Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

CCHAT: History of the conlang list

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 8, 2000, 15:59
Paul Bennett wrote:

> Assuming at least one of the listfounders is still with us (or at least > traceable) I fear the best guide to the exact date will probably be human > memory... :-( Tal was the first to point out that the anniversary is > approaching, perhaps he has some clearer idea than 'some time soon'?
The first message in my archive, which dates back before my personal participation, is dated Wed Jun 19 10:27:19 1991 -0400. I believe this was very close to being the first message, so the 10-year anniversary still has some 15 months to go. I was added to the list by John Ross, the founder, on Tue Jul 16 09:23:17 1991 -0400 according to the message announcing the fact. (I erroneously called him John Clark in an earlier message.) At that time, Conlang was not supported by any sort of listserv, but was simply a bunch of addresses in the "To:" header. The earliest such list I have includes John Ross, And Rosta, Steve Rice of the Loglan Institute, "R. Kenner" (I don't know who that is) and someone using the mailing address <tempus%maple.decnet@...>. The first message sent to "", which was a simple alias still, was at Thu, 18 Jul 1991 16:32 -0400. At Wed, 24 Mar 1993 00:26:01 +0100, conlang moved from to, and the administration was taken over by Lars Mathiesen. At this time, conlang was changed from a simple alias to a proper listserv. At Sun, 9 Feb 1997 23:33:20 -0500, conlang moved again to, and adminstration fell into the hands of our current Esteemed Moderator, David Durand. I attach the following lightly edited reminiscence from Bob LeChevalier, who was a fairly early Conlang lurker and still is (I believe):
> I believe that [Conlang] started as an attempt to set up a sci.lang.artificial, > which Rick H[arrison] favored and I and others opposed. My opposition was based on > the fear that such a group in direct contrast would make conlang postings > unwelcome in sci.lang even when they concerned linguistics, thus exiling > Lojban from the larger linguistic community to a backwater that few > linguists would read. > > Failing to find favor, he set up the list, but I subscribed and > participated as soon as I was aware that it was set up (I was still pretty > net-ignorant back then). [According to my archive, the welcome message > including him is dated Mon, 29 Jul 1991 09:09:58 -0400.] Steve Rice was among > the early contributors and indeed leaders of the group, and he and I got into > some very heated arguments. Rick also posted heavily and anti-Lojban. > > I was prone to railing on about people who thought > that creating a conlang was just a matter of coming up with a new set of > phonology and morphology rules, such that people could "create many conlangs > in a year or two". When pushed on this, I would rail against artlangs > in general, though I am really more indifferent than opposed to them. > > [Conlang] was not set up specifically to exclude Lojban, but it seemed clear > that since we had our own list, that traffic solely about Lojban was > inappropriate unless it was something of interest to those who would not be > subscribed to Lojban List. The initial anti-Lojban bent of the group > stemmed from who the other major posters were, and the fact that we had > Lojban List as an alternative. John [Ross] was actually a non-committed Lojban > supporter who was interested in other languages as well, and I think he > wanted to emulate our success with Lojban List.
Finally, for those of you who made it this far, the first public remarks ever about Livagian, dated Mon, 8 Jul 1991 14:43:51 -0400 in my archive:
> Rostese, the English name for Rashtoirosht, is a language I've been developing > for fifteen years. It has a syntax, semantics and phonology, but no proper > lexicon, because there are very few pairings of semantic senses with > phonological representations, so it is not possible to compose a text in > the language. Moreover, each time I change the (quasi Jackendoffian) > semantic system I employ in my PhD thesis (for the analysis of English), > Rostese changes. The language is conceived of as a classical lg like > Sanskrit or Latin - i.e. used in prestigious texts, but not living. > I mention this lg because I know I'm addressing a fellow enthusiast, but, > since it can't be spoken, it would otherwise be rather impudent of me > to claim it as an invented language. It is really my platonic ideal of > a language, & discovering what the ideal is precedes the invention of the > speakable language. If you want to know more about Rostese > I could perhaps discuss the phonology & syntax.
(Phonology confidently expected soon, still waiting for syntax.) -- Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis vom dies! || John Cowan <jcowan@...> Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau, || Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau, || Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)