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CHAT: musings on closet conlanging & a new URL

From:David G. Durand <dgd@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 13, 1999, 15:39
>Christophe Grandsire wrote: >Perhaps! I've encountered this situation as well, and while I'm completely >out as a gay man, I'm still fairly closeted about my conlanging. Even >after having been on the conlang list for years and having shared my work >with countless people, I still often feel a knee-jerk sense of embarassment >and discomfort when revealing my conlanging inclinations to the uninitiated. >The Maligned Art, as Sally Caves puts it.
While I can't speak to the contrast between the two kinds of being "out" I know that it's only very recently that I've started talking about conlanging (and my involvement with the list, which seems even odder to some people, I think). On the other hand, I find CONLANG a fascinating example of the social effects of technology. We are now a community, and one that is building, slowly, a tradition, classics, and a unique terminology. And this is a community that probably couldn't exist without the technology. The two face-to-face meetings I've been at have been 4-5 people, and I'm not sure that we're going to have too many that are larger. In general, though, reactions have been _less_ negtive than I'd expected, though I've not talked about it with that many people. The folks that already know me, know that I've got a variety of odd interests and involvements, and so conlanging doesn't seem that much out of character. Elli (my wife) sometimes finds it a bit annoying, but that's more to do with the fact that I have a thesis to finish than the activity in itself. On the other hand, I'd probably be a lot more discreet if I were a linguist and not a computer scientist -- people would wonder about my judgement if my hobby were some kind of AI project, for instance, whereas the remoteness of conlanging makes it seem more harmless. Of course, there's also a cultural tendency for many computer people to be involved in some forms of fantasy life (gaming, fiction, writing, SCA) and so conlanging is an unusual twist on a kind of behavior that is not so uncommon or unfamiliar. The anxiety in Linguistics over its status as a science may also play into it a bit -- inventing languages seems to _unserious_ and can threaten those who want to seem more serious. The academy (even those parts devoted to the study of fiction!) is often very intolerant and mistrustful of fantasy as a concept and a practice. Just random musings... I started another conlanging related page to test out the web-hosting that my Cable modem connection gets me for free. At the moment it contains some random musing on conlanging, some random links from my bookmark file, and one useful thing: the questions from the Payne book in the form of a Word document, ready to be filled in with the information about some language. We should work out an outline and questions for phonology and orthography, and we could have a useful template for complete conlang descriptions. you can see it at: -- David _________________________________________ David Durand \ Boston University Computer Science \ Sr. Analyst \ Dynamic Diagrams --------------------------------------------\ MAPA: mapping for the WWW \__________________________