Yet another Conlang bio
|From:||John Chalmers <jhchalmers@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, January 27, 2008, 17:23|
== Part A: Personal and demographic data. ==
01. a. What is your name (or online handle)?
b. May I quote you by name or handle in an article or talk about
02. a. What is your preferred email address (if not the address you
are sending the survey response from)?
b. May I contact you with follow-up questions?
03. Do you have a website relating to your constructed language(s)?
If so, what is its URL?
04. a. How old are you?
b. How old were you when you first started creating languages?
c. How old were you when you first attained significant fluency
in (one of) your constructed language(s)?
15, but only for limited liturgical purposes
05. Are you male or female?
06. a. What is your nationality?
b. Where do you live now?
c. Where were your ancestors from?
Germany, Sweden, England, Wales, Scotland
07. What is/are your native language(s)?
Midwestern American English
08. What natural languages other than your native one(s) have you
French, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Welsh, Amharic, Ancient Greek.
What degree of fluency have you attained in them?
I used to speak acceptable French and German, less Italian and Latin,
some Spanish and Amharic. I still read French, German, and Latin, and
with more effort, Dutch
Spanish and Italian, but generally only in technical articles on
experimental music, prebiotic and organic chemistry,
organised Skepticism, and/or astrobiology/exobiology.
09. What constructed languages created by other people have you
studied? What degree of fluency have you attained in them?
Have perused grammars of Interlingua, Laadan, Loglan, and Lojban ,
taken classes in Esperanto,
have had limited exposure to Volapuek, and glanced at Poliespo (a blend
of Cherokee and Esperanto),
Ido, aUi, Babm, Klingon,Tolkien's languages, and many others whose names
I don't recall at this moment.
10. What is your level of education? What is/was/will be your major
Ph.D. in biology
11. What is (was/probably will be) your trade or profession?
Formerly a microbial geneticist, biochemist, college teacher, and
Currently an astrobiologist/exobiologist and prebiotic chemist.
12. Do you work part time? full time? Are you a student or retired?
Retired, working part-time
13. a. What is your (approximate) income?
b. What was your family's approximate income when you were a
14. Are you single, married, divorced, widowed, remarried...?
15. a. What is your religion, if any?
culturally, a mainline Protestant Christian, spiritually an agnostic
b. What was your religious upbringing, if any?
16. Are there other facts about yourself that you think might be
Not 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.
17. What is the name of your primary conlang (the one you have
invested the most effort in or are most fluent in)?
Baklaram (Sacred Speech)
18. What are the basic purpose(s) and design goals of your conlang?
it associated with an imagined world or culture? If so, are the
To use as liturgical language in cult, be morphologically regular,
'weird' sounding, and agglutinative.
Yes, the cult of the God OOK, speakers were young teenagers in the
in Southern California, recognizably human, as I recall.
19. Is your conlang a priori (devised from scratch) or a posteriori
A priori, rather euroclonish in structure and semantics.
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,
SVO, prepositional, agglutinating, inflected, accusative, mildly
> 21. a. How extensive or complete do you consider your conlang to be (in grammar and vocabulary)?
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?
No, and notes and texts are now lost with the exception of a few
phrases from the primary ritual cycle.
22. Does your conlang have features that might be expected to make it
especially difficult for speakers of your native language?
Not really, though all words ended in consonants or consonant clusters
that were sometimes often rare or absent in English.
23. Does your conlang have possibly unnatural features that might be
expected to make fluency difficult or impossible for humans?
== 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?
No, I designed it for limited use in spoof cult.
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?
26. What do you use (or intend to use) your conlang for?
> a. Prayer?
> b. Meditation?
> c. Thinking?
> d. Taking notes in the course of study?
> e. Writing notes to yourself (grocery lists, etc.)?
> f. Writing a diary? g. Writing poetry or other literature?
> h. Singing?
> i. Writing the grammar or lexicon of the conlang itself?
> j. Pretending in public that you are a native speaker
> of your conlang?
> k. Anything else?
N/A - essentially its creation was a teen age prank when we decided to
form a cult language
one summer after finding out with some embarassment that Latin was too
widely understood by
the girls we knew to be used as a secret language for snarky comments.
The cult was created as
a joke after discovering that a neighbor ran a UFO cult out of her home.
Obviously, we were bored
and had too much time on our hands because we were too young to drive
and unable to find summer
jobs because of powerful local labor unions.
27. Can you write original text in your conlang, at least on some
subjects, without looking up words or grammatical structures?
28. Can you compose well-formed sentences in your conlang about as
fast as you can handwrite or type?
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
30. a. Do you find yourself thinking spontaneously in your conlang?
31. a. Can you think in your conlang, without deliberately
sentences word by word?
32. a. Have you ever dreamed in your conlang?
No, but I used to dream in German.
33. Can you read aloud at conversational speed from text written in
34. Can you speak spontaneously in your conlang at conversational
speed? If native speakers of your conlang existed, could they
understand your pronunciation?
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?
36. If you are fluent in your conlang only when speaking or writing
about certain subjects, what are those subjects?
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
38. a. What methods have you used to study your conlang and improve
fluency in it?
b. Which have you found most effective?
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
Worked out in head, wrote down, revised on paper.
40. Have you made significant changes in your conlang due to your
experience using it? In what way?
Yes, revised some minor aspects of morphology to improve
sound (subjectively, of course).
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?
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?
43. Has your handwriting in your conlang changed as you became more
fluent in it? In what way?
N/A, though I did devise an alphabet for Baklaram. My handwriting
may have been slightly affected in the direction of illegibility by
learning German handwriting in High School.
44. Has your fluency in your conlang influenced the way you speak your
native language, or other languages you are fluent in?
45. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I had intended to become an active conlanger again as a retirement
project, but instead went back to work
at UCSD, from where I had gone to grad school in the 60's. I have used
my computer to generate
"fake-langs" or spoof foreign language texts for fun, but have not had
time to do much generative
morphology or lexicon creation.
I enjoy reading Conlang and had I still lived and worked in the SF Bay
I would have attended the First Conlang Conference at UC,Berkeley,
where I studied
and did research in the early 70's and again in the late 80's in the
now defunct Genetics Department.
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