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Re: Calling all Conlangers!

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 22, 2002, 0:03
David Peterson wrote:
(an excellent defense of conlanging, which is snipped, for the moment)
Just some random comments:

-- Any creative endeavor has an underlying "language"; I believe Bernstein's
1960s lectures on music showed this quite nicely, using the then-popular
Transformational model. "Phonology"-- the notes of the scale; "Morphology"
and "Syntax" including "transformations"; even "Historical"; Dialects;
Languages (e.g. Western vs. Indian or Chinese music. The same goes for
painting, sculpture, architecture--- cooking!

 That's probably because
>it can't be immediately enjoyed by someone else the way music or visual art >can. Maybe we already had our genius--Tolkien--, but he didn't defend it
>openly at the time. He wasn't as outgoing about language creation, or the >defense of it, as he might have been. (Or this is the impression I get, at >least.) Maybe now with the imense popularity of Lord of the Rings--and two >more films yet to come--language creation will get some attention. (The >Golden Globes didn't seem to warrant this, though. Ouch!) Or, maybe not. >We may have to wait awhile, but I think it will come.
A matter of familiarity. DA's post about the recent flurry of activity on Elfling is significant. Perhaps it's the start of a Conlang Liberation Movement. "Fight for your right to conlang..." ;-)
> And really, all we need is one professor at one university to start
>going. Just one person who wants to teach possibly how to create a
> Can it be done?
Of course it can. But guidelines, at best. One would not want to formalize it too much, since there is so much room for individual creation. An interesting question IMO-- given that language is so intimately a part of "human-ness", is it possible to create a truly non-human language? Assuming we ultimately encounter other intelligent life, we'll perforce have to deal with the subject. As for conlangs, the attempt to be "non-human" is quite a challenge-- as well as a choice, of course.
> I've lost my train of thought on the subject. For those interested,
>post my defense of language creation that I'm going to put in my reader.... >[Side-note: Look at the second sentence of this paragraph. Why does "my >defense" sound wrong? Seems like it should be "the defense". But I'm >including two, in fact, and only one is mine, so "the" wouldn't be specific >enough. Yet, it still sounds wrong. Any thoughts?]
Not wrong; it is _your_ defense after all, not someone else's. Maybe for absolute clarity: "...the defenses (including my own) that I'm going to put...." but it's a quibble.
>If you take this >to its natural conclusion, is not language creation the art most closely >associated with linguistics? This is particularly why I find the >condemnation of language creation by linguists so befuddling.
There's no accounting for prejudices... At least one valid excuse could be: with so many natlangs in danger of extinction, why devote one's time to "unreal" ones? (Though I don't see the Chomskians doing much salvage work)
>More importantly, it gets one thinking about the >multifariousness and beauty of language...
and of the "unity in diversity" of human cultures in general , and one who can appreciate this is
>less likely to misunderstand, deprecate and stereotype those speaking other >languages, which is one of the main causes of racism and ethnocentrism. In
>ort, language creation is one of the keys to social harmony and world
peace. My reaction here matched Christophe's-- shades of Zamenhof and all his auxlang tribe! The least important motive, IMHO ;-) Anyway, looking forward with interest to more reports on your course! BTW I'm going to put the (still incomplete but big) Kash syntax up on my website, partly to prevent it's being lost again, but also so it will be available to you. Warning: it's unedited, verbose, repetitive and, at time I suspect, not terribly well thought-out.


Chris Palmer <cecibean@...>