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Re: SemiOT: Revealing your conlanger status, personal experiences of reactions to conlanging from non-conlangers

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 16, 2004, 19:14

On Tue, 15 Jun 2004 21:36:17 -0400,
Trebor Jung <treborjung@...> wrote:

> I like to read through the archives sometimes - I just pick a random week -
I also like to dig in the archives, though I don't pick a random week, but feed all sorts of things into the search engine and read what comes out.
> and I ended up reading posts from March 2003. In the thread "My girlfriend > is a conlanger!" (my wholehearted - altho extremely belated - > congratulations to Daniel!), Tristan wrote: "Why would you be a closet > conlanger? That implies you hide the fact that you do it and if someone > asked you, you would either deny it or try and avoid answering the question. > (Simply doing it only at home doesn't count as closet, because it's not > exactly the kind of thing that lends itself to being obviously done on > (e.g.) PT.)" > > Myself, when I discuss my hobbies or what I'm doing at the time, I don't > deny it. I just tell the person, "I construct languages!" or "I'm working on > my language at the moment" [speaking of which... I should stop being lazy > and get working... haven't done any work on my languages lately...] (or "I'm > researching the [orthography] of Irish Gaelic - I heard it's pretty > difficult, and wanted to see what all the fuss was about", for that matter). > I'm proud to be a conlanger! :))) What about you guys? Do you hide the fact > that you're a conlanger?
No, at least not to my friends. I haven't yet mentioned it towards my parents. Their reactions on my hobbies have always been somewhere between disinterest and disapproval, so I stopped talking about my hobbies to them more than I can avoid years ago.
> And another question: What sort of reactions do you get when you inform > people that you're a conlanger?
In most cases, curious amusement. My friends know that I am a conlanger, but take little interest in it. However, I rarely talk about conlanging to them. My brother, in contrast, disapproves of conlanging. When I mentioned it in his presence, he said that what I am doing was meaningless because Wittgenstein said that "private languages are impossible". I am not an expert on Wittgenstein's philosophy, but I think my brother has interpreted Wittgenstein's words wrongly. What Wittgenstein meant was, I think, that a language can never be private in the sense that no-one else can learn it. Conlangs thus *aren't* "private languages".
> Myself, my grandmother, unsurprisingly (she has no interest in languages - > she only speaks English), reacted negatively (indirect quote here): "To me, > it's just a waste of time... But it doesn't hurt anyone, so it's OK." My > mother, who was present, jumped to my defense, saying something like, "You > learn from conlanging - it gives you hands-on experience with language."
Few people are as insightful as that. But indeed, it is a good way to learn about how languages work. Greetings, Jörg.