Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Conlang fluency survey

From:Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 16:00
--- Jim Henry skrzypszy:

>== Part A: Personal and demographic data. == > >01. a. What is your name (or online handle)?
Jan van Steenbergen
> b. May I quote you by name or handle in an article or talk about > conlang fluency?
Sure, no problem!
>02. a. What is your preferred email address (if not the address you > are sending the survey response from)?
ijzeren_jan @ yahoo . co . uk
> b. May I contact you with follow-up questions?
>03. Do you have a website relating to your constructed language(s)? > If so, what is its URL?
>04. a. How old are you?
> b. How old were you when you first started creating languages?
First time when I was about 12, I suppose.
> c. How old were you when you first attained significant fluency > in (one of) your constructed language(s)?
Not so long ago, really. Maybe a year or so.
>05. Are you male or female?
>06. a. What is your nationality?
> b. Where do you live now?
Half of the time in Poland, the other half in the Netherlands.
> c. Where were your ancestors from?
All Dutch, AFAIK.
>07. What is/are your native language(s)?
Again, Dutch.
>08. What natural languages other than your native one(s) have you > studied? What degree of fluency have you attained in them?
Fluent in Polish and English. Proficient in German. Good working knowledge of French and Russian. Passive knowledge of Ukrainian. Besides, I learnt Latin (6 years) and Greek (5 years) in school; my Latin is still pretty vivid, especially since I work with it a lot, Greek OTOH mostly forgotten.
>09. What constructed languages created by other people have you > studied? What degree of fluency have you attained in them?
If "studied" means a lot more than just looked at it, then I'd say: Volapük, Interlingua, Brithenig, Kerno, Nassian, and Slvanjec. But I can't say I'm fluent in any of those.
>10. What is your level of education? What is/was/will be your major > or specialization?
University. M.A. in East European Studies, specialisation Poland.
>11. What is (was/probably will be) your trade or profession?
Journalist, translator, ICT engineer.
>12. Do you work part time? full time? Are you a student or retired?
Currently unemployed, but that's going to change within days, I hope.
>13. a. What is your (approximate) income? > b. What was your family's approximate income when you were a > child?
>14. Are you single, married, divorced, widowed, remarried...?
Married, but in the middle of a divorce.
>15. a. What is your religion, if any? > b. What was your religious upbringing, if any?
I have never been a member of any church and surely wasn't born into one. Yet, I wouldn't consider myself totally a-religious. "Agnostic" would cover it best, I think.
>16. Are there other facts about yourself that you think might be > relevant?
Yes. ;)
>== Part B: The nature of your conlang. == > >If you have devised more than one conlang, please focus in these >questions on those you are most (nearly) fluent in. > >17. What is the name of your primary conlang (the one you have > invested the most effort in or are most fluent in)?
>18. What are the basic purpose(s) and design goals of your conlang? Is > it associated with an imagined world or culture? If so, are the > speakers human?
Originally, Wenedyk was started as a thought experiment: what would Polish have looked like had it been a Romance instead of a Slavic language? A story similar to Andrew's with Brithenig, I suppose, and that's also where I found the inspiration to work out the idea. The design goals: Wenedyk develops from Vulgar Latin in precisely the same way as Polish developed from Common Slavic. As a result, vocabulary and morphology are Romance, but phonology, orthography and syntax lean heavily on Polish. Very soon after I started working on Wenedyk, it was incorporated in the Alternative History of Ill Bethisad, which is still its home. The speakers are therefore human.
>19. Is your conlang a priori (devised from scratch) or a posteriori > (based on a specific natural language or language family), or a mix > of a priori and a posteriori elements?
I think I can safely state that Wenedyk is for 99.9% a posteriori.
>20. Describe the typology of your conlang - what is its primary word > order (SVO, SOV, VSO...; pre- or postpositional; etc.)? Is it > isolating, agglutinating, fusional, polysynthetic? Is its case or > word order system primarily accusative, ergative, active, > other...?
SVO, prepositional, fusional, accusative.
>21. a. How extensive or complete do you consider your conlang to be (in > grammar and vocabulary)?
Grammar is more or less complete, although not everything has been written down yet. Vocabulary encompasses about 4000 words, not counting a couple of hundred geographical and personal names, and not counting tens of thousands of "virtual vocabulary", words that are not in the dictionary but which I could produce instantly when needed.
> b. If you are not yet fluent in it, do you consider the language > complete enough for fluency to be attainable, or would it need > considerably more development for that to be possible?
In my opinion, 4000 words is not nearly enough to be really fluent in a language, i.e. able to express virtually any thought or fact. But apart from that, Wenedyk is a functional and workable language: I can write long texts in it without having to create much new vocabulary.
>22. Does your conlang have features that might be expected to make it > especially difficult for speakers of your native language?
Probably the same problems they have with Polish, especially when it comes to pronunciation.
>23. Does your conlang have possibly unnatural features that might be > expected to make fluency difficult or impossible for humans?
Hehe, I certainly hope not! :)
>== Part C: Fluency in your conlang. == > >24. a. Do you intend to become fluent in your conlang, or did you when > you started creating it?
Not at all! In fact, when I started working on Wenedyk, I didn't even plan for it to become a full-fledged conlang. All I wanted was to provide a mechanism, a basic grammar, a basic word list and a few texts to demonstrate my ideas. But I simply could never stop working on it, and even though I have periodically been working on other conlangs as well, Wenedyk somehow always pulls me back. So I really have no idea what it's going to look like in ten years!
> b. If not, did you find yourself becoming fluent as an unexpected > result of developing and using it?
Yes, very much! At present I even write letters in it, without ever checking the grammar and only rarely looking up a word. But that's a fairly recent phenomenon, apparently the result of doing a lot of translations over the last year.
>25. If you intend to become fluent in your conlang, what are your > goals or purposes for learning it?
I don't really have such intention, but it is a nice side effect nonetheless.
>26. What do you use (or intend to use) your conlang for? > a. Prayer? > b. Meditation? > c. Thinking? > d. Taking notes in the course of study? > e. Writing notes to yourself (grocery lists, etc.)? > f. Writing a diary? > g. Writing poetry or other literature? > h. Singing? > i. Writing the grammar or lexicon of the conlang itself? > j. Pretending in public that you are a native speaker > of your conlang? > k. Anything else?
Rarely e and g, but for the rest only k; translating texts and sometimes writing something original in it.
>27. Can you write original text in your conlang, at least on some > subjects, without looking up words or grammatical structures?
Yes. And that's why I do frequently: producing huge chunks of Wenedyk text, not checking the dictionary or the grammar. Although, in all fairness I have to admit that before publishing something I usually check a lot of things anyway, even if I already know them anyway.
>28. Can you compose well-formed sentences in your conlang about as > fast as you can handwrite or type?
>29. Can you read text you wrote some time ago in your conlang without > looking up words in the lexicon or pausing to consciously parse or > translate it?
Yes. Unless it is really old stuff. Wenedyk has gone through numerous changes over the years, and Wenedyk anno 2002 has little in common with Wenedyk anno 2008.
>30. a. Do you find yourself thinking spontaneously in your conlang?
No. Or rarely, at best.
>31. a. Can you think in your conlang, without deliberately constructing > sentences word by word?
Never tried. Why should I?
>32. a. Have you ever dreamed in your conlang?
No. Not that I can remember, at least. But then, I remember my dreams only rarely!
>33. Can you read aloud at conversational speed from text written in > your conlang?
Yes. Even very fast, if necessary.
>34. Can you speak spontaneously in your conlang at conversational > speed? If native speakers of your conlang existed, could they > understand your pronunciation?
Maybe not a conversational speed, as that is a matter of practise, but I'm sure I could speak at least slowly in it. A native speaker would definitely understand me, although he'd recognise my foreign accent and catch me on a mistake every now and then. I should add that speaking aloud in Wenedyk feels very odd to me. It's like telling a girl you fancy that you are in love with her when you are a teenager. A bit uncomfortable, but exciting at the same time. I do it rarely, though.
>35. If you have recorded speech in your conlang, have you been able to > understand it in real time when played back a considerable time > after you spoke and recorded it?
>36. If you are fluent in your conlang only when speaking or writing > about certain subjects, what are those subjects?
Phew, that's a hard question! I think love and politics are about the easiest subjects for me! But that doesn't mean I couldn't speak about other things in it.
>37. Have you found anyone willing to learn your conlang and speak it > with you, or correspond with you in it? If so, please describe > the experience.
Several people have approached me, telling me they actually wanted to learn Wenedyk. It's something I definitely don't encourage, though. Yet, there are a few people with a more than basic knowledge of/about the language. A few weeks ago, I received a complete letter (a longer one, not just a few sentences) in almost perfect Wenedyk from someone, and at present we're corresponding a bit in it. Quite a funny experience, I have to say - very enjoyable! I have never actually HEARD anyone speaking Wenedyk. Reading something aloud, yes, but not really speaking, so I can't really testify here.
>38. a. What methods have you used to study your conlang and improve your > fluency in it? > b. Which have you found most effective?
I never studied it at all and never made any particular effort to learn it. That's really something that came by itself by writing a lot in it and regularly going through my dictionary database.
>39. How do you do most of the primary work on your conlang? In your > head, writing stuff down later if at all, or on paper with > pencil/pen, or with a voice recording/playback system, or at a > computer, or...?
Most of the time I work on the computer. Sometimes, when I have some spontaneous idea, I write it down on paper; but even then it ends up in the computer anyway.
>40. Have you made significant changes in your conlang due to your > experience using it? In what way?
All significant changes Wenedyk has gone through were the result of new discoveries I made in the field of Vulgar Latin, Common Slavic and Polish' development from it, etc., or also new discoveries regarding Wenedyk's con- history. However, certain elements that used to be vague or uncertain in the beginning got fixed when I wrote more in Wenedyk, especially where it comes to syntax.
>41. Has your more or less fluent use of the language changed its > phonology, grammar or semantics in ways you did not consciously > intend? Have you, for instance, changed the description of the > language's grammar based on the way you've noticed that you > actually use it, or changed a word's lexicon entry when you > realized you were using it in a different sense than the way you > originally defined it?
Not really. With one possible exception: initially I had "ła" as a personal pronoun ("she") and "iła" as a feminine singular demonstrative pronoun. Over the years I've come to the conclusion that both forms can be used in both situations, the longer form giving more stress.
>42. Has your developing fluency in your conlang slowed down its rate > of change? Have you refrained from making changes in the language > that you would otherwise make because they would require > re-learning words or structures you already use fluently?
No. I can even say the contrary is true. By the Autumn of 2005, I had a pretty good working knowledge of Wenedyk, but then I made a whole series of new discoveries that changed the language fundamentally. Even a year ago I still had to check the dictionary often for the correct form, because I wasn't sure the words that popped up in my mind were up-to-date or not.
>43. Has your handwriting in your conlang changed as you became more > fluent in it? In what way?
I suppose that would only apply in the case of a conscript, wouldn't it?
>44. Has your fluency in your conlang influenced the way you speak your > native language, or other languages you are fluent in?
No, I couldn't say that. The opposite, yes. Now that I more or less live in Poland, I learn a lot about Polish that I didn't know before - and that has quite some impact on Wenedyk.
>45. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Perhaps one thing. I've always been a bit surprised about the sudden carreer of Wenedyk. Presently, it seems to be one of the better-known conlangs around, people talk about it, there are articles about it in some 15 wikipedias, and sometimes I see myself listed among the world's leading conlangers! Personally, I think that is a grave exaggeration. Indeed, I'm an avid conlanger and spend (or waste, that depends on your point of view) lots of time on it. But I don't think my work is anything special, really. Wenedyk started a bit like a joke. And my other languages... well, none of them is particularly interesting or original, if you ask me. I make them because I enjoy creating languages that MIGHT have existed in our world, and in doing so I use lots of pre-formed material and generally avoid exoticism. If you ask me, there are many more interesting languages and "better" conlangers around! But I certainly enjoy the success Wenedyk is having, especially in Poland, where people obviously like that kind of things. Cheers, Jan