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Re: Conlang fluency survey

From:Lars Finsen <lars.finsen@...>
Date:Saturday, January 19, 2008, 23:22
What fun! Another survey! :-)

Jim Henry wrote:

> == Part A: Personal and demographic data. == > > 01. a. What is your name (or online handle)?
Lars Finsen, but I'm some places known as Uttrediay
> b. May I quote you by name or handle in an article or talk about > conlang fluency?
Well, yes, if it ever becomes relevant.
> c. If not, may I quote you anonymously? > > 02. a. What is your preferred email address (if not the address you > are sending the survey response from)?
It's this one.
> 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?
Sorry, but if workflow abates a little I may find time to set it up this spring.
> 04. a. How old are you?
> b. How old were you when you first started creating languages?
About 13.
> c. How old were you when you first attained significant fluency > in (one of) your constructed language(s)?
That hasn't happened yet, unfortunately.
> 05. Are you male or female?
> 06. a. What is your nationality? > b. Where do you live now? > c. Where were your ancestors from?
Norway, Norway, Norway, except that a greatgrandfather of mine probably was Romani.
> 07. What is/are your native language(s)?
> 08. What natural languages other than your native one(s) have you > studied? What degree of fluency have you attained in them?
Reasonable fluency in English. Able to converse some in French and German. Able to read Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Dutch reasonably easily and Breton, Faroese, Icelandic, Old Norse, Gaulish with some difficulty. Other natlangs studied: Welsh, Lithuanian, Classical Greek, Egyptian (middle kingdom), Japanese, Finnish, Russian, Ukrainian, Basque, Frisian.
> 09. What constructed languages created by other people have you > studied? What degree of fluency have you attained in them?
No real fluency in any of: Proto Indo-European, Quenya, Sindarin, Labarion, Silindion, and another language in the first relay I participated in whose name I cannot remember.
> 10. What is your level of education? What is/was/will be your major > or specialization?
Chemistry college level.
> 11. What is (was/probably will be) your trade or profession?
Professional translator. Hoping to expand into professional writing some day.
> 12. Do you work part time? full time? Are you a student or retired?
Very full.
> 13. a. What is your (approximate) income? > b. What was your family's approximate income when you were a > child?
Average, average.
> 14. Are you single, married, divorced, widowed, remarried...?
Single. (Girls! Here is your chance!)
> 15. a. What is your religion, if any?
None, having flirted with several.
> b. What was your religious upbringing, if any?
Lukewarm Christian.
> 16. Are there other facts about yourself that you think might be > relevant?
It wouldn't surprise me if there were.
> == 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?
It is associated with an imagined world or culture and the speakers, or at least my ideas of them are human. The goal is to make the language into something that I think the Urianians would use. They should have the final say in the matter. I am thinking of Uriania as a kind of alternative reality and in my experience a feeling of conviction in their reality is a good aid in making the creations realistic. When I played with these things as a kid, I had this conviction very firmly. Later it has diminished somewhat, but I am always working from the assumption of it. For the language an important aim is to have a full set of dialect descriptions and full diachronic information from the earliest age onwards. This also applies to my other conlangs relating to the same fictional world.
> 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?
Mostly a posteriori. It is based upon a set of personal and place names from my youthful fantasies, and although I have found IE roots for very many of the names, some remain mysterious, and some of these have lead to elements of the language which perhaps you could call a priori, though they are posterior to the names, at least in real history.
> 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...?
Urianian is largely SVO, postpositional, accusative, leaning towards agglutinating and polysynthetic. Suraetua is SOV, postpositional, ergative and also leaning towards agglutinating and polysynthetic. Azurian is SVO, prepositional, accusative and leaning towards isolating, except in the northern dialects bordering on Urianian.
> 21. a. How extensive or complete do you consider your conlang to be > (in > grammar and vocabulary)?
Currently Urianian has 2596 words in its dictionary, so I guess not very complete in that respect. The grammar of modern standard Urianian I think is reasonably close to final, but I think some phonological adjustments are due.
> 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?
No, I think it is complete enough for fluency to be possible, but I do need some more vocabulary.
> 22. Does your conlang have features that might be expected to make it > especially difficult for speakers of your native language?
Urianian has demonstrative forms of nouns which can be hard to learn. But they are used primarily in poetry. The case system should be a challenge, and the extensive use of participles. Suraetua has a lot of auxiliaries which may be difficult to learn. And the ergativity will be a challenge, too. It is to me.
> 23. Does your conlang have possibly unnatural features that might be > expected to make fluency difficult or impossible for humans?
Don't think so. I have been especially careful to preserve the ability to speak it fluently whenever I have made changes.
> == 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?
Yes, I hoped to, but I am getting doubtful.
> b. If not, did you find yourself becoming fluent as an unexpected > result of developing and using it?
No, I guess not, but I had some experiences along that line.
> 25. If you intend to become fluent in your conlang, what are your > goals or purposes for learning it?
Well, hm, to be able to strike up conversations with my Urianians, I guess.
> 26. What do you use (or intend to use) your conlang for? > a. Prayer?
> b. Meditation?
> c. Thinking?
Probably not.
> d. Taking notes in the course of study?
Not unlikely.
> e. Writing notes to yourself (grocery lists, etc.)?
Could be.
> f. Writing a diary?
That's a good idea. I should open an account in Facebook or preferably a non-profit internet society and blog in Urianian. That will be a great hit for sure.
> g. Writing poetry or other literature?
Yes, I have done a bit of this.
> h. Singing?
That too.
> i. Writing the grammar or lexicon of the conlang itself?
Yes, of course.
> j. Pretending in public that you are a native speaker > of your conlang?
Hm, that's a good idea too.
> k. Anything else?
The primary goal of my conlanging has been to write novels and other stuff from my fantasy world. But as time go by I am getting the suspicion that the conlanging itself has become the goal.
> 27. Can you write original text in your conlang, at least on some > subjects, without looking up words or grammatical structures?
Afraid not.
> 28. Can you compose well-formed sentences in your conlang about as > fast as you can handwrite or type?
Not at all.
> 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?
I have been able to, but it seems this ability is somewhat diminishing.
> 30. a. Do you find yourself thinking spontaneously in your conlang? > b. Are such thoughts often full sentences rather than single > words or short phrases? > c. Are they usually grammatical (as you intend your conlang to > work)? > 31. a. Can you think in your conlang, without deliberately > constructing > sentences word by word? > b. Are such thoughts usually grammatical (as you intend your > conlang to work)?
I have never used words when thinking and frankly was very surprised when someone first indicated to me that it was common.
> 32. a. Have you ever dreamed in your conlang? > b. Did the speech or writing in your conlang from the dream > turn out, > when remembered on waking, to be grammatical and/or meaningful?
My dreams are almost always without words. The very few cases when I've dreamt words I have always felt were exceptional, and usually I have written the words down if I could remember them. Sometimes I have found use for these words, and occasionally as part of my conlangs.
> 33. Can you read aloud at conversational speed from text written in > your conlang?
I can do that with Suraetu, but Urianians speak too fast, I don't think I could keep up.
> 34. Can you speak spontaneously in your conlang at conversational > speed? If native speakers of your conlang existed, could they > understand your pronunciation?
I think they would have a bit of a struggle, taking me for a fecking foreigner.
> 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?
That is a good idea too. Must try it.
> 36. If you are fluent in your conlang only when speaking or writing > about certain subjects, what are those subjects?
There is a slight emphasis on subjects relevant to waging war in ancient times, since my novel revolves a little around that.
> 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.
Only in the most recent relay, the inverse one. I think I told you very floridly what the experience was like at the time, as incidentally you yourself were the person assigned to the job of learning Urianian, if my memory hasn't totally left me. I found it exceedingly thrilling myself, but I guess it was less thrilling for you as you were hospitalised around that time.
> 38. a. What methods have you used to study your conlang and improve > your fluency in it? > b. Which have you found most effective?
Participating in the weekly vocabulary game on this list I found the most effective. I haven't done much otherwise with the specific goal in mind to attain fluency. But any use of the language will contribute to that end automatically. I began to translate part of my website once, but into another of my langs. And I have an exercise book where I take exercise sentences from grammars of other languages and translate them into Urianian.
> 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...?
My dictionary is in an Excel table with columns for the main dialect regions as well as IE protoforms, Old Urianian and forms of Middle Urianian. However, my grammar is mostly laid out on paper, most of it in the first pages and the margins of that above-mentioned exercise- book. And I have phonology notes on paper, though I use them litte as the phonology is rather firmly seated in my head by now. The grammar I also know rather well by head, but I do have to look up case- endings, particularly in the more obscure declensions now and then, and especially for the demonstrative forms. Paper books still have some advantages, particularly if you have used them so much that you always know where to find things. Almost instant access. No series of mouse clicks and scroll bar pulls to perform.
> 40. Have you made significant changes in your conlang due to your > experience using it? In what way?
I have. Mostly by crossing out my margin scribbles in that above- mentioned book and making new ones, as well as adjusting phonology rules and the Excel entries as appropriate.
> 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?
Yes, I have had an eye open for these possibilities. I have always given what feels right at the moment higher priority than my original intent.
> 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?
I do have these experiences. Not because of my fluency, but because I have already written quite a bit in my languages, and the more I write, the more work it is to revise it as changes become necessary. Particularly this is troublesome in poetry, because changes often influence rhyming and metrics. Implementing necessary changes always must have top priority, though.
> 43. Has your handwriting in your conlang changed as you became more > fluent in it? In what way?
I haven't used the Urianian writing much lately. But in my youth I used the Urianian runes quite a bit. Most of them correspond to the Norwegian alphabet, and I invented provisional ones for those letters that they didn't cover in order to exchange 'code' messages in Norwegian written with Urianian runes with my father and a girlfriend I had. Must say my father learnt them much better than my girlfriend did. I did make some changes after using them some time, but minor ones, adjusting the length of a leg here and there. I discovered after a while that one of the staffs were upside down from what I first devised, but I left it that way.
> 44. Has your fluency in your conlang influenced the way you speak your > native language, or other languages you are fluent in?
Not appreciably. But the knowledge of other ways to put things always gives you a little more freedom in the expression of your other languages as well.
> 45. Is there anything else you would like to add?
No, thank you. LEF