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Re: Lunatic Survey

From:Michael Poxon <m.poxon@...>
Date:Monday, February 28, 2005, 17:59

1. Who are you, and what is the name of your invented language or languages?
Pseudonyms allowed. (Are you using one? asked "Sally Caves")

a. Michael Poxon. Lang is called Omeina - just means "speech"

*2. Are you new to the Lunatic Survey or have you filled out a version of
this survey before?

a. I think I've done a survey, just can't remember whose!

3. Do you have a website for you language/world(s)? If so, please list the
URL address.

a. Yes -

4. What is your email address? name at hostsite dot whatever.


5. What is your age? (vague answers allowed, but it is an important

a. 52

6. What is your gender?

a. Male

7. What is your nationality?  Where do you live now?

8. English, UK

8. What is your native language?

a. English

9. What natural languages foreign to you have you studied or do you speak?

a. French, German, Dutch, Welsh

10. What is your level of education? i.e., your highest degree achieved or

a. BA (Hons) in English / Linguistics class 2:1

11. What is your profession? Are you a professional linguist? If so, what
also makes you a conlanger?

a. Currently unemployed!

13. If you are a student, what is your major or your area of study?

14. How long have you been developing your invented language(s)?

a. This one for about 3 years.

15. At what age did you first start inventing a language? Can you briefly
describe your early efforts?

a. About 10-11. Germanic language

16. What drew you to start inventing a language and/or constructed world?
What was the inspiration?

a. I just liked the sound of words in foreign languages, especially when
sound seemed to imply meaning

17. Did you start inventing before you had heard of the list or after?
Before you had heard of Esperanto or Tolkien? (I name the two most common

a. Way before list or Tolkien. I may have heard of E******** but knew little
about it.

18. Tolkien calls it a "shy art" and a "secret vice"; but that was before
the Internet. How secret do you keep it from others outside this list for
much the same reasons?

a. Well, it's there on the site, but off the net I don't shout it from the

19. Yaguello has called it "pathological," influenced, unfortunately, by a
lot of psychiatric writings such as _Le Schizo et la langue_. To what extent
have you encountered such reactions by outsiders you had taken into your

a. Not really - but then again I don't move in such rarefied circles these

*20. Do you consider it nerdy to be doing this? This is a term that gets
tossed around a lot. Or actually sophisticated? Do you need to get a life,
or is this your life? What is a life?

a. No more nerdy than poetry. It's an art, an only part of my life!

21. There has been a connection noted between linguistic and musical
ability. Are you musically inclined? Do you sing and/or play a musical
instrument? Do you compose music?

a. I like singing, and I love music (mainly classical, but not opera other
than Wagner)

22. There has been a connection noted between linguistic and mathematical
ability. Are you mathematically inclined or inclined towards computing in
any way?

a. Yes - I'm currently pursuing a second degree in Mathematics/Physics and
also work with professional astronomers. I've written some mathematical
programs using visual basic.

23. What other passions do you pursue that give you creative pleasure?
(painting, drawing, sculpting, calligraphy, model-building, novel or
story-writing, role-playing games, map-making, book-making, poetry,
web-designing, star-gazing or other?)

a. Calligraphy (used to teach it), painting, poetry, writing. Former web
designer, astronomy since the age of 5. I also like Meccano (erector sets in
the US)!


1. Pick the best term for the invented language you are currently invested
in: auxlang, artlang, engelang, loglang, lostlang, philosophical language,
or "other." etc.

a. Artlang

2. Is your conlang a priori (devised from scratch) or a posteriori (based on
an existing natural language or drawing from a language class such as

a. Tends to a priori, but maybe influenced by Basque.

4. Do you have a script for your conlang? What is it called? Could you
provide me at a later date with a sample of it?  Is it on Langmaker's
"neography" site?

a. Yes. Not called anything (at least by its speakers). It can be found (I
think) on the website

5. Briefly describe the outlines of your invented language (syntactical
structure--VO, OV, etc.; class or type--analytic, synthetic, agglutinating,
incorporative, accusative, ergative, active, trigger, other, combinations,
etc.), noting what you have done with it that is innovative in your opinion.

a. VO. Uses auxiliaries rather than conjugated verbs. Ergative.

7. How extensive would you say your invented language is, now? How big the
vocabulary? Do you provide a vocabulary list or taxonomy on your website if
you have one?

a. Vocab database lists 400 words. Thanks for reminding me, I must put a
vocab up on the web.

8. How do you build vocabulary? Some people pull words out of the air;
others build up a base of root words and affixes. Many do both.

a. For primitives I definitely have to get a sense of sound suggesting
meaning (cf Tolkien's "lint-" though that personally doesn't suggest
'quickness' to me)

3. Does a constructed world accompany your invention(s)? What is it called?

a. Not so much a constructed world, just a slightly different version of
this one. It's partly based on a 13th-century occurrence not too far from
where I live!

*9. Has your language and conworld ever served in a role-playing game or a
world shared by other conlangers?

a. Hope not!!

*10. Briefly describe your conculture (is it within the bounds of this
world? on another world, etc.?)

a. The Auleri (those who speak Omeina) are meant to be the source of many
European fairy myths (Tuatha de Danann, Tylwyth Teg etc)

*11. Are the beings who speak your invented language human or alien? If
alien, what features have you given the language to make it alien or how
have you restricted or expanded its phonology? vocabulary?

a. Human

12. What do you write in it? Poems? chants? lullabyes? prayers? history?
stories? recipes? Are any of these exhibited on your website?

a. Poems, hymns, songs. In the novel which features them, all their
conversatrion is in Omeina. I think I may have put a fairly long hymn on the
site. I really need to sort this site out!!

13. Can you speak your conlang? Are you fluent in it? Is this a goal for
you? Have you tried to teach it to an intimate? a companion animal? :)

a. I'm learning! I've not tried to teach it to anyone. I am (very)
competitive and wouldn't like the idea of someone speaking my own lang
better than me! :-))

14. Have you made any soundbytes of your language? Could you provide me at a
later date with a sample of them?

a. Not yet, though it's something to think about.

*15. If you use Roman script, how recognizably "phonetic" is your writing
system? In other words, do you use unconventional letters or letter
combinations to represent sounds? Why or why not? I'm thinking, of course,
of Etabnannery, for those who remember it.

a. Phonetic, obviously! Omeina contains no "strange" sounds that need
special letter combinations, though I'm still flirting with a nasalised /x/.

16. How many of you sing in your language and have invented songs for that

a. Not yet.

*17. How many of you, for entertainment or any other reason, resort to
gibberish? (This is in response to Adrian Morgan's question in December).
Does it give you ideas for conlanging? (Have you ever fooled anyone?) How
many of you have sung gibberish?

a. Je ne parle pas gibberois

*18. What on-line games do you play? (or devise?) Translations, Babel-text,
Relays, etc.

a. None

19. Which do you prefer doing: devising phonology? script? structure?
building vocabulary?

a. For this lang, the last two.

20. Do you start and stop several different conlangs, or do you tend to
stick with one and develop it over years?

a. The latter

21. What do you think makes a "complete" conlang, if a conlang can attain
completion? What are your goals for completion? When do you grow "tired" of
your conlang, or don't you?

a. Fairly complete grammar, and a history if possible.

*22. Which came first: the conlang or the conworld?

a. Conlanging as an activity. For Omeina, they happened together.


1. What aesthetic features do you value in inventing language? Be specific
as to phonology, structure, script, etc.

a. No consonant clusters. Long words if possible!

2. What commonly applied aesthetics have you ever tried to avoid in your
invention? This has been an oft debated question, especially when it comes
to Tolkien.

a. I haven't based any of my conlangs on Finnish or Welsh, and I like the
occasional "jarring" word to make it interesting, like minor keys in music.

3. Is difficulty or obscurity a goal in inventing a language?

a. I do like a bit of obscurity!

4. Is efficiency a goal in inventing a language? This question needn't
cancel out the previous one.

a. Efficiency in what?

5. How natural do you wish to make it, or is that a concern? Or rather, how
unnatural do you wish to make it?

a. As natural as possible

6. Can conlanging be sexy? sensual? obsessing? how does it heal or harm you?

a. Could be! Where's the harm in it, other than people thinking you have
something to do with Star Trek / Ripping off Tolkien?

*7. How many of you have developed a rich vocabulary of obscenities?

a. Not yet, I'll leave that to the Auleri...

8. Can it be mystical? To what extent does conlanging fulfill a spiritual
purpose for you? Or a magical one? Did it ever start out that way?

a. Yes, insofar as all art can (indeed should!!) be.

9. How many of you have developed a rich vocabulary of magical, religious,
or incantatory terms?

a. Since the whole of Auleri society is magical / ritualised, then mais oui!

*10. How many of you have striven to invent words that express novel ideas,
or are not expressed in any natural language that you know?

a. This is definitely a feature. They have many terms for states of mind,
types of poetry, naming etc.

11. Name a few of the words in your language(s) that you are most pleased
with and are the most original to you.

a. Lambasu = "youngbeard" from Lan = new, young + Basu = beard. A word
coined to describe many 'humans' that the Auleri met, mostly Puritan types,
who seemed joyless and 'old before their time'.
    Engu = horse. This is weird. The actual word suggests to me like the
face of a horse! Whether this is some form of synaesthesia or not I don't
    Kaquin = duck. This was consciously based on a Romany word (I have
Romany ancestry), pappin. What a great word for "duck"!
    Ailo = full moon. Another word that "looks" to me like its referent.

12. How do you sense that a word is "right" for its meaning? How much do you
labor at fitting a sound to its sense? Or don't you care?

a. As mentioned above, it's the thing that matters most.

*13. Do you ever rely on a software program to build vocabulary? Do those
who don't think that's cheating? :)

a. No

*14. Is conlang a hobby, a craft, or an art in your mind? This has been
hotly debated, so the question is not as weird as it seems. Can conlanging
be considered an art? Why or why not?

a. An art. To me I can't see how it's anything else. You're (sub-) creating,
hopefully something beautiful.

*15. If it is, who do you think are its consumers?

a. Consumers?? Discuss.

*16. This question is directed as well at any auxlangers on the list. Is it
an art, a political tool, both? And who do you think could be its consumers?

*17. There has been some exciting talk recently (and over the years) about
what a conlang is or is not. If you could pick a metaphor or write a
descriptive phrase defining "conlang," what would that be?

a. Conlanging is an art whose raw material is language.

*18. Why or why not would you eschew the metaphors "miniature" or "model"?

a. Because conlanging doesn't have to be either of these. There's nothing
miniature or model about Quenya!

*19. Is a conlang more like a glimpse of something lifesize? (Irina's
suggestion in 2001)

a. Hopefully.

*20. There has been some invigorating discussion lately about what a conlang
can do that most natural languages don't (such as produce OSV structure, or
eradicate verbs) What experiments have you made with your artlang(s) along
these lines?

a. None

*21  What do you think distinguishes a conlang from a natural language, if
you think so at all?  What would it take for a linguist to be fooled into
thinking a conlang was a natural language?

a. It has no speech community. A linguist could take ask to hear native
speakers (plural intended!)

*22. How much do you study other languages in order to discover what is
natural in language? Or to discover how you can stretch the boundaries of
language to make it do things that are unnatural?

a. Have done so, and still do occasionally.

*23. Can such a language function?

a. Certainement!

*24. There has been quite a bit of fascinating debate about the relevance of
conlanging to linguistic study. We all know that linguistics can aid
conlangers, but in what ways can conlangers aid linguists? Or does it

a. I think conlangers could aid linguists by providing "naive" examples of
some facet of language which for whatever reason does not appear in a known


1. How did you first hear of this list?

a. Through a wesite (can't remember which one, but it was quite exhaustive)

2. How long have you been on this listserv or on other related listservs?
Continuously? Infrequently? Off and on? More off than on and vice versa?

a. 4 years. I remember I joined just after 9/11.

*3. What is the appeal of being on a listserv and contributing to it? Do you
think you contribute moderately or excessively, or not enough? Do you tend
to lurk ?

a. Probably not enough. I like the spread of expertise out there!

*4. For those of you who remember its inception, how has it changed over the
past decade?

*5. How helpful has the list been in developing your language? In learning
linguistic information?

a. Not especially for me, but I'm sure it has for others.

6. What books have you consulted? On your own, or because you heard of them
on the list?

a. Did my reading at uni. Anttila, Friedrich, Benveniste, Wescott,
Berlin/Kay etc. Mainly historical = "philology"

*7. Do you peruse the websites of other conlangers?

a. Occasionally

*8. Do you sens

e that people on this list are interested in your conlang and give you
feedback on it?

a. Again, occasionally.

9. Have you ever set out to learn at least a little bit of someone's
conlang, if only a word or two, or a phrase?

a. No. Sorry!

*10. Do you peruse Jeffrey Henning's site?

a. Aha! That's the one I was trying to remember earlier!

*11. What on-line techniques do you use to showcase your conlang, such as
Audacity or other sound programs, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Fontography, and
so forth? Did you hear of them on the list?

a. Just a regular ol' website.

12. Have you ever tried to introduce a friend to the list?

a. No. Don't have any conlanging mates.

13. Do you know of anyone who does this kind of thing but who has never
heard of the list?

a. No

*14. What other lists do you frequent related to conlanging?

a. None

*15. What do you think will be the future of the list? I see it giving birth
to alternate lists like Conworld, Lostlanguages, Romlang, etc. What improves
the present list and its helpfulness or entertainment value?

a. No idea.

*16. What Internet technology would you most like to see developed that
would aid you in showcasing your language(s)?

a. OK at the moment

*17. What lists like conlang exist in other cultures and languages that you
know of?

a. None

*18. There has been some terrific talk about CONLANG as a community. And yet
so many of us seem to want the world to know of it and respect it. Is the
CONLANG community enough?

a. Community is a vastly ill-used word. The more people use it, the less of
it there truly is. When you say "the world" do you mean academia? It's so
invested with
    snobbery (of various sorts) that the best way conlanging could enter it
is through poetry rather than "conscious" linguistics.

*19. In my 2000 on-line article
( I suggested that
the Internet "may provide a site that, with the impetus of competition and
showmanship, encourages inutile and obsessive activity"; I was quoting Jeff
Salamon's article "Revenge of the Fanboys." Village Voice 13 Sep., 1994. He
wrote that over ten years ago. Do outsiders still entertain such notions, do
you think, about listservs like this one? Do you? To what extent has the
list increased obsessive development in you? Would you be inventing as
furiously as you are without the list or knowledge of other inventors?

a. The list has probably given me pushes, but I'm obsessive about variable
stars, not conlanging! I think any discussion list, ex hypothesi, is going
to seem, if not obsessive, then at least forbiddingly clubby or cliquey to
anyone who is not part of it and who has little interest in its subject
matter. And even now, a lot of people who use the net with anything other
than the most basic skills are going to be seen as nerdy. It'll change, it's
a cultural thing.

20. If asked whether it is not better to turn your linguistic talents to the
learning and speaking of natural languages (a common response I've met with
and aimed at criticizing introversion or solipsism), how would you answer?

a. Just do both. It's a bit like my days with Greenpeace when folks would
say things like "It's all very well to save the whales, but what about
people?" as though a concern for one negated a concern for the other!

*21. In Elizabethan times there were the inkhorn neologisms. There were
ciphers and pasigraphies. Today there is conlanging. Do you think the
contemporary world is more open to language innovation or more closed?

a. No real change

*22. What would Tolkien have done with such a community? He writes in "A
Secret Vice" that language inventors "hardly ever show their works to one
another, so none of them know who are the geniuses at the game, or who are
the splendid 'primitives'." He suggests that perhaps in a later time
language invention will become respectable, and such things can be
exhibited. Have we reached that time?

a. Not yet!

*23. Is there a danger that over-exposure can make conlanging "banal"? To
what extent is it exciting because it is a) considered disreputable, "corny"
or "mad," or b) largely unknown to the world? Does it have a fizzle-out
date?  In other words, is it just a fad, or is it a natural human
inclination that will stand the test of time?

a. Surely conlanging isn't over exposed. Who's over-exposing it?

Finally, may I have your permission to use any of this material of yours for
my academic work on conlanging? First name? last name? pseudonym? anonymous?

Of course ma cherie.


Sally Caves


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