CHAT: LUNATIC again; was: META, CHAT: Anyone see the irony? AND "Let's , Return to Conlang...
|From:||Sally Caves <scaves@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, November 3, 1998, 17:50|
Addenda to the Lunatic Survey Revisited, this time for auxlangers.
Scroll down a bit...I start in after Terry makes his most pungeant point.
On Tue, 3 Nov 1998, Terrence Donnelly wrote:
> At 12:20 PM 11/3/98 +0200, you wrote:
> >Karol Conlangdjien! (Dear Conlangists)
> >I'm probably not the first or only one to sense a certain irony here.
> >Some people who just want to talk about languages, especially Conlangs,
> >to each other manage to have nice and interesting conversations and
> >enjoy themselves, thus bringing people closer together. Some other
> >people are out to save the world and end up yelling at each offensively.
> >Strange, innit??
Unbelievable. But this should not be taken to reflect auxlanging in
general. This is the indulgence of two specific people who happen to be
Terrence goes on to say:
> What I find most ironic is that, at bottom, both artlangers and IALangers
> end up achieving the same thing. An IAL, by definition, intends to be
> both international (i.e., spoken by people in most countries of the world)
> and auxiliary (spoken by large numbers of regular folk as a normal part of
> international relations). I will state categorically that I believe that
> _no_ conIAL will _ever_ achieve this goal (short of something unforseeable,
> like the mandate of a world dictator). So, in my opinion, no conIAL will ever
> meet its design goal. All it can hope for is a larger or smaller
> community of interested users. This is precisely the situation with artlangs,
> too (assuming an artlanger even wants a community of users).
> Someone stated that you have to be a real idealist to champion an IAL. I'd
> say you have to be out of touch with reality, if you think it will ever achieve
> its stated goal. So, accept this fact, and enjoy using the conIAL among your
> community. There's nothing whatsoever wrong with that. Just realize that this
> makes you no different from a devoted community of artlang users.
I am so glad that you brought this up, Terry. Does everyone realize that
this is perfect fodder for the Lunatic Survey I posted? These are
precisely the issues that I wanted to get at. I had hardly any response
whatsoever from the IAL crowd to my survey, even though there was a
section on it where I asked for a distinction between language invention
for its own sake and language invention for social improvement. Maybe it
was the way I pitched the survey...apparently privileging the making of
"con" or "art"langs. But ironically, the concept of "lunatic invention"
that I want to overturn in my study was offered by an author who is
primarily attacking the making of "auxlangs" in her book. Marina
Yaguello's _Lunatic Lovers of Language_ is a wholesale rejection of the
IAL pursuit. She doesn't say much about private conlanging, except to
dismiss it in her last chapter as bordering on the "pathological." But
she implies as much of the Universal Language enthusiasts as well. But let
me address this issue again, from the IAL point of view, and speak to the
fascinating debate we're having on this topic right now:
To what extent are pursuers of IAL's anxious about the
success of their endeavors?
Let's say that this is true, which it might not be: is it for
some of the same
reasons that conlangers are protective of their conlangs...
because the endeavor is criticized, by outsiders, as being
In other words, what's at stake? Why does AUXLANG have
the reputation for flame wars, and CONLANG not? What is
all the high feeling about? (I've just seen it demonstrated,
but, granted, only between two individuals).
Is it because people have to work together in AUXLANG
and disputes naturally arise, whereas
CONLANGERS can work in isolation...but they sacrifice
team effort and involvement?
To what extent are IAL's basically "conlangs" that have a
"purpose"? And it's that purpose, that sense of "advocacy,"
that makes pursuing them worthwhile? Because as Terry says,
we're pretty much all doing basically the same thing. But
conlangers have less to be anxious about, because we keep
it private, we don't expect anybody to take it as seriously
as we do, we don't have to advocate for it in the face of
a majority of people who would just as soon speak the language
that is natural to them.
As someone put it privately to me yesterday, "peace and understanding can
aid communication, but rarely the other way around" (a paraphrase). That's
why Jack Vance's _Languages of Pao_ and even Orwell's _Newspeak_ tend to
remain fictions. It's easier for the mindset to affect the language than
the language to affect the mindset. But that's still debatable. So:
How do IAL people respond to this understanding
of the logic of natural languages?
Why do they continue
in their pursuits? For the intellectual achievement? For
the cameraderie? The esprit de corps? The working on something
together? Conlangers have often sighed on this list: "who are
the *consumers* of a conlang? Is an auxlang appealing because
there ARE consumers?
But what if it's not a major portion of the world?
Can a better language make a better world?
I've noticed that intellectual achievement and cameraderie are all
satisfying outcomes of conlanging, especially now that it has gone
electronic, especially for some of those conlangs like Brithenig that have
acquired a small fan following. Or Tokana for that matter. Matt has
exchanged his paper grammar with over twenty people. Imagine what would
happen if he put it on-line. There is a potential for consumerism in
conlanging, but considerably smaller.
As for Bob's remark that Matt Pearson so eloquently responded to--that he
had somewhat "undiplomatically" criticized new "projects" devised by one
person as not being "languages," I'm going to have to side with Matt on
this issue: that's a criticism for an "auxlang." To make that kind of
criticism, you have to define "language." Conlangs are artificial
languages. Auxlangs are artificial languages that are meant to be spoken
and that are meant to facilitate global communication. They have
different purposes, but it's entirely unproductive for an auxlanger to
denigrate a conlanger as not creating a "language," even if your
definition of "language" is something that serves a practical purpose.
Auxlangs have yet to prove that practicality to the majority of the world.
So let's have no more disparagements on either side. I also agree with
Matt that this listserv would be enriched by discussion of both conlangs
and auxlangs as long as we can do it without rancor. So please, Bob and
Jay, and anybody else, stop your squabbling and respond to my survey if
you can, but don't flame me. And I would like measured responses
from auxlangers, not inflammatory opinions from anti-auxlangers.
> I'm 45, so measure me for my shroud!
I'm forty-five, too, Terry, and I don't feel anywhere near death. And
that's despite the Teonaht below. A seasonal remark, not a philosophy!
Li fetil'aiba, dam hoja-le uen.
volwin ly, vul inua aiba bronib.
This leaf, the wind takes her.
She's old, and born this year.