Strive for linguistic plausibility. In 2014, Sara Maria Forsberg was a recent high-school graduate in Finland when she posted “What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners,” a video of herself speaking gibberish versions of 15 languages and dialects. Incorporate actual phonology to make a realistic-sounding gibberish. “Expose yourself to lots of different languages,” says Forsberg, now 23, who grew up speaking Finnish, Swedish and English.

Assemble your raw linguistic materials. Shortly after her YouTube video went viral — it has since been watched more than 19 million times — Lucasfilm contacted Forsberg and asked her to make up a language for one of the alien fighter groups in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The actors were Indonesian, so Forsberg studied online videos in various Austronesian languages including Bahasa Indonesia and Sundanese, a language spoken in western Java. “Listen for repeated syllables,” she says. Write them down phonetically. Note the rhythm of the language. Look at the way a speaker’s lips and tongue give shape to his or her words. You don’t need to be a linguist to get an impression of real syntactic rules, which you can borrow. It helps to love listening to the singsong quality of people talking. For Forsberg, “it’s like music.”

Keep nonverbal cues in mind. If you want to communicate, you’ll need to work on your affect, because the words themselves will be gobbledygook. In one study, researchers in Belgium used a computer program to devise gibberish and recorded an actress reading the lines, first in a neutral tone and then in distinct moods: angry, disgusted, fearful, happy, sad and surprised. Most of the children and adult listeners accurately recognized the emotions, especially sadness (correctly identified by over 90 percent of the study’s subjects). Forsberg likes to imagine a character and a scene before she starts speaking gibberish, which allows her to tap those universal emotional cues.

Write a script. Make sure you repeat familiar syllables and sounds. Read through your script aloud, throwing out anything that seems unnatural or awkward. Once you’re comfortable with your lines, try improvising. Avoid stereotypes. After her video received so many views, Forsberg regretted certain imitations that relied more on cultural clichés than imagination and pure sound. “To speak good gibberish,” Forsberg says, “you need to learn to really listen.”