For the new Sarah: New Survey: Celtic Conlangs (and other lunatic pursuits)
|From:||Sally Caves <scaves@...>|
|Date:||Friday, January 10, 2003, 18:33|
Sarah, parts II, IV, and V might appeal to you best.
Eskkoat ol ai sendran, rohsan nuehra celyil takrem bomai nakuo.
"My shadow follows me, putting strange, new roses into the world."
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sally Caves" <scaves@...>
Sent: Sunday, January 05, 2003 3:10 PM
Subject: New Survey: Celtic Conlangs (and other lunatic pursuits)
> Vyko! My apologies for imposing another survey on you! It comes in five
> parts, and repeats some of the questions I aired in my original "Lunatic
> Survey" in 1998. I'm posting it again, though, given all the newcomers,and
> because I have continuous new uses for it. In the first three parts ofthe
> survey, I'm interested in gauging the degree to which Celtic languageshave
> been popular models among us language cobblers. Or unpopular models.These
> questions, then, are designed not just for Celtic conlang buffs but for
> those who avoid the "Celtic." Part of the reason I'm posting this surveyis
> that I'm talking at several conferences in the Spring about the influenceof
> Celtic on some language inventors (among other things about invented
> languages). Given their difficulties, Celtic languages (along with
> countless other languages!) are not often the models for IALs. These
> features that make them difficult or unusual, though, may appealespecially
> to conlangers, not to mention their associations with a long-standing
> British Isles/Northwestern European mythology that Tolkien drew upon
> (Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian included), and which have so engaged
> contemporary High Fantasy. So what feels like an arbitrary question has a
> focus for me, and I would so appreciate your taking the time to answersome
> or all of these questions. You can send your answers to me privately or
> post them to the list.
> A REQUEST: IF YOU ARE NOT ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS OF THE SURVEY, BUT
> RESPONDING INCIDENTALLY TO SOMETHING SOMEONE SAID, PLEASE RETITLE THE
> SUBJECT HEADER! Firrimby! <G> You also don't have to answer all of these
> questions. Answer the ones that are relevant or important to you.
> PART I. FOR CELTIC CONLANGERS:
> Have you based your conlang(s) wholly or partially on a Celtic language?
> If so, on which? or combined with which?
> What is your name and what do you call your conlang(s)?
> When did you start it/them?
> Are you still working with it/them or have you abandoned it or them?
> What Celtic features have you borrowed? What is the structure of your
> language? Be specific.
> What innovations did you introduce? (new constructions, perhaps a new
> script, etc.)
> What features of Celtic languages (or a particular Celtic language)
> initially inspired or intrigued you? For example, Tolkien, as hedescribed
> it in "Welsh and English" was impressed by the beauty of a Welshinscription
> he saw on a building: Adeiladwyd 1887 ('built 1887'). He loved words like
> wybren, so much more "mellifluous" than our borrowed word "sky." He was
> likewise enthralled by Finnish and Hebrew. So he deliberately set out to
> make his Elvish languages beautiful. Was this a draw for you as well in
> choosing Celtic as a model? (I understand that T's Elvish languages arenot
> exclusively "Celtic." He has described them, however, as being
> On the other hand, perhaps the Celtic structures, their VSO, their
> paraphrastics, their initial mutations, their spelling conventions, their
> general strangeness caught your fancy, not necessarily their "beauty" or
> "romance." Comment?
> How many of you are also scholars of Celtic languages? Scholars of other
> How were you introduced to them?
> PART II: INSPIRATION BY TOLKIEN (tangential to the questions oninspiration
> by Celtic languages):
> How many of you were inspired to invent a language because of yourexposure
> to Tolkien?
> How many of you based your conlang on one of Tolkien's languages, or your
> conculture in Middle Earth?
> How many of you have a constructed world, and, if so, does it include some
> of the races we associate with Celtic or Scandinavian mythology? (Elves,
> Dwarves, medieval societies of humans, Faeries or Fays? Selkies?Wizards?)
> How many of you were inspired to examine Welsh, Hebrew, or Finnish because
> of your examination of Tolkien?
> How many of you were inspired to invent a conlang or a conculture becauseof
> some influence OTHER than Tolkien?
> How many of you were inspired to invent a language because you engage in
> Roll-Playing Games?
> How many of you were inspired to invent a language because you heard ofthis
> How many of you are members of the Mythopoeic Society, or the Society for
> Creative Anachronism, or other High Fantasy Groups?
> PART III: NON-CELTIC CONLANGERS:
> In the discussions I've witnessed on Conlang in almost five years, I've
> observed that many conlangers have deliberately avoided "Tolkienesque"
> languages, and even Indo-European languages as models for conlangs, and
> especially the "Celtic." Why? Boring? Overdone? Trite? Too pretty?
> Too Western? Or none of the above--just more interested in somethingelse?
> <G> I don't want to give the impression that I think we conlang only
> because of Tolkien, and that anything we invent has to be INSPIRED BY or a
> DEPARTURE from the "Great One"; but in this question I'm eager to see some
> eschewal of or at least indifference towards the Tolkien, the "Celtic,"
> and/or even the Indo-European model.
> What is your name and what do you call your conlang?
> So what is unappealing about the Indo-European model for conlanging? Or
> Tolkien's Elvish?
> How did you start conlanging? What was your initial inspiration?
> Did you know about Tolkien's inventions? Read the books, the appendices?
> etc. Or not?
> What language types have you modeled your language(s) after?
> What features of these languages or language types appeal to you?
> Some of you, and I'm thinking in particular of a conversation I had withAnd
> Rosta, are not interested in producing a language that is
> "mellifluous"--that "mellifluousness" is a thing to be avoided in your
> conlang and especially as it is associated with Tolkien's Elvish orcopiers
> of Elvish. Is this so? Why?
> For how many of you, though, is beauty and/or efficiency a factor in your
> language? Or elegance? How would you define these terms?
> For how many of you is the "exotic" a desired feature of your invented
> How many of you invent a non-human language? And if so, how alien are its
> sounds and constructions?
> Do you prefer inventing an a posteriori language or an a priori language?
> In other words, how many of you invent a language wherein you base it
> closely on a natural language (Arabic, Tagalog) or a combination of
> languages, and how many others of you invent a language from, well,scratch?
> (if that can be done.)
> How many of you invent a language based on a particular type (Ergative,
> Accusative, Trigger, etc.)?
> To what degree is difficulty and irregularity of language important to you
> in your conlang? what natural language eccentricities (or efficiencies)do
> you like and try to reproduce?
> To what degree is accessibility, efficiency, and regularity important to
> your conlang? What natural language "faults" are you correcting?
> How many of you invent logical languages?
> How many of you invent IALs?
> How many of you have invented non-Tolkienesque or non European concultures
> and what are they like?
> How many of you started out by pulling words out of the air, originally?
> How many of you have chosen a more methodic form of vocabulary building?
> I.e., how have you gone about setting up the framework for your words and
> your grammar?
> (I started out pulling words out of the air.)
> PART IV: THE LUNATIC SURVEY REVISITED (because we are all "fous du
> langage," according to Yaguello and other French critics.
> Why do you conlang? Who will speak it? Read it? What's the point?What's
> the beauty? what's the intellectual draw?
> To what would you compare a conlang? Is it a miniature? Is it a model?Is
> it a tapestry? Is it an act of obsession and madness? <G> Or is it a
> communicable language?
> If it is a communicable language, to whom do you speak it?
> To what extent is the opacity or "alterity" of your language somethingthat
> pleases you? In other words, the sounds and the script have, even foryou,
> a quality of being foreign, and this delights.
> Comment? (I know that when I make maps of cities, and imagine myself in
> them, they delight me because they are both familiar and foreign at thesame
> This is a difficult question: how is it that a word sounds "right" toyou?
> We recently discussed this. To what extent are you finding righter,better
> words for the world in your conlang? (Perhaps unanswerable).
> How many of you are fictive map-makers, designers of fictive floor plans,
> fictive yachts, fictive star-ships, world-builders, calligraphers,
> cartoonists, etc.? (These pursuits have been associated with conlanging.I
> 've done most of them.)
> How many of you have a special script in your conlang?
> If you use Roman script, how recognizably "phonetic" is your writingsystem?
> In other words, do you use unconventional letters to represent sounds?
> This is a question Heather asked, but I also asked it four years ago: how
> many of you write in your language? What do you write?
> How many of you sing in your language and have invented songs for that
> How many of you started conlanging when you were a teenager and have stuck
> to the same language over many years? Why?
> How many of you change conlangs regularly, developing structures for many
> languages but not sticking with any one for very long? Why?
> For how many of you does your language function as a spiritual instrument?
> This is a deeply personal question--let me give you an example. When I
> first started inventing "Tayonian" in my early teens, what I wrote were
> spells and prayers. They had a talismanic quality. Does that ring a bell
> for anybody?
> For how many of you was your language at least at one stage of its making
> meant to fool others, or to write secret diaries? (Me, waving my hand).
> How many of you can speak your language, at least to yourself and yourpet?
> child? spouse? <G> To what extent?
> How many of you have put up websites where your language can be showcased?
> If so, what is the website address?
> How many of you have made soundbytes of your language so the rest of uscan
> hear it? If so, give the site.
> How many of you are comfortable talking to your boss, your professors,your
> family members about this pursuit? How many of you have received
> condescending or other negative responses to your disclosure? (I have.)Or
> even been called "pathological"?
> If this attitude is changing, to what do you attribute the change? (OnNew
> Year's Eve, a delightful, elderly gentleman could not understand why Iwould
> be interested in this pursuit. What purpose could it serve?)
> For how many of you is the damning statement "better to learn reallanguages
> than invent private ones" a criticism you have encountered? What would be
> your response to such a remark?
> PART V: GENERAL DEMOGRAPHICS:
> What is your age (optional--and can be general: 30-40, for instance).
> What is your profession or your station in life (i.e., if you are astudent,
> what is your MAJOR; if a middle or high-school student, what is your
> intended major)?
> What is your gender?
> What is your nationality and your native language?
> What natural languages do you speak or have studied?
> How many of you have chosen a profession in linguistics because of your
> interest in inventing languages? Or plan a profession in linguistics?
> What have you learned from conlanging?
> What texts on language and linguistics have you consulted to help invent
> your language?
> Do you know of anyone who has not connected with the Internet or the List
> who has invented a language? (I'm firmly convinced that "conlanging" has
> been a private pursuit for many people long before the list started, but
> that the list has increased its visibility as an art).
> Can you give me a short sample of your language with interlineardescription
> and translation?
> Would you object to my mentioning your conlang/and or your name in mytalk?
> I will be discreet about some of the more personal questions you answered.
> Ev send poto, yry poy poy firrimby!
> Sally Caves
> Eskkoat ol ai sendran, rohsan nuehra celyil takrem bomai nakuo.
> "My shadow follows me, putting strange, new roses into the world."