Very belated Celtic Conlang Survey response
|From:||H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, March 8, 2003, 21:44|
Posted very belatedly by Sally's request. :-)
On Sat, Mar 08, 2003 at 11:38:23AM -0500, Sally Caves wrote:
> > PART I. FOR CELTIC CONLANGERS:[snip]
N/A for me.
> > PART II: INSPIRATION BY TOLKIEN (tangential to the questions on
> > inspiration by Celtic languages):
Also N/A for me, but I think some of the questions are worthy of *some*
> > How many of you were inspired to invent a language because of your
> > exposure to Tolkien?
For me, it's (very) indirect, but undeniable nevertheless.
In my youth, I've had some contact with RPG's and RPG-like games. I was
never into full-fledged, multiplayer AD&D games, they are just not to my
taste. But I did have a taste for adventure games like the Ultima series,
which borrows heavily from the genre. Ultima was probably responsible for
suggesting the very idea of inventing languages in the first place,
although back then I had only gotten as far as conscripting---Ultima had
runes, but only as far as writing English in runic characters, hence the
Of course, back then it was more of a fascination with secret codes and
secret writing than any true conscripting; but I remember one book that
mentioned the idea of using a conlang as a secret code which is much
harder to break than just an obscure writing system for English. So I
began to consider the possibility of alternative grammars from the boring
accusative SVO languages I grew up with.
Coming back to the Tolkien connection, it was the idea of different races
that played a role in the eventual idea of full-fledged conlanging. When I
was young, I had this obsession with "originality", and I reasoned that
given the hypothesis that other sentient races existed, obviously they
won't be speaking English. Or to take that a bit further, it is unlikely
that they would have words for things and concepts we take for granted.
Eventually, they must have a radically different grammar at least from
> > How many of you based your conlang on one of Tolkien's languages, or your
> > conculture in Middle Earth?
I find that "unoriginal". :-) (Although I have to confess that I've never
actually read LoTR...)
> > 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?)
Ebisedian is definitely in the setting of a constructed world; but it does
not have any direct borrowings from mythology. I find the whole medieval
obsession rather trite. Or any direct borrowings from any historic
mythology, for that matter.
> > 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?
For my case, it's more a matter of wanting to create a fantasy setting
deliberately non-Tolkien. :-)
> > How many of you were inspired to invent a language because you engage in
> > Roll-Playing Games?
As described above, the connection for me is indirect.
> > How many of you were inspired to invent a language because you heard of
> > this listserv?
I did! :-) Although all the pieces were already in place for me to
conlang, I never actually took that step until I started reading CONLANG.
> > How many of you are members of the Mythopoeic Society, or the Society for
> > Creative Anachronism, or other High Fantasy Groups?
Not me. I'm not that interested in those topics.
> > 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.
> > What is your name and what do you call your conlang?
ni ebu' d3 g3mi' eTi'ohi. :-)
Currently, my conlang goes by the name "Ebisedian", which is an
anglicization of _3bis33'di_ [?@\bi"s@\:di] ("the people"). I should
mention that I'm not particularly happy with this name, I only started
using it when David Bell prodded me to stop walking around with a nameless
conlang. :-) But since then, the name has stuck, so I guess it will remain
known as Ebisedian henceforth.
(And of course, I just cannot refrain from seizing this opportunity to say
that the speakers of Ebisedian are the Ebisedi, and "Ebisedi" is a
*plural* word, the singular of which is "Bisedi", both of which are
accented on the "se". Please refrain from horrible manglings such as
"Bisedis" or "Ebisedies". :-)
> > So what is unappealing about the Indo-European model for conlanging? Or
> > Tolkien's Elvish?
I don't know Sindarin, so I don't really have a model to begin with as far
as Tolkien is concerned.
As for the Indo-European model... I've mentioned a few times on the list
that the main inspiration for Ebisedian's semantic case-marking system
comes from my reaction to what I perceived as troublesome syntax involving
the IE passive construction. Besides, when I started creating Ebisedian, I
felt that it was uninteresting to produce another IE lang since there are
so many around already; so I decided to explore what results if I were to
change some of the fundamental principles upon which IE langs are built.
> > How did you start conlanging? What was your initial inspiration?
I've already mentioned an indirect Tolkien connection and conscripting;
the other major aspect is con-worlding. I was very much into chemistry and
physics in highschool, and I've often marvelled at how such beauty and
complexity in the universe can result from (relatively) simple fundamental
principles. I've also wondered what would happen if some of these
principles were different from what they are.
The current conworld where the Ebisedi live builds mainly from thinking
about alternate physics/chemistry, mixed with and influenced by all sorts
of other things such from Tolkienesque magical worlds to sci-fi outer
space fantasy, parallel universes and higher-dimensional spaces. A big
part of it is also a rationalization and integration of the countless
story fragments that I came up with over the years.
And then it occurred to me the resulting mammoth mosaic is missing
something: a language and culture properly its own. It would be very out
of place for the inhabitants of such a different universe to speak
English, or to share North American cultural norms! So then I started
thinking about how said inhabitants would think and speak; and this was
when I started pondering over the question of passive constructions in
IE-like languages. I reasoned that since the speakers of this language
live in such a different universe from ours, even though they are still
human at heart, their language would not be confined by what I perceived
as limitations in the languages that I knew. They would express their
human concepts in totally unique ways. The semantic marking of Ebisedian
is a simple consequence of that.
And then from here to actually creating a conlang, was just a simple
matter of getting the right motivation. (I.e., finding out about this
> > Did you know about Tolkien's inventions? Read the books, the appendices?
> > etc. Or not?
I didn't actually know that Tolkien invented languages until I heard it
mentioned on this list.
> > What language types have you modeled your language(s) after?
It's hard to say. At first I almost stuck with the IE model (or at least,
the accusative model), being completely ignorant of the lesser-known
languages of the world. Discovering the nature of Tagalog "confirmed" that
the unusual semantic system I had come up with was more plausible than I
As it stands, Ebisedian is heavily influenced by a lot of language types,
but it also innovates as freely as it borrows (or one may say, it borrows
creatively), so on the surface it does look completely unique. :-) The
existence of a case system at all is a (Classical) Greek influence. My
initial idea was a fixed word order system. The correlatives are another
obviously Greek borrowing. The vowel (as opposed to affix) based
inflectional system is an adaptation of Germanic "strong" (?) verbs. The
compound-word construction is marginally agglutinative. The topic-comment
constructs are a Chinese influence. The weird pronominal system is a
highly modified borrowing from Japanese. And so on, and so forth... there
are too many others to list here.
> > What features of these languages or language types appeal to you?
Well, I guess it's just a matter of subjective appeal. When I took a
course in Classical Greek, one of the things that really stuck out to me
were the correlative constructs. I loved the beauty and conciseness of it.
The subjunctive and optative in Ebisedian also derives a lot from Greek. I
liked the idea of not needing cumbersome circumlocutions for expressing
hypothetical statements, like one has to in English. The pitch accent is a
Greek borrowing as well. (Surprise, surprise, Ebisedian is a lot more IE
than it looks!) Being an L1 speaker of a tonal natlang, I'm obviously
biased against dumb loudness-stressed languages. :-)
> > 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?
For me, mellifluousness is a subjective quality that differs from person
to person, and even from language to language. Elvish may be mellifluous
in its own Tolkienesque way; but that doesn't mean making Ebisedian sound
Elvish is the answer to building an aesthetic beauty into it.
> > For how many of you, though, is beauty and/or efficiency a factor in your
> > language? Or elegance? How would you define these terms?
Personally, I find Ebisedian's case system very elegant. I've considered
(and am still considering) a major overhaul of Ebisedian, essentially
starting again from scratch, but the case system is one of the things that
I would keep as it is. I'm not sure how to define what exactly I like
about it; it just has that nice, almost mathematical, symmetry that
appeals to me.
> > For how many of you is the "exotic" a desired feature of your invented
> > language?
Many features of Ebisedian are indeed exotic, but I don't introduce exotic
features just for its own sake. Whenever I want to introduce a new feature
to Ebisedian, exotic or otherwise, the primary consideration is, how would
a Bisedi express this? Does this fit in the way of thinking of the
> > How many of you invent a non-human language? And if so, how alien are its
> > sounds and constructions?
The Ebisedi are intended to be more-or-less human manifestations in an
otherwise unusual world. So I've stuck with a more-or-less ordinary
phonetic inventory. (That is not to say that I'm happy with it, though. I
still have this urge in the back of my mind to at least rework the entire
Ebisedian phonology, if nothing else.)
> > 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.)
I'm definitely biased toward a priori languages. Ebisedian's case system
is probably its most original feature. (One may even say that that is its
characteristic feature.) Nevertheless, I borrow a lot from existing
natlangs. It's just modified beyond easy recognition. :-)
> > How many of you invent a language based on a particular type (Ergative,
> > Accusative, Trigger, etc.)?
I think it's probably obvious now that Ebisedian is mainly motivated by
its semantic case system, if that qualifies as a language type.
> > 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?
In spite of Ebisedian's reputation, I did not design it to be difficult or
irregular; in fact, I actively try to make it as accessible as I can
without compromising what I feel are essential differences that must arise
in the culture of its speakers.
> > To what degree is accessibility, efficiency, and regularity important to
> > your conlang? What natural language "faults" are you correcting?
I used to have (and still have to a much lesser extent) a beef against
passive constructions. As I've described, it was a major factor that
shaped Ebisedian's semantic case system. As for regularity... I try
(perhaps a bit too hard) to give an internal consistency to Ebisedian.
Many lexical roots, for example, are extrapolations from a hypothetical
ancestor lang with a very limited vocabulary. At the same time, I'm also
learning to introduce irregularities just so it is more naturalistic.
> > How many of you invent logical languages?
Originally, Ebisedian was supposed to be a very logical and consistent
language. I think I've largely given up on that, although I'm still quite
pedantic about unambiguous constructions. :-)
> > How many of you invent IALs?
I stay away from IALs. For me, conlangs (and esp. *my* conlangs) are just
toys or little academic fascinations, and are not meant to go much farther
> > How many of you have invented non-Tolkienesque or non European concultures
> > and what are they like?
Ohhh, I hope you realize you're opening a BIG can of worms here. :-)
The little space available here would not even begin to describe this
large, intricate, sometimes self-contradictory, mosaic universe I
(temporarily, due to lack of a better term) call the Ferochromon. Even I
myself haven't fitted in all the pieces yet, although I have set down most
of the basic guiding principles. It covers everything from the Ferochromic
equivalent of the Big Bang, to the formation of the first _3kacorii'_
("landmasses") and the introduction of sentient life, to over 7-8 eras of
the history and culture of the Ebisedi, some of which involve interactions
with other universes, to the con-physics of the _Ka'l3rii_ and _vyy'i_
(very crudely, the "starbursts" and "whirlpools"), to the con-chemistry of
the _3k0rumii'_ (very crudely, the "colors", which are the constituent
elements of the Ferochromon much like atoms are the elements of our
universe), to a Grand Universal Storyline that I so typically create for
my fictional worlds (yes, I have more than one. Isn't that scary?).
The scary thing is, most of this isn't even written down anywhere.
> > How many of you started out by pulling words out of the air, originally?
> > 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.)
My first Ebisedian words were actually coined long after I laid down the
basic grammar. :-) In fact, the only reason I made up those words was so
that I have examples to describe the grammar with!
My current approach is to pull words out of the air, and then subject them
to an extensive, exhaustive, critical analysis and obsessive revision
until I feel they "fit" in Ebisedian, before adding them to the lexicon. I
also have a habit of then creating several other cognate, complementary,
or otherwise related, words. So the Ebisedian lexicon grows in spurts and
starts rather than any consistent application of a method.
> > PART IV: THE LUNATIC SURVEY REVISITED (because we are all "fous du
> > langage," according to Yaguello and other French critics.
> > Why do you conlang?
Because otherwise the poor inhabitants of my con-world would be mute! :-)
> > Who will speak it? Read it?
The Ebisedi will speak it and read it, if no one else. Hey, they need a
writing to preserve their cultural heritage too, y'know? :-)
> > What's the point?
To be blunt, there is no point. :-P
(Excuse me for my punny obsession.)
> > What's the beauty?
The beauty is that an otherwise incomplete universe would be complete (or
at least more so) with the existence of its own tongue.
> > what's the intellectual draw?
I guess you could describe me as an obsessive academic, even though I am
presently not in the academia. I conlang for the same reasons I dream up
fantasy tales of valor and grandeur, rationalize and integrate said
fantasy tales, create entire universes to be populated with these tales,
derive calculus theorems for fun, compose orchestral music which I will
probably never hear a real orchestra perform in my lifetime, write
computer programs that nobody else would have any interest in, create
fictional chemical elements just so I can write cool chemical equations
for them, etc..
> > 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?
I don't know. It's just a manifestation of this irrational, uncontrollable
urge in me to create and invent.
It's just like that document I wrote that describes "magnitude numbers",
derived using first principles from basic univariate calculus, complete
with full, formal mathematical proofs. (It reads just like a textbook.) It
serves no purpose mathematically, since there are no groundbreaking
mathematical results, and it certainly serves no one else any purpose.
Except perhaps a fascination with mathematical things, both useful and
useless. (Although one may argue that most of mathematics is useless. By
that analysis, that document of mine would be the useless of useless.)
It's just like that proof of the formula for the Fibonacci numbers that I
made, using matrix multiplication and eigenvalues. The Fibonacci formula
has already been proven to the death by myriads of mathematicians and math
students alike, in much more elegant ways than my own proof. Why did I do
it then, given that it wasn't even a school assignment?
It's like that short document I have about fantastical "atoms" in a
universe made of flying platonic solids, and how they "react" with each
other to form other platonic solids. It's math, physics, and chemistry
synaesthesized (sp?) into a quasi-philosophical pondering. I'm not sure if
it even qualifies as an academic curiosity; it's fictional, and doesn't
produce colorful patterns that people can admire, and doesn't have any
coolness factor to it.
It's just like the way I doodle on scratch paper and from a few lines,
imagine a shape, an object, a scene, a story, and an entire epic complete
with fully developed characters described in excruciating anatomical
detail living in their own custom-made universe (or their own custom-made
corner of an existing con-world of mine).
It's just like the way I "invented" my own way of solving the Rubik's
cube, even though there are many solutions out there already, and my own
solution is based on an existing one.
It's just like the way I can construct entire epics solely from the
details of my sleeping position in bed at night. (In fact, many of the
story fragments in the Ferochromon came from this little, uh, exercise.)
It's just like how the visual imagery of four French horns can inspire me
to compose an entire symphony.
A conlang is just another one of these mental toys of mine. If it turns
out to be communicable (provided somebody else actually has the interest
to learn it to the point of conversational fluency), then that'd be cool.
But that neither adds nor subtracts from the intellectual draw of it.
> > If it is a communicable language, to whom do you speak it?
Uh, my Ebisedian informant, of course! ;-)
> > 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.
I'm not sure... I find that what seems normal to me is already strange
enough for others, so I don't make any conscious effort to make my conlang
stranger than it is. :-)
> > 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.)
Now, making maps... that's something I should do one day for some of the
historic locations in the history of the Ebisedi. I don't know how much
the foreignness of it delights me; by the time I get it to the point that
satisfies my obsessive perfectionism, I usually know it inside out,
leftside right and rightside wrong already, so it's not foreign by any
One thing I suppose I should mention here is that sometimes I stumble
across something I created a long time ago---perhaps a story, some
drawings, etc.---and I had completely forgotten about the details of it.
It is then a very delightful journey of re-discovery as I read over it or
explore it once again, and surprise myself with gems that I had put there
which I have forgotten about. It's sorta like the nostalgia of
rediscovering one's own childhood painting after years of it being totally
> > 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).
Hmm. This is very hard to describe. It's just like when I compose music,
certain chords just sound wrong even though they are theoretically
permissible, and some just sound right even though they are theoretically
wrong. Or in more modern idioms, I find that some "chord progressions" (if
you can call it that) just sounds awkward, whilst others sound
appropriate, even though none of them follow any traditional harmonic
theory (nor modern ones for that matter). It's a subjective, case-by-case
> > 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.)
Hmph, this question came a tad too late. ;-) In addition to the things
I've already mentioned above, I also used to draw a whole series of
cartoons about a group of heroes called the Star Team, who defend the
world from alien invaders, and one day pursued retreating invaders to
their home planet, the Alpha Planet, where there are 26 races of aliens,
corresponding to the shapes of the 26 capital letters of the alphabet.
This planet had a moon called Alpha Moon, where the Lunar Ticks dwelt...
[Very bad puns snipped.]
> > How many of you have a special script in your conlang?
Ebisedian has at least 2 conscripts. The "official" one is the _sanoki'_,
an elaborate abjad-like writing devised by the scribes who loved frills
and serifs on their letters. Another writing system is the _k0romoki'_,
based on the arrangement of color patterns. There is also a possible third
system which involves intersecting lines, which can be carved on walls and
other large, flat surfaces.
> > If you use Roman script, how recognizably "phonetic" is your writing
> > system?
> > In other words, do you use unconventional letters to represent sounds?
> > Why?
There is a Roman transcription scheme for Ebisedian (not the _sanoki'_
which is its own script), which is basically a phonetic system. The
unconventional letters are mainly due to the unfortunate poverty of the
Roman alphabet, which really is insufficient for representing a language
with 27 consonants and 9 vowels.
> > 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've written short poems and anecdotes in Ebisedian, but not very much
beyond that except for translation relay entries. I'm unfortunately not a
very good writer when it comes to full-length prose; and the relative
poverty of the current Ebisedian lexicon makes it all the harder.
> > How many of you sing in your language and have invented songs for that
> > purpose?
I haven't decided if the Ebisedi sing...
> > How many of you started conlanging when you were a teenager and have stuck
> > to the same language over many years? Why?
I didn't start *real* conlanging until I discovered CONLANG a few years
> > How many of you change conlangs regularly, developing structures for many
> > languages but not sticking with any one for very long? Why?
I've largely stuck with one conlang, although I do have plans to make
daughter langs of Ebisedian, and I have ideas for at least one other lang
which is unrelated to Ebisedian.
> > For how many of you does your language function as a spiritual instrument?
> > This is a deeply personal question--let me give you an example. When I
> > first started inventing "Tayonian" in my early teens, what I wrote were
> > spells and prayers. They had a talismanic quality. Does that ring a bell
> > for anybody?
Nope. Although I'm sure God understands my prayers no matter what language
I use, it kinda defeats the purpose to communicate in an obscure language
when I can do so more fluently in English.
> > 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).
I have invented several different conscripts for the purpose of writing
secret diaries, one of which I still use from time to time. It mainly
comes up when I'm taking notes and wish to insert a highly personal
comment which I don't want others to read. And now that I think about
it... I *have* written heartfelt prayers in an unreadable script, although
it is just re-scripted English, mainly because it is personal to me and I
do not like anyone else to know what it is. I do have short diary entries
written in such scripts, some of which even I have trouble deciphering
today through lack of use.
None of this is Ebisedian, however, since Ebisedian is pretty much
suitable only for the Ferochromon. I do find myself using Ebisedian words
and phrases from time to time, but not in any extensive ways.
> > How many of you can speak your language, at least to yourself and your
> > pet? child? spouse? <G> To what extent?
I can speak basic Ebisedian very slowly, without consulting the lexicon (I
probably never need to consult the grammar; somehow I am better at
remembering grammatical structures than individual words).
> > How many of you have put up websites where your language can be showcased?
> > If so, what is the website address?
People who don't already know Ebisedian ought to start here:
People who are like to dive into full-fledged, undiluted reference
grammars may challenge themselves with this:
And people who like words will like:
> > How many of you have made soundbytes of your language so the rest of us
> > can hear it? If so, give the site.
If only I had taken the opportunity to record something while my
ex-roommate, who owns a speakerphone, still lived here. :-(
> > How many of you are comfortable talking to your boss, your professors,
> > your family members about this pursuit? How many of you have received
> > condescending or other negative responses to your disclosure? (I have.)
> > Or even been called "pathological"?
I have told several people about it, mainly on a need-to-know basis. (I
should add that this doesn't necessarily mean I am uncomfortable to talk
about it; I am generally a very quiet person IRL and I usually don't offer
information without being asked first.) The various responses include,
"I'm not exactly thrilled by your so-called 'language'" (this was in a
rather sarcastic manner), "sure, if that rocks your boat" (from a relative
of mine, who just accepts that I'm just a strange person), and "and *why*
would you want to do that?" (not sarcastically, just offhandedly).
And various unspoken responses include "why do you waste your time with
such things?". (Unspoken because I already know the reaction and therefore
don't bother to bring up the topic to begin with.)
> > If this attitude is changing, to what do you attribute the change? (On
> > New Year's Eve, a delightful, elderly gentleman could not understand why I
> > would be interested in this pursuit. What purpose could it serve?)
I don't know if it's changing. I think I just do enough unconventional
things that people generally just accept that I'm a peculiar person.
> > 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?
Depends ... My usual reaction to this kind of criticism, esp. if it is
intended personally, is just to not respond. It's not as if I'm going to
change just because of some remarks, and there's no need for me to react
and perhaps trigger an unnecessary quarrel.
> > PART V: GENERAL DEMOGRAPHICS:
> > What is your age (optional--and can be general: 30-40, for instance).
Approaching the 3rd decade... way too fast. :-(
> > 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)?
> > What is your gender?
> > What is your nationality and your native language?
Malaysian by citizenship, Chinese by ancestry. Native language is Hokkien,
although I am currently a lot more fluent in English than Hokkien.
> > What natural languages do you speak or have studied?
Besides Hokkien, I can speak Mandarin (can't read/write though), can
read/write Malay (although that's fading through lack of use), and of
I've studied Classical Greek, but haven't really attained to any
significant level of proficiency in it. And I've picked up random words
and phrases in Korean, but that's about as far as I got.
> > How many of you have chosen a profession in linguistics because of your
> > interest in inventing languages? Or plan a profession in linguistics?
*If* I had all the time in the world, I'd major in, besides computer
science, music, chemistry, and linguistics. *If*. :-) Unfortunately that's
_myna_, not _jina_.[*] :-(
[*] The meanings of which is left as an exercise for the reader.
> > What have you learned from conlanging?
A LOT about linguistics and how human language works. It has been a great
eye-opening experience, both from this list, and from struggling with
linguistic issues in Ebisedian. It'd be too numerous to enumerate here;
let's just say that before I came to CONLANG, the only linguistics I knew
was English grammar.
> > What texts on language and linguistics have you consulted to help invent
> > your language?
Hmm. I had always wanted to buy one of those books fellow conlangers keep
recommending, but I've never actually gotten around to ordering one. I
learned it all from this 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).
After I was made aware of the widespread occurrence of the conlanging
phenomenon, I've noticed many people who mention conlanging in passing. Of
course, this is all online, but they aren't associated with this list
AFAIK. One example is:
Tolkien seems to be a major influence in this area.
> > Can you give me a short sample of your language with interlinear
> > description and translation?[snip]
OK, I understand this was for your talk which I assume has passed a long
time since. So I'm taking the liberty to provide the following sample from
my Ebisedian entry in the 7th Conlang Relay, which I had nicely put into a
2-column interlinear format, complemented with highlights and discussions
of several grammatical points of interest.
I chose to give this as a sample instead of a simple sentence in this
message, because (1) I hate the ugly ASCII Ebisedian orthography which
looks like some kind of freaklang; the PDF uses a much more readable form
of the Roman orthography, and (2) I wanted to give a non-trivial example
of Ebisedian rather than the usual 5-word kindergarten-level sentences we
see all the time.
The only unfortunate thing is that I do not yet have the mechanism for
efficiently creating word-for-word interlinears in this nicer format, so
the best I can do is a line-by-line paraphrase. Just for kicks, the
word-for-word English translation would be:
1. In-the-past I was-going to-the to-you which house on-the-one-hand. And
see to-me from-the injure whom man on-the-other-hand.
2. From-him surprise to-me by-this: "beg to-me thus: 'help to-me in-the
to-myself which house'" for-one.
3. From-me ask to-him thus: "ought by-me help" for-two. And follow me
to-him to-house for-three.
4. Inside house with-surprise see to-me the to-him and-the pregnant who
5. And perceive to-me thus: "wife in-much-turmoil" on-the-other-hand.
Just so you can get a rough feel for word order and syntactic
constructions in Ebisedian. :-)
Amateurs built the Ark; professionals built the Titanic.