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Re: CHAT: Hello

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Tuesday, September 16, 2003, 17:22
On Tue, Sep 16, 2003 at 09:30:30AM -0700, Heather Fleming wrote:
> Testing, testing... Let's see if I've actually figured out how to POST > to this list... > > Anyway, hi, my name is Heather and I'm new to the list. I'm an aspiring > fantasy author who ended up majoring in linguistics, with inevitable > results...
Welcome to the list!
> I guess my first "conlang" was for a linguistic typology class I took at > the U of A (A for Alberta) two years ago.
Oooh! Another conlanger in Canada! ;-)
> Our final assignment was to write up a sketch of the most typologically > unlikely language we could come up with.
[snip] Most typologically unlikely? <shameless plug> Have you looked at the grammatical structure of Ebisedian, my infamous conlang? For a brief overview, check out this intro: </shameless plug>
> Has anyone else done something like that for a lark - coming up with the > most unrealistic (at least for humans) language possible? Not fully > formed of course, but in sketch form anyway?
Well, I never intended Ebisedian to be as bizarre as it turned out; I actually tried to make it as naturalistic as possible. It wasn't supposed to be unrealistic, but just radically pathological.
> Now I'm working on coming up with languages for some fiction I've been > working on ever since I was a kid and finally worked the juvenile plot > holes out of.
That rings a bell... Ebisedian came out of the need for language in my con-world which it can call its own. I have a lot of fragments of storylines and such that constitute about 6 or 7 eras of the Ferochromon universe. Only problem is, I still haven't gotten to weeding out the juvenile plot holes yet...
> The really fun part is that there is a gap of about 1300 years between > one volume and the next, so I get to come up with Old and Modern > versions. I have some vague ideas about them, but they're still very > much in the air yet.
Ferochromon history has 7 eras and 3 separate sub-universes, which gives me lots of room to work with. Only problem is, it's taken me so long just to get Ebisedian to a non-trivial state, that working on an ancestor/descendent lang would never get beyond sketches.
> I'm also helping my friend and co-author develop her conlang for her > conspecies, whose language is completely pitch-based (they have > incredible hearing and their vocal tracts can produce up to I think 6 > tones at a time. Their planet is kind of isolationist because although > their civilization and technology are very advanced, their culture is > completely oral so they have no written form, and no one offworld can > learn to understand or produce it because they lack the physical > capacity, and it's bloody hard for them to get the hang of phonetic > languages).
My challenges come from a slightly different source: the Ebisedi, the speakers of Ebisedian, are more or less human, and therefore the language has to be naturalistic (OK, stop that giggling back there), but they live in an alternate universe which is radically different from the Terran universe, complete with different physics and a very foreign world structure. Certainly, their everyday vocabulary would have to reflect this; and it hasn't been easy coming up with this vocabulary.
> Out of curiosity, anyone else have a non-phonetically-based conlang?
[snip] Not really... although at one point I *did* have the idea of an amorphous language consisting of grunts and groans and other odd sounds (not necessarily vocal), which instead of building up verbal and grammatical structure, paints an overall "impression" of the intended meaning. I didn't get very far with this, but one feature is that the understood meaning of an utterance depends almost entirely on who/what heard it, and on the circumstantial context in which it is uttered. E.g., an utterance X may be uttered in the presence of different groups of beings; the worker group may react by reinforcing the walls, the guardian group may react by taking up defensive posts, the warrior group may prepare for battle, etc.. The precise actions may also vary based on the situation: if there is an approaching enemy, these may be the actions taken; if there is a captive enemy, the warrior group may understand it as an order to destroy the captive, and the other groups may ignore the order. T -- Airplanes stall. Computers just hang in the air...