found in many other games:

  • Articulated rules
  • Collaboration opportunities
  • Winning aspect
  • Community-oriented
  • Game components
  • Simulated, stream-lined life experience


Top 100 Syllables accessed from Florida Center for Reading Research: Second and Third Grade Student Center Activities. (2007). Retrieved from

Schadenfreude. 2019. In Retrieved September 23, 2019, from

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