How to Speak Parseltongue (Including Sentences)

Who wouldn’t want to talk to snakes? Well, ok, actually there are a great many people who wouldn’t! Snakes don’t have the best reputation in the world. But for those of us who can appreciate the beauty of nature’s legless reptiles, being able to communicate with snakes sounds like it would be pretty cool to do! 

Which leads us to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, where the ability to talk to snakes actually does exist. Known as parseltongue, it’s captured the imagination of those who wish they could speak to snakes. 

Is Parseltongue Real?

How to Speak Parseltongue (Including Sentences)

While in reality, snakes do not have a fully developed language, in the wizarding world snakes can hold conversations with parselmouths (those who speak parseltongue.) According to the British wizarding world, parseltongue is a rare hereditary ability.

That is, to be capable of speaking it, you must first be descended from a known parselmouth. The known speakers who appeared in the series were all direct descendants of Salazar Slytherin, founder of both Slytherin house and the Chamber of Secrets, and one of the most famous parselmouths in British history. 

Can You Learn To Speak Parseltongue? 

If parseltongue is largely hereditary, why could Harry speak it? Harry Potter is not related to Salazar Slytherin, yet he unknowingly demonstrated the ability to speak with snakes, both at a zoo and during a dueling mishap at Hogwarts.

But don’t get your hopes up just yet. That all was due to an incredibly special set of circumstances wherein Voldemort, a descendant of Slytherin, unintentionally left a piece of his soul behind within Harry, thereby granting him the ability to use parseltongue. Not an event that is easily replicated! 

Growing up in the Muggle world, Harry had no awareness of his ability. For him, speaking to a snake was as effortless as speaking to another human. In fact, he thought he was speaking English, and that every witch and wizard could also do it.

Both Hermione and Ron had to explain to him that to everyone else, it sounded like incomprehensible hissing sounds. So, parseltongue is not a learned language. It is an inherent skill. 

Now, before you get your hopes dashed! Ronald Weasley showed that it is in fact possible to replicate the sounds to an acceptable enough degree that snakes would understand it.

If Ron could do it, surely someone with a genuine interest in learning or someone who specializes in linguistics could study and learn to speak parseltongue. 

Are There Other Parselmouths?

So then, why aren’t there more parselmouths in Britain? There are two main obstacles preventing the widespread use of parseltongue. The most significant barrier is the cultural implications surrounding the language.

Due to the infamy of Salazar Slytherin and Lord Voldemort, parseltongue is closely associated with dark wizards. Being a parselmouth became a social taboo, met with fear and distrust.

To openly be a parselmouth would have led to significant problems in any witch or wizard’s life. Harry Potter himself, despite being famous and well-liked, became a social outcast overnight after revealing his ability. 

One might argue that the extreme reaction to Harry being a parselmouth was more due to the Chamber of Secrets being open than to cultural prejudice. Students had been attacked, and emotions were running high.

It’s not surprising for a stronger backlash to occur within the student body. So too would fear have been running rampant both during and freshly after the dark lord’s reign, and any association with dark wizards would have faced significant ostracization. 

It is possible that some witches and wizards learned in secret. But this would have been near impossible without the aid of a parselmouth. According to J.K. Rowling, Albus Dumbledore studied the language enough to understand it. But he could not speak it.

Some speculate that he learned parseltongue from Gellert Grindewald, but whether Grindewald was a parselmouth or not remains unconfirmed. 

How To Speak Parseltongue

So, theoretically, how could one follow Ron and Dumbledore’s examples? This is where the linguistics majors would be happy to swoop in. There’s a number of factors to consider, such as snake dialects.

Surely not all snakes across the world speak the same snake language. Just as not all humans across the world speak the same human language. Newt Scamander mentions parselmouths in Africa, which opens up a whole different cultural perspective of the ability. 

But generally speaking, for the snakes in the British wizarding world, there are a few key characteristics of parseltongue. To get the right sound, avoid using your throat or lips to speak. This may prove challenging for some, especially those whose native language heavily comes from the throat.

Also, avoid rounding your vowels. Imagine yourself as a snake, with a mouth frozen in a wide and somewhat flat smile, when you speak. You should ideally be producing a hissing sound in your speech.

Some Sentences In Parseltongue 

There are several instances in which Harry uses parseltongue. Ron was able to listen and replicate it enough to satisfy the Chamber of Secrets itself. 

Harry’s very first direct line in parseltongue, calling off an aggressive snake: 

Sya- hassa- she. Sya- hasi- heth. 

The phrase Ron likely copied:

Hesha- Hassah.


Parseltongue is a mysterious and misunderstood language. But as the prejudice surrounding it gradually fades in the wizarding world, perhaps it will one day be recorded and spread beyond the rare parselmouth!