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responses on Livagian (was: Re: Was Tolkien a good conlanger? (was: Re: Good Books)

From:And Rosta <a.rosta@...>
Date:Sunday, March 7, 2004, 22:31
> (There is also no clear-cut boundary between artlangs > and engelangs. Is a fictional machine-translation interlingua > someone designs to be used by characters in his science fiction novel > an artlang or an engelang? Is Livagian an artlang or an engelang?)
& BP:
> Having a conculture -- however vaguely or sketchily defined or worked > out -- also helps a long way towards making an artlang realistic, although > it is not necessary or sufficient in itself, and in that respect even > Livagian is artlangy -- perhaps to the horror of And! :)
Livagian (a nonnatural but human language) is an engelang at its core, but an artlang in its peripheral twiddles and in that it has a conculture. However, since one of the engelang design criteria is that it should have sufficient poetic expressiveness that I could write in it without yearning to revert to English, it is kind of artlangy -- at least, it's not a robotic language like Lojban is. I've nothing against artlangs -- I'm very fond of those that appeal to me -- but in my case the impulse to create a language is motivated by a desire to create a language that I like better -- that I opine is better --than any other. (Given that I am fair besotted with English, that is a tall order.)
> (I'm on record as arguing that a lang totally devoid of the possibility of > ambiguity is hardly usable by humans. I think ambiguity, or at least > unspecificness, has a function to fulfill in human communication!) > It is often alleged that Tolkien abhorred ambiguity -- especially > homonymy -- in his Elvish, although his practice denies this assertion. > IMO the absence of at least a modest degree of ambiguity and homonymy > would greatly detract from realism -- unless of course the abhorrence > of homonymy be ascribed to the taste of the elvish lang engineers and > prescriptivists Tolkien tells us existed! :)
Livagian lacks homonymy (except in the onomasticon), and I do view this as one of its most unnatural characteristics. (Actually, no: there's loads of homonymy, but never in such a way that it gives rise to ambiguity.) It allows as much vagueness as you could possibly want, but has no ambiguity of any sort (in the technical sense of a finite number of distinct alternative readings). On balance, and speaking as a committed writer of poesy myself, I think that the lack of ambiguity is a literary advantage, not a disadvantage. --And.