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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[1], 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. [1] 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. Amanda (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.)


Padraic Brown <elemtilas@...>
Sally Caves <scaves@...>