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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 auxlangers. 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 futile? 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! ;-) Sally ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Sally Caves 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. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++