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Constructive linguistics

From:Sai Emrys <saizai@...>
Date:Monday, January 31, 2005, 7:16
I realize that this is probably preaching to the choir, but hold with
me a moment.

The main (only?) argument I've heard against conlanging by "real"
linguists is that it is a waste of time, and that instead, we ought to
be doing field work, saving all the languages that are currently
dying. (Viz. Boudewjin Rempt's Apologia pro Imaginatione?)

I also know that lots of y'all are, in fact, "real linguists" -
working in academia or not.

So: why not propose a serious study of "constructive linguistics" (as
opposed to, e.g. "descriptive linguistics" of the language-savers, and
"prescriptive linguistics" of the grammarians)? Bring the field from a
"secret vice" about which people being "outed" (heh - I guess all the
G B LH Ls are closeted...) to something proud and openly academic, as
much as any other field of art, craft, and philosophy.

(Then again, I guess I'm about as "out" about it as someone can get
without also being famous...)

BTW, this solves the same problem - i.e., the decreasing number of
languages in the world today - albeit from the opposite direction. In
many cases, those same languages only have a few speakers anyway, so
the only argument remaining for why they are "better" or otherwise
more worthy of saving & promulgation than a constructed one is...
well, historical. I suppose that is simply axiomatic - that old things
are worth more effort to save than new ones. (I disagree, but I just
figure it's not worth arguing about.)

This field could, e.g., encompass purposeful creation of dialects, the
spreading thereof, creating new language families, etc. If anything,
it would be useful to simply teach people linguistics - "applied"
linguistics, as it were.

This isn't a fully-fleshed-out idea, of course. But - comment from you
Official Linguist Types?

 - Sai


Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>