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conlang survey part 2

From:Heather Rice <florarroz@...>
Date:Thursday, November 28, 2002, 16:21
*Accusative system:  60%
Ergative:  9%
Unknown:  26&
*Note:  a conlang was considered accusative by default
if, there was a case system that included nominative
and accusative or dative cases (as opposed to a case
system that has absolutive and ergative cases).  When
a conlang did not have a case system and did not
explicitly state to which system the conlang belonged,
it was considered to be unknown.

Word Order:
SVO:  24%
SOV:  12%
VSO:  8%
OSV:  3%
OVS:  1% (Kwadakw)
VOS:  1%  (Skerre)
Mixed orders:  5%

Literature produced
Poetry:  17%
Other:  14%
No literature produced:  43%
Unknown:  26%

Base number
10:  45%
20:  3%
3 - Ebisidean
5 - Bac
6 - Gladilatian
8 - Kinsi Rorotan, Sohlob, Kelen, Obrenje, Blaanian
12 - Adelic, Tirelat
30 - Danoven/Aroven
60 - Lisanre
144 - Ferengi
8, 10, 12, 16 - Kontoko
4, 16 - Long Wer
12, 6 - Uatakassi
16, 25 - Zitwbata
8, 10 - Gevey
8, 20 - Cispa
5, 20 - Miapimoquitch

46% had a script
32% did not have a script
22% unknown

conculture or history:
70% had a concultre or history
22% did not have a conculture or history
8% unknown

Observations I have made:
1)  There are those who create languages, and there
are there who create worlds.  Sometimes the difference
between the two is fuzzy:  Which came first, the
culture or the conlang?  But other times it is more
obvious;  little language making, but culture running
over the pages with calendars, number systems, flags,
recipes, stories, pictures, clothing, forms of
address, family reckoning systems, geography, maps,
history, kings, princes, paupers, armies, examples of
currency, music, etc.  Other times the language
unbelievably intricate and exactly composed, but there
is not a breath of culture or history.  Thus Nizar
Habash, author of Delason, calls conlangers
“linguartists.”  expressing only part of the truth,
but a part some conlangers analyze without mentioning
of any other dimension.

2)  For being lovers of words, their origin, and their
use, conlangers sure are dry when it comes to anything
actually written in their languages.  Only 31% had
anything written in their language, other than
translations (I didn’t count these in my
calculations).  43% had absolutely nothing written in
their language.  Why this is so I am still wondering.

3)  I thought it was especially interesting the amount
of poetry composed by conlangers in relation to other
kinds of works.  More than half of what was composed
was poetry.  This I find interesting because poetry is
considered one of the harder-to-master forms of
writing.  Some of the poems were very nice too.

4)  The PURPOSE of writing a conlang varied almost as
much as number of authors.  Here are some that at
least partially fall into a particular category.

Conlang created for a book:  Long Wer, Delason
Created as support history/language for other
conlangs:  Dekavurian, KoJomu
As part of a larger conculture:  Tairezazh, Amman Iar
For enjoyment, as a Herman Miller “time-consuming
hobby,”:  Tirelat, Sohlob, Hattic, Taalen, Obrenje,
Alex Katsaros (Mesogeoika) “Since I love languages, I
decided to construct my own, called Mesogeoika.  It
has all the features that I would like a language to
As an experiment:  Breathanach, Karath, Delason,
Nizar Habash (Delason) “During my college years,
Delason lost its connections with its fictitious
origins and became a linguistic ‘test-tube.’”
Just to be beautiful:  Danoven, Tokana
Personal  expression:  Danoven, Ifnat, KoJomu, Yiklamu
To be strange:  aUI, Ozay, Fith
Jeffrey Henning (Fith)  “Since many model languages
for aliens use grammars that follow the universal
grammar of humans, I wanted to invent a language that
specifically violated linguistic universals and could
never be spoken by a human in actual practice.”
Daniel Myers (Ozay)  “Ozay is designed to have strange
sounding words, unusual syntax, pointless complexity,
and to be just plain silly all around.”
To be easy:  Esei
To be fun to use:  Toki Pona
Christian Richard (Toki Pona)  “Above all, Toki Pona
must be fun and cute.”

5)  It seems, seeped into the conlanging world, that
there is a great degree of sensitivity to natlangs.
Often a conlang is compared to a natlang.  Or it is
described as having natural/non-natural, usual/unusual
characteristics.  See these examples:
Thomas Lawrie  (Karath)  Cases: “ . . . Note one case
per vowel (not very naturalistic!).”
Nizar Habash (Delason)  “Phonologically and
morphologically, however, Delason is quite lame. . .”
Carrie Schutrick (Erone) “I hope that it will sound
real or authentic when it’s done.”
Matt Pearson (Tokana) “My goal throughout the project
has been to keep things ‘naturalistic’.”
Why this comparison?  Natlangs are the true teachers
of conlangers, and in their natural shadow we strive
to do our best.  Across the conlang world, there seems
to be a humbleness, an acknowledgment to the natural,
and a sort of shame.

6)  I found many cases of a conlang becoming what an
author did not expect.
Chrisian Thalmann (Obrenje) “Obrenje was my first a
priori conlang, intended to become aesthetic, fluid,
efficient, usable and original, with a somewhat slavic
sound.  It didn’t quite live up to any of those
ideals, but has taken on a life of its own and now
feels comfortable and coherent.”
Chris Paull (Cepperjoleddicg) “However, I quickly
found that I wasn’t qualified to make such linguistic
judgments, and as I like my languages to be
historically possible, I had to alter my original
plans.  Cepperjoleddicg’s second manifestation was
that of a Gaelic/Germanic hybrid, and that is the way
the language still is today.  The language has stayed
largely the same for the past year and a half.”
James Campbell (Jameld)  “it began as an idea, became
an experiment and then a project, and eventually grew
into a full and vibrant culture, albeit an imaginary
Tommaso Donnarumma (Anawanda) “It all started as an
amusing game, but it soon got more serious than that.”
Geoff Allan Eddy (Liotan) “Liotan began as a low-key
linguistic project, but got rather out of hand.  All I
originally wanted was a consistent and distinctive
system of nomenclature for a book I’m writing; I now
have ten related languages, three further unrelated
ones, and a major source of linguistic headaches - but
a great deal of satisfaction nevertheless.”

7)  Included in my survey are two languages for
micronations.  Micronations are concultures taken as
close to reality as possible; the author creates not
just a world and culture, but an actually nation,
usually located on earth or on planet, such as Mars.
These are interesting, if a little scary, web sights
because there is so much to look at.  Not only is
there a language, but also a system of government,
constitution, flags, currency, recipes, music,
religion, literature, stories, maps, and lots else.
Examples of these are An’doria (An’dorian) and Patria

Some interesting and fun responses I found:
Matthew Butt (Bac)  “bac is my attempt to turn some
funny ideas about language and thought into a reality
of a sort”
Does your conlang have tone?  “No.  God no.”  (Anthony
Marcus Miles, Lahabic)
Are prepositions bound or unbound?  “Tairezazh
prepositions are things sentences cannot be ended
with.”  (Andreas Johansson)
Karath is “A product of ignorance, meant to be
grammatically simple and ‘logical’ to its creator,
with a few favorite features borrowed and regularized
to taste, and stuck together by ad hoc messing
around.”  (Thomas Lawrie)
“Cree and Haida meet Chinese”  (Wayne Chevrier,

Thank you all for your responses.  I enjoyed reading
your answers to my survey and unfortunately, I can't
include everything I have found and learned.  I am
both humbled and proud to be part of such a incredibly
creative, diverse, enjoyable group of conlangers.


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Padraic Brown <elemtilas@...>
lblissett <blissett@...>
Cian Ross <cian@...>
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