conlang fluency survey response (slightly edited)
|From:||Mia Soderquist <happycritter@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 0:51|
I sent my response offlist. I had a hard time actually writing the email
because of constant interruptions, so I found things I needed to fix
when I came back to repost the portion relevant to conlanging.
> > == Part B: The nature of your conlang. ==
> > If you have devised more than one conlang, please focus in these
> > questions on those you are most (nearly) fluent in.
This could be difficult, since I achieved more fluency in ea-luna,
which has waned through lack of use, and I am working on Teliya
Nevashi with the intention of learning it, but it isn't currently up
to a usable amount of vocabulary.
> > 17. What is the name of your primary conlang (the one you have
> > invested the most effort in or are most fluent in)?
> > 18. What are the basic purpose(s) and design goals of your conlang? Is
> > it associated with an imagined world or culture? If so, are the
> > speakers human?
It's a personal language. It didn't originally have any imagined
culture, but after I reached a certain point in working on it, I
imagined a human culture and history for it. That was always a shallow
device for explaining the existence of the language; it always
remained a personal language for my own enjoyment, above all.
All my languages have the same purpose and design goals-- to be
different from my last effort, to express my thoughts and feelings in
a very personalized way, and to entertain me. I specialize in a
priori languages. I don't really care if they are plausible or
natural. You could call my creations "personal auxiliary languages",
in that I always intend at the start to stick to the one new language
and become completely fluent in it and to use it for whatever purpose
I'd use my native language for, if given a chance. It just hasn't
worked out that way so far.
I always have a thought in the back of my mind that *this* language
(whichever I am working on) might actually gain a speaker other than
me. That doesn't happen, of course, but I like the fantasy.
> > 19. Is your conlang a priori (devised from scratch) or a posteriori
> > (based on a specific natural language or language family), or a mix
> > of a priori and a posteriori elements?
a priori (with occasional borrowings and inside jokes from natural languages)
> > 20. Describe the typology of your conlang - what is its primary word
> > order (SVO, SOV, VSO...; pre- or postpositional; etc.)? Is it
> > isolating, agglutinating, fusional, polysynthetic? Is its case or
> > word order system primarily accusative, ergative, active,
> > other...?
VSO, prepositional, isolating, dependent marking, for the most part...
> > 21. a. How extensive or complete do you consider your conlang to be (in
> > grammar and vocabulary)?
The grammar is pretty complete for every use I have put it to so far.
The vocabulary needs to have gaps filled before I consider it complete
enough to be a "real" language, but there's enough vocabulary to talk
about most everyday, mundane topics.
> > b. If you are not yet fluent in it, do you consider the language
> > complete enough for fluency to be attainable, or would it need
> > considerably more development for that to be possible?
It is possible to get around in daily life in ea-luna, if you don't
mind having to talk around the gaps in vocabulary. It would mainly
take practice on my part to become truly fluent.
> > 22. Does your conlang have features that might be expected to make it
> > especially difficult for speakers of your native language?
It is rigidly VSO, nouns have no number (no plural marking except on
pronouns), there's no indefinite article, words gain their function
from their placement in the sentence (i.e. any given noun can be a
verb if used as the first element, any verb can be a noun if it is
used in another position or with the definite article, etc.) and it
has developed a number of metaphorical idioms over the years that are
pretty opaque at face value. There are multiple ways of asking
questions that mean exactly the same thing, but are structured
completely differently. There are some purely grammatical bits that are optional-- they
make it a little easier to distinguish where the S ends and the O starts...
except that I generally don't use them.
The average English speaker would have a number of things to get used
to if they wanted to speak ea-luna.
> > 23. Does your conlang have possibly unnatural features that might be
> > expected to make fluency difficult or impossible for humans?
No. It's odd, but it is entirely learnable. I don't think there's
anything in it that doesn't occur in some natural language somewhere.
> > == Part C: Fluency in your conlang. ==
> > 24. a. Do you intend to become fluent in your conlang, or did you when
> > you started creating it?
Yes. That was one of the purposes of it, as a personal language.
> > b. If not, did you find yourself becoming fluent as an unexpected
> > result of developing and using it?
> > 25. If you intend to become fluent in your conlang, what are your
> > goals or purposes for learning it?
Self-expression and fun.
> > 26. What do you use (or intend to use) your conlang for?
> > a. Prayer?
Once or twice.
> > b. Meditation? No.
> > c. Thinking?
>I haven't quite reached this level in any of my conlangs, but that's my goal.
> > d. Taking notes in the course of study?N/A
> > e. Writing notes to yourself (grocery lists, etc.)?
>I have used it for this.
> > f. Writing a diary?
> I have used it for this.
> > g. Writing poetry or other literature?
>I have used it for this.
> > h. Singing?
>(I lack any musical inclination whatsoever, and my singing is
frighteningly bad, unfortunately.)
> > i. Writing the grammar or lexicon of the conlang itself?
> > j. Pretending in public that you are a native speaker
> > of your conlang?
I think I'd need a willing co-conspirator to pull this off without
being annoying. It might be fun, though.
> > k. Anything else?
> > 27. Can you write original text in your conlang, at least on some
> > subjects, without looking up words or grammatical structures?
>I used to keep a pretty extensive diary about my home life, my love
life, and the trials and tribulations of trying to get and stay
pregnant during the early part of my marriage. I got to the point that
I could say a lot about those topics without diving back into my
> > 28. Can you compose well-formed sentences in your conlang about as
> > fast as you can handwrite or type?
>At one time, I could. The grammar was pretty much second-nature, but
remembering the vocabulary was hard sometimes.
> > 29. Can you read text you wrote some time ago in your conlang without
> > looking up words in the lexicon or pausing to consciously parse or
> > translate it?
Yes, I could. In fact, I did on a pretty regular basis when I was
keeping an ea-luna only diary. (I re-read my own journals pretty regularly.)
I could probably decipher some of those texts now, even. I had to use
what I could find on the web from my old ea-luna posts to reverse
engineer the grammar for the purpose of describing it during my recent
ea-luna revival phase, and I was surprised what I remembered.
> > 30. a. Do you find yourself thinking spontaneously in your conlang?
> > b. Are such thoughts often full sentences rather than single
> > words or short phrases?
> > c. Are they usually grammatical (as you intend your conlang to
> > work)?
> > 31. a. Can you think in your conlang, without deliberately constructing
> > sentences word by word?
> > b. Are such thoughts usually grammatical (as you intend your
> > conlang to work)?
> > 32. a. Have you ever dreamed in your conlang?
> > b. Did the speech or writing in your conlang from the dream turn out,
> > when remembered on waking, to be grammatical and/or meaningful?
> > 33. Can you read aloud at conversational speed from text written in
> > your conlang?
Maybe... not really. Figuring out the rhythm and intonation for each
sentence is my stumbling block to reading my conlangs aloud.
> > 34. Can you speak spontaneously in your conlang at conversational
> > speed? If native speakers of your conlang existed, could they
> > understand your pronunciation?
No, to the first. Right now, I don't have the vocabulary. To the
second, yes, I believe so, since I work hard at differentiating any of
the sounds that are similar (e.g. "wa" vs "ua")... and there aren't any
particularly difficult sounds in it, otherwise.
> > 35. If you have recorded speech in your conlang, have you been able to
> > understand it in real time when played back a considerable time
> > after you spoke and recorded it?
No recordings. N/A.
> > 36. If you are fluent in your conlang only when speaking or writing
> > about certain subjects, what are those subjects?
Generally, I used to be fluent enough to write and talk to myself
about domestic stuff-- home, kids, marriage, stuff like that.
> > 37. Have you found anyone willing to learn your conlang and speak it
> > with you, or correspond with you in it? If so, please describe
> > the experience.
> > 38. a. What methods have you used to study your conlang and improve your
> > fluency in it?
I've tried to make an effort to study my conlangs like I would other
languages, but I didn't find that easy or useful, so I started going
with translation and composition, which worked well for me.
> > b. Which have you found most effective?
Pure use. See above.
> > 39. How do you do most of the primary work on your conlang? In your
> > head, writing stuff down later if at all, or on paper with
> > pencil/pen, or with a voice recording/playback system, or at a
> > computer, or...?
ea-luna was done entirely on paper. Teliya Nevashi is being developed
partially at the computer, and partially in my head while I shower in
> > 40. Have you made significant changes in your conlang due to your
> > experience using it? In what way?
When I started keeping a diary in ea-luna, I found that I had
grammatical deficiencies, which I worked around on the fly. Those
changes became part of the language. Some ideas that looked good in
theory fell apart in practice (relative clauses got a work-over, for
instance) while there were other things I hadn't thought of that had
to be created.
> > 41. Has your more or less fluent use of the language changed its
> > phonology, grammar or semantics in ways you did not consciously
> > intend? Have you, for instance, changed the description of the
> > language's grammar based on the way you've noticed that you
> > actually use it, or changed a word's lexicon entry when you
> > realized you were using it in a different sense than the way you
> > originally defined it?
Yes. For instance, I had masculine, feminine, and epicene third person
pronouns, but I only ever used the epicene. I also had a plural ending
that got dropped. And there were grammatical bits that I never used
either. I had some duplicate words (two words meaning the same thing)
and one or the other ended up being revised based on which one I
> > 42. Has your developing fluency in your conlang slowed down its rate
> > of change? Have you refrained from making changes in the language
> > that you would otherwise make because they would require
> > re-learning words or structures you already use fluently?
Generally speaking, the more I use a language the more it changes. I
constantly revise and refine based on what the end product (written or
spoken) looks/sounds like. I have *occasionally* refrained from making
changes in order to hold onto fluency, but the whole conlanging
venture is such a huge undertaking that there's always something I can
tweak, change, add, or delete.
> > 43. Has your handwriting in your conlang changed as you became more
> > fluent in it? In what way?
It really hasn't changed, since ea-luna is written in the Latin
alphabet (lower case only), and my handwriting is pretty erratic no
matter what language I am writing in.
> > 44. Has your fluency in your conlang influenced the way you speak your
> > native language, or other languages you are fluent in?
I really haven't had any interference, since it is so very different
in sound and structure from English. If I were really fluent, I might start
bringing some ea-luna habits over into my English.
> > 45. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am finding, as I experiment with different conlanging methods,
building a language systematically makes it harder for me to gain
fluency as I go, compared to growing the language through actual use.