Ye Olde Survey.
|From:||Steven Williams <feurieaux@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, January 11, 2003, 4:13|
> PART II: INSPIRATION BY TOLKIEN (tangential to the questions on inspiration by
> Celtic languages):
> How many of you were inspired to invent a language because of your exposure to Tolkien?
> How many of you based your conlang on one of Tolkien's languages, or your
> conculture in Middle Earth?
I've 'borrowed' a few words from Sindarin and so forth and mutated them to fit
Mierii better, but their meanings don't correspond at all.
> How many of you have a constructed world, and, if so, does it include some of
> the races we associate with Celtic or Scandinavian mythology? (Elves,
> Dwarves, medieval societies of humans, Faeries or Fays? Selkies? Wizards?)
Haven't got that far yet.
> How many of you were inspired to examine Welsh, Hebrew, or Finnish because of
> your examination of Tolkien?
Took a look-see at Welsh because of Tolkien, but that's it.
> How many of you were inspired to invent a conlang or a conculture because of
> some influence OTHER than Tolkien?
I started conlanging by learning German. My earliest works were copies of
German, and that's what started my fascination with language in general.
> How many of you were inspired to invent a language because you engage in Roll-Playing Games?
> How many of you were inspired to invent a language because you heard of this listserv?
> How many of you are members of the Mythopoeic Society, or the Society for
> Creative Anachronism, or other High Fantasy Groups?
Qui est-ce? I've heard only of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and I thought
it was no longer around. Well, we learns something new ever-day.
> PART III: NON-CELTIC CONLANGERS:
> In the discussions I've witnessed on Conlang in almost five years, I've
> observed that many conlangers have deliberately avoided "Tolkienesque"
> languages, and even Indo-European languages as models for conlangs, and
> especially the "Celtic." Why? Boring? Overdone? Trite? Too pretty? Too
> Western? Or none of the above--just more interested in something else? <G> I
> don't want to give the impression that I think we conlang onlybecause of
> Tolkien, and that anything we invent has to be INSPIRED BY or a DEPARTURE
> from the "Great One"; but in this question I'm eager to see some eschewal of
> or at least indifference towards the Tolkien, the"Celtic," and/or even the Indo-European model.
I like Sindarin and Dwarvish a lot, and I feel free to take ideas from Tolkien.
But I never go overboard. He's not the Ultimate Master of All Things Linguistic
and Arcane. He's just an Englishman with a pen and a brain.
> What is your name and what do you call your conlang?
Steven Williams, often seen as 'feurieaux' or 'Lodrain' on the Internet. My language,
my darling, dearest child, is called Mieri: [m_ji.@<rnd>.ri:].
> So what is unappealing about the Indo-European model for conlanging? Or Tolkien's Elvish?
> How did you start conlanging? What was your initial inspiration?
Learning German sparked my linguistic obsessions and I started conlanging by making
copies of German, fooling around with paradigms and sound shifts and so on.
> Did you know about Tolkien's inventions? Read the books, the Appendices? etc. Or not?
Not until a few months after I started conlanging. I've the Lord of the Rings in
paperback and the Silmarillion.
> What language types have you modeled your language(s) after?
Mieri: is often jokingly described by me as 'Japanese as spoken by an Irishman
thinking he's speaking German like a Frenchman'.
> What features of these languages or language types appeal to you?
Japanese has a really interesting grammar--Mieri: is a bit like Japanese, but with a
little of a liaison, like French.
> Some of you, and I'm thinking in particular of a conversation I had with And
> Rosta, are not interested in producing a language that is "mellifluous"--that
> "mellifluousness" is a thing to be avoided in your conlang and especially as
> it is associated with Tolkien's Elvish or copiers of Elvish. Is this so? Why?
No, by all means, make your language sound like you want it to sound.
> For how many of you, though, is beauty and/or efficiency a factor in your
> language? Or elegance? How would you define these terms?
I like to seek beauty in efficiency; hence the liaisons. The sentence /da annj/
is pronounced [Da:n_j:], but means 'I'm going' or 'I go'. like compressing
entire sentences into a single syllables like that, and I find that really
beautiful if done right.
> For how many of you is the "exotic" a desired feature of your invented language?
(waves hand excitedly)
> How many of you invent a non-human language? And if so, how alien are its sounds
> and constructions?
Sounds like fun. I plan to try that one day.
> Do you prefer inventing an a posteriori language or an a priori language? In
> other words, how many of you invent a language wherein you base it closely on
> a natural language (Arabic, Tagalog) or a combination of languages, and how
> many others of you invent a language from, well, scratch? (if that can be
I'm strictly a priori.
> How many of you invent a language based on a particular type (Ergative,
> Accusative, Trigger, etc.)?
Mieri:i is a strange system; somewhere between mixed ergative-accusative and trigger,
with subject incorporation (I think this is what it's called) in the verb. It's
weird and hard to explain, but suffice it to say it's mostly marked on the
> To what degree is difficulty and irregularity of language important to you in
> your conlang? what natural language eccentricities (or efficiencies) do you
> like and try to reproduce?
I like complexity. The suffix /-(a)nj/ is a verb ending that signifies definite
present animate feminine actor. Quite a bit of work for a palatal nasal and an
often-elided vowel. I do like to have quite a bit of madness in a language.
> To what degree is accessibility, efficiency, and regularity important to your
> conlang? What natural language "faults" are you correcting?
Mieri:i is pretty regular. Very few irregular verbs, and most of them are either for
efficiency or due to historical grounds, like the collapsed vowel harmony
system from Old Mieri:.
> How many of you have invented non-Tolkienesque or non European concultures and
> what are they like?
The Mieri: conculture is currently in the embryonic stage. It's basically a mirror
of me, and I'm decidedly a self-hating adherer to European standards.
> How many of you started out by pulling words out of the air, originally? How
> many of you have chosen a more methodic form of vocabulary building? I.e.,
> how have you gone about setting up the framework for your words and your
> grammar? (I started out pulling words out of the air.)
Ya kidding? That's how I make all of my vocabulary items.
> PART IV: THE LUNATIC SURVEY REVISITED (because we are all "fous du langage,"
> according to Yaguello and other French critics. Why do you conlang? Who will
> speak it? Read it? What's the point? What's the beauty? what's the
> intellectual draw?
It's art. Like music, but with less competition.
> To what would you compare a conlang? Is it a miniature? Is it a model? Is it a
> tapestry? Is it an act of obsession and madness? <G> Or is it a communicable
It's a verbal painting.
> If it is a communicable language, to whom do you speak it?
Me. Animals. Strangers when I don't want to talk to them and am able to pull the
'I don't speak English' card.
> To what extent is the opacity or "alterity" of your language something that
> pleases you? In other words, the sounds and the script have, even for you, a
> quality of being foreign, and this delights. Comment? (I know that when I
> make maps of cities, and imagine myself in them, they delight me because they
> are both familiar and foreign at the same time.)
Yes, the familiar is quite boring. I adore the exotic.
> This is a difficult question: how is it that a word sounds "right" to you? We
> recently discussed this. To what extent are you finding righter, better words
> for the world in your conlang? (Perhaps unanswerable).
I tend to go by my gut. If it sounds like it should have that meaning, then I
should give it that meaning. /ira:le/ [i.rA:.lE] means 'fire', because I want
it to mean 'fire'.
> How many of you are fictive map-makers, designers of fictive floor plans,
> fictive yachts, fictive star-ships, world-builders, calligraphers,
> cartoonists, etc.? (These pursuits have been associated with conlanging. I
> 've done most of them.)
Been there, done most of that.
> How many of you have a special script in your conlang?
A variant of the Arabic alphabet and a Roman transliteration system. Planning to
do a script of its own, but am lacking ideas.
> If you use Roman script, how recognizably "phonetic" is your writing system? In
> other words, do you use unconventional letters to represent sounds? Why?
My transliteration is based on the IPA most of all, but I do make a few
concessions for ease of use. The Arabic script follows the rules, too; I did
stretch quite a few things, like using the hamza to represent glottalization in
a consonant, using 'h.aa' to represent [c] and scratching up a new vowel
marking system, but it's still basically the Arabic alphabet.
> This is a question Heather asked, but I also asked it four years ago: how many of
> you write in your language? What do you write?
Calligraphy. I wrote yesterday the sentence /kilja:n sull silas elje:sa, a kilja:n sull
imas elje:sa/ [ki.l_jA:n sul: e.l_je:.za a ki.l_jA:n sul: i.mas
e.l_je:.sa]--"love yourself, that you may love others" in a calligraphic script
on a sheet of notebook paper for fun. Sometimes I write other things, but I've
yet to go over a sentence in length.
> How many of you sing in your language and have invented songs for that purpose?
No, but I plan to.
> How many of you started conlanging when you were a teenager and have stuck to
> the same language over many years? Why?
I'm still a teenager. I stick to Mieri: out of obsession.
> For how many of you does your language function as a spiritual instrument? This
> is a deeply personal question--let me give you an example. When I first
> started inventing "Tayonian" in my early teens, what I wrote were spells and
> prayers. They had a talismanic quality. Does that ring a bell for anybody?
I chant "love yourself, that you may love others" when meditating, and plan to
start saying it in Mieri:, but that's about as far as it'll go.
> For how many of you was your language at least at one stage of its making meant
> to fool others, or to write secret diaries? (Me, waving my hand).
> How many of you can speak your language, at least to yourself and your
> pet?child? spouse? <G> To what extent?
No one but me.
> How many of you are comfortable talking to your boss, your professors, yourfamily members about this pursuit? How many of you have received condescending or
other negative responses to your disclosure? (I have.) Or even been called
I'm generally secretive about my conlanging, out of being percieved as more of a
nutcase than I already am. When most people found out, the worst I got was a
confused look and a question as to why I find it so fascinating.
> If this attitude is changing, to what do you attribute the change? (On New
> Year's Eve, a delightful, elderly gentleman could not understand why I would
> be interested in this pursuit. What purpose could it serve?)
Lord of the Rings.
> For how many of you is the damning statement "better to learn real languages
> than invent private ones" a criticism you have encountered? What would be
> your response to such a remark?
"Du sollst leben und leben lassen," "Tu dois vivre et laisses-vivre," and the
clincher, "sull (se:l) denna (denj), denne perna (peranj)."
> What is your age (optional--and can be general: 30-40, for instance).
16, nearing 17.
> What is your profession or your station in life (i.e., if you are a student, what
> is your MAJOR; if a middle or high-school student, what is your intended
Junior in high school, intended major undecided, but leaning towards something in the
arts or linguistic fields (big surprise there).
> What is your gender?
(looks down) Male.
> What is your nationality and your native language?
American and American English.
> What natural languages do you speak or have studied?
Fluent literary German, hesitant spoken German, bad French overall. I've looked at
Russian, Japanese, Latin and a coupla others. Have a serious hankering to learn
Danish and Arabic.
> How many of you have chosen a profession in linguistics because of your interest
> in inventing languages? Or plan a profession in linguistics?
I might do something in linguistics.
> What have you learned from conlanging?
The IPA, a lot of phonological things (I've picked apart my idiolect with a
fine-toothed comb [a_IB pIkt @.'pa.r\t ma_I "I.di.o_U.'lEkt wIT @
'fa_In.t_hu:Tt k_ho_Um]) and like to do that to others. I know how a lot of
languages work and that makes it so much easier in French.
> What texts on language and linguistics have you consulted to help invent your language?
Mostly online resources. Mark Rosenfelder's and Pablo Flores' wonderful guides, a lot
of scientific papers and journals, and this mailing list. Very little paper
involved, save for actual natlangs.
> Can you give me a short sample of your language with interlinear description and translation?
"Sia: din sull i:danna ie, landa."
[Si.A: Din sul: i:.Dan.naj.jE lan.Da]
good too(excessively) you<masculine> know_personally.<masculine definite animate>
"I know you too well already, my friend," which would sound better in English as
"I know you all too well, my friend," implying that you can predict his actions
because you know him like a book.
> Would you object to my mentioning your conlang/and or your name in my talk?I will be discreet about some of the more personal questions you answered.
Absolutely. I would love the ego boost.
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