Apologia Pro Linguis Suis
|From:||Alfred Wallace <alfredhw@...>|
|Date:||Monday, September 10, 2001, 3:22|
(Many thanks to my friend Tom Weir for the latin assist for the subject line. It's
been a long time since high school Latin...)
I was going to post straight-on, giving my three additions to the Ethnologue,
but I was advised to introduce myself--and my history of conlanging--first.
Good advice, doubtless.
My name (as evidenced by the "From" line) is Alfred Wallace, and I've been
conlanging, after my fashion, for about eight years--since my junior year in
High School in St. Louis, Missouri. My first conlang--"Alferanto"--was inspired
by an assignment for trigonometry: Write an ode to 30-60-90 triangles. I
couldn't really think of one--I was determined to make it rhyme--so I switched
languages. French didn't work either, so I broke down and came up with a
language of my own. It was more or less a ripoff of Esperanto, but in the end I
had enough for the masterful piece of rym dogerel. (It, and Alferanto, have
since been lost. An extinct Conlang?) What I was really proud of was the script
I devised for it, which I continue to use--it's faster and clearer than my
I hadn't thought much of language creation before, but it fascinated me and I've
toyed with creating languages--and the notion of creating languages--ever
since. Thanks to meeting Tom, I discovered that conlanging was an activity
shared by an entire community.
Now, after graduation, I'm taking a year off to work and try to get into grad
school (in medieval studies/Arthurian legend/Critical Theory--that is, English
Lit...I'm open to school suggestions on this). I'm taking the time to create
some languages between researching and looking for work.
Most of my "conlangs" are satires of the auxlang business. I've imagined myself the
head of a company, "Wallace Language Associates," which goes around doing
contract work for various odd people who, for whatever reason, want languages
made for them. (Details, sort of, follow in the Ethnologue entries below.) I
approach conlanging with a specific idea in mind, such as "What would a
language which maximized nuanced speech be like?" (This is my current project)
or "What kind of language would a nationalist dictatorship want?" (The genesis
of "Nuremberg," a project for the mythical Roderick Spode Party of National
Emergency and Renewal) and then go do it. I toy with the notion--often going so
far as to create vocabularies, morphologies, and so on--and, after having
explored the idea, usually move on. I'm spending part of my year of relative
idleness fleshing out the frameworks I've already done.
Without further ado, my Ethnologue entries. Remember: I'm satirizing language, not
conlanging, which I enjoy and respect:
CARDBOARD ENGLISH [CEN] (Alfred Wallace)
Population: 42 inhabitants of the Gamma-Delta-Iota fraternity, Sigma Chapter,
at Eastern Kentucky State University in Richmond, KY, USA.
Classification: Dialect of American English.
Comments: Outwardly very similar to standard American English, however the
surface similarities are quite deceptive. Dictionary.
Grammar: Language consists of single word, pronounced as SAE "Peas," is
spelled "cardboard" (using roman script), and means "Give me another beer." In
some dialects the meaning is changed to extremely vulgar expletives.
Inhabitants live in extreme squalor in a tiny, run-down building. Environment
is minimal, as the lawn has died; however, inedible mold colonies abound in
some regions. Diet consists primarily of beer and other alcohol- and malt-based
products. No Bible.
NUREMBERG (NBG) (Alfred Wallace)
Population: 127 members of the Roderick Spode Party of National Emergency and
Renewal compound in Belleville, IL, USA.
Grammar: SOV. Language is very difficult to listen to; survey needed.
Inhabitants live in and around large, neo-gothic wood-and-sheetrock structure
atop a hill in this western Illinois suburb of St. Louis, MO, USA. They subsist
on produce grown on-site and snacks smuggled in from a nearby convenience
store. Few have any identifiable employment, living instead off donations from
more-or-less shady organizations and individuals from around the world and
spending their days stomping around and shouting. Their ideology, once
apparently highly developed if despicable, has since been subsumed by the
desire to wear spiffy black uniforms, thank heaven. Heavily bowdlerized Bible.
IPSIGANG (Name as of 7:02 PST, 9/9/2001, spoken by a male age 24 who is unemployed and
telling the truth) (ISG) (Alfred Wallace)
Population: 363 members of the Society for the Abolishment of Liberal
Education, headquartered in La Jolla, CA, USA
Grammar: Highly variable.
Comments: Inhabitants are a secular group opposed to imprecision in language,
such as they encountered in the English Literature classes they were forced to
take as undergraduates (most have since dropped out). Vocabulary, syntax,
morphology and every other conceivable aspect of the language changes nearly
constantly, depending on the date and time, gender of the user, age of the
user, whether the user is lying or telling the truth, and much, much else.
Often the complex rules result in vast confections of ideas and words being
condensed to a single syllable. Thus, reading or hearing language spoken in
Gonkelmidbarp (its name as of 7:08 PM, other circumstances as above) conveys
far, far more information than do most languages. This is counterbalanced by a
certain difficulty in decoding the language, especially for outsiders. No
member of the SIL has managed to smuggle out a copy of the ten DVD-ROMs which
contain the grammatical and syntactic rules of the language. No!
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