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Re: Conlang fluency survey

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Sunday, January 20, 2008, 4:05
Jim Henry wrote:

> == Part A: Personal and demographic data. == > > 01. a. What is your name (or online handle)?
Herman Miller
> 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?
Around 15
> c. How old were you when you first attained significant fluency > in (one of) your constructed language(s)?
I haven't really had any significant degree of fluency in any of my languages, although I knew Olaetian reasonably well. I would have been around 20 or so.
> 05. Are you male or female?
> 06. a. What is your nationality?
> b. Where do you live now?
> c. Where were your ancestors from?
England, Ireland, Germany, and various other places.
> 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?
French - 2 years (can read some) Spanish - 2 years (can read some) German - 2 years (can read a little bit) Russian - 2 years Chinese - 1 term (1/3 of a year) I've tried teaching myself various other languages, mainly Japanese, but also Serbo-Croatian and Dutch. I haven't been fluent in any of them.
> 09. What constructed languages created by other people have you > studied? What degree of fluency have you attained in them?
I've learned enough Esperanto to read simple texts; I've also studied Klingon and Lojban.
> 10. What is your level of education? What is/was/will be your major > or specialization?
Bachelor of science in computer science
> 11. What is (was/probably will be) your trade or profession?
Software engineer in the computer/video game industry
> 12. Do you work part time? full time? Are you a student or retired?
I work full time.
> 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...?
> 15. a. What is your religion, if any?
None (agnostic).
> b. What was your religious upbringing, if any?
Protestant (Methodist)
> 16. Are there other facts about yourself that you think might be > relevant? > > == 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)?
I've had various primary conlangs over time. Minza, my current main language, is not one that I ever intended to become fluent in. The closest I've come to being fluent in a conlang was with Olaetian, when that was one of a small number of fictional languages I had that was in a reasonably advanced state of development.
> 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?
Minza is atypical of my languages in general, which are mainly associated with fictional cultures (mostly in a fictional world). Olaetian and many of my earlier languages were spoken by humans, but there are no humans in my most recent world (Azir).
> 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?
My fictional languages (including Olaetian) are a priori, and Minza in turn is based on those.
> 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...?
Olaetian (as the language I came closest to being fluent in, although I've forgotten most of it by now) is typically SVO, prepositional, fusional, and accusative. Much like the languages I was studying at the time (Spanish and French). Minza, on the other hand, is VOS, prepositional, mildly agglutinative, and ergative.
> 21. a. How extensive or complete do you consider your conlang to be (in > grammar and vocabulary)?
Olaetian had a moderately extensive grammar (around 30 pages) and a vocabulary of some 3,000 words.
> 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?
None of my languages are really well enough documented for that.
> 22. Does your conlang have features that might be expected to make it > especially difficult for speakers of your native language?
Olaetian wasn't especially difficult, although it did have a few sounds that would be unfamiliar to English speakers, including unrounded back vowels and a distinction between apical and laminal fricatives.
> 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?
Olaetian just grew from a small collection of words to a full-fledged language; there wasn't any time when I set out to become fluent. I haven't ever had fluency as a specific goal of my languages.
> 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?
Olaetian has been used for writing stories (of a sort -- a few paragraphs at the most) and occasionally translations of things I'd written in English (mostly relating to the world where Olaetian was spoken). I've written grocery lists in Sarbleski, and I had a sort of diary written in Iftinas for a while. Tirelat and Minza have been used in translation relays.
> 27. Can you write original text in your conlang, at least on some > subjects, without looking up words or grammatical structures?
I could do that with Olaetian back when I was using it.
> 28. Can you compose well-formed sentences in your conlang about as > fast as you can handwrite or type?
I used to be able to do that with Olaetian.
> 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 just looked at some old text in Olaetian that I haven't looked at for years. I could still understand most of it, including some facts that I'd forgotten (the world has changed quite a bit from when I wrote those things). But there are parts I'd have to look up to be sure of. The impression I get, after all these years, is that the way I was using Olaetian in these oldest bits of text wasn't much different from English, and the parts that were different are quite a bit like Spanish or French.
> 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)?
I don't think in any of my languages, unless you count Sarbleski (which is more a set of words and phrases than a fully developed language).
> 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?
I've had many conlang-related dreams, but not specifically with any of the actual conlangs that I've worked on.
> 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?
I don't know any of my languages well enough to speak at conversational speed. I try to be careful with my pronunciation, but I'm sure that I speak with an accent.
> 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?
I recognize enough to know what text it is that I recorded. I can recognize and understand many of the words, but it could be that I just remember the text.
> 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...?
I did most of Olaetian, especially in the early days, with hand-written notes, although some of it was typed. I started using the computer to manage my dictionary when it got too cumbersome to update by hand. It wasn't until the late 1980's - early 1990's that I switched to mainly using the computer for developing languages.
> 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? > >