Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Relexes Pt. 1: Defence

From:Estel Telcontar <estel_telcontar@...>
Date:Saturday, December 13, 2003, 14:39
This insomniac night, I've been contemplating relexes, and I'm going to
subject youguys to some of my musings.  This is Part one, a defence of
relexes.  Part two, should it get written, will be a look at ways of
classifying relexes, and Part three would be a presentation of two
systematic relexes of English.

First, a definition, though I'm sure most people here don't really need
A relex, or in full relexification, is a conlang in which the words of
an existing language are replaced by different ones, and the syntax
(and semantics, I think) of the original language are retained.  The
process of creating such a language is also called relexification.

Relexes are usually given little respect on this list, mainly, I think,
because they are often naive attempts to create a different language
done without an awareness that languages differ in more than lexicon.
I believe, however, that there is a legitimate place in conlanging for
relexes, and also that relexes need not be artless, though the art
involved may differ from that most other conlanging.

Conlangs are created for many different reasons, and the reason for
which a conlang is invented shapes many of its properties.  Auxlangs
and loglangs have their particular characteristics stemming from their
purposes.  Within artlangs, there are subcategories with their own
purposes; there are languages designed for use in works of fiction,
ones designed as ways to combine "neat features", and ones designed to
defy universals.  All these purposes, and more, influence the
properties of a conlang.

There is one purpose for conlangs that isn't often discussed, which is
secret communication.  Languages designed for secret communication are
a legitimate subclass of conlangs; as far as I know, they don't have a
short name, but one might dub them "stealthlangs".  Stealthlangs are a
subclass of conlangs where the intended purpose makes relexification a
likely and appropriate process: stealthlangs are usually intended for
communication between several speakers of the same natlang, who wish to
conceal their communication from others.  Relexification of the common
natlang makes it easier for the speakers of the stealthlang to learn
and use it correctly; this is an advantage when the aim of the language
is to achieve concealed communication of anything that could be
expressed in the primary language.  (Of course, relexification will
also mean that the stealthlang is more easily learnt by outsiders, who
are not intended to understand, so it has its drawbacks too.)

At the very least, I think that stealthlangs are a legitimate subclass
of conlangs, and one where relexification is a legitimate process, not
to be looked down on.

In fact, many things that we call "language games", such as Pig Latin
or Opish, are essentially stealthlangs produced by a systematic,
predictable relexification of a natlang, English in these two cases.
Thus, such "language games" are in fact a form of conlang.


Post your free ad now!


Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>Glyph Shape Codes - semi-finalized
Costentin Cornomorus <elemtilas@...>