Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Constructed or natural?

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, September 30, 2000, 16:43
At 7:39 pm -0400 29/9/00, Nik Taylor wrote:
>Thomas Nordengen wrote: >> Does anyone know a way to distinguish conlangs from natural ones? > >I don't think it would be possible to distinguish a well-designed >conlang from a natlang.
I think you're right. If, e.g. Tolkien had not been the honest fellow he was, but had tried to pass Quenya and Sindarin off in some other medium than fiction as actual examples of real language, I think he'd have got away with it or at least have provided something that future generations would argue over - Are they conlangs or not?
>Some conlangs would probably stand out as not >being natural, simply because they violate so many tendencies in >languages.
Yes - if a language is deliberatedly contructed to be different in some way from human language (e.g. lojban based on predicate logic; Fith, which is a 'stack manipulated' language; AllNound; Srikanth's 'Lin', the language of being who communicate by telepathy etc, etc), then it's fairly easy to tell the difference. The artificial auxiliary languages almost always betray their articiality. The majority of a_priori languages do so in the way their vicabularies are constructed on strict classificatory principles in a way found in no natural languages; nearly all the a_posteriori ones that I know do so in that one meets mixes of natural languages elements which would not occur in any of their source languages. Interlingua avoids these strange mixes but it gives itself away in that it 'ought' to be a Romancelang, but it lacks certain features common to all the Romancelangs, i.e. no grammatical gender, practically none of the Romance verbal conjugation apparatus etc. There's, I think, a continuum of conlangs from those well-crafted products that probably can't be distinguished from natlangs, through to those which are deliberately designed to be different. Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================