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Results of Poll by Email No. 3

From:Peter Clark <pc451@...>
Date:Monday, March 11, 2002, 1:56
Hash: SHA1

        We had 39 responses this week, not including all the posts on the
"favorite word" thread. (See what happens when you're not careful about NOT
REPLYING TO THE LIST? Just giving you a hard time, David. :)
        Since there were two questions, we'll cover them individually. First,
regarding Tolkien...

        6 of you answered, "A. I discovered conlanging by reading Tolkien's books
and said, 'I want to do that!'" (15%)
        8 of you answered, "B. I had dabbled in creating languages before, but was
inspired to greater heights of language construction thanks to Tolkien." (21%)
        19 of you answered, "C. Tolkien has not inspired me to a significant
degree." (49%)
        2 of you answered, "D. I can't stand Tolkien or his elves!" (5%)
        4 of you answered, "E. Other." (10%)

        Representing the (A) group, Andreas Johansson relates his history: "For as
long as I can remember I've indulged in creating secondary worlds, and
obviously this includes inventing names and special terminology. I became a
Tolkien fan around age 11 (I'm now 20). Some five or six years ago, for no
reason I can now remember, I took an interest in lingusitics (especially
phonetics), and strapped for good books on that subject reread the linguistic
Appendices of the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion. This inspired me to
join the Elfling mailing list (which's devoted to Tolkien's languages), and
that in turn to begin creating an actual conlang for my main coniverse. A
post on Elfling mentioning this conlang drew the attention of Daniel
Andreasson who introduced me to the Conlang list and community."
        A recent convert to The One True Art, Antonio Ward, was inspired by the
movie: "I felt curiosity for creating languages when I discovered the Klingon
Institute in the internet, but it was after I saw Peter Jackon's movie last
December 2001 that I decided to read Tolkien's books and try do the same."

        Jonathan Knibb answered (B) with this comment: "I never expect to design a
conlang that resembles Tolkien's languages in any way, and my goals differ
from Tolkien's to the extent where I am unable to use his languages for
direct inspiration.  Despite this, Quenya especially has always been a
touchstone for me as a conlanger, something to look up to in dark moments to
show what the genre can achieve.  I hope the results of this poll will be a
fair tribute to the grandfather of conlanging."
        And as a warning to all you romantics out there, Keith Gaughan writes: "I'd
been fiddling with languages before I'd read LotR. When I found out about the
elvish languages, I had a wow moment when I realised I wasn't
the only person who's ever conlanged. Then I found out about the list
and there you go!
        The one pox I wish on him is that I managed to frighten away a rather
cute Finnish girl who I was really getting on with when I revealed my
Tolkien-inspired obsession with the language. I also think that why
Eretas ended up looking so much like it! Doh!"

        A lot of you were not inspired by Tolkien at all. Several of you were more
inspired or were introduced to conlanging by Klingon. Laádan even managed to
inspire Jogloran.
        Christophe Grandsire revealed what inspired him: "Definitely C! I even have
a funny story about that: I read LotR (in French translation) when I was
about 12. Yet it was a version without appendices (made short for children I
guess), and at that time I didn't realise there were constructed languages in
that story! Still, I began conlanging at about the same time, but what gave
me the idea was an article about Esperanto, as well as my Latin classes (and
the fact that I was quite bored in them :)) ). I litterally began conlanging
during Latin classes :)) . Guess why my first attempts were reflexes of Latin
instead of French :))) ."
        Doug Ball exemplifies all you non-careful readers out there :) with his
comment: "I began conlanging without knowing that Tolkien had invented
languages--I erroneously thought that the stuff in _Lord of the Rings_ was
just standard fantasy background material (which should tell you something
about my reading comprehension skills when I originally read _The Fellowship
of the Ring_ and _The Two Towers_).  It wasn't until after almost three years
of conlanging did I find out that Tolkien was a conlanger.  Even after that,
I haven't ever been super-inspired by him.  I borrowed some words out of the
back of _The Silmarillion_ (possibly before I knew that these were from a
constructed language), but these words have mostly since been replaced, and I
have never had very Tolkienian conlang.  I do admire Tolkien for his
accomplishments, and I think it would be cool to inspire so many people with
just one's artlang(s), but when it comes to inventing grammars and cultures,
I would say I haven't been very inspired by him."

        David Peterson expressed his strong dislike for those elves with: "I don't
want to say that I hate Tolkien and his elves, but I really, really dislike
them.  From a fiction point of view (I'm a fiction writer first), I find the
Lord of the Rings story rather dull and repetitive (recycled plot problems
with different kooky characters and the occasional "sudden twist", whose
position is also rather predictable).  Not that predictability is bad
inherently (everyone goes to a Shakespearean tragedy knowing everyone is
going to die), but this type I find unexciting.  From a conlanging point of
view, I've only looked very briefly at his languages, and they didn't
interest me."

        The Aquamarine Demon (who is a she, btw--so shouldn't that be demoness? :)
would take odds with David: "While I'm not really influenced by Tolkien in my
conlanging, I do consider him the greatest fantasy writer (though this may be
a *bit* biased, since I can only read one language, so there might be better
ones out there, but I doubt it...). I also think if I can learn as much as he
did about other languages, and about mythology, I would be quite blessed if I
could use this knowledge even half as beautifully as he did. So, maybe (E).
Since he does inspire me, just not so much in language creation."
        And Rosta spoke thus: "I began conlanging before realizing that Tolkien had
invented languages. I don't like his languages very much, but nonetheless he
inspires me both as a kindred spirit and as our own Michelangelo of
conlanging, and I'm very interested in the external history of his
conlanging. Also, in the late 80s I joined the Tolkien Society in order to
find other artlangers, which set of a chain of events that ultimately led to
me being involved in the founding of Conlang."

        Alright, now for the breakdown of "cellar door." (Pun accidental.) Several
people forgot to give their answer, so there were only 35 votes. An
overwhelming number of you lack any phonological taste (29 - 83%) and found
no particular beauty in "cellar door." Only 6 (17%) thought it beautiful,
although most insisted that it would have to be pronounced with a Spanish or
some other accent.
        Pau  found it disturbingly reminiscent of the Spanish word "celador" (prison
guard). Jan van Steenbergen decided that "it sounds at least more erotic than
Dutch 'kelderdeur' or German 'Kellertür'." I think the word that he was
looking for is "exotic", but then, what do I know about erotic sounding
words? Maybe that should be a future poll. :) Yitzik Penzev proclaimed,
"English in general sounds terrible..." and Tony Hogard got icky feelings
from the "ur" sound. (Hmm--an un-erotic sound...) Christophe Grandsire found
it too boring to be beautiful.
        Of course, what was most fun was hearing what you thought was beautiful:.
among the words suggested were moose, monkey, viridian, cipher, Westminister,
legal, guide, manus, Caran d'ache (I never realized that the Russian
karandash came from this word, but it figures...), and of course, month.
        Thanks again to all who answered, and stay tuned for Poll by Email No. 4!
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