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Re: conlanging and journaling

From:Rick Harrison <rick@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 5:50
Parker: That was a cool quotation, thanks.

Carsten: Thanks for your comments. I also will be writing
my journal in my conlangs once I get them up and running.
All my langs are in a shambles, a state of disrepair, at
the moment. (I lower my head in shame.)

Jan van Steenbergen wrote:

> Sometimes I have made modifications in my work as a > result of feedback by readers. But conlanging is still > something I do for my own fun (or call it a calling, if > you like). Pleasing the audience is certainly not my > primary reason.
Thanks for all of your insights, Jan, particularly that bit and the comparisons to other arts.
> I have the impression that nowadays there are a lot of > conlangers who actually started conlanging AFTER they > saw conlangs online. They start conlanging because > there are others doing it as well. In other ways, a bit > of the opposite from Tolkien's Secret Vice story. I > can't speak for them, but it may very well be that they > are very much guided by the opinions of other > conlangers.
I think those who have the calling, or the language-making gene or whatever, are often triggered (usually during adolescence) by _some_ external thing. It might be your first encounter with a foreign language textbook or bilingual dictionary, or seeing your mom/sister's stenography notebook from school, or bceoming aware of Esperanto or Tolkien's languages. The modern era provides more potential triggers -- Star Trek languages, conlangs on the web -- but I think those who were destined to conlang would have been triggered by _something_ anyway. Those who don't have the calling might dabble in it briefly but won't stick with it long. (Efforts to publicize conlanging won't change the percentage of people who are destined to conlang. We've seen that in the amateur radio a.k.a. ham radio hobby. The ARRL's publicity campaigns bring in thousands of people who don't really have the radio gene, but they invariably end up letting their licenses expire and selling their gear.) "Guided by the opinoins of other conlangers." I sometimes wonder how many people are conworlding now who wouldn't have done so before it became fashionable. Socially pressured into making up fictional users of one's conlang? Instead of just saying "I made my lang this way because that's just what I felt like doing." I wonder if such pressure exists. Jim Henry wrote:
>> And the existence of a potential audience >> limits your options.
> Can you expand on that?
No diarist writes down everything he does or every thought that crosses her mind during the course of the day. We censor ourselves, omitting many of the negative thoughts, the less than praiseworthy deeds, the less than helpful things we say to others. We portray ourselves as being a lot more saintly than we actually are. The degree to which we do this seems to be proportional to our willingness to make the journals available to others. A few people burn their journals shortly after writing them; presumably they have more freedom to write out their dark sides than those who write non-encrypted journals and don't burn them. (Thoreau's journals are perhaps the most incredibly extreme example of social posturing within a journal; take a gander at them sometime. My respect for Thoreau plummeted when I read some of his journals.) I don't know if there is anything in conlanging analagous to this skewing of the data that goes on in journals.
> If by "for an audience" you mean "hoping that others > will actually learn and use your conlang", yes, that > indeed limits your options, but only as any set of > goals and design criteria naturally limits your options > once chosen.
Agreed. Although I would say, if attracting users is a design criterion, you might be basing your work on a mistaken belief that you know what will attract users. I don't think anybody has quantified what qualities made Klingon, Lojban, Toki Pona, Esperanto relatively popular; it seems to have more to do with the milieu than anything in the language designs. --- Richard K. Harrison of Florida


Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Carsten Becker <carbeck@...>
Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>