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Re: conlanging and journaling

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Monday, February 11, 2008, 20:09
It has always been my opinion that conlanging is primarily an art.
Just like music, literature, painting etc. A good artist has a
personal style, which makes his art recognisable as his own, and
distinguishes it from the work of others. A work by Stravinsky or
Picasso, no matter in what period it was created, can instantly be
recognised as such. Can the same be said about conlangs?

Oh, without a doubt.  If you look at it from the standpoint of
iconicity (the old definition--I think I posted about it three years
ago), when one is simply coining words--whatever the medium
(sounds, pictures, signs)--there are words that are going to have
less "stuff" in them than others.  Mightn't there be a pattern, from
language to language, regarding which words are more basic
than others?  Just like with natural language, speakers can encode
anything they want to, but it's what they get to first that
the language.  Sometimes it tells you more about the place where
speakers are from (e.g., "caribou" in Inuktitut being basic and
"coconut" being basic in Hawaiian), and other times it can tell
you a bit about how speakers live their lives.  The same can be
said when the creator is a conscious entity.

Anyway, that's in the vocabulary.  Word coinage has certainly
been discussed before on the list.  We've discussed how people
create the forms of words, and how, to an extent, personal bias
can be counteracted with a random stem generator, but even if
you stick with a random stem generator applied to random roots,
for every language you do, *that*, then, can typify your languages.

I know I personally have some favorite sound changes that seem
to appear in a good number of my languages, e.g.:

-/j/ > [Z] /_[i] (sometimes [e])
-Vx + Vy > Vz (I have many different iterations of this rule)
-OT-style stress rules (not a fan of the theory, but love what it
does with stress)
-Vowel/consonant harmony (I think *every* one of my languages has it,
even I didn't intend it to)

I could probably list others.  The thing is, in order to find these
details, you need to be really familiar with the artist's work, and
in order for that to happen, the artist needs to produce enough
work that others can view, and then others need to really immerse
themselves in it, the way, for example, one who reads all the
works of an author can come up with a list of authorial traits.

I could go on, but I've got to go.  Nice topic, though!

"A male love inevivi i'ala'i oku i ue pokulu'ume o heki a."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison