LeGuin was Re: Introduction
|From:||Amanda Babcock <langs@...>|
|Date:||Friday, January 10, 2003, 22:34|
On Fri, Jan 10, 2003 at 01:01:02PM -0500, Sally Caves wrote:
> Ursula Le Guin is said to be a conlanger, but
> I have reservations about that, despite some of the linguistic information
> she gives about the invented words in some of her novels. I read an article
> in which she was interviewed twenty-five years ago (so she might have
> changed over the years)
"Always Coming Home" was her only conlanged book. It was published in 1985,
which would be 8 years after that interview...
> _Always Coming Home_ may represent a more involved use of conlanging on
> her part. I know that the novel has some linguistic notes at the end of it,
That's not the half of it... it came with a cassette tape with songs sung
in the language (I can still sing most of them) and poetry. There was a
rather extensive dictionary in the back, and a brief grammar overview. I
wrote her a letter with a sentence in her language on the envelope, "Please
listen to my words" I think it was, and she responded with the grammatical
information I'd been wondering about :) It's at least as much of a conlang
as many of our efforts.
 The language was therefore successfully used for practical communication
between two people, something many of us can't say :)
> but I'm
> still not convinced that she is as compulsively dedicated as some of the
> rest of us are to the nitty gritty details of our inventions. I, for one,
> have been working on Teonaht for almost forty years; it's like a nursing a
> child that will never quite grow up.
True, it didn't seem to have the depth of Tolkien's languages, with their
long evolution, both synchronic and diachronic. True, she didn't make a
lifetime project of it. But her language was a lot more mature than 90%
of the ones I've made up! :) (Heck, it has everyday words in it so it's
more useful even than my two main ones.)
The only fault I can see here is that she had the temerity to *complete*
it :) Perhaps she *wasn't* as enamoured of the process as we are. Maybe
she saw the end and not the means as the goal. But what's published is
a workable language, and what was invented exceeds what was published.
(One of the songs:
A weyewey heyiya a, na-am, na-am; gewakwasur weheyiya, na-am, na-am.
Om, o na-am (wisuyu, wisuyu, wisuyu); wisuyusur. Weheyiya! Om o na-am,
om o na-am, om o na-am.
Oh everything is holy, by the river, by the river; we dance holy-ly, by
the river, by the river. Down by the river (willows, willows, willows);
we are willows. Holy-ly! Down by the river, down by the river, down
by the river.
Postpositional and somewhat agglutinative.)