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What is it we are saying in our languages?

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Sunday, July 2, 2006, 20:09
This is a philosophical question of a different order... and may have
already been raised. The thread on tinkering versus creativity has given me
a lot of thought, and what I want to pose in this thread is the extent to
which we focus on *language* as creative or *message* that is creative.  Or
both.  In other words, what are we saying that is unique in our languages,
and how do our languages help us *say* something that the world can hear--
or deem unique?

In many ways this is tautological, because an invented language is set up so
that it is not comprehensible to the world, and requires outsiders and even
insiders to translate it, to understand its curious *ways* of meaning.  But
in so many of our on-line discussions, I hear talk of innovative structure,
and little talk of innovative message.  I realize that the engelangs are
designed to make message more precise, more ductile, and perhaps more
unique, but what about writing in these and at length?

We engage in translation challenges where we translate texts that the world
has already read, and translation relay games where we translate a text that
someone has invented, but aside from that, how many of you are interested in
making your language say something new?  Or do we resort to our native
languages for that?

I've been doing a lot of research on this topic, as some of you know, and
have concluded that saying something old in invented words is different from
saying something inventive in old words.  Both can be a kind of poetry,
though.  Are there any of you who want to say something new in new,
unheard-of words?  And by "new" I mean a text of some import or poetry
(since, as Qoholeth has said, "there is nothing new under the sun").  Which
of you write copiously in your conlangs because you have something to say
rather than construct?

Maybe the medium is itself the message.  The structure, the efficacy, the
newness of morphology.  What is it we are *saying* in our invented
languages? or in inventing language period?  That's another question.  How
is conlanging itself a kind of message about language?



David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
And Rosta <and.rosta@...>