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Re: your conlang, please? (Rich Aunt gets hold of the Lunatic Survey)

From:Tim Smith <timsmith@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 6, 1998, 1:28
At 12:18 AM 10/1/98 -0400, Sally Caves wrote:
>...and how would you characterize it in fifty words more or less? >You've been overwhelming me with wonderful revelations. For those of you >who have answered at length but not divulged, it would help me to know: > > 11) what your conlang is called,
I've already answered this for a few of my conlangs, but I think I'll mention another one here that I sort of abandoned some months ago but have just revived in a fit of inspiration (or insanity). It's called Hwendaaru.
> > 12) what are its unique features, and
Hwendaaru is agglutinative, with lots of noun cases and a basically OV, modifier-head, left-branching syntax. So far, this sounds a lot like Turkish, Basque, or any number of other natlangs -- it's a very common type. What sets Hwendaaru apart is that is also has a trigger system: in every clause there's one noun phrase, the "trigger", whose case role is marked inflectionally on the _verb_ rather than by any case affix or adposition. There are a fair number of trigger languages in the real world, but they're all VO, head-modifier, right-branching, with little or no nominal morphology -- typologically the exact opposite of Hwendaaru. Therefore this is a unique combination of features. I'm trying to explore whether this combination is workable, or whether there are good reasons why there are no natlangs of this type. I had some extensive discussions with a few people on the list about this, and had more or less come to the conclusion that it's not workable unless certain changes are made which at that time I found esthetically unappealing, but I'm now rethinking that. I'll post more on this sometime soon.
> > 13) whether you have a website.
No, I don't. Maybe someday, but probably not until I retire, if then. I'm too much of a perfectionist; I'd spend too much time on it.
>Come on! Just hit that return button! A lot of this I know already, and >can check on in Kennaway, but it would be a convenience. > > 14) Also: Mikhail Bakhtin wrote (in _Problems of >Dostoevsky's Poetics_): > > The life of the word is contained in its transfer from > one mouth to another, from one context to another context, > from one social collective to another, from one generation > to another generation. > >Of course this is precisely what we CAN'T say about "private languages." >Does that bother you that your language has a speaker of one? Some of >you get together and learn each other's languages. I'm thinking in >particular of Brithenig and Kernu (whose inventors have remained notably >silent!) Is one of the appeals of a private invented language that you >alone know its secrets and control its development?
Yes, I think that's true for me. My conlangs are one of the few things that I have any real control over. (My other major creative outlet is early music, and that's very much a collaborative thing, where my artistic vision has to compromise with those of a number of other people.)
> What would happen if someone got hold of your conlang and > vast numbers began using it and speaking it and changing it? > Remember the "No Rich Aunt" scenario? What if she made you > a village?
I'm afraid it would make me very uncomfortable; I'd feel many mutually contradictory emotions. (See above.) I'd want to keep control, but would feel guilty about wanting to. At the same time, I'd be intensely curious about how my language would evolve if left to itself. ------------------------------------------------- Tim Smith "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." -- The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939)