Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Conlang fluency survey

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Saturday, January 19, 2008, 18:39
This survey is focused on the phenomenon of people learning their own
conlangs to fluency: thinking in them, writing, reading, speaking, and
listening to them spoken in real time.  Even if you have not attained
any real fluency in your conlang, or if you do not intend to try to
become fluent in it, it would help if you could answer the relevant
demographic and typological questions in parts A and B; your responses
may help reveal interesting correlations (e.g., are men or women more
likely to become fluent in their conlangs?  makers of engineered
languages or artistic languages?  makers of VO or OV languages?
students, full-time workers or retired people?).  The questions in
part C pertain to fluency in your primary conlang.

Feel free to skip any questions or answer them vaguely if you think
their answers are none of my business.

You may email your responses privately to me, jimhenry at pobox dot
com, or post your responses to the CONLANG mailing list, where I will
see them.  If you post a response to the Zompist Bulletin Board, the
LiveJournal Conlangs community, or any other site than the CONLANG
mailing list, please also send me a response by email.

This survey's demographic and typological questions partly overlap
with those of Sally Caves' "Lunatic Survey", but the purposes of these
surveys are distinct; her research focuses on the conlang community
and how it influences conlangers' otherwise solitary art, and I am
researching more specifically how and to what degree some conlangers
are able to attain fluency in their constructed languages.

It's my intention to prepare an article and, God willing, a talk for
the 2008 Language Creation Conference, based largely
on the survey results.  I'll make suitably anonymized survey data
available later on to others who want to do their own analysis
of it.

Jim Henry

== Part A: Personal and demographic data.  ==

01. a. What is your name (or online handle)?
    b. May I quote you by name or handle in an article or talk about
    conlang fluency?
    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)?
    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?
    c. How old were you when you first attained significant fluency
        in (one of) your constructed language(s)?

05. Are you male or female?

06. a. What is your nationality?
    b. Where do you live now?
    c. Where were your ancestors from?

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?

09. What constructed languages created by other people have you
    studied?  What degree of fluency have you attained in them?

10. What is your level of education?  What is/was/will be your major
    or specialization?

11. What is (was/probably will be) your trade or profession?

12. Do you work part time? full time?  Are you a student or retired?

13. a. What is your (approximate) income?
    b. What was your family's approximate income when you were a

14. Are you single, married, divorced, widowed, remarried...?

15. a. What is your religion, if any?
    b. What was your religious upbringing, if any?

16. Are there other facts about yourself that you think might be

== 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?

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?

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,

21. a. How extensive or complete do you consider your conlang to be (in
    grammar and vocabulary)?
    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?

22. Does your conlang have features that might be expected to make it
    especially difficult for speakers of your native language?

23. Does your conlang have possibly unnatural features that might be
    expected to make fluency difficult or impossible for humans?

== 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?
    b. If not, did you find yourself becoming fluent as an unexpected
    result of developing and using it?

25. If you intend to become fluent in your conlang, what are your
    goals or purposes for learning it?

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?

27. Can you write original text in your conlang, at least on some
    subjects, without looking up words or grammatical structures?

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?

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

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)?

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?

33. Can you read aloud at conversational speed from text written in
    your conlang?

34. Can you speak spontaneously in your conlang at conversational
    speed?  If native speakers of your conlang existed, could they
    understand your pronunciation?

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?

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.

38. a. What methods have you used to study your conlang and improve your
    fluency in it?
    b. Which have you found most effective?

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...?

40. Have you made significant changes in your conlang due to your
    experience using it?  In what way?

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?

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?

43. Has your handwriting in your conlang changed as you became more
    fluent in it?  In what way?

44. Has your fluency in your conlang influenced the way you speak your
    native language, or other languages you are fluent in?

45. Is there anything else you would like to add?


Peter Collier <petecollier@...>
Sai Emrys <sai@...>
David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Lars Finsen <lars.finsen@...>
andrew <hobbit@...>
Michael Poxon <mike@...>
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
R A Brown <ray@...>
Scotto Hlad <scott.hlad@...>
Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>Conlang fluency survey **CORRECTED**
Geoff Horswood <geoffhorswood@...>
Rik Roots <rik@...>