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Re: Lighting Some Flames: Towards conlang artistry

From:Patrick Dunn <tb0pwd1@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 12, 2002, 7:24
On Mon, 11 Mar 2002, Jesse Bangs wrote:

> It should not need to be proved that some art is better than others. If > we as conlangers wish to gain acceptance for our art, then we need to > acknowledge this and allow for the judgement that some conlangs are > better than others. We need a serious body of *conlang criticism*. > Currently, this is almost entirely lacking on the Conlang list. When > someone posts texts or grammatical sketches, the responses are generally > entirely congratulatory, or they are concerned only with correcting > technical errors or confusions within the grammar. Often there are no > responses at all. While technical accuracy and consistency are
Isn't that the truth.
> important, it's outrageous that this is where our critique stops. We > need to move beyond the foundation of technical accuracy and allow for > the artistic analysis of our conlangs.
> * Naturalness, as the name implies. We prefer languages that resemble > natural languages, that could fool a linguist examining them into > thinking that they actually existed somewhere on the globe. Auxlangs and > philosophical langs are anathema because their very nature goes against > this value.
Pleh. Arbitrary criteria. Why should the natural be more beautiful than the artificial? Shit, the word art *comes* from the same root as the word "artificial!"
> * Complexity and completeness. No natural language is completely > regular or completely simple, so neither will our languages. > Furthermore, we seek to describe and develop our languages as completely > as possible. Those who make dozens of half-finished sketches are > creating the equivalent of commercial jingles. We seek to create > symphonies.
No room for haiku? This is judging a poem by its length, a stupid criterion if ever there was one.
> * Creativity, defined as difference from your native language. If > your native language is Chinese, your target should be Ancient Greek. If > your native language is English, your target is Dyirbal (tonal, ergative > Australian language). Those who speak Italian and are only interested in > Romance-style conlangs earn no respect in this area. Those that seek to > challenge themselves and their learners are applauded.
Absolutely absurd. If I make a Chinese-clone, and Mr. Mouren makes a Chinese-clone, my Chinese clone is better than his because I'm American?
> Of course this won't be popular with everyone, especially not when I > start telling people why their conlangs suck. Why should it? If you
It alsoo suffers from the fault of almost all aesthetic axiologies: it breaks down into de gustibus after a few seconds' rational thought.
> disagree with me, form your own school. But by all means, we have to > start allowing for the critical analysis of conlangs to make them into an > actual art form. As a side effect of this, we also have to start taking
*shrugs* Why do I want them to be actual art forms? I make Mujai not because I want people to come and say, "Oh, what a brilliant language!" I just make Mujai cause it's, as the name implies, pretty.
> each others conlangs seriously--putting in the time to understand and > evaluate them. Like everyone else on this list, my time is limited and I > can hardly take the time to look at every conlang that comes my way. But > I intend to start taking time to look closely at the conlangs of others > and myself and seeing how well they hold up to the Naturalist values. I > also intend to post my critiques to the list. Hopefully, we're mature > enough (as individuals and as a community) to take and give criticism > without resorting to whining and hurt feelings. And once again, if you > don't like it form your own school. > > Responses, comments, counter-flames?
I just intend to ignore you when you post on my language, so you might as well not waste your time. --Patrick