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New Survey:Celtic Conlangs (and other lunatic pursuits)

From:Joe <joe@...>
Date:Monday, January 6, 2003, 22:35
On Sunday 05 January 2003 8:10 pm, Sally Caves wrote:
> Vyko! My apologies for imposing another survey on you! It comes in five > parts, and repeats some of the questions I aired in my original "Lunatic > Survey" in 1998. I'm posting it again, though, given all the newcomers, > and because I have continuous new uses for it. In the first three parts of > the survey, I'm interested in gauging the degree to which Celtic languages > have been popular models among us language cobblers. Or unpopular models. > These questions, then, are designed not just for Celtic conlang buffs but > for those who avoid the "Celtic." Part of the reason I'm posting this > survey is that I'm talking at several conferences in the Spring about the > influence of Celtic on some language inventors (among other things about > invented languages). Given their difficulties, Celtic languages (along > with countless other languages!) are not often the models for IALs. These > features that make them difficult or unusual, though, may appeal especially > to conlangers, not to mention their associations with a long-standing > British Isles/Northwestern European mythology that Tolkien drew upon > (Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian included), and which have so engaged > contemporary High Fantasy. So what feels like an arbitrary question has a > focus for me, and I would so appreciate your taking the time to answer some > or all of these questions. You can send your answers to me privately or > post them to the list. > > A REQUEST: IF YOU ARE NOT ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS OF THE SURVEY, BUT > RESPONDING INCIDENTALLY TO SOMETHING SOMEONE SAID, PLEASE RETITLE THE > SUBJECT HEADER! Firrimby! <G> You also don't have to answer all of these > questions. Answer the ones that are relevant or important to you. > > > Have you based your conlang(s) wholly or partially on a Celtic language? > If so, on which? or combined with which? >
Nope. I don't know enough about celtic....
> What is your name and what do you call your conlang(s)?
Joe Hill, Zitwbata and Muëuä.
> When did you start it/them?
Zitwbata - sometime in 2001 Muëuä - sometime in 2002
> Are you still working with it/them or have you abandoned it or them?
Yes. Zitwbata is on hiatus for a while, though, while I work on Muëuä
> What Celtic features have you borrowed? What is the structure of your > language? Be specific.
Zitwbata has |w| as a vowel, and both have VSO word orders...aside from that, nothing...
> How many of you are also scholars of Celtic languages? Scholars of other > languages?
Heh. Not really...
> How were you introduced to them? >
Hmmm...well, I suppose it was my introduction to Irish in school at age six. I've forgotten all of it though...
> > How many of you were inspired to invent a language because of your exposure > to Tolkien?
Me. Quenya is really very attractive.
> How many of you based your conlang on one of Tolkien's languages, or your > conculture in Middle Earth?
not exactly...Muëuä has a Tolkienesque look to it...
> How many of you have a constructed world, and, if so, does it include some > of the races we associate with Celtic or Scandinavian mythology? (Elves, > Dwarves, medieval societies of humans, Faeries or Fays? Selkies? > Wizards?)
I'm working on the world, but there are no Mythological borrowings...
> How many of you were inspired to examine Welsh, Hebrew, or Finnish because > of your examination of Tolkien? > > How many of you were inspired to invent a conlang or a conculture because > of some influence OTHER than Tolkien? > > How many of you were inspired to invent a language because you engage in > Roll-Playing Games? > > How many of you were inspired to invent a language because you heard of > this listserv?
Heh, kind of...but I've always been semi-creative...
> How many of you are members of the Mythopoeic Society, or the Society for > Creative Anachronism, or other High Fantasy Groups? > > > PART III: NON-CELTIC CONLANGERS: > > In the discussions I've witnessed on Conlang in almost five years, I've > observed that many conlangers have deliberately avoided "Tolkienesque" > languages, and even Indo-European languages as models for conlangs, and > especially the "Celtic." Why? Boring? Overdone? Trite? Too pretty? > Too Western? Or none of the above--just more interested in something else? > <G> I don't want to give the impression that I think we conlang only > because of Tolkien, and that anything we invent has to be INSPIRED BY or a > DEPARTURE from the "Great One"; but in this question I'm eager to see some > eschewal of or at least indifference towards the Tolkien, the "Celtic," > and/or even the Indo-European model. > > So what is unappealing about the Indo-European model for conlanging? Or > Tolkien's Elvish?
Nothing, I like IE and Germanic...
> How did you start conlanging? What was your initial inspiration?
Inspiration? I just enjoy languages...
> Did you know about Tolkien's inventions? Read the books, the appendices? > etc. Or not?
Of course. Who could not?
> What language types have you modeled your language(s) after?
Well, Zitwbata has a good deal of German, an odd bit of innovation, and a lump of oversimplification. Muëuä is mostly an Ergative inflecting language. It was based partially on the grammar of Yamphu(A Sino-Tibetan lang) I was reading, and a fusion with my ideal phonology. Added into that is a complex verb system, and the oversight of a Genitive case.
> What features of these languages or language types appeal to you?
I like Yamphu, because it's so graceful...
> Some of you, and I'm thinking in particular of a conversation I had with > And Rosta, are not interested in producing a language that is > "mellifluous"--that "mellifluousness" is a thing to be avoided in your > conlang and especially as it is associated with Tolkien's Elvish or copiers > of Elvish. Is this so? Why?
assuming 'mellifluousness' is onomatopoeic, I aim for it as much as possible. Liquids and Semivowels are really quite attractive...
> For how many of you, though, is beauty and/or efficiency a factor in your > language? Or elegance? How would you define these terms?
Beauty is important. Language should flow, and that is how I define Beauty. Efficiency too, Muëuä has no prepositions, everything collected into one word. Elegance is the combination of the two...
> For how many of you is the "exotic" a desired feature of your invented > language?
heh, Yes, it probably is...
> How many of you invent a non-human language? And if so, how alien are its > sounds and constructions?
> Do you prefer inventing an a posteriori language or an a priori language? > In other words, how many of you invent a language wherein you base it > closely on a natural language (Arabic, Tagalog) or a combination of > languages, and how many others of you invent a language from, well, > scratch? (if that can be done.)
Either's good ;-)
> How many of you invent a language based on a particular type (Ergative, > Accusative, Trigger, etc.)?
I have an Ergative and an Accusative language...
> To what degree is difficulty and irregularity of language important to you > in your conlang? what natural language eccentricities (or efficiencies) do > you like and try to reproduce?
Irregularity is vaguely important, to achieve a 'natural' look...
> To what degree is accessibility, efficiency, and regularity important to > your conlang? What natural language "faults" are you correcting?
None, really.
> How many of you invent logical languages?
> How many of you invent IALs?
Ack! Silly idea, IALs are..
> How many of you have invented non-Tolkienesque or non European concultures > and what are they like? > > How many of you started out by pulling words out of the air, originally?
Well, kind of. I had to keep pulling until I got it right, though. ;-)
> How many of you have chosen a more methodic form of vocabulary building? > I.e., how have you gone about setting up the framework for your words and > your grammar? > (I started out pulling words out of the air.)
I set up the Grammar, yes..
> > PART IV: THE LUNATIC SURVEY REVISITED (because we are all "fous du > langage," according to Yaguello and other French critics. > > Why do you conlang? Who will speak it? Read it? What's the point? > What's the beauty? what's the intellectual draw?
It's a natural system. I want to duplicate it.
> To what would you compare a conlang? Is it a miniature? Is it a model? > Is it a tapestry? Is it an act of obsession and madness? <G> Or is it a > communicable language?
An aeroplane. It needs to be streamlined, efficient, and beautiful, imitating nature.
> To what extent is the opacity or "alterity" of your language something that > pleases you? In other words, the sounds and the script have, even for you, > a quality of being foreign, and this delights. > Comment? (I know that when I make maps of cities, and imagine myself in > them, they delight me because they are both familiar and foreign at the > same time.)
Meh, not really...
> This is a difficult question: how is it that a word sounds "right" to you? > We recently discussed this. To what extent are you finding righter, better > words for the world in your conlang? (Perhaps unanswerable).
A bit. Both Muëuä and Zitwbata take a lot of effort...
> How many of you are fictive map-makers, designers of fictive floor plans, > fictive yachts, fictive star-ships, world-builders, calligraphers, > cartoonists, etc.? (These pursuits have been associated with conlanging. > I 've done most of them.)
World builder and fictive map-maker, yes
> How many of you have a special script in your conlang?
no, not really...
> If you use Roman script, how recognizably "phonetic" is your writing > system? In other words, do you use unconventional letters to represent > sounds? Why?
No, I'm fairly conventional...
> This is a question Heather asked, but I also asked it four years ago: how > many of you write in your language? What do you write?
I wrote in both of them. I wrote mostly myths...
> How many of you sing in your language and have invented songs for that > purpose?
No...I can't sing..
> How many of you started conlanging when you were a teenager and have stuck > to the same language over many years? Why?
I -am- a teenager.
> How many of you change conlangs regularly, developing structures for many > languages but not sticking with any one for very long? Why?
No...I stick with stuff...
> For how many of you was your language at least at one stage of its making > meant to fool others, or to write secret diaries? (Me, waving my hand).
> How many of you can speak your language, at least to yourself and your pet? > child? spouse? <G> To what extent?
> How many of you have put up websites where your language can be showcased? > If so, what is the website address?
> How many of you have made soundbytes of your language so the rest of us can > hear it? If so, give the site.
No, sorry...
> For how many of you is the damning statement "better to learn real > languages than invent private ones" a criticism you have encountered? What > would be your response to such a remark?
Not response would be 'Why can't I do both?'
> > PART V: GENERAL DEMOGRAPHICS: > > What is your age (optional--and can be general: 30-40, for instance).
> What is your profession or your station in life (i.e., if you are a > student, what is your MAJOR; if a middle or high-school student, what is > your intended major)?
I'm a school pupil. I don't have anything intended for sure...
> What is your gender?
> What is your nationality and your native language?
English, English
> What natural languages do you speak or have studied?
English, some German, Spanish, French, a very small bit of Dutch, a tiny bit of Latin, and I'm attempting to do Sanskrit...
> How many of you have chosen a profession in linguistics because of your > interest in inventing languages? Or plan a profession in linguistics?
I do plan a profession in Linguistics...
> What have you learned from conlanging?
A lot about languages in General...
> What texts on language and linguistics have you consulted to help invent > your language?
lots, too many to list..
> Do you know of anyone who has not connected with the Internet or the List > who has invented a language? (I'm firmly convinced that "conlanging" has > been a private pursuit for many people long before the list started, but > that the list has increased its visibility as an art).
No, sorry...
> Can you give me a short sample of your language with interlinear > description and translation?
Um... I'll get back to you...
> Would you object to my mentioning your conlang/and or your name in my talk? > I will be discreet about some of the more personal questions you answered.
No, in fact, I'd be flattered.