CHAT: Conlang dreams revisited, and Memorization
|From:||Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, February 15, 2000, 2:50|
In a message dated 2/14/2000 4:16:31 AM Eastern Standard Time,
<< >Completely off-topic, but I think "the daring and unusual prefix" is
>such a wonderfully delicious expression! I've always admired
>Tolkien's plotting more than his prose style, but every now and then he
>came up with a real gem! Describing a lowly prefix as "daring and un.usual"
>seems to me to sum up all the pleasures of conlanging in a single phrase.
Quite so! Yet another view of our Peculiar Vice was expressed by a
fellow-conlanger to me recently (not as a put-down, I assure you): "the
grave and precise creation and explication of the absurd, thereby giving
reality to the absurd."
This came to mind in connection with the discussion of memorization/learning
a conlang. My very first conlang consisted of several hundred verbal forms,
based on a mixture of what little I knew of Sanskrit, and Latin. I actually
knew them all and used to make my friends test me; they thought it was quite
crazy, of course. I started Spanish years ago as a teen-ager-- the teacher
and all classmates were Americans, so we learned from the book, hardly did
any conversation. It took college courses, entirely in Spanish with native
teachers, and a summer in South America before I could speak at all well.
While doing linguistics in grad school, I took Indonesian; by that time tapes
were used, plus we had a native speaker as a guide, so the reverse happened--
I could speak well, but had and still have a lot of trouble reading. I don't
recall ever actively "memorizing" vocabulary etc., it just sort of settled
in-- so I'm apparently one of those to whom languages come easily. Learning
a conlang would have to be different, no give and take, unless you talk to
yourself (I do)-- still, most of the formal bits of my Kash grammar have
stuck in me brain; vocabulary is retained at least for a while, depending on
the most recent translation.