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Re: Tell your conlang story!

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 28, 2006, 19:54

Monica Byrne wrote:

> Hi everyone! > > I'm a former subscriber to the conlanging email list. I loved it, but I > couldn't keep up with the emails, so I've gone Nomail for awhile. > > But I'm contacting you now because I'm a producer for North Carolina Public > Radio (check out our show: We're currently > broadcasting in North Carolina only, but we're soon going national. I would > love to do a piece on conlanging, but our show is about storytelling instead > of analysis or exposition, so we're looking for a few good stories about > your experiences with conlanging. > > Here are a few questions to get you thinking: > > 1) How did you get in to conlanging? What was your inspiration?
I have been a lover and builder of imaginary worlds since I was ten, if not earlier, and that led to conlanging. I have also always been fascinated with letters and symbols of all sorts. I was perhaps 12 years old when I first more or less seriously tried to build a language, though it didn't get far. My love for imaginary worlds led me to reading Tolkien, and when I saw that he had created his own languages for his world, I wanted to do the same. When I was 16 or so, I designed a few conlangs, related to each other, for a fantasy/science fiction world I was working on back then. Some fragments of this still exist in a notebook I have. That was in the mid-80s. Later, I didn't flesh out entire languages for my conworlds, but at least tried to be somewhat consistent with the names that occured in them, trying to give each culture its own phonetic style. Then came the year 2000, when I found a Tolkien fan fiction story on the Web[1] featuring modern-day Elves, and I started making a language for them, based on Sindarin. About the same time, I joined CONLANG. The "Modern Elvish" project soon took a different direction and morphed into the Albic family which is currently my main conlang project.[2] [1] [2]
> 2) What is your purpose in creating languages? Is it a personal art, an > anthropological experiment, a pasttime...?
I'd say a personal art, and a pastime. Perhaps also a bit of an anthropological experiment, but not much. I seek to create languages that appeal to my personal taste - which is for naturalistic languages.
> 3) How have people reacted when you tell them about it?
Most showed little interest and considered it somewhat "nerdy". A few showed interest. My brother told me it was a waste of time because, as Wittgenstein said, "private languages are impossible". I think he has misconstrued Wittgenstein's statement.
> 4) Did conlanging lead you places you never expected it to take you?
To a degree, yes. When I started dabbling with Tolkien's languages and building a language for the modern-day Elves I encountered in the fan fiction story I mentioned above, I didn't expect to come up with an entire family of languages and a detailed self-contained conculture of my own - but it happened. And more often than not, when I find the answer to a design problem in my Albic languages, I have a feeling of "discovery" rather than "invention", as if the languages had always been I decided them to be. Greetings, Jörg.