Thoughts - Conlangs and culture
|From:||Harald Stoiber <hstoiber@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, October 3, 2002, 23:19|
First of all, may ye kindly take friendly words of greeting from my writing hands!
> Herzlich willkommen to both of you!
> Cheers, Jan
All non-german speakers will hopefully forgive me but since Jan found such
inviting words I simply wish to enunciate my salutation to all list members who
share my mother tounge with me:
Beseelt von Freuden wunderbar
biet' ich meinen Gruß Euch dar!
Having said this, I want to make you acquainted with some thoughts that came to my
mind yesterday. I was musing about building the lexicon of my current language
project. Now I am quite satisfied with the grammar section (let's see how long
that state will last... *gg*) and, thus, I stepped forward to face the task of
creating roots and assigning them meanings. And that's where the questions
arise: What will me word be for ...? What will my word be for "cancer"? Which
one will I find for "shareholder value"? How will I name the concept of
television? Should I map the concept of "mid-life crisis" into the semantic
space of my language? I have consciously chosen these examples that are oh so
very typical for the status quo of human culture on this planet Earth. And,
eventually, one crucial question: Is it my native culture or any existent human
culture or even human culture as such that my language will be devised for?
And this is the key question I think. In their wonderful introductions to
conlanging, Mark Rosenfelder and Pablo Flores warn the reader not to re-invent
the English vocabulary. But actually, I am positive that we can safely read
this as "do not re-invent the terms and concepts of your own culture". And
that's what literally hit me yesterday. To make it a really original language
it would help a lot to put up a really original culture alongside. A lot of
language seems to be about culture itself.
I am convinced that language can never entirely leave the space of culture.
Thus, culture-independent or culturally neutral languages actually don't exist.
All they do is creating a new cultural space that wraps up, combines and
somehow harmonizes all the cultures from which the language should be
My own project is a highly inflected grammatically complex latin-sounding (but
not at all being) language based on predication (for mere derivational purposes
- not at all because of logic or disambiguation) that could well be an
elaborate proto-language which may then be simplified over many centuries,
giving birth to another couple of languages (conserving previously inflected
forms as stems etc.) - like Proto-Indo-European did and Latin did, too.
Additionally, I have designed the language to be "the language in favour of
what is written" (as I would translate its native name). It is primarily
designed for use within books and scriptures. It can be read out loudly in a
solemn fashion. It cannot be spoken or used for casual conversations because
there is no reliable built-in self-segregation of words. It could be the formal
literary language of scribes, high priests or scholars. It could be the
language of something that a historican may find in a noble ancient library.
Who knows right now... I am still designing it but one thing is clear: I cannot
put it in the context of the twentieth century just to spare the effort of
inventing a culture, too. Wow, that sounds like work! *ggggg* And it
magnificently looks like fun!!! :-)))
All the best and cheers,
A mind all logic is like a knife all blade.