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One of Jim's Answers (Re: LUNATIC SURVEY 2005)

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Saturday, February 26, 2005, 9:46
Jim Grossman answered the question about what metaphor best
suits conlanging with the following analogy:

Conlanging is to linguistics as describing imaginary creatures is to

This reminds me of something I heard about Vladimir Nabokov.
He was, of course, an avid lepidopterist, and a semi-conlanger (cf.
Pale Fire).  Regarding lepidoperterology (if that's a word), there's
a species of butterfly named after him (or that he named...).  I also
read that he once
drew an imaginary butterfly that was *so* realistic, that lepidopterists
and zoologists thought that it could, in fact, exist--it just didn't
happen to.  I think this butterfly was similar to a particular
species of butterfly, with some modifications--possibly what an
a priori conlang is to the language family it's supposed to
emulate.  Anyway, Jim's answer reminded me of that anecdote,
so I thought I'd share it.

Oh, and I think the point is this: If someone understands butterflies
*so* well that they can create a butterfly that *could* exist on
paper, shouldn't this person themselves be an asset to zoology?
Ditto with conlanging to linguistics.



Sally Caves <scaves@...>