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Does your language have a mind of its own?

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  • Peter Bleackley
    Last night I was making up some words for Khangaþyagon, trying to come up with stuff to do with travel and geography. I often think of a word and then work
    Message 1 of 16 , Apr 30, 2009
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      Last night I was making up some words for
      Khangaþyagon, trying to come up with stuff to do
      with travel and geography. I often think of a
      word and then work out what it means. I came up
      with the word "oplen", and couldn't work out the
      meaning. I really wanted it to be a verb, and I
      convinced myself that it would be a verb to do
      with travel, take the -ont form of the present
      participle, and that the present participle would
      act as an agent noun, so that it was probably a
      verb that could describe an occupation. But I
      still couldn't work out what it actually meant. I
      went to bed thinking about it, hoping that if I
      slept on it, inspiration would strike in the morning.
      This morning I woke up, and I realised that
      "oplen" didn't want to be a verb. It's a noun, and it means "glade".

      Anyone else had the experiences like this, where
      the conlang seems to be telling you what to do?

      Pete
    • Daniel Bowman
      Pete, I have had similar experiences, and they often made me doubt my sanity, especially before I joined this listserv (now I figure that if I m crazy, at
      Message 2 of 16 , Apr 30, 2009
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        Pete,

        I have had similar experiences, and they often made me doubt my sanity,
        especially before I joined this listserv (now I figure that if I'm crazy, at
        least there's a fair number of similar crazy people out there). I do not
        feel like I'm "creating" angosey, but rather "uncovering" it. When I think
        of my creative process, I feel like an archaeologist unearthing some
        previously-unknown society. As the archaeologist must proceed methodically
        so as not to destroy the very objects he is studying, so must I be patient
        and let the pattern of the language emerge at its own pace. If I force it,
        I feel like the words I create don't have the authentic ring that my other
        ones have. Ultimately, the language seems to follow rules of its own, and
        although I can trace certain aspects of its structure back to circumstances
        in my life (the fact that I'm a native speaker of English, for example),
        sometimes new words or grammar come way out of left field.

        Specifically, the development of the emotive aspect in Angosey followed the
        same general pattern of "oplen." It sort of occurred, and left me
        scratching my head and wondering where it had come from.

        I recall other people reporting similar experiences on a thread a few months
        ago.

        Danny



        On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 6:57 PM, Peter Bleackley <
        Peter.Bleackley@...> wrote:

        > Last night I was making up some words for Khangaşyagon, trying to come up
        > with stuff to do with travel and geography. I often think of a word and then
        > work out what it means. I came up with the word "oplen", and couldn't work
        > out the meaning. I really wanted it to be a verb, and I convinced myself
        > that it would be a verb to do with travel, take the -ont form of the present
        > participle, and that the present participle would act as an agent noun, so
        > that it was probably a verb that could describe an occupation. But I still
        > couldn't work out what it actually meant. I went to bed thinking about it,
        > hoping that if I slept on it, inspiration would strike in the morning.
        > This morning I woke up, and I realised that "oplen" didn't want to be a
        > verb. It's a noun, and it means "glade".
        >
        > Anyone else had the experiences like this, where the conlang seems to be
        > telling you what to do?
        >
        > Pete
        >
      • Lars Finsen
        ... I think this kind of creative process is pretty common. Especially many of us conworlders must have it. I have made it a principle to let the Urianians
        Message 3 of 16 , Apr 30, 2009
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          Den 30. apr. 2009 kl. 13.55 skreiv Daniel Bowman:

          > I have had similar experiences, and they often made me doubt my
          > sanity,
          > especially before I joined this listserv (now I figure that if I'm
          > crazy, at least there's a fair number of similar crazy people out
          > there). I do not feel like I'm "creating" angosey, but rather
          > "uncovering" it. When I think of my creative process, I feel like
          > an archaeologist unearthing some previously-unknown society. As
          > the archaeologist must proceed methodically so as not to destroy
          > the very objects he is studying, so must I be patient and let the
          > pattern of the language emerge at its own pace.

          I think this kind of creative process is pretty common. Especially
          many of us conworlders must have it. I have made it a principle to
          let the Urianians have the last say in the matter when I "create"
          something for them. However, many words and features are only
          placeholders, things I made up because I needed them, but didn't feel
          they were the right ones. Sometimes I have found the right ones
          later, but there are many left.

          When I analyse my old name lists, I often get uncanny insights into
          the Urianian society. Names connected with warfare and agriculture
          are very common. There were aristocrats and bondlings, and there are
          so many different names connected with fosterage that it seems
          fosterage must have been very important in the society. There are
          names connected with soothsaying and the raising of spirits, there
          are names indicating that the bearer is Christian, others indicating
          that the bearer is Pagan, and one declaring that the bearer practises
          both faiths. They have a verb ensid, meaning 'be benevolent, kind,
          hospitable', implying that benevolence shouldn't be taken for
          granted. Probably they are rather fierce, or at least were when the
          word was coined.

          LEF
        • Tony Harris
          Absolutely! I often say it feels more like Alurhsa exists out there fully formed with a native group of users and I am remembering or discovering how it
          Message 4 of 16 , Apr 30, 2009
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            Absolutely! I often say it feels more like Alurhsa exists out there
            fully formed with a native group of users and I am "remembering" or
            "discovering" how it works and how to say things, not making it up on my
            own. When I try to make something up without taking that into account,
            it never seems to fit right.

            Tony

            Peter Bleackley wrote:
            > Last night I was making up some words for Khangaþyagon, trying to come
            > up with stuff to do with travel and geography. I often think of a word
            > and then work out what it means. I came up with the word "oplen", and
            > couldn't work out the meaning. I really wanted it to be a verb, and I
            > convinced myself that it would be a verb to do with travel, take the
            > -ont form of the present participle, and that the present participle
            > would act as an agent noun, so that it was probably a verb that could
            > describe an occupation. But I still couldn't work out what it actually
            > meant. I went to bed thinking about it, hoping that if I slept on it,
            > inspiration would strike in the morning.
            > This morning I woke up, and I realised that "oplen" didn't want to be a
            > verb. It's a noun, and it means "glade".
            >
            > Anyone else had the experiences like this, where the conlang seems to be
            > telling you what to do?
            >
            > Pete
          • Jörg Rhiemeier
            Hallo! ... It is the same to me with the Albic languages. It feels more like *discovering* what has been there before, rather than *inventing* something new.
            Message 5 of 16 , Apr 30, 2009
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              Hallo!

              On Thu, 30 Apr 2009 20:55:44 +0900, Daniel Bowman wrote:

              > Pete,
              >
              > I have had similar experiences, and they often made me doubt my sanity,
              > especially before I joined this listserv (now I figure that if I'm crazy, at
              > least there's a fair number of similar crazy people out there). I do not
              > feel like I'm "creating" angosey, but rather "uncovering" it.

              It is the same to me with the Albic languages. It feels more like
              *discovering* what has been there before, rather than *inventing*
              something new. Currently, I am trying to sort out the prehistory
              of Proto-Albic, which appears to be related to Proto-Indo-European,
              and I don't ask myself, "At which stage should I place this sound
              change?" but, "When did this sound change happen?" And I *cannot*
              change Old Albic at my whim - it is the way it is! I *did* make
              mistakes which I later corrected, but that is because I found out
              new facts about the language which falsified some assumptions I
              had made about it.

              > [...] If I force it,
              > I feel like the words I create don't have the authentic ring that my other
              > ones have.

              Indeed. I made up words "on the spot" for use in translation relays,
              and these words did not feel like actual words of the real Old Albic
              language, but merely as words I had made up to fill out gaps in my
              knowledge of the language, and did not make it into the actual
              vocabulary. Sometimes I hit the right word that way, but often,
              I didn't.

              ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
            • Gary Shannon
              ... Clearly we are all subject to influence by deep hidden memories of our previous incarnations in Atlantis or on planet Xagon 9 in the Klaatu system, were we
              Message 6 of 16 , Apr 30, 2009
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                --- On Thu, 4/30/09, Tony Harris <tony@...> wrote:

                > Absolutely!  I often say it
                > feels more like Alurhsa exists out there
                > fully formed with a native group of users and I am
                > "remembering" or
                > "discovering" how it works and how to say things, not
                > making it up on my
                > own.  When I try to make something up without taking
                > that into account,
                > it never seems to fit right.
                >
                > Tony

                Clearly we are all subject to influence by deep hidden memories of our previous incarnations in Atlantis or on planet Xagon 9 in the Klaatu system, were we orignally spoke our so-called "conlangs".

                ;-)

                --gary
              • Daniel Bowman
                If only that were so ;-)
                Message 7 of 16 , Apr 30, 2009
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                  If only that were so ;-)

                  On Fri, May 1, 2009 at 1:14 AM, Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...> wrote:

                  > --- On Thu, 4/30/09, Tony Harris <tony@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > > Absolutely! I often say it
                  > > feels more like Alurhsa exists out there
                  > > fully formed with a native group of users and I am
                  > > "remembering" or
                  > > "discovering" how it works and how to say things, not
                  > > making it up on my
                  > > own. When I try to make something up without taking
                  > > that into account,
                  > > it never seems to fit right.
                  > >
                  > > Tony
                  >
                  > Clearly we are all subject to influence by deep hidden memories of our
                  > previous incarnations in Atlantis or on planet Xagon 9 in the Klaatu system,
                  > were we orignally spoke our so-called "conlangs".
                  >
                  > ;-)
                  >
                  > --gary
                  >
                • Jörg Rhiemeier
                  Hallo! ... Indeed, I only have this kind of feeling when working on Albic; when I am tinkering with one of my on-the-back-burner engelangs I don t have it at
                  Message 8 of 16 , Apr 30, 2009
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                    Hallo!

                    On Thu, 30 Apr 2009 09:14:23 -0700, Gary Shannon wrote:

                    > Clearly we are all subject to influence by deep hidden memories of our
                    > previous incarnations in Atlantis or on planet Xagon 9 in the Klaatu
                    > system, were we orignally spoke our so-called "conlangs".
                    >
                    > ;-)

                    Indeed, I only have this kind of feeling when working on Albic;
                    when I am tinkering with one of my on-the-back-burner engelangs
                    I don't have it at all. Things like X-3 definitely do not have
                    a "life on their own".

                    ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
                  • Garth Wallace
                    On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:57 AM, Peter Bleackley ... If my languages had minds of their own, they d probably be able to think up some blasted vocabulary for
                    Message 9 of 16 , Apr 30, 2009
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                      On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:57 AM, Peter Bleackley
                      <Peter.Bleackley@...> wrote:
                      > Last night I was making up some words for Khangaşyagon, trying to come up
                      > with stuff to do with travel and geography. I often think of a word and then
                      > work out what it means. I came up with the word "oplen", and couldn't work
                      > out the meaning. I really wanted it to be a verb, and I convinced myself
                      > that it would be a verb to do with travel, take the -ont form of the present
                      > participle, and that the present participle would act as an agent noun, so
                      > that it was probably a verb that could describe an occupation. But I still
                      > couldn't work out what it actually meant. I went to bed thinking about it,
                      > hoping that if I slept on it, inspiration would strike in the morning.
                      > This morning I woke up, and I realised that "oplen" didn't want to be a
                      > verb. It's a noun, and it means "glade".
                      >
                      > Anyone else had the experiences like this, where the conlang seems to be
                      > telling you what to do?

                      If my languages had minds of their own, they'd probably be able to
                      think up some blasted vocabulary for themselves. :(

                      Working on the "modern" languages still feels like tinkering and
                      invention, weighing different ways of expressing certain grammatical
                      categories (and which categories should be expressed) and so on. On
                      the other hand, I've recently taken to finding diachronic rationales
                      for various features, which feels more like discovery: figuring out
                      what earlier forms of the language must have done and the changes that
                      brought them to where they are "now".
                    • Matthew Turnbull
                      I have definitely had times where words changed their definitions, where I realized things just couldn t work the way that I wanted them to. the word for wind
                      Message 10 of 16 , Apr 30, 2009
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                        I have definitely had times where words changed their definitions, where I
                        realized things just couldn't work the way that I wanted them to. the word
                        for wind (fwes) that I thought of more than two years ago has always seemed
                        false, I could never really seem to trust it to be right, the other day I
                        realized that the word for wind is simply fafsh (blowing-grass) because
                        that's what wind does, it blows the grass, that is the single most salient
                        quality of the wind, the same way that the most salient quality of the grass
                        is that it blows in the wind, really weird, but the grass and the wind have
                        a very close link in the language, that resulted in the word for wind
                        feeling "wrong" for over two years because it had no link to the word for
                        grass. Also, the language started off as analytical by design and is now
                        heavily agglutinating, and on its way to polysynthesis.

                        On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 4:57 AM, Peter Bleackley <
                        Peter.Bleackley@...> wrote:

                        >
                        > Anyone else had the experiences like this, where the conlang seems to be
                        > telling you what to do?
                        >
                        > Pete
                        >
                      • Daniel Bowman
                        ... Does anyone have more than one language that has a mind of its own? And if so, do they move in different directions or are they more or less similar in
                        Message 11 of 16 , May 2, 2009
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                          I just thought of a question when I was contemplating Jorg's comment:


                          > Indeed, I only have this kind of feeling when working on Albic;
                          > when I am tinkering with one of my on-the-back-burner engelangs
                          > I don't have it at all. Things like X-3 definitely do not have
                          > a "life on their own".
                          >
                          >
                          Does anyone have more than one language that has "a mind of its own?" And
                          if so, do they move in different directions or are they more or less similar
                          in grammar, phonology, vocabulary, etc?

                          I'm curious because I can't imagine having more than one. Angosey is
                          heavily intuitive and seems to thrive on the sort of unconscious creativity
                          we've been discussing on this thread, and I can't conceive of working on
                          another, completely separate language also based on "intuition."

                          As an aside, I understand where you're coming from, Matthew-now that I've
                          started to keep my diary in Angosey, the grammar and phonology seems to have
                          decided to change pretty radically. I just gained clicks, and my adverbs
                          can take a topic, and I have a few pesky undefinable words.
                        • Jörg Rhiemeier
                          Hallo! ... I wouldn t say you cannot have more than one conlang (family) with a mind of its own . Indeed, to some degree, my Germanech (a romlang) does so,
                          Message 12 of 16 , May 2, 2009
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                            Hallo!

                            On Sun, 3 May 2009 00:19:55 +0900, Daniel Bowman wrote:

                            > I just thought of a question when I was contemplating Jorg's comment:
                            >
                            >
                            > > Indeed, I only have this kind of feeling when working on Albic;
                            > > when I am tinkering with one of my on-the-back-burner engelangs
                            > > I don't have it at all. Things like X-3 definitely do not have
                            > > a "life on their own".
                            > >
                            > >
                            > Does anyone have more than one language that has "a mind of its own?" And
                            > if so, do they move in different directions or are they more or less similar
                            > in grammar, phonology, vocabulary, etc?
                            >
                            > I'm curious because I can't imagine having more than one. Angosey is
                            > heavily intuitive and seems to thrive on the sort of unconscious creativity
                            > we've been discussing on this thread, and I can't conceive of working on
                            > another, completely separate language also based on "intuition."

                            I wouldn't say you cannot have more than one conlang (family) with a
                            "mind of its own". Indeed, to some degree, my Germanech (a romlang)
                            does so, too, but to a far lesser extent than Albic, though still much
                            more than any of my experimental engelangs. And Germanech is not
                            especially similar to Old Albic. Also, when I started the Albic
                            project, it did not really have a "mind of its own", and I revised
                            many things - but eventually, it developed that "mind of its own" and
                            began to feel real.

                            > As an aside, I understand where you're coming from, Matthew-now that I've
                            > started to keep my diary in Angosey, the grammar and phonology seems to have
                            > decided to change pretty radically. I just gained clicks, and my adverbs
                            > can take a topic, and I have a few pesky undefinable words.

                            With Old Albic, the changes in its structure became *less* when it
                            began to feel real and developed a "mind of its own". Perhaps it
                            is morphic resonance with a language that really was spoken in the
                            British Isles in pre-Celtic times, or something else - but it seems
                            to me that the more "alive" a conlang feels, the more stable it is.

                            ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
                          • Mechthild Czapp
                            ... I think Kenshuite He Mo Gie gained a mind of its own as soon as I started it on a long bus ride. It developed somewhat differently from Rejistanian, even
                            Message 13 of 16 , May 2, 2009
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                              -------- Original-Nachricht --------
                              > Datum: Sun, 3 May 2009 00:19:55 +0900
                              > Von: Daniel Bowman <danny.c.bowman@...>
                              > An: CONLANG@...
                              > Betreff: Re: Does your language have a mind of its own?

                              > Does anyone have more than one language that has "a mind of its own?" And
                              > if so, do they move in different directions or are they more or less
                              > similar
                              > in grammar, phonology, vocabulary, etc?
                              >
                              I think Kenshuite He Mo Gie gained a mind of its own as soon as I started it on a long bus ride. It developed somewhat differently from Rejistanian, even though I did use some grammatical ideas in both of them. KHMG is phonologically all those ideas which I can not fit into Rejistanian and when I sketched the first sentences, it clearly told me that negation is not supposed to work like I thought/planned but more like the French double negation: "Mo ssi shei ntoo" (ssi ... ntoo work like the french ne ... pas) as compared to "Xen'ovik'ta" (which is only a conjugation of the verb to eat).
                              --
                              Va'xen tekne'het jasam alna! Va'xen tekne'het ojyu alna! Va'xen tekne'het tene'xen!
                              Let us make the world more colorful! Let us make the world crazier! Let us make the world our world!

                              Psssst! Schon vom neuen GMX MultiMessenger gehört? Der kann`s mit allen: http://www.gmx.net/de/go/multimessenger01
                            • Tony Harris
                              I would definitely say Tariatta is developing a similar mind of its own, although being far younger and less developed than Alurhsa it s not yet as
                              Message 14 of 16 , May 3, 2009
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                                I would definitely say Tariatta is developing a similar mind of its own,
                                although being far younger and less developed than Alurhsa it's not yet
                                as headstrong...


                                Daniel Bowman wrote:
                                > I just thought of a question when I was contemplating Jorg's comment:
                                >
                                >
                                >> Indeed, I only have this kind of feeling when working on Albic;
                                >> when I am tinkering with one of my on-the-back-burner engelangs
                                >> I don't have it at all. Things like X-3 definitely do not have
                                >> a "life on their own".
                                >>
                                >>
                                > Does anyone have more than one language that has "a mind of its own?" And
                                > if so, do they move in different directions or are they more or less similar
                                > in grammar, phonology, vocabulary, etc?
                                >
                                > I'm curious because I can't imagine having more than one. Angosey is
                                > heavily intuitive and seems to thrive on the sort of unconscious creativity
                                > we've been discussing on this thread, and I can't conceive of working on
                                > another, completely separate language also based on "intuition."
                                >
                                > As an aside, I understand where you're coming from, Matthew-now that I've
                                > started to keep my diary in Angosey, the grammar and phonology seems to have
                                > decided to change pretty radically. I just gained clicks, and my adverbs
                                > can take a topic, and I have a few pesky undefinable words.
                              • Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
                                2009/5/2 Daniel Bowman ... A mind of its own ? It depends what you mean by it. Most of my languages don t have that mind of their
                                Message 15 of 16 , May 6, 2009
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                                  2009/5/2 Daniel Bowman <danny.c.bowman@...>

                                  >
                                  > > Indeed, I only have this kind of feeling when working on Albic;
                                  > > when I am tinkering with one of my on-the-back-burner engelangs
                                  > > I don't have it at all. Things like X-3 definitely do not have
                                  > > a "life on their own".
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > Does anyone have more than one language that has "a mind of its own?" And
                                  > if so, do they move in different directions or are they more or less
                                  > similar
                                  > in grammar, phonology, vocabulary, etc?
                                  >
                                  >
                                  "A mind of its own"? It depends what you mean by it. Most of my languages
                                  don't have that "mind of their own". They are clearly my creations, and
                                  although I might speak of them differently (especially those associated with
                                  some fictional setting), I have full control of them.

                                  Now, this is not exactly true of Narbonese. But that's because it's an a
                                  posteriori Romance conlang. Although I haven't spelt out its Grand Master
                                  Plan, it does exist, and it restricts what Narbonese can be in many ways. I
                                  don't know whether you can call that "having a mind of its own" though. It's
                                  more like I've set up some pretty strict rules and I can't break them
                                  without breaking the language.

                                  However, my latest creation, Nocha (which is a revival of my old conlang
                                  Notya) seems to fit the "mind of its own" description quite perfectly. I
                                  have had nearly no conscious control on it since I built the basic grammar.
                                  I can't "make up words". They have to fit (which is why I'm a bit blocked
                                  right now. Nocha has very little in terms of actual grammar, instead relying
                                  on lexemes for most constructions, and I have difficulties "discovering" the
                                  right lexemes with the right meanings), otherwise they shout: "wrong" to me.
                                  So far I have only about a score of words, one of which had to change
                                  meaning already since I had given it the wrong sense. I like the fact that
                                  Nocha seems to nearly exist independently of my mind, as a thing of its own
                                  that I am discovering rather than creating, but I find it very impractical,
                                  as it prevents me from quickly defining more constructions and get to a
                                  point where I can present everyone a working language.
                                  --
                                  Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

                                  http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
                                  http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/
                                • Carsten Becker
                                  ... Same here. I ve tried to come up with a daughter language and another unrelated one, also for play-testing ideas, but those have been put on hold ever
                                  Message 16 of 16 , May 10, 2009
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                                    Daniel Bowman wrote:
                                    > I'm curious because I can't imagine having more than one.

                                    Same here. I've tried to come up with a daughter language and another
                                    unrelated one, also for play-testing ideas, but those have been put on
                                    hold ever since I made notes about those ideas.

                                    > Angosey is
                                    > heavily intuitive and seems to thrive on the sort of unconscious creativity
                                    > we've been discussing on this thread, and I can't conceive of working on
                                    > another, completely separate language also based on "intuition."
                                    >

                                    I'm afraid I often take the engineer's approach to actively coin
                                    something. However even then some things feel more right than others,
                                    which is why I don't like to have words autogenerated. Certainly that is
                                    an aid, but only one to draw inspiration form, since I usually change
                                    those generated words to make them "feel right".

                                    I sometimes get the feeling of my conlang having a mind of its own when
                                    translating things. Sometimes patterns emerge that I haven't thought of
                                    before. It's not necessarily undefinable words or words with no direct
                                    translation – I could be more creative in that respect – but rather
                                    constructions that have not occurred to me before. Unfortunately I don't
                                    usually keep track of those new constructions.

                                    Carsten
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