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Re: conlanging and journaling

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Monday, February 11, 2008, 16:55
On Feb 10, 2008 5:32 PM, Rick Harrison <rick@...> wrote:
> I have this vague, shapeless feeling that conlanging and writing a diary/journal are similar > activities in some ways. > > If you're just doing it for yourself, you can sort of do whatever you want; there is no right > or wrong, no preferred practice or unpopular options.
This was true at one time, and is still true for some people, but I think over time a greater and greater number of conlangers are creating not just for themselves but at least partly for an audience of fellow conlangers. There's another way conlanging and journaling may be connected: the use of a conlang as a medium for writing a journal. Javant Biarujia famously did, I do, and so do a number of others (though apparently a small minority among conlangers).
> But there is a potential audience in the shadows of the mind of many journal-keepers. > Grandchildren? Future historians? My future self? For some of us the potential audience is > not clearly defined.
My primary audience is certainly my future self; but I don't mind if any number of relatives or friends or historians read it after I'm dead. To read the whole thing they would need to know English, Esperanto, toki pona and gjâ-zym-byn. (There are occasional sentences here and there in other languages, but I think those are the only languages I've written extensive passages in.) My choice of languages is partially conditioned by consideration of these potential secondary audiences; for instance, I'm most likely to write about an Esperanto convention or local meeting in Esperanto, and about a family reunion in English, and about specially private matters (but also about routine stuff) in gzb.
> And the existence of a potential audience limits your options.
Can you expand on that? I see how, if you're primarily intending your journal for your friends and relations or for future historians, you would avoid crypticity and ellipticity of all kinds, especially but not limited to writing in a conlang, conscript or cypher. It would influence your writing style, maybe making it more formal but hopefully at least making it clearer. And if you're intending your conlang for an audience, you'll spend relatively more time working on the documentation of the language and relatively less time developing the language itself. But how or why would that limit your options about the design and implementation of the language, per se? The conlangs that are not made at all for an audience are not documented or published and, except for our own, we don't know anything about them; but I don't know of any reason to suppose that the unpublished conlangs are more various or complex or irregular than the published conlangs. 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. -- Jim Henry


Amanda Babcock Furrow <langs@...>