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Re: Calling all Conlangers!

From:Josh Roth <fuscian@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 22, 2002, 4:17
In a message dated 1/21/02 6:37:25 PM, bob.greenwade@NEWMAIL.NET writes:

>At 09:15 PM 1/20/02 -0500, John Cowan wrote: >>Why study natlangs, other than for severely practical reasons, after >>all? (Why study Latin nowadays, e.g., when it can neither help you buy >>cattle in Rome nor get you into the civil service?) For two reasons, >I >>believe: to gain access to a literature, and to learn something about >a >>people, specifically about the way they saw themselves and their
>> >>Now the second consideration can hardly apply to any conlang, art- or >>aux-, and the first can apply only to a tiny minority. > > I was just going to lurk over this subject, but I do feel a strong >desire to voice disagreement over one point made here. > Every conlang provides some insight to the view of self and environment >for at least one person -- the conlang's creator. Whether the creator >creates and blurs linguistic distinctions from a personal perspective or >a >"what if?" mentality, each such distinction shows a thought process that >is >specific to that language, and thus to its creator or creators. > Since I saw this subject come up over the weekend, it's occurred to >me >that a study of conlangery would be a great point of interest for a >cognitive psychologist. For example, would anyone care to take a stab >as >to why, in Rav Zarruvo, "vo" (steady low tone) is the first/second person >pronoun for sentients, but also acts as the prefix for the accusative form >of a verb? I don't know, and maybe it's just an accident (I didn't recall >the one when I established the other), but maybe there's some other line >of >logic that I'm just not conscious of.
I was going to lurk as well ... but I don't quite agree with you. How much can a conlang represent its creator's thought processes, when a single creator can make a dozen languages, all vastly different? Eloshtan, for example, treats all nouns as equal, not dividing them into classes. So we might surmise that I have a very balanced worldview. But Kar Marinam has nouns divided into animate and inanimate, with some mixed nouns even. So does that negate the previous conclusion? Eloshtan distinguishes present and future tenses, but KM doesn't. Does that mean I don't distinguish between past and future actions, or I do? I'm not sure how much we can learn from these things. Perhaps only that they're thoughts that have crossed my mind. Now, that's not to say that you *couldn't* create a language that reflects your worldview - but it's not always the case, and it would be difficult to measure the extent if it did - it's not something a psychologist could assume. A language could also reflect the worldview of its imaginary community of speakers, or no one's particular worldview at all.
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Josh Roth


Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Bob Greenwade <bob.greenwade@...>