Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ    Attic   

"Conlang" and "Artlang" in Swedish

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 20, 2009, 9:07
Hej allihop!

The thread about French conlang terminology[^1] has
reminded me about a rather delicate problem in
Swedish conlang terminology.

I have long felt that the proper Swedish translation
of 'conlang' is _konstspråk_, not least because the
word is kind of a pun: _konst_ is the Swedish word
for 'art' -- cf. German, Dutch, Danish and Norwegian
[Kk]unst_ --, but _konstspråk_ can also be understood
as a contraction of _konstruerat språk_[^2] analogous
to English _conlang_ <- _constructed language_.
However this incorporation of the word for 'art'
into the general term for 'conlang' makes a problem
of how to translate 'artlang'!  So far I've come up with
tree alternatives, all of which have their drawbacks,
and none of which is very short:

* _artistiskt språk_   = 'artistic language'

* _estetiskt språk_    = 'aesthetic language'

* _konstnärligt språk_ = 'artistic language'

The main drawback of _artistiskt språk_ is that it
can't be contracted neither to _**artspråk_ nor
_**artistspråk_: _art_ means 'species', so that
_artspråk_ would mean 'species language', as if
discussing the (un)likelihood that a whole species
(like Homo Erectus or Klingons) would speak a single
language, and _artist_ in modern Swedish means
primarily 'performing artist' -- and to the very young
perhaps just 'pop/rock singer'!

_Estetiskt språk_ would in principle be contractible
to _estetspråk_ but few Swedish speakers would pause
to consider that _estetik_ really means 'the science
of (evaluating) beauty and ugliness', but would simply
take _estetisk_ to mean '(visually) well-designed' or
'pleasingly designed/arranged', and _estet_ to mean
'artistically/aesthetically (over-)sensitive person'
(and again the younger generation lets us down utterly
by thinking that _estet_ means 'an art/music/theater
nerd who takes a so-called _estetiskt_ 'Highschool'

_Konstnärligt språk_ has the advantage that it is the
second possible -- actually the primary -- expansion of
_konstspåk_ beside _konstruerat språk_, but the same is
its main drawback, in that _konstnärligt konstspråk_
'artistic conlang' becomes something of a tautology!

Finally all these terms, except the full _konstruerat
språk_ of course have the same drawback that out of
context they can be taken to mean "artistic mode of
expression" or "an artist's mode of expression" just as
'artistic language' and its equivalents in other

I would appreciate any thoughts on this subject that
anyone may have, but especially of course I'd like to hear
from those who know one or more Germanic languages other
than English, since the situation is likely to be similar
there (I know for example that _Kunstsprache_ has been used
as a German translation of 'conlang'!)


[^1]: I'm all for the "glossopoèsie" line of thought,
being partial to both Tolkien and Greek, but I
really have no feel for French (and what little I
may have acquired back in 'Highschool' is probably
being ruined by Rhodrese! ;-) so I'll (gladly)
have to take Christophe on faith!

[^2]: Those who know German will recognise _språk_
as the cognate of _Sprache_.  Some will also remember

[^3]: You may wonder why I worry so much about how
the younger generation perceives the terminology;
the explanation is of course that one of the objectives
of my planned site is to lure new practitioners
into The Secret Vice, and naturally young people are
the most likely to be allureable! BTW I promise that will keep footnotes to a minimum (hopefully
replacing them with proper meaningful hyperlinks!)


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Andreas Johansson <andreasj@...>