Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: artlang advocacy/evangelism

Expand Messages
  • Brett Williams
    ... I don t have any personal languages anywhere near that developed! Actually I didn t have any personal languages alive lately at all, until in the past
    Message 1 of 19 , May 14, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      On Sat, May 9, 2009 at 1:14 AM, Sai Emrys <saizai@...> wrote:
      > May I suggest you join the Relay list and take part in the upcoming
      > reverse relay (where each person translates *into* the next person's
      > language)?


      I don't have any personal languages anywhere near that developed!

      Actually I didn't have any personal languages alive lately at all,
      until in the past month or so I've been inspired to start this
      language NOIX. NOIX is mostly only written, not pronounced, but for
      convenience the name of the language can be said like French "noix",
      which it somewhat-coincidentally resembles. :)

      There are only four letters in NOIX, which are of course O I X and one
      odd one, a letter which is written as an N if it's an odd letter in a
      word but U if it's an even letter (for instance one of my names in the
      language is "NINU")-- this resembles the way the cursive script is
      written, with alternating upturning and downturning letters. Since
      there are only four letters, there's a huge variation in how each
      letter can be written, and I decided to use this space to add another
      level of expression to the language, with different letter forms that
      give different flavors to the words. For instance, X can be written
      as a heart: I very often use hearts when writing the various names of
      my lover, such as "XXOX", and almost always when writing the common
      word "XUO" which means "to think lovingly about". (I invented this
      independently before learning about Deena Larsen's "Rose" script from
      that Not-So-Secret Vice article, which I'd love to draw some
      inspiration from if anyone knows how to contact Deena or if there's
      any more descriptions extant.)

      Words of NOIX are chosen randomly with a special twelve sided die I
      made for the purpose (there's just three each of N O I & X) and my
      plan is to allow synonyms to develop randomly as words collide,
      eventually layering the few possible combinations of NOIX's few
      letters with many meanings each. It's meant to be an emotive, vague,
      mysterious, private language for the purpose of journaling and playing
      around with (one of the most common words of NOIX is "XIN", meaning
      many things already, but primarily "to play around with") and not much
      else. So it's not even aimed towards being suitable for translating
      into and out of-- though I guess it would be at least interesting, as
      its strange synonymity would surely produce a bizarre variation in the
      relay text! :)

      I feel like-- in combination with the colorful notebook I've been
      doing the project in (I love notebooks)-- the main inspiration for
      NOIX has been being subscribed to this list lately. Being immersed in
      a conlang environment floods some strange deep mammalian circuitry in
      me with this possibly irrational feeling that creating a private
      language is a sensible way to fit in. I mention that mostly because I
      know it's quite the opposite of the social relationship many or most
      of y'all have to conlanging, so I thought it might be interesting for
      you to know. What's directed my attention to conlanging in the first
      place is something quite different from the urge and pleasure of
      inventing a private language. My interest in constructed language is
      mostly very social and collaborative.

      Which brings me around to another point, which is that I will in fact
      in a sense be participating in the relay. Jim is going to participate
      with gzb, isn't he? As a serious student of gzb I've learned already
      from the relay text that David once wrote in it, and the corrections
      Jim made to his text. So I'm looking forward to seeing what someone
      comes up with this time-- I guess they'll be writing to twice the
      usual audience! ;)


      > This reminds me of some of the more poignant (IMO) parts of my
      > interview w/ Tony Harris (podcast.conlang.org). I think that,
      > practically speaking, most conlangers do yearn for someone to want to
      > learn their language or even work on it together.


      Thanks for pointing me to that, an excellent interview. I'll probably
      hopefully get a chance to listen to some more of those podcasts in the
      next few days (esp. since XXOX is out of town;).

      Halfway through listening, while also browsing the Alurhsa pages, I
      mentally added it to my short list of conlangs I might / wish I could
      learn. Doesn't anyone else here have such a list in mind?? I kind of
      imagine that other people might, but they might feel as shy as I do
      about it. Well, I'll fess up first to what else is on mine: Teonaht
      and Kelen.

      I heard somewhere that Tony lives in Waterbury, VT though?! I'm in
      Burlington, VT so that's only like 30 miles from here. If Tony could
      visit and teach me in person, that'd be awesome, I'd learn it for
      sure. I'll have to find his email and write him a note, if he doesn't
      catch this.


      > But it's exceedingly rare; there typically just isn't much interest in
      > it. Non-conlangers don't get it at all; conlangers want to make their
      > own. There are exceptions, like the people in the reverse relay above.


      Well, you know, as I said above, constructing private language has
      been a very secondary part of my interest in conlangery. I
      intuitively invented glossolalic language in childhood notebooks (I
      love notebooks) but as I grew the language I've been most interested
      in creating is social language. I've experimented with various
      collaborations, but what's most held my attention for so long is those
      few conlangs which have taken flight. I find it mysterious and
      magical. I started with the ordinary Esperanto, its magical now
      legendary story of coming to life, but only developed a mediocre
      reading comprehension (someday!! I'll learn someday I promise!;)
      before being more attracted by the strange sight of Lojban. Alive but
      newborn fragile, Lojban was just then starting to take its first baby
      steps of conversation, on its strange stilt legs. It's more certain
      now, more living, more full, and in Lojbanic spirit I will take with a
      proud ".o'a" what credit is due to me for what life and love I have
      given it. I've watched from a distance as Klingon finds similar
      footing. I've watched Laadan which seems younger and smaller just now
      but I've felt is perhaps headed towards establishing itself. I've
      watched in astonishment as tiny Toki Pona has moved in fast-motion
      through a similar genesis. It's not these languages themselves that
      fascinate me, it's their communities and their condition: They are
      clay golems, yet with some magic powder they are heaving into life.
      I've been fascinated by that powder, by the fragile edge between paper
      language and living tongue.

      To me finding the conlanging community has been like discovering rows
      and rows of empty cathedrals. It seems to me an incredibly good
      fortune, to have my choice of so many languages to explore, and each
      with its keeper unoccupied by any other students.

      I have been struck by another possibility. Perhaps, like myself and
      my scant hunger for making private language, the people who would
      learn conlangs are a strange and DIFFERENT breed than conlangers
      themselves. Perhaps what's called for is not to change how conlangers
      relate to each other's work, but rather to somehow reach the other
      people like myself, the other people who (though they might not even
      know it themselves yet) would find pleasure and satisfaction in
      experiencing as patients, as speakers, this artform so architectural
      that you can climb around inside of it. For many years I didn't
      participate actively on this list for just that reason, it occurs to
      me now: Because what I do is different than what y'all do, and I
      hadn't yet figured out how I could relate to this community and this
      artform. It seems obvious in retrospect that I could relate to these
      personal languages by simply choosing some to study and speak, but it
      wasn't obvious to me at all at first that I could just do that;
      somehow it wasn't presented as an option.

      This idea has just occured to me, so I'm just speculating. But it
      occurs to me that maybe what makes me so seemingly unique is not just
      my interest in learning strange unspoken languages-- I think that many
      people have a great curiosity about language that can satisfy itself
      on many things, for instance people are driven on a regular basis to
      deeply study languages that are fully dead, and ordinary people all
      the time out of pure curiosity study languages which, while spoken
      somewhere by millions, are spoken by no one at all that they
      personally know-- but my willingness to stubbornly persist in learning
      languages based on very little information! I'm more confident in my
      ability to learn gzb from Jim's notes and glossaries, after the years
      I doggedly persisted in learning Lojban from similarly sketchy
      documents, without even the benefit of a living inventor to confer
      with.

      It seems evident to me that there's a much larger pool of people who
      could be interested in being taught some particular unknown conlang,
      but who would be (reasonably enough) unwilling to go through the
      preliminary step of first becoming an amateur linguist! There are a
      lot of people-- and I'm thinking particularly of my beloved
      monolingual U.S.A. here-- who would find it interesting to learn the
      strange meanings and structures of someone's conlang precisely because
      they had no idea already that language was even capable of such
      things.

      Perhaps it's different for each conlang, to bridge whatever that gap
      is to reach the first potential speaker. Each language that's now
      without a single speaker beyond its inventor only needs one more to
      enter an interesting new phase of its internal development. So it's
      not like you have to appeal to the whole world, just to someone in
      particular out there. But I feel sure that what's missing from many
      of these gorgeous languages isn't the interesting interior worth
      exploring, but the thin climbable thread that will allow someone to
      find their way in there.


      > (And note that here I'm distinguishing 'learning a language' from
      > merely looking it over in the manner of an art lover at a museum.)


      For what interests me, that level of examination doesn't count at all.
      If you're just finding words in a dictionary to string them together,
      any language is only a cypher. It's only once you've seen a word in
      real context numerous times that you can piece together its special
      character. It's only once a word is spoken back and forth many times
      between different speakers that it becomes a reservoir of shared
      meaning.

      Of course, at art museums also my preferred practice is to find a work
      I especially like and devote a long period of time to seriously
      studying it. I find that most deeply satisfying.


      > I'm not sure how (or whether) one could change this, as a trend.


      Well, i have a few ideas. What I would really prefer, though it would
      take some cultural change, is for people in the conlanging community
      to become officially students of each other's languages, even if they
      were very very bad students. For instance, while I can hardly string
      three words together in gzb yet, considering myself a student of it
      changes my attitude towards things like gzb being in the relay, or Jim
      responding to a thread and saying how he does something. I've
      established a particular connection & intention and something can grow
      around that. I suspect there's also-- what do you call the opposite
      of the broken window syndrome? One person being a student of a
      conlang, even if they never actually learn very much, might well open
      the door so that other people feel more welcome to join the party. I
      think we need to break the ice a little.

      Another perhaps fanciful idea I had was that a group of us could
      pledge that we'd all study a conlang together, and then somehow
      (perhaps a vote or a lottery) decide which one. This might help with
      several barriers, such as of course having anyone to talk to,
      especially anyone at the same level as you in the language, but also
      it would decrease the feeling of... how to put it, hmm, the feeling of
      establishing a relationship so directly, of taking on a personal role
      and responsibility, which I think people might feel shy about.
      There's safety in numbers. Anyway I just think it would be a
      fantastic historical event for our artform, someone's long lonely
      quiet conlang suddenly noisy with a dozen students. Even if we all
      left the language eventually, we'd leave it changed forever. It'd be
      a good telling-story!

      One thing I think will make it easier to learn conlangs is more
      language-learning tools on the internet. Already there's flashcard
      programs around and so forth. I suppose it would be possible to make
      a site specifically for helping someone to teach a conlang. For
      instance as you made the dictionary you could also choose what lesson
      words were in, and it could create the framework for the lessons with
      glossaries at the bottom etc & remind you which words you still need
      to use in more examples and where, or something. Well that wouldn't
      really be conlang-specific either, it'd be good for teaching any
      language. We should just maybe just keep our eyes open for what
      language education tools start to pop up on the web, and put them to
      good use.


      >> I would be especially curious to hear about any languages here that
      >> are spoken by just two people already.


      (I've since read somewhere that the tentacle language Rikchik, which
      I've studied briefly, was invented by a pair of brothers. And I just
      now found out they've got a Livejournal group now with 6 members, and
      it looks active! Awesome!!)


      > Alex Fink & I are working on one, though I'd hardly consider either of
      > us competent in it (mostly 'cause it's too young).
      >
      > But that's an exceptional case, in that we started doing so in large
      > part because we're partners in the relationship sense too, and that's
      > rare.


      The gripping language, right? (Does it have any other name than
      that?) I'd be interested in seeing a post updating us all on how
      that's going. I've long thought that a fascinating modality for a
      conlang, but I knew I'd probably not actually get around to inventing
      it, so I felt relieved when I heard y'all were going to take care of
      that one for us! :) Maybe I could talk XXOX into studying it with me,
      once you've come up with something.


      I believe there are a lot more ways we could explore of having
      languages be social from the beginning of their invention. There's a
      special opportunity then, when no one knows more than anyone else
      about the language because there's absolutely nothing yet to know.

      One idea I have for a dyadic conlang is for one of the amateur
      linguist conlangers here to team up with a linguistically naive
      person, and basically to make a language for them. I believe there
      are lots of normal people who'd enjoy that-- people like to have
      something special just for them, and most people BION have no idea how
      to make a language for themselves. The nonconlanger partner without
      having any idea how language works could just request how they'd like
      the language to be, and the conlanger partner would figure out how to
      make it work. The nonconlanger could just say "what's the word for
      tree?", and the conlanger could consult their phonotactics and give
      the nonconlanger a word for tree (not a lesson on phonotactics)!


      > FWIW, although he pretends otherwise, Alex has (IMO) actually
      > relatively well learnt several others' conlangs. Mostly because he
      > both has an excellent memory and actually reads the descriptions
      > posted online exhaustively than because of any concerted effort to
      > learn them per se.


      I believe it. Why not choose one or a few to become more familiar
      with, though? Does it not seem worth it, Alex, or you just don't want
      to play favorites?


      > I haven't either quality, really. And honestly, I'm not sure that I
      > particularly want to; languages to me, at this point, are mostly an
      > aesthetic or design thing. I'm not interested in learning more
      > languages (I know enough as is), just in learning new tricks and
      > appreciating them as things of their own. Maybe that'd change in the
      > future, if I become less involved in other major projects, but that
      > itself seems rather unlikely. :-P


      Well, getting back to the idea that the conlang community might be to
      the point of having various roles now, you've certainly found a niche
      yourself. There's lots of different ways to relate to conlanging as a
      community and as an art. It may be that being partial to any
      particular language wouldn't fit how you want to relate to the
      community.

      I just selfishly hope that we can make a connection between all of
      these intriguing masterpiece conlangs and some any one who would like
      to speak them, just because that's what most intrigues me, that magic
      moment when an abstract idea of a language becomes an actual medium of
      human communication.

      <3,
      mungojelly
      aka
      la stela selckiku
      aka
      bret-ram
      aka
      man who if he gets a name in any more conlangs will have to c&p his
      sig or something ;)
    • Philip Newton
      ... This sounds to me as if Lojban has no living inventor; did you mean what I would have phrased as without even the benefit of being able to confer with its
      Message 2 of 19 , May 15, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 08:18, Brett Williams <mungojelly@...> wrote:
        > I doggedly persisted in learning Lojban from similarly sketchy
        > documents, without even the benefit of a living inventor to confer
        > with.

        This sounds to me as if Lojban has no living inventor; did you mean
        what I would have phrased as "without even the benefit of being able
        to confer with its living inventor"? Last I heard, la lojbab. was
        still alive.

        Or do you mean JCB as the inventor of Lojban? He is, kind of, but in
        other ways, he isn't.

        Cheers,
        --
        Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
      • Brett Williams
        ... What I was thinking of that Lojban no longer had by the time I came upon it, and that gzb most certainly still has, is a single personage who constitutes
        Message 3 of 19 , May 15, 2009
        • 0 Attachment
          On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 3:40 AM, Philip Newton <philip.newton@...> wrote:
          > This sounds to me as if Lojban has no living inventor; did you mean
          > what I would have phrased as "without even the benefit of being able
          > to confer with its living inventor"? Last I heard, la lojbab. was
          > still alive.


          What I was thinking of that Lojban no longer had by the time I came
          upon it, and that gzb most certainly still has, is a single personage
          who constitutes the definitive authority on the language. Bob
          LeChevalier (no'u la .lojbab.) had and still has a great authority,
          but so did and do other great Lojbanic minds such as John Cowan and
          Jorge Llambías, and in the days I was first learning Michael Helsem
          and Nick Nicholas, and many more I could mention. It was very lively,
          but it was impossible to ask a simple question and get an
          authoritative answer! (Ask on the Lojban-beginners list what the
          difference is between le and lo (a stickiest of points), to experience
          the lingering taste of what it was like in those days!)

          One reason I often consider learning Klingon is because I wonder how
          different it feels there, to have a growing community but with Marc
          Okrand's accepted authority. I've talked with several Klingon
          speakers a little about how they feel about their language, but I
          think there's a lot of the internal politics of a language community
          that you can't feel until you get close enough to it.


          > Or do you mean JCB as the inventor of Lojban? He is, kind of, but in
          > other ways, he isn't.


          ca le ca cedra ro lobypli .e ro jbopre cu finti la .lojban. .i ku'i mi
          jycyby .io sinma je'u je se te se morji
          All lobypli, all jbopre are inventors of Lojban now, but JCB I do
          respect and remember.

          mu'o mi'e la stela selckiku
          over, i'm the Lock Key-Opened
        • Philip Newton
          ... Ah, true. Now there s also the BPFK (language-planning committee). ... Heh. I remember that popular usage changed even during the short time I was active
          Message 4 of 19 , May 15, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 10:55, Brett Williams <mungojelly@...> wrote:
            > On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 3:40 AM, Philip Newton <philip.newton@...> wrote:
            >> This sounds to me as if Lojban has no living inventor; did you mean
            >> what I would have phrased as "without even the benefit of being able
            >> to confer with its living inventor"? Last I heard, la lojbab. was
            >> still alive.
            >
            > What I was thinking of that Lojban no longer had by the time I came
            > upon it, and that gzb most certainly still has, is a single personage
            > who constitutes the definitive authority on the language.  Bob
            > LeChevalier (no'u la .lojbab.) had and still has a great authority,
            > but so did and do other great Lojbanic minds such as John Cowan and
            > Jorge Llambías, and in the days I was first learning Michael Helsem
            > and Nick Nicholas, and many more I could mention.

            Ah, true. Now there's also the BPFK (language-planning committee).

            > It was very lively,
            > but it was impossible to ask a simple question and get an
            > authoritative answer!  (Ask on the Lojban-beginners list what the
            > difference is between le and lo (a stickiest of points), to experience
            > the lingering taste of what it was like in those days!)

            Heh. I remember that popular usage changed even during the short time
            I was active on lojban-list; at the beginning, la xorxes. used lo'e a
            lot while later on, lo seemed more popular.

            Cheers,
            Philip
            --
            Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
          • Jim Henry
            ... That does sound cool. I d encourage you to consider participating in a relay (probably not an inverse relay, just yet) when NOIX is better developed. ...
            Message 5 of 19 , May 15, 2009
            • 0 Attachment
              On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 2:18 AM, Brett Williams <mungojelly@...> wrote:

              > else.  So it's not even aimed towards being suitable for translating
              > into and out of-- though I guess it would be at least interesting, as
              > its strange synonymity would surely produce a bizarre variation in the
              > relay text! :)

              That does sound cool. I'd encourage you to
              consider participating in a relay (probably not
              an inverse relay, just yet) when NOIX is better developed.

              > Which brings me around to another point, which is that I will in fact
              > in a sense be participating in the relay.  Jim is going to participate
              > with gzb, isn't he?

              Right; Lars Finsen will be translating into gzb from
              a Urianian text by Tony Harris, and then I'll translate
              it into Kaleissin's Taruven and send it on.


              > I have been struck by another possibility.  Perhaps, like myself and
              > my scant hunger for making private language, the people who would
              > learn conlangs are a strange and DIFFERENT breed than conlangers
              > themselves.

              I think so, though there's a fair amount of overlap
              between conlang-learners and conlangers. And
              among conlang-learners, I'd distinguish at least
              two types:

              a. Those who learn Esperanto, or Ido, or Interlingua,
              because it's spoken by a fair number of people
              from interesting far-off places, but aren't
              interested in minor conlangs with < 100
              speakers, or in creating their own; typically, if
              they're aware of other conlangs, they have a strong
              opinion about the superiority of their favorite
              auxlang over its rivals.

              b. Those who are interested in multiple conlangs,
              primarily for their linguistic or sociolinguistic qualities,
              though they might not yet have devoted enough
              time and energy to learn more than one of them
              fluently.


              > It seems evident to me that there's a much larger pool of people who
              > could be interested in being taught some particular unknown conlang,
              > but who would be (reasonably enough) unwilling to go through the
              > preliminary step of first becoming an amateur linguist!  There are a
              > lot of people-- and I'm thinking particularly of my beloved
              > monolingual U.S.A. here-- who would find it interesting to learn the
              > strange meanings and structures of someone's conlang precisely because
              > they had no idea already that language was even capable of such
              > things.

              Yes; perhaps we would do well to craft our
              conlang descriptions in two forms, one aimed
              at fellow conlangers and other amateur linguists,
              and another aimed at a more linguistically naive
              audience. But it's so much work to do a thorough
              description of a language in even one mode --!
              and then, a description pitched at the linguistically
              naive is liable to be downright annoying to
              the more sophisticated... Search the CONLANG
              list archives for "fauxnetics" sometime.



              >  If you're just finding words in a dictionary to string them together,
              > any language is only a cypher.  It's only once you've seen a word in
              > real context numerous times that you can piece together its special
              > character.  It's only once a word is spoken back and forth many times
              > between different speakers that it becomes a reservoir of shared
              > meaning.

              And besides that, even with a one-person language,
              a word tends to take on more life when it's been
              used many times than it had when it was first coined.
              Its meaning may very well change in some way; even
              if it doesn't, something neat happens when it becomes
              a part of your brain and not just marks on paper.


              > What I would really prefer, though it would
              > take some cultural change, is for people in the conlanging community
              > to become officially students of each other's languages, even if they
              > were very very bad students.

              That's probably a good idea; I tentatively plan to
              keep studying Taruven for some while after the
              inverse relay is over.


              > I suspect there's also-- what do you call the opposite
              > of the broken window syndrome?  One person being a student of a
              > conlang, even if they never actually learn very much, might well open
              > the door so that other people feel more welcome to join the party.  I
              > think we need to break the ice a little.

              Or it might motivate the conlang's creator to document
              the language better, or work up lessons in addition
              to the grammar; or confront him with things he thought
              he'd explained already but apparently hadn't.


              > Another perhaps fanciful idea I had was that a group of us could
              > pledge that we'd all study a conlang together, and then somehow
              > (perhaps a vote or a lottery) decide which one.

              That's an interesting idea. Some while back, I
              think James Chandler, on the AUXLANG list, took
              a vote among the list members as to what conlang
              he should learn next -- Toki Pona was one of the
              conlangs he was considering, I don't recall what
              the other one was.


              > Anyway I just think it would be a
              > fantastic historical event for our artform, someone's long lonely
              > quiet conlang suddenly noisy with a dozen students.  Even if we all
              > left the language eventually, we'd leave it changed forever.  It'd be
              > a good telling-story!

              Let's do it! I suggest, though, not taking the final
              vote until after the inverse relay is over. I suspect
              a fair number of the people who would be interested
              in this are participating in the relay and won't have
              time to study another conlang until afterward.


              > One thing I think will make it easier to learn conlangs is more
              > language-learning tools on the internet.  Already there's flashcard

              What might help, more generally, is some discussion
              or study about how to devise a set of lessons for a
              given language -- a framework like the Lingua
              Questionnaire or Describing Morphosyntax offers
              for devising a reference grammar. I reckon
              the best order to teach things in is not the same
              for all languages, but there are probably some
              principles that could be generalized and used as
              guidelines for writing lessons.


              > I believe there are a lot more ways we could explore of having
              > languages be social from the beginning of their invention.  There's a
              > special opportunity then, when no one knows more than anyone else
              > about the language because there's absolutely nothing yet to know.

              There have been several collaborative conlang
              projects over the years. I think Kalusa was by
              far the most interesting of the ones I've been
              involved in. TAK, more recently, had an even
              more interesting collaboration method, but
              perhaps a bit too top-heavy; it fizzled a lot faster
              than Kalusa, I think. Other than Lojban, I'm not
              aware of any collaborative conlangs that have
              spawned a live speaker community.


              > One idea I have for a dyadic conlang is for one of the amateur
              > linguist conlangers here to team up with a linguistically naive
              > person, and basically to make a language for them.

              A friend and I talked about doing this, and made
              the bare beginnings of a start on it -- I was going
              to devise a conlang for him to use in his fantasy
              novel. But he abandoned that novel to work
              on another novel and a nonfiction book, and I
              never got very far with the conlang.

              --
              Jim Henry
              http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/
            • Alex Fink
              ... That s the one. Probably it ll eventually have a native name. ... One of these days we should publish our documentation, which we re keeping as Google
              Message 6 of 19 , May 22, 2009
              • 0 Attachment
                On Fri, 15 May 2009 02:18:32 -0400, Brett Williams <mungojelly@...> wrote:

                >On Sat, May 9, 2009 at 1:14 AM, Sai Emrys <saizai@...> wrote:
                >> Alex Fink & I are working on one, though I'd hardly consider either of
                >> us competent in it (mostly 'cause it's too young).
                >>
                >> But that's an exceptional case, in that we started doing so in large
                >> part because we're partners in the relationship sense too, and that's
                >> rare.
                >
                >The gripping language, right? (Does it have any other name than
                >that?)

                That's the one. Probably it'll eventually have a native name.

                >I'd be interested in seeing a post updating us all on how
                >that's going.

                One of these days we should publish our documentation, which we're keeping
                as Google documents. For now I've just been inviting as a viewer anyone
                interested (you included, now).

                Top-level overview: the grammar's coming along slowly but steadily, and
                we're at the stage of trying to hash out our first complicated example
                sentences. We still haven't chosen the forms of any words, though.

                >One idea I have for a dyadic conlang is for one of the amateur
                >linguist conlangers here to team up with a linguistically naive
                >person, and basically to make a language for them. I believe there
                >are lots of normal people who'd enjoy that-- people like to have
                >something special just for them, and most people BION have no idea how
                >to make a language for themselves.

                Justin B Rye's done that, with his "Constructed Language #4892":
                http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/jbr/l4892/
                It seems he quite enjoyed it as opportunity to skip all the usual lavishing
                of detail and cultural background &c on an artlang and just fix something up.

                >> FWIW, although he pretends otherwise, Alex has (IMO) actually
                >> relatively well learnt several others' conlangs. Mostly because he
                >> both has an excellent memory and actually reads the descriptions
                >> posted online exhaustively than because of any concerted effort to
                >> learn them per se.
                >
                >I believe it. Why not choose one or a few to become more familiar
                >with, though? Does it not seem worth it, Alex, or you just don't want
                >to play favorites?

                Well... I wouldn't say I've learnt anyone else's conlang. Not in the sense
                that I could write anything at all in it without continual reference to the
                documentation, nor read anything other than occasional recognisable words
                plucked from a less-recognisable matrix -- which is what we mean, no?

                I really just read the documentation of a conlang, and come away with
                familiarity with some random set of the features, both those I thought were
                especially interesting or characteristic and those which I remember for some
                incidental reason. This gives me enough knowledge to make a comparison of
                some feature in some other language to it later, as the typologists would,
                but that's around it. With natlangs I'm the same way: I know lots of trivia
                about lots but aside from my L1 there's only two (French, Latvian) I can use
                to any degree, and neither of them fluently. And I'm a sucker for
                collaborative conlanging, but there too I think I predominantly enjoy the
                opportunity for joint tinkering rather than the end result of having a
                usable language common with someone.

                Why not more investment? Interesting question -- but I can't think of
                anything more insightful to say ATM than that to the extent language
                builders and language learners are different breeds I represent the former
                and not particularly the latter.

                Alex
              • Yahya Abdal-Aziz
                Hi, Brett, (aka
                Message 7 of 19 , May 24, 2009
                • 0 Attachment
                  Hi, Brett,
                  (aka <3, mungojelly, aka la stela selckiku, aka
                  bret-ram, aka Tterb! (*))

                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                  On Fri, 15 May 2009, Brett Williams wrote:
                  >
                  > On Sat, May 9, 2009 at 1:14 AM, Sai Emrys wrote:
                  > > May I suggest you join the Relay list and take part in the upcoming
                  > > reverse relay (where each person translates *into* the next person's
                  > > language)?

                  Yes, a real expert's game! It's fantastic that anyone
                  finds enough time to learn other's conlangs well
                  enough to participate in this. In chess talk, this would
                  be Grand Master territory ... and rather frightening to
                  mere hobby players such as myself!


                  > I don't have any personal languages anywhere near that developed!
                  > Actually I didn't have any personal languages alive lately at all,
                  > until in the past month or so I've been inspired to start this
                  > language NOIX. NOIX is mostly only written, not pronounced, but for
                  > convenience the name of the language can be said like French "noix",
                  > which it somewhat-coincidentally resembles. :)
                  >
                  > There are only four letters in NOIX, which are of course O I X and one
                  > odd one, a letter which is written as an N if it's an odd letter in a
                  > word but U if it's an even letter (for instance one of my names in the
                  > language is "NINU")-- this resembles the way the cursive script is
                  > written, with alternating upturning and downturning letters. Since
                  > there are only four letters, there's a huge variation in how each
                  > letter can be written, and I decided to use this space to add another
                  > level of expression to the language, with different letter forms that
                  > give different flavors to the words. For instance, X can be written
                  > as a heart: I very often use hearts when writing the various names of
                  > my lover, such as "XXOX", and almost always when writing the common
                  > word "XUO" which means "to think lovingly about". (I invented this
                  > independently before learning about Deena Larsen's "Rose" script from
                  > that Not-So-Secret Vice article, which I'd love to draw some
                  > inspiration from if anyone knows how to contact Deena or if there's
                  > any more descriptions extant.)

                  _Love_ to see some images of the cursive script, hearts
                  and all! Do you know of any other language (nat- or con-)
                  with "allographs" for some or all of its graphemes? I'm not
                  thinking, here, of the variant cursive styles that school
                  systems have imposed on kids in the past, such that, eg,
                  my mother writes "the Victorian r" in place of our standard
                  "Copperplate" r (I can illustrate this if it's too opaque) -
                  these are merely _total_ substitutions of one letterform for
                  another. Rather, your n and u are two distinct letterforms
                  in complementary, conditioned distribution; that's what I
                  mean by "allographs".


                  > Words of NOIX are chosen randomly with a special twelve sided die I
                  > made for the purpose (there's just three each of N O I & X) and my
                  > plan is to allow synonyms to develop randomly as words collide,
                  > eventually layering the few possible combinations of NOIX's few
                  > letters with many meanings each. It's meant to be an emotive, vague,
                  > mysterious, private language for the purpose of journaling and playing
                  > around with (one of the most common words of NOIX is "XIN", meaning
                  > many things already, but primarily "to play around with") and not much
                  > else. So it's not even aimed towards being suitable for translating
                  > into and out of-- though I guess it would be at least interesting, as
                  > its strange synonymity would surely produce a bizarre variation in the
                  > relay text! :)

                  Vague, mysterious - and it's a language? I thought
                  languages were meant as communication tools ;-)
                  Perhaps what you really need is music - dark,
                  mysterious chords are just wonderful for sharing those
                  deep, inchoate feelings and thoughts - and just like a
                  Rorschach ink blot, or a cloudy sky, or the glowing
                  coals of a log fire late on a wintry night, you can project
                  any meaning or image you like onto it.


                  > I feel like-- in combination with the colorful notebook I've been
                  > doing the project in (I love notebooks)-- the main inspiration for
                  > NOIX has been being subscribed to this list lately. Being immersed in
                  > a conlang environment floods some strange deep mammalian circuitry in
                  > me with this possibly irrational feeling that creating a private
                  > language is a sensible way to fit in. I mention that mostly because I
                  > know it's quite the opposite of the social relationship many or most
                  > of y'all have to conlanging, so I thought it might be interesting for
                  > you to know. What's directed my attention to conlanging in the first
                  > place is something quite different from the urge and pleasure of
                  > inventing a private language. My interest in constructed language is
                  > mostly very social and collaborative.

                  So you enjoy collaborating on conlangs to fulfil social
                  aims, yet immersing yourself in the Conlang List
                  inspires you to 'fit in' by creating a _private_ language?
                  That's truly unexpected!

                  What I have felt may be possible on this list is a
                  grand synthetic collaboration between all (or most)
                  of the list members to create an a priori conlang in
                  which each of us contributes just one significant
                  feature - with absolutely no regard for creating a
                  plausible back-story as to how it might have arisen
                  conhistorically, and no particular effort to make it
                  easy to learn or use.

                  To make the challenge really interesting, we could
                  also require each team member's single design
                  decision be one that they have never taken before in
                  designing a conlang. (The aim being to ensure that
                  we really stretch ourselves and move far out of our
                  respective comfort zones.) For example, I would
                  have, if given "the phonetic inventory" to design, to
                  include click consonants and at least 14 phonemic
                  vowels. That would force me to get my head
                  around the phonetics of the kinds of sounds I've
                  avoided up to now.

                  Anyone here watch "Project Runway"? I'm sure I'm
                  not the only language designer who is equally
                  fascinated by almost any other aspect of design,
                  whether it be software design (my profession),
                  graphic design (an abiding interest), musical
                  composition (Herman Miller is an accomplished
                  microtonal composer, and I dabble), garden design
                  and landscaping (which can also help keep one fit!)
                  or, as on PR, clothes and fashion design. Reason
                  I ask is because the designers' mentor, Tim Gunn,
                  is well-known for his saying:
                  "Make it work, people; make it work!"
                  That saying would also apply equally to a team or
                  collaborative conlang built out of such disparate
                  elements.


                  > Which brings me around to another point, which is that I will in fact
                  > in a sense be participating in the relay. Jim is going to participate
                  > with gzb, isn't he? As a serious student of gzb I've learned already
                  > from the relay text that David once wrote in it, and the corrections
                  > Jim made to his text. So I'm looking forward to seeing what someone
                  > comes up with this time-- I guess they'll be writing to twice the
                  > usual audience! ;)
                  >
                  > > This reminds me of some of the more poignant (IMO) parts of my
                  > > interview w/ Tony Harris (podcast.conlang.org). I think that,
                  > > practically speaking, most conlangers do yearn for someone to want to
                  > > learn their language or even work on it together.
                  >
                  > Thanks for pointing me to that, an excellent interview. I'll probably
                  > hopefully get a chance to listen to some more of those podcasts in the
                  > next few days (esp. since XXOX is out of town;).
                  >
                  > Halfway through listening, while also browsing the Alurhsa pages, I
                  > mentally added it to my short list of conlangs I might / wish I could
                  > learn. Doesn't anyone else here have such a list in mind?? I kind of
                  > imagine that other people might, but they might feel as shy as I do
                  > about it. Well, I'll fess up first to what else is on mine: Teonaht
                  > and Kelen.

                  Hmmm - I want to get a handle on all of Lars Finsen's
                  conlangs, and on Charlie "Cerulaean Centaur" 's, and
                  Donald Boozer's Umod, and David Peterson's Sheli, etc
                  and Hermann Miller's and Henrik theiling's and Carsten
                  Becker's and Sylvia Sotomayor's and Sai Emrys' and
                  Gary Shannon's and Larry Sulky's and ...
                  ... and of course, I've missed some from this list - Yes,
                  I want it ALL! Tho' not necessarily anything of Tolkien's
                  or Klingon (because the conservatives are trying to
                  mummify them, just as the Académie Française tried
                  to embalm French), nor any deadly-serious IAL like
                  Ido or Novial etc (Esperanto was tedious enough for
                  me). I guess my emphasis would be on "living artlangs";
                  not that I'd exclude an engelang out of hand; still, there
                  must be a sense of play and fun (even if it is intellectually
                  very hard work!), and the potential for further, organic,
                  even unexpected, growth.

                  The real problem for me is picking just ONE to start with;
                  and that's where the proposed group effort (after the
                  current relay) comes in; whatever consensus the list
                  members reach will be fine with me and I WILL LEARN
                  IT, insha Allah!

                  Meanwhile, I find myself getting sucked inexorably (and
                  excruciatingly, obsessively) into whatever new Fiziwig
                  collaborative venture surfaces ... and have resumed
                  taking Mandarin classes after a hiatus of 35 years, this
                  time with an emphasis on increasing my conversational
                  fluency, rather than mastering traditional calligraphy.


                  > I heard somewhere that Tony lives in Waterbury, VT though?! I'm in
                  > Burlington, VT so that's only like 30 miles from here. If Tony could
                  > visit and teach me in person, that'd be awesome, I'd learn it for
                  > sure. I'll have to find his email and write him a note, if he doesn't
                  > catch this.
                  >
                  > > But it's exceedingly rare; there typically just isn't much interest in
                  > > it. Non-conlangers don't get it at all; conlangers want to make their
                  > > own. There are exceptions, like the people in the reverse relay above.
                  >
                  > Well, you know, as I said above, constructing private language has
                  > been a very secondary part of my interest in conlangery. I
                  > intuitively invented glossolalic language in childhood notebooks (I
                  > love notebooks) but as I grew the language I've been most interested
                  > in creating is social language. I've experimented with various
                  > collaborations, but what's most held my attention for so long is those
                  > few conlangs which have taken flight. I find it mysterious and
                  > magical. I started with the ordinary Esperanto, its magical now
                  > legendary story of coming to life, but only developed a mediocre
                  > reading comprehension (someday!! I'll learn someday I promise!;)
                  > before being more attracted by the strange sight of Lojban. Alive but
                  > newborn fragile, Lojban was just then starting to take its first baby
                  > steps of conversation, on its strange stilt legs. It's more certain
                  > now, more living, more full, and in Lojbanic spirit I will take with a
                  > proud ".o'a" what credit is due to me for what life and love I have
                  > given it. I've watched from a distance as Klingon finds similar
                  > footing. I've watched Laadan which seems younger and smaller just now
                  > but I've felt is perhaps headed towards establishing itself. I've
                  > watched in astonishment as tiny Toki Pona has moved in fast-motion
                  > through a similar genesis. It's not these languages themselves that
                  > fascinate me, it's their communities and their condition: They are
                  > clay golems, yet with some magic powder they are heaving into life.
                  > I've been fascinated by that powder, by the fragile edge between paper
                  > language and living tongue.

                  Such poetry! ;-) But I share your fascination with
                  the magic, and with the community involvement.


                  > To me finding the conlanging community has been like discovering rows
                  > and rows of empty cathedrals. It seems to me an incredibly good
                  > fortune, to have my choice of so many languages to explore, and each
                  > with its keeper unoccupied by any other students.

                  Were you religious, you'd be worshipping day-long,
                  on your knees; as an architect, you're free to wander
                  the highest pinnacle, clamber over flying buttress
                  and corbelled vault, pestering the masons, the carvers,
                  and the master builders with all sorts of pertinent im-
                  pertinences, taking the Grand Tour of this latter-day
                  Renaissance (even Baroque and Gothic) world of
                  created language, midwived by the twin enabling
                  technologies: Computing and Communication, aka
                  Infotech and Internet. And as an esteemed member
                  of this noble profession, your persistent questions
                  are more than tolerated; they are rightly taken as
                  tokens of a sincere interest in the creative workings
                  of other people's minds. Or so I've found! ;-) So,
                  ask away! Nothing is better calculated to encourage
                  conlanging creativity, or the spreading of its arts, than
                  a sincere show of interest.


                  > I have been struck by another possibility. Perhaps, like myself and
                  > my scant hunger for making private language, the people who would
                  > learn conlangs are a strange and DIFFERENT breed than conlangers
                  > themselves. Perhaps what's called for is not to change how conlangers
                  > relate to each other's work, but rather to somehow reach the other
                  > people like myself, the other people who (though they might not even
                  > know it themselves yet) would find pleasure and satisfaction in
                  > experiencing as patients, as speakers, this artform so architectural
                  > that you can climb around inside of it. For many years I didn't
                  > participate actively on this list for just that reason, it occurs to
                  > me now: Because what I do is different than what y'all do, and I
                  > hadn't yet figured out how I could relate to this community and this
                  > artform. It seems obvious in retrospect that I could relate to these
                  > personal languages by simply choosing some to study and speak, but it
                  > wasn't obvious to me at all at first that I could just do that;
                  > somehow it wasn't presented as an option.

                  But (obviously, now!) it should have been. Yes,
                  you're right! Let me again mention two names of
                  some relevance here: Larry Sulky and Gary Shannon.
                  When documenting their languages, both have tried
                  to present all material in such a way as to make it
                  easy for others to learn. To my mind, using and
                  translating a primary school reading primer (McGuffey,
                  I think?) was sheer genius. I've always found, when
                  learning a new language, it easiest to start with kid's
                  books and nursery rhymes. The latter have the singular
                  advantage of fixing the correct pronunciations very well
                  in the learner's mind; they have the simplicity and un-
                  forgettability of "earworms". Just last Tuesday night,
                  I asked my Mandarin teacher to provide me with some
                  nursery rhymes; luckily, she was receptive to the idea.
                  She'd just borrowed a volume of Chinese folksong
                  from the uni library, and we were able to quickly select
                  a simple song to start with.


                  > This idea has just occured to me, so I'm just speculating. But it
                  > occurs to me that maybe what makes me so seemingly unique is not just
                  > my interest in learning strange unspoken languages-- I think that many
                  > people have a great curiosity about language that can satisfy itself
                  > on many things, for instance people are driven on a regular basis to
                  > deeply study languages that are fully dead, and ordinary people all
                  > the time out of pure curiosity study languages which, while spoken
                  > somewhere by millions, are spoken by no one at all that they
                  > personally know-- but my willingness to stubbornly persist in learning
                  > languages based on very little information! I'm more confident in my
                  > ability to learn gzb from Jim's notes and glossaries, after the years
                  > I doggedly persisted in learning Lojban from similarly sketchy
                  > documents, without even the benefit of a living inventor to confer
                  > with.
                  >
                  > It seems evident to me that there's a much larger pool of people who
                  > could be interested in being taught some particular unknown conlang,
                  > but who would be (reasonably enough) unwilling to go through the
                  > preliminary step of first becoming an amateur linguist! There are a
                  > lot of people-- and I'm thinking particularly of my beloved
                  > monolingual U.S.A. here-- who would find it interesting to learn the
                  > strange meanings and structures of someone's conlang precisely because
                  > they had no idea already that language was even capable of such
                  > things.
                  >
                  > Perhaps it's different for each conlang, to bridge whatever that gap
                  > is to reach the first potential speaker. Each language that's now
                  > without a single speaker beyond its inventor only needs one more to
                  > enter an interesting new phase of its internal development. So it's
                  > not like you have to appeal to the whole world, just to someone in
                  > particular out there. But I feel sure that what's missing from many
                  > of these gorgeous languages isn't the interesting interior worth
                  > exploring, but the thin climbable thread that will allow someone to
                  > find their way in there.

                  I totally agree. No point starting with an explanation of
                  "phonotactics" using the IPA when it's all hieroglyphics
                  to the average potential learner. Not to say you mightn't
                  LEAD them there eventually - but why not illustrate any
                  unusual sounds with simple wave files or short videos,
                  if the means are available? Much better to start by
                  greeting the learner in the target foreign tongue, perhaps
                  with an L1 gloss underneath, eg:

                  G'day!
                  (How do you do?)

                  Strewth, 's a bloomin' stinker today, innit?
                  (I say, it IS rather hot today, don't you think?)

                  ...
                  etc.


                  > > (And note that here I'm distinguishing 'learning a language' from
                  > > merely looking it over in the manner of an art lover at a museum.)
                  >
                  > For what interests me, that level of examination doesn't count at all.
                  > If you're just finding words in a dictionary to string them together,
                  > any language is only a cypher. It's only once you've seen a word in
                  > real context numerous times that you can piece together its special
                  > character. It's only once a word is spoken back and forth many times
                  > between different speakers that it becomes a reservoir of shared
                  > meaning.
                  >
                  > Of course, at art museums also my preferred practice is to find a work
                  > I especially like and devote a long period of time to seriously
                  > studying it. I find that most deeply satisfying.

                  The longer I look at anything, the more I itch to
                  make something new!


                  > > I'm not sure how (or whether) one could change this, as a trend.
                  >
                  > Well, i have a few ideas. What I would really prefer, though it would
                  > take some cultural change, is for people in the conlanging community
                  > to become officially students of each other's languages, even if they
                  > were very very bad students. For instance, while I can hardly string
                  > three words together in gzb yet, considering myself a student of it
                  > changes my attitude towards things like gzb being in the relay, or Jim
                  > responding to a thread and saying how he does something. I've
                  > established a particular connection & intention and something can grow
                  > around that. I suspect there's also-- what do you call the opposite
                  > of the broken window syndrome? One person being a student of a
                  > conlang, even if they never actually learn very much, might well open
                  > the door so that other people feel more welcome to join the party. I
                  > think we need to break the ice a little.
                  >
                  > Another perhaps fanciful idea I had was that a group of us could
                  > pledge that we'd all study a conlang together, and then somehow
                  > (perhaps a vote or a lottery) decide which one.

                  YES! YES!! YEEEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!

                  Ahem, that is, count me in!


                  > ... This might help with
                  > several barriers, such as of course having anyone to talk to,
                  > especially anyone at the same level as you in the language, but also
                  > it would decrease the feeling of... how to put it, hmm, the feeling of
                  > establishing a relationship so directly, of taking on a personal role
                  > and responsibility, which I think people might feel shy about.
                  > There's safety in numbers. Anyway I just think it would be a
                  > fantastic historical event for our artform, someone's long lonely
                  > quiet conlang suddenly noisy with a dozen students. Even if we all
                  > left the language eventually, we'd leave it changed forever. It'd be
                  > a good telling-story!

                  I'm already proud of my tiny contributions to some of
                  the collablangs of the last couple of years. But I'd be
                  MUCH prouder if I could give several conlangers'
                  creations a practical boost, even serially - and a serial
                  program would be much easier to commit to (and
                  more likely to succeed) than an all-at-once-everything
                  effort. So bring it on!


                  > One thing I think will make it easier to learn conlangs is more
                  > language-learning tools on the internet. Already there's flashcard
                  > programs around and so forth. I suppose it would be possible to make
                  > a site specifically for helping someone to teach a conlang. For
                  > instance as you made the dictionary you could also choose what lesson
                  > words were in, and it could create the framework for the lessons with
                  > glossaries at the bottom etc & remind you which words you still need
                  > to use in more examples and where, or something. Well that wouldn't
                  > really be conlang-specific either, it'd be good for teaching any
                  > language. We should just maybe just keep our eyes open for what
                  > language education tools start to pop up on the web, and put them to
                  > good use.

                  For example, the ASL teaching photos at lifeprint.com.


                  > >> I would be especially curious to hear about any languages here that
                  > >> are spoken by just two people already.
                  >
                  > (I've since read somewhere that the tentacle language Rikchik, which
                  > I've studied briefly, was invented by a pair of brothers. And I just
                  > now found out they've got a Livejournal group now with 6 members, and
                  > it looks active! Awesome!!)
                  >
                  > > Alex Fink & I are working on one, though I'd hardly consider either of
                  > > us competent in it (mostly 'cause it's too young).
                  > >
                  > > But that's an exceptional case, in that we started doing so in large
                  > > part because we're partners in the relationship sense too, and that's
                  > > rare.
                  >
                  > The gripping language, right? (Does it have any other name than
                  > that?) I'd be interested in seeing a post updating us all on how
                  > that's going. I've long thought that a fascinating modality for a
                  > conlang, but I knew I'd probably not actually get around to inventing
                  > it, so I felt relieved when I heard y'all were going to take care of
                  > that one for us! :) Maybe I could talk XXOX into studying it with me,
                  > once you've come up with something.
                  >
                  > I believe there are a lot more ways we could explore of having
                  > languages be social from the beginning of their invention. There's a
                  > special opportunity then, when no one knows more than anyone else
                  > about the language because there's absolutely nothing yet to know.

                  Do, please, document all your ideas on HOW to
                  "[have] languages be social from the beginning"!
                  And share those ideas with us. Except when
                  creating a private language, what conlanger does
                  NOT want to share their new creation with others?


                  > One idea I have for a dyadic conlang is for one of the amateur
                  > linguist conlangers here to team up with a linguistically naive
                  > person, and basically to make a language for them. I believe there
                  > are lots of normal people who'd enjoy that-- people like to have
                  > something special just for them, and most people BION have no idea how
                  > to make a language for themselves. The nonconlanger partner without
                  > having any idea how language works could just request how they'd like
                  > the language to be, and the conlanger partner would figure out how to
                  > make it work. The nonconlanger could just say "what's the word for
                  > tree?", and the conlanger could consult their phonotactics and give
                  > the nonconlanger a word for tree (not a lesson on phonotactics)!

                  OK, could work. But how would you go about
                  setting and maintaining standards? Surely a
                  "consulting linguist" or "consulting conlanger"
                  ought to be at least a _qualified linguist_? Or
                  does that only apply where money is charged
                  for services? I think not; I'd hate for people to
                  think us even flakier than they already might
                  (thinking us weird is OK!) - which is what would
                  happen if people had unrealistic expectations
                  created but then left unmet. What if, after several
                  months of development, the conlanger's "client"
                  said: "After all this time, you've done a horrible job;
                  it all sounds so ugly!"

                  In the software services industry, we protect both
                  provider and client against this kind of eventuality
                  by signing off an agreed specification of the
                  product, before major development work is done;
                  the preparation of the spec is done on a cost-plus
                  basis. How might this translate to conlanging-for-
                  hire?


                  > > FWIW, although he pretends otherwise, Alex has (IMO) actually
                  > > relatively well learnt several others' conlangs. Mostly because he
                  > > both has an excellent memory and actually reads the descriptions
                  > > posted online exhaustively than because of any concerted effort to
                  > > learn them per se.
                  >
                  > I believe it. Why not choose one or a few to become more familiar
                  > with, though? Does it not seem worth it, Alex, or you just don't want
                  > to play favorites?
                  >
                  > > I haven't either quality, really. And honestly, I'm not sure that I
                  > > particularly want to; languages to me, at this point, are mostly an
                  > > aesthetic or design thing. I'm not interested in learning more
                  > > languages (I know enough as is), just in learning new tricks and
                  > > appreciating them as things of their own. Maybe that'd change in the
                  > > future, if I become less involved in other major projects, but that
                  > > itself seems rather unlikely. :-P
                  >
                  > Well, getting back to the idea that the conlang community might be to
                  > the point of having various roles now, you've certainly found a niche
                  > yourself. There's lots of different ways to relate to conlanging as a
                  > community and as an art. It may be that being partial to any
                  > particular language wouldn't fit how you want to relate to the
                  > community.
                  >
                  > I just selfishly hope that we can make a connection between all of
                  > these intriguing masterpiece conlangs and some any one who would like
                  > to speak them, just because that's what most intrigues me, that magic
                  > moment when an abstract idea of a language becomes an actual medium of
                  > human communication.
                  >
                  > <3,
                  > mungojelly
                  > aka
                  > la stela selckiku
                  > aka
                  > bret-ram
                  > aka
                  > man who if he gets a name in any more conlangs will have to c&p his
                  > sig or something ;)
                  > ------------------------------


                  Regards,
                  Yahya
                  _____

                  PS
                  (*) Tterb si rouy mane ni Shilgni, a jiwnggal
                  uoy dluoc tairw dna keaps taiwk noose.
                  ("Tterb is your name in Shilgni, a language
                  you could write and speak quite soon.")
                  YA
                  _____

                  Yahya Abdal-Aziz

                  Share my music, paintings, equation art, and thoughts on books, online at
                  eSnips:
                  http://www.eSnips.com/user/Yahya

                  Enjoy learning about Uiama, a conlang (constructed language) at:
                  http://conlang.pbwiki.com/Uiama
                  _____


                  No virus found in this outgoing message.
                  Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
                  Version: 8.5.339 / Virus Database: 270.12.36/2125 - Release Date: 05/20/09
                  18:03:00
                • Jim Henry
                  ... It would be more impressive if we write texts that don t need so much correction by the conlang creator. Last time I think we did a decent job considering
                  Message 8 of 19 , May 24, 2009
                  • 0 Attachment
                    On Sun, May 24, 2009 at 5:40 AM, Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...> wrote:

                    > On Fri, 15 May 2009, Brett Williams wrote:

                    > Yes, a real expert's game!  It's fantastic that anyone
                    > finds enough time to learn other's conlangs well
                    > enough to participate in this.  In chess talk, this would
                    > be Grand Master territory ... and rather frightening to
                    > mere hobby players such as myself!

                    It would be more impressive if we write texts
                    that don't need so much correction by the conlang
                    creator. Last time I think we did a decent job
                    considering the time limits (2-3 months allowed
                    to study the target language before translating
                    into it), but I hope to do better this time. So far
                    I've found more time to study Taruven than
                    I'd spent studying Urianian at the corresponding
                    point in the 2007 game, but not as much as
                    I want to.

                    >> level of expression to the language, with different letter forms that
                    >> give different flavors to the words. For instance, X can be written
                    >> as a heart: I very often use hearts when writing the various names of
                    >> my lover, such as "XXOX", and almost always when writing the common
                    >> word "XUO" which means "to think lovingly about". (I invented this
                    >> independently before learning about Deena Larsen's "Rose" script from
                    .....

                    > _Love_ to see some images of the cursive script, hearts
                    > and all!  Do you know of any other language (nat- or con-)
                    > with "allographs" for some or all of its graphemes?  I'm not
                    ......
                    > another.  Rather, your n and u are two distinct letterforms
                    > in complementary, conditioned distribution; that's what I
                    > mean by "allographs".

                    There are natlang alphabets that have
                    allographs in complementary distribution,
                    e.g. the final and nonfinal forms of Greek lowercase
                    sigma; not to mention the more numerous
                    instances where the same phoneme is
                    represented by different allographs depending
                    on what phoneme it derived from in an older
                    form of the language or what foreign language
                    the word was borrowed from; but I suspect
                    that what you and Brett are
                    talking about here is indeed unique to conlangs,
                    namely *semantically* conditioned allographs.
                    E.g., English has /k/ represented by |c|, |q(u(e))|,
                    |ch|, |k| depending on the etymology of the
                    word; what if we had /k/ represented by various
                    allographs depending on the semantic category
                    of the word?


                    > ......... nor any deadly-serious IAL like
                    > Ido or Novial etc (Esperanto was tedious enough for
                    > me).  I guess my emphasis would be on "living artlangs";
                    > not that I'd exclude an engelang out of hand; still, there
                    > must be a sense of play and fun (even if it is intellectually
                    > very hard work!), and the potential for further, organic,
                    > even unexpected, growth.

                    Trying with perhaps limited success to avoid
                    auxlang-qua-auxlang advocacy, I'll put in a word
                    for Esperanto-qua-artlang: its artlangy aspects
                    and the creative aspects of Esperanto culture
                    don't become apparent until you've gotten past
                    the basic level and started using it and seeing how
                    more fluent speakers use it. Without actually
                    having recorded any statistics, I'd guess that
                    in a typical Esperanto conversation there's more
                    wordplay and off-the-cuff neologisms and so
                    forth than in a typical conversation in English
                    of the same length between a similar group
                    of people.

                    I don't know enough about Ido and Interlingua
                    and their respective speaker-cultures to say
                    whether they have the same quality; but I suspect,
                    given Ido's similar derivational morphology,
                    that it could support a similar level of wordplay
                    if it had as many speakers as Esperanto, and
                    may already do so with its smaller number
                    of speakers.


                    >> Of course, at art museums also my preferred practice is to find a work
                    >> I especially like and devote a long period of time to seriously
                    >> studying it. I find that most deeply satisfying.
                    >
                    > The longer I look at anything, the more I itch to
                    > make something new!

                    This reminds me of something weird I encountered
                    in reading Plutarch's Life of Pericles. He
                    distinguishes between accomplishments that
                    make us admire the person who accomplished
                    them and want to imitate them, and those where
                    we admire the result but don't think highly of
                    the doer or want to imitate them; and it appears
                    (this is the weird part) that he classes most
                    or all art in the latter category. Is that a cultural
                    difference between the ancient Hellenistic
                    culture and our culture that I haven't noticed
                    before, or Plutarch's own quirk? Or something
                    in between, a tenet of the school of philosophy
                    he belonged to but not common to the whole
                    culture...?


                    > OK, could work.  But how would you go about
                    > setting and maintaining standards?  Surely a
                    > "consulting linguist" or "consulting conlanger"
                    > ought to be at least a _qualified linguist_?   Or
                    > does that only apply where money is charged
                    > for services?  I think not; I'd hate for people to
                    > think us even flakier than they already might
                    > (thinking us weird is OK!) - which is what would
                    > happen if people had unrealistic expectations
                    > created but then left unmet.  What if, after several
                    > months of development, the conlanger's "client"
                    > said: "After all this time, you've done a horrible job;
                    > it all sounds so ugly!"
                    >
                    > In the software services industry, we protect both
                    > provider and client against this kind of eventuality
                    > by signing off an agreed specification of the
                    > product, before major development work is done;
                    > the preparation of the spec is done on a cost-plus
                    > basis.  How might this translate to conlanging-for-
                    > hire?

                    Problems with sotware specification writing,
                    which would be present also when writing specs for conlangs to be
                    implemented by someone else, is that often the eventual user doesn't
                    fully consciously know what they want; or they know what they want,
                    but aren't articulate in expressing it (perhaps for want of suitable
                    domain vocabulary); or they know what they want, but fail to say so
                    explicitly enough because they think they share more assumptions with
                    the programmers/conlangers than they actually do. Instances of
                    problems of that kind that might occur in conlanging-for-hire, besides
                    the one you mention (unshared and unspoken assumptions about what kind
                    of phonology sounds good), I suspect mostly involve naive users
                    assuming that all languages are similar to their native language in
                    certain respects -- so they don't realize, for instance, that it's
                    necessary, if they want their conlang to have a definite/indefinite
                    distinction obligatorily marked with articles, for them to say so.

                    As more films and TV shows occasionally follow the example of Star
                    Trek in hiring people to create conlangs for background material, it
                    would probably be good for us to work on setting some kind of
                    professional standards or at least educating people about where to go
                    for good conlang design. I would suggest that someone who's offering
                    to create conlangs for hire should have a proven track record in
                    creating interesting conlangs and documenting them well enough that a
                    linguistically naive person could learn them tolerably well from the
                    documentation, or perhaps some classroom language-teaching experience
                    if they're going to be personally teaching the language to
                    scriptwriters and actors and so forth.

                    --
                    Jim Henry
                    http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/
                  • Kelvin Jackson
                    ... Perhaps the conlanger-for-hire should be obliged to ask such questions directly—they wouldn t be expected to cover every possibility, of course, but they
                    Message 9 of 19 , May 24, 2009
                    • 0 Attachment
                      >> OK, could work. But how would you go about
                      >> setting and maintaining standards? Surely a
                      >> "consulting linguist" or "consulting conlanger"
                      >> ought to be at least a _qualified linguist_? Or
                      >> does that only apply where money is charged
                      >> for services? I think not; I'd hate for people to
                      >> think us even flakier than they already might
                      >> (thinking us weird is OK!) - which is what would
                      >> happen if people had unrealistic expectations
                      >> created but then left unmet. What if, after several
                      >> months of development, the conlanger's "client"
                      >> said: "After all this time, you've done a horrible job;
                      >> it all sounds so ugly!"
                      >>
                      >> In the software services industry, we protect both
                      >> provider and client against this kind of eventuality
                      >> by signing off an agreed specification of the
                      >> product, before major development work is done;
                      >> the preparation of the spec is done on a cost-plus
                      >> basis. How might this translate to conlanging-for-
                      >> hire?
                      >
                      > Problems with sotware specification writing,
                      > which would be present also when writing specs for conlangs to be
                      > implemented by someone else, is that often the eventual user doesn't
                      > fully consciously know what they want; or they know what they want,
                      > but aren't articulate in expressing it (perhaps for want of suitable
                      > domain vocabulary); or they know what they want, but fail to say so
                      > explicitly enough because they think they share more assumptions with
                      > the programmers/conlangers than they actually do. Instances of
                      > problems of that kind that might occur in conlanging-for-hire, besides
                      > the one you mention (unshared and unspoken assumptions about what kind
                      > of phonology sounds good), I suspect mostly involve naive users
                      > assuming that all languages are similar to their native language in
                      > certain respects -- so they don't realize, for instance, that it's
                      > necessary, if they want their conlang to have a definite/indefinite
                      > distinction obligatorily marked with articles, for them to say so.

                      Perhaps the conlanger-for-hire should be obliged to ask such
                      questions directly—they wouldn't be expected to cover every
                      possibility, of course, but they could mention some things that might
                      not be obvious—such as the article issue listed above. There could
                      even be a standardized list of aspects about which to ask before
                      design could begin—perhaps something resembling a condensed version
                      of the language construction kit.
                      >
                      > As more films and TV shows occasionally follow the example of Star
                      > Trek in hiring people to create conlangs for background material, it
                      > would probably be good for us to work on setting some kind of
                      > professional standards or at least educating people about where to go
                      > for good conlang design. I would suggest that someone who's offering
                      > to create conlangs for hire should have a proven track record in
                      > creating interesting conlangs and documenting them well enough that a
                      > linguistically naive person could learn them tolerably well from the
                      > documentation,

                      They should certainly have a website with examples of past work. It
                      should also be obvious what types of grammatical structures/phonemes/
                      etc. they prefer, to give the customer an idea of what to expect

                      -Kelvin.
                    • Larry Sulky
                      Wow, Yahya. It sounds like you are really and truly back in the saddle. :-) Inspired by your kind words, I hereby submit Qakwan, my newest child.
                      Message 10 of 19 , May 24, 2009
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Wow, Yahya. It sounds like you are really and truly back in the saddle. :-)

                        Inspired by your kind words, I hereby submit Qakwan, my newest child.

                        http://larrysulky.googlepages.com/qakwan-main.htm

                        (I'm told Google Pages will soon shift to Google Sites, with a loss of some
                        capability. At that time I'll look for a new home for it if necessary.)

                        I'm relieved to report that I have done as you had promised in trying to
                        make it easy for others to learn... I've even included some 240 fill-in
                        exercises this time. I do have one fellow speaker so far, but, as always,
                        I'd be delighted at any other interest.


                        Cheers!
                        ---larry
                      • Brett Williams
                        ... To which, on Sun, May 24, 2009 at 5:40 AM, Yahya Abdal-Aziz ... Well it s on, then, as there s no particular minimum number of participants. We re
                        Message 11 of 19 , May 24, 2009
                        • 0 Attachment
                          I said:
                          >> Another perhaps fanciful idea I had was that a group of us could
                          >> pledge that we'd all study a conlang together, and then somehow
                          >> (perhaps a vote or a lottery) decide which one.

                          To which, on Sun, May 24, 2009 at 5:40 AM, Yahya Abdal-Aziz
                          <yahya@...> responded:
                          >
                          > YES!  YES!!  YEEEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!
                          >
                          > Ahem, that is, count me in!


                          Well it's on, then, as there's no particular minimum number of
                          participants. We're planning ahead to all the way after the relay--
                          when would that be, then?-- so we can just gently mention it every
                          once in a while until then, around the various forums.

                          I guess the one thing is to figure out how to decide which language.
                          The only criterion for eligibility I'd suggest is that it be a
                          language with exactly one speaker-- not a language where there's a
                          conversation already (I guess even gjax-zym-byn-la would be
                          disqualified by my study of it), but also not a paper language that's
                          not yet known even to its inventor. A language that's been spoken,
                          but only in private, suddenly shared, that's my idea.

                          If we're going to vote, the voting system I feel inclined towards is
                          preference voting-- everyone votes yes on as many languages as they
                          want, and the language with the most votes wins. That tends to
                          produce winners who may or may not have a strong core following, but
                          who are broadly at least tolerated and disliked by few, which is I
                          think what we'd want here. Does that sound reasonable?


                          > Do, please, document all your ideas on HOW to
                          > "[have] languages be social from the beginning"!
                          > And share those ideas with us.


                          My main idea is to start small. We've seen for instance with Toki
                          Pona how much easier it is to ramp up a speaking community in a
                          language with a tiny vocabulary. Even if I was aiming towards a
                          fuller language, to bootstrap a speaking community I'd start with a
                          tokiponishly small vocab, and then add an extra thousand words later
                          once people are already speaking and understanding the first few.
                          It's like how on a bike you've got to get moving forward before you
                          can switch into a higher gear.


                          Another idea I've had, and actually tried several times, and it works
                          quite well, though it might not appeal aesthetically to everyone here,
                          is to avoid having to bootstrap an empty language by just starting
                          with a natlang and making gradual changes. One of the first
                          collaborative languages I was involved with was called J B Blingo, and
                          it was a gradually mutated English developed in an AIM chatroom with
                          unlinguisty school friends. Most of the words were simple (silly)
                          substitutions of English, but many were new concepts, and there were
                          some simple grammatical twists. It was a living language for a few
                          months, and by the end we would often say whole sentences without any
                          English words left in them, which we thought was pretty cool. A more
                          linguistically advanced community could of course change the grammar
                          as rapidly as they were comfortable with. But the rate of change is a
                          difficult balance-- faster progress inevitably means more lost
                          participants.


                          There's another idea that I've been chewing on. Actually it feels so
                          right to my teeth somehow that I feel like I might end up actually
                          doing it. It's still only half-gnawed, though, so let me see if I can
                          explain it, hmm. What I'm imagining is a language with particular,
                          prepared, distinct, unique social roles. You don't just become "a
                          speaker" of this language, you must take on a more particular title.
                          I'm imagining a conculture as well, I suppose, but it's not just a
                          fictional culture-- like the language itself, the imagined society is
                          meant to come to life as the players take their parts.

                          A part I imagined today just as an example is known as The Zebra. I
                          imagined that The Zebra was given the task of inventing, teaching,
                          being an authority on how the conlang is handwritten. Before there
                          was a particular person chosen as The Zebra, there would already be
                          images of a zebra with text in the conlang that translates "INSCRIBE
                          AS THE ZEBRA COMMANDS!" The Zebra, I randomly imagined, has a unique
                          personal taboo of being unable to say the word for "apple", and says
                          some standard circumlocution like "unsayable-red-thing". In videos or
                          at in-person gatherings, The Zebra wears zebra-colored face paint. So
                          you see the various levels at which I mean to construct the roles:
                          They are given responsibilities and powers. They are talked about,
                          described as being a certain way, given some ambiance. They're given
                          particular linguistic distinctions, their own very unique idiolect of
                          the language. And they are also given certain real-world actions that
                          they do, ways they dress or dance or sound or act. So it's very
                          all-encompassing, as culture+language are, even though it's still just
                          art.


                          > OK, could work.  But how would you go about
                          > setting and maintaining standards?  Surely a
                          > "consulting linguist" or "consulting conlanger"
                          > ought to be at least a _qualified linguist_?   Or
                          > does that only apply where money is charged
                          > for services?  I think not; I'd hate for people to
                          > think us even flakier than they already might
                          > (thinking us weird is OK!) - which is what would
                          > happen if people had unrealistic expectations
                          > created but then left unmet.  What if, after several
                          > months of development, the conlanger's "client"
                          > said: "After all this time, you've done a horrible job;
                          > it all sounds so ugly!"


                          We do have just a few professional conlangers. Marc Okrand comes to
                          mind of course and I feel fairly comfortable with the precedents he's
                          been setting.

                          And we also have a large number of projects that people have done for
                          fun for friends, though most of those don't seem to develop very far.

                          Perhaps there's more middle ground, though. I don't think there's a
                          huge market for actually paying for conlanging, but there might be
                          people with more seriousness than the typical
                          friend-with-a-fantasy-story/rpg who could at least offer in exchange a
                          serious commitment to learn & continue the language.

                          The client that I imagined doesn't just want a language for a story.
                          A real language is bigger than a story. They want a language to go
                          with their life. I imagine someone who wants a language closer to
                          their soul; they want to be able to express something different.

                          Actually, come to think of it, that's what all friendships are about.
                          You create a personal conduit for communication, you create shared
                          meanings. What I'm imagining isn't a kind of business so much as a
                          kind of friendship. To heavily accentuate that aspect of friendship
                          as a shared linguistic space, so it becomes not just shared keywords,
                          phrases, undertones but a whole vocabulary that's shared.

                          I think there are a lot of people who would be able to express things
                          in that forum that they can't speak in normal language. Many of us
                          use conlanging to seek out how to express our souls, and you wouldn't
                          have to be interested by the linguistic technical aspects to benefit
                          from that spaciousness.


                          <3,
                          bret-ram
                          aka
                          la stela selckiku
                          aka
                          Tterb
                        • Jörg Rhiemeier
                          Hallo! ... ... which will consist of grips, of course, thus not really convenient for naming the language in English (other than in translation) ;) ... Same
                          Message 12 of 19 , May 25, 2009
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Hallo!

                            On Fri, 22 May 2009 18:08:10 -0400, Alex Fink wrote:

                            > On Fri, 15 May 2009 02:18:32 -0400, Brett Williams <mungojelly@...>
                            > wrote:
                            > [...]
                            >
                            > >The gripping language, right? (Does it have any other name than
                            > >that?)
                            >
                            > That's the one. Probably it'll eventually have a native name.

                            ... which will consist of grips, of course, thus not really
                            convenient for naming the language in English (other than in
                            translation) ;)

                            > > [rumor about Alex Fink having learnt several conlangs]
                            > >
                            > >I believe it. Why not choose one or a few to become more familiar
                            > >with, though? Does it not seem worth it, Alex, or you just don't want
                            > >to play favorites?
                            >
                            > Well... I wouldn't say I've learnt anyone else's conlang. Not in the sense
                            > that I could write anything at all in it without continual reference to the
                            > documentation, nor read anything other than occasional recognisable words
                            > plucked from a less-recognisable matrix -- which is what we mean, no?
                            >
                            > I really just read the documentation of a conlang, and come away with
                            > familiarity with some random set of the features, both those I thought were
                            > especially interesting or characteristic and those which I remember for some
                            > incidental reason. This gives me enough knowledge to make a comparison of
                            > some feature in some other language to it later, as the typologists would,
                            > but that's around it.

                            Same with me. I know a handful of trivia about several conlangs,
                            to the point that I have a good idea about their typological makeup,
                            but am not proficient in any of them except, perhaps, Esperanto and
                            its ilk, which are easy to master if you know a few Germanic and
                            Romance languages. I don't even speak Old Albic, my own main conlang
                            - not yet, though I intend to learn it.

                            > With natlangs I'm the same way: I know lots of trivia
                            > about lots but aside from my L1 there's only two (French, Latvian) I can use
                            > to any degree, and neither of them fluently.

                            Besides my native German, I am only good at English, though I have
                            some working knowledge of Latin, French and Spanish, and know some
                            odd facts about several other languages.

                            > And I'm a sucker for
                            > collaborative conlanging, but there too I think I predominantly enjoy the
                            > opportunity for joint tinkering rather than the end result of having a
                            > usable language common with someone.

                            I am not much into collaborative conlanging, perhaps because I am
                            too much a loner personality for that, and one project I initiated,
                            which was about building a language family for the League of Lost
                            Languages, did not fly far.

                            > Why not more investment? Interesting question -- but I can't think of
                            > anything more insightful to say ATM than that to the extent language
                            > builders and language learners are different breeds I represent the former
                            > and not particularly the latter.

                            Same with me. Building a language and learning an existing language
                            are two different things; I enjoy the former more than the latter,
                            and cannot say that I can actually speak even my main conlang, Old
                            Albic. What is useful for conlangers, I think, is to have a good
                            idea of the typological diversity of the world's languages, but that
                            does not really require learning languages from various parts of the
                            world - it is sufficient to read grammar sketches (_The World's Major
                            Languages_, edited by Bernard Comrie, is a good starting point).

                            On Sun, 24 May 2009 13:37:07 -0400, Jim Henry wrote:

                            > Trying with perhaps limited success to avoid
                            > auxlang-qua-auxlang advocacy, I'll put in a word
                            > for Esperanto-qua-artlang: its artlangy aspects
                            > and the creative aspects of Esperanto culture
                            > don't become apparent until you've gotten past
                            > the basic level and started using it and seeing how
                            > more fluent speakers use it. Without actually
                            > having recorded any statistics, I'd guess that
                            > in a typical Esperanto conversation there's more
                            > wordplay and off-the-cuff neologisms and so
                            > forth than in a typical conversation in English
                            > of the same length between a similar group
                            > of people.

                            I don't know what the Esperanto community is like, but I can indeed
                            imagine that they are especially open-minded towards word-play and
                            neologisms - after all, they are all people who have already
                            internalized the very idea that language can be created artificially.
                            (They also seem to have a healthy community sense, with the Pasporta
                            Servo and all that.)

                            It is indeed possible to approach auxlangs as artlangs; if you ask
                            me, most auxlangs I have seen look bland and uninteresting to me
                            (hardly surprising as many of the things that make good artlangs
                            interesting are against the purpose of an auxlang); I find Novial
                            very elegant, but Esperanto much less so - it feels too "blocky"
                            and hodge-podged to me.

                            > > The longer I look at anything, the more I itch to
                            > > make something new!
                            >
                            > This reminds me of something weird I encountered
                            > in reading Plutarch's Life of Pericles. He
                            > distinguishes between accomplishments that
                            > make us admire the person who accomplished
                            > them and want to imitate them, and those where
                            > we admire the result but don't think highly of
                            > the doer or want to imitate them; and it appears
                            > (this is the weird part) that he classes most
                            > or all art in the latter category. Is that a cultural
                            > difference between the ancient Hellenistic
                            > culture and our culture that I haven't noticed
                            > before, or Plutarch's own quirk? Or something
                            > in between, a tenet of the school of philosophy
                            > he belonged to but not common to the whole
                            > culture...?

                            I don't know. With me, there are both works of art that inspire
                            me to do something similar, and others which don't. Conlangs,
                            especially diachronic-naturalistic artlangs, are in the firt
                            category; ballet is entirely in the second - while I deeply
                            respect the skill and talent of good dancers, it does nothing
                            for me.

                            ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
                          • Lars Finsen
                            ... The modern practice of placing the artist on a pedestal didn t really start until the renaissance, as far as I can see. Before that, artists were nothing
                            Message 13 of 19 , May 25, 2009
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Den 24. mai. 2009 kl. 19.37 skreiv Jim Henry:

                              > This reminds me of something weird I encountered
                              > in reading Plutarch's Life of Pericles. He
                              > distinguishes between accomplishments that
                              > make us admire the person who accomplished
                              > them and want to imitate them, and those where
                              > we admire the result but don't think highly of
                              > the doer or want to imitate them; and it appears
                              > (this is the weird part) that he classes most
                              > or all art in the latter category. Is that a cultural
                              > difference between the ancient Hellenistic
                              > culture and our culture that I haven't noticed
                              > before, or Plutarch's own quirk? Or something
                              > in between, a tenet of the school of philosophy
                              > he belonged to but not common to the whole
                              > culture...?

                              The modern practice of placing the artist on a pedestal didn't really
                              start until the renaissance, as far as I can see. Before that,
                              artists were nothing more than artisans, craftsmen with a talent for
                              embellishment, not considered vital at all. I think the idealisation
                              of the artist in the renaissance does model the Greek somewhat,
                              though. There were some few Greek sculptors, architects, painters and
                              musicians that made names for themselves, though not quite like the
                              poets, philosophers, politicians, warriors or Olympic champions, I
                              guess. And I'm not even mentioning the actors. Still it was rather a
                              remarkable step-up for the artists compared to former societies.

                              LEF
                            • Jim Henry
                              ... The relay is supposed to end on September 2, assuming there are no delays. I suppose we should announce this soonish on ZBB (can anyone suggest the
                              Message 14 of 19 , May 25, 2009
                              • 0 Attachment
                                On Mon, May 25, 2009 at 2:23 AM, Brett Williams <mungojelly@...> wrote:

                                > Well it's on, then, as there's no particular minimum number of
                                > participants.  We're planning ahead to all the way after the relay--
                                > when would that be, then?-- so we can just gently mention it every
                                > once in a while until then, around the various forums.

                                The relay is supposed to end on September 2,
                                assuming there are no delays.

                                I suppose we should announce this soonish on
                                ZBB (can anyone suggest the appropriate forum
                                and subforum there for this?) and the Livejournal
                                conlangs group; anywhere else? And maybe
                                we should go ahead and create a separate
                                listgroup for this project, before we announce it
                                elsewhere than here, so we can invite people
                                to join said list in those announcements.


                                > I guess the one thing is to figure out how to decide which language.
                                > The only criterion for eligibility I'd suggest is that it be a
                                > language with exactly one speaker-- not a language where there's a
                                > conversation already (I guess even gjax-zym-byn-la would be
                                > disqualified by my study of it), but also not a paper language that's
                                > not yet known even to its inventor.  A language that's been spoken,
                                > but only in private, suddenly shared, that's my idea.

                                I would suggest throwing the selection a bit wider
                                open -- requiring a language that's well developed
                                and well documented, and in which there exists
                                a reasonably large corpus available for potential
                                learners to read and learn from by induction, but
                                not requiring that the conlanger already speak
                                said language fluently. It's enough that the extant
                                corpus is large and diverse enough to prove the
                                language usable. Conversely, I wouldn't want to
                                disqualify a language because it's had more than
                                one person seriously studying at some point
                                -- one of the things this might be good for is reviving
                                Larry Sulky's Ilomi, which had (I think) 3 or 4 users
                                at its peak three or four years ago, and
                                consequently has a larger corpus than a lot
                                of other conlangs.

                                Another qualification is that the conlangers whose
                                languages we're considering should be aware of
                                that and give their approval. Someone might
                                conceivably have documented their conlang well
                                enough that we would want to consider learning
                                it, but not be willing to have a swarm of newbies
                                descending on their conlang.


                                > If we're going to vote, the voting system I feel inclined towards is
                                > preference voting-- everyone votes yes on as many languages as they
                                > want, and the language with the most votes wins.  That tends to
                                > produce winners who may or may not have a strong core following, but
                                > who are broadly at least tolerated and disliked by few, which is I
                                > think what we'd want here.  Does that sound reasonable?

                                Sure.


                                >> Do, please, document all your ideas on HOW to
                                >> "[have] languages be social from the beginning"!
                                >> And share those ideas with us.
                                >
                                >
                                > My main idea is to start small.  We've seen for instance with Toki
                                > Pona how much easier it is to ramp up a speaking community in a
                                > language with a tiny vocabulary.  Even if I was aiming towards a
                                > fuller language, to bootstrap a speaking community I'd start with a
                                > tokiponishly small vocab, and then add an extra thousand words later
                                > once people are already speaking and understanding the first few.

                                Or maybe start with an announced plan of starting
                                with a basic N words and then adding maybe
                                N/10 words per year until the speaker community
                                is satisfied with the size of the vocabulary?


                                > There's another idea that I've been chewing on.  Actually it feels so
                                > right to my teeth somehow that I feel like I might end up actually
                                > doing it.  It's still only half-gnawed, though, so let me see if I can
                                > explain it, hmm.  What I'm imagining is a language with particular,
                                > prepared, distinct, unique social roles.  You don't just become "a
                                > speaker" of this language, you must take on a more particular title.

                                This does sound cool. There are precedents of a
                                sort, though not exactly the kind of thing you mention;
                                the Volapük community has the role of "Cifal", which
                                was first held by Fr. Schleyer and has been passed
                                down by a kind of apostolic succession to Brian
                                Bishop. The Esperanto community has a language
                                academy. Recently (a year or two ago?) Sonja
                                Kisa invited a dozen or so fluent speakers of Toki
                                Pona to form a kind of language academy to advise
                                her. But what you're suggesting sounds much cooler.

                                ......
                                > They are given responsibilities and powers.  They are talked about,
                                > described as being a certain way, given some ambiance.  They're given
                                > particular linguistic distinctions, their own very unique idiolect of
                                > the language.  And they are also given certain real-world actions that
                                > they do, ways they dress or dance or sound or act.

                                And there should be specified ways for these offices
                                to be assumed by new office-holders as time passes.
                                Maybe the rules of succession are different for each
                                office; some are held during good conduct, others
                                for specfic terms of time, etc.; some are elected
                                to by the speaker community at large (defined as
                                anyone who can read the election announcement
                                and ballot and follow the instructions), some elected
                                by the members of the language academy, some
                                are appointed by the holder of some specific other
                                office (perhaps subject to the approval of the
                                academy?)... Or maybe, as long as the speaker
                                community size ~= the number of offices, the
                                roles are randomly reassigned once per year,
                                like the elemental roles in an Invisibles cell.

                                Besides the Zebra/orthography designer, I'll
                                suggest some other roles -- more fanciful titles
                                to be supplied later:

                                * historian
                                * poet laureate
                                * lexicographer
                                * ambassadors to Esperantujo, Lojbanistan, etc.

                                (If we're running with the idea of totem animals
                                for each office, I suggest the Ambassador to
                                Esperantujo should be the Alligator.)

                                Hmm... perhaps, with the approval of the conlanger
                                whose language is selected by the let's-all-learn-
                                so-and-so's-conlang project, these two projects
                                might be combined?

                                --
                                Jim Henry
                                http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/
                              • Brett Williams
                                ... OK we can discuss the scheduling and boring stuff like that on that list, then. I d make a list now, except I don t have any clever ideas what to call it.
                                Message 15 of 19 , May 27, 2009
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  On Mon, May 25, 2009 at 9:14 PM, Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > The relay is supposed to end on September 2,
                                  > assuming there are no delays.
                                  >
                                  > I suppose we should announce this soonish on
                                  > ZBB (can anyone suggest the appropriate forum
                                  > and subforum there for this?) and the Livejournal
                                  > conlangs group; anywhere else?   And maybe
                                  > we should go ahead and create a separate
                                  > listgroup for this project, before we announce it
                                  > elsewhere than here, so we can invite people
                                  > to join said list in those announcements.


                                  OK we can discuss the scheduling and boring stuff like that on that
                                  list, then. I'd make a list now, except I don't have any clever ideas
                                  what to call it. The all-learn-a-conlang-at-once list? No that's no
                                  good. Hey, there's supposed to be people here who are good at making
                                  up words for things, right? :) What do you call this thing we're
                                  planning, huh?


                                  > I would suggest throwing the selection a bit wider
                                  > open  -- requiring a language that's well developed
                                  > and well documented, and in which there exists
                                  > a reasonably large corpus available for potential
                                  > learners to read and learn from by induction, but
                                  > not requiring that the conlanger already speak
                                  > said language fluently.  It's enough that the extant
                                  > corpus is large and diverse enough to prove the
                                  > language usable.


                                  Yes if it's been used to write a corpus then I agree it's living
                                  enough. Most inventors of a language only they know aren't very
                                  conversationally or orally fluent, having no way to practice (unless
                                  they happen to like to talk to themselves), so that certainly
                                  shouldn't be the standard. All I mean to exclude are languages that
                                  are just word lists, where words have been chosen and filed away but
                                  never brought out for any exercise.


                                  > Conversely, I wouldn't want to
                                  > disqualify a language because it's had more than
                                  > one person seriously studying at some point
                                  > -- one of the things this might be good for is reviving
                                  > Larry Sulky's Ilomi, which had (I think) 3 or 4 users
                                  > at its peak three or four years ago, and
                                  > consequently has a larger corpus than a lot
                                  > of other conlangs.


                                  Oh yeah I remember Ilomi, I read some of the old messages about it a
                                  while back. It seems like a groovy little language. Reviving a
                                  stillborn conlang could be interesting.

                                  I guess maybe it is going too far to exclude a language with only two
                                  or three speakers. But let's not choose Esperanto or Toki Pona, OK?
                                  ;)


                                  > Another qualification is that the conlangers whose
                                  > languages we're considering should be aware of
                                  > that and give their approval.   Someone might
                                  > conceivably have documented their conlang well
                                  > enough that we would want to consider learning
                                  > it, but not be willing to have a swarm of newbies
                                  > descending on their conlang.


                                  Ha! All learning someone's conlang against their wishes sounds pretty
                                  interesting too! That can be a different project. ;>


                                  I guess one happy side effect of this project is that we're going to
                                  produce a list of conlangs that one could theoretically study. That
                                  might be useful on its own. I wouldn't be surprised if the process of
                                  making and publishing the list brings some attention even to the
                                  languages on it that aren't chosen.


                                  > Or maybe start with an announced plan of starting
                                  > with a basic N words and then adding maybe
                                  > N/10 words per year until the speaker community
                                  > is satisfied with the size of the vocabulary?


                                  Exactly.

                                  I would go further than just using it as scaffolding, though. I would
                                  keep the organization of the language into bundles as a central part
                                  of its pedagogy going forward. Here's how my system works:

                                  - When the language first begins, there's only a small starter set of
                                  words. Since this is all that exists of the language, whatever
                                  conversations and texts are produced use only those starter words.
                                  - The first bundle of new words is then introduced into the language,
                                  and the speakers of the language who have practiced with the starter
                                  set all expand their vocabularies to include the new words.
                                  - All of the old conversations and texts, though, are set aside,
                                  specially marked, kept together as the stuff that only uses the
                                  starter set.
                                  - New learners of the language are told to start by learning the
                                  starter set of words. Even though the language has progressed and its
                                  most advanced speakers are using the new bundle of vocab that was
                                  added, there's still a pile of texts and conversations left behind
                                  that are perfect for the new students to learn from.
                                  - People who've just learned the starter set of words, before being
                                  advanced to the next level, are encouraged to produce texts with the
                                  words they know so far. Besides it being good practice for them, they
                                  also have a special power just then, of being able to write only in
                                  starter words without having to think about which words are starter
                                  words! They just use the only words they know, and in so doing
                                  produce new texts to even further enrich each new students'
                                  experience.

                                  It would be possible of course to retain many different levels. For
                                  instance a 10 year project, one word per day, each year's level about
                                  365 words. After ten years you have 3650(ish) words, a decent
                                  language. Each tenth of it is a moderate, nearly tokiponish gulp,
                                  though, and there's at least a year's worth of conversation and
                                  literature in each level to help you find your way through it.


                                  [...]
                                  > to by the speaker community at large (defined as
                                  > anyone who can read the election announcement
                                  > and ballot and follow the instructions),
                                  [...]


                                  I love that special trick we have, of being able to keep open secrets.
                                  I honestly believe that this social boundary effect of conlanging
                                  will attract many more people to our art, as the social closeness of
                                  the internet deepens. A conlang is a place for a group of people to
                                  escape to. Or as we say sometimes these days in Lojbanistan: "la
                                  .lojban. na'e bangu le pulji" (The police don't speak Lojban.)


                                  > * historian


                                  I'm a student of the history of Lojban, but I'm a very bad historian,
                                  as I rarely write anything about it. I'm planning to write a book,
                                  though. It's going to be a beginner's textbook, actually, but it's
                                  also going to involve a lot of history. I'm going to try to teach
                                  Lojban for the first time as a living language, instead of as a
                                  prescriptive theory. For instance when it comes to our arcane grammar
                                  debates whenever possible I'm going to try to teach the conflict. :)


                                  > * ambassadors to Esperantujo, Lojbanistan, etc.


                                  Ambassadors! That's an awesome idea. I definitely think we could
                                  stand to improve inter-conlang relations. It's the dark side of that
                                  social boundary effect-- we split off into different flocks. But
                                  there are bilingual speakers who connect all or most of the pairs, so
                                  there's plenty of conduits to start some interawareness and group
                                  action. (Another way it'd help Lojban is so far we've hardly ever
                                  used our root "jansu", diplomat!)


                                  <3,
                                  bret-ram
                                  aka
                                  la selckiku
                                  aka
                                  NINU
                                • Jim Henry
                                  ... Hmm. Earlier I think I called it the Let s-all-learn- so-and-so s-conlang project. That s even more unwieldy thatn your version, though. What about
                                  Message 16 of 19 , May 27, 2009
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 5:21 PM, Brett Williams <mungojelly@...> wrote:
                                    > On Mon, May 25, 2009 at 9:14 PM, Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...> wrote:

                                    >> conlangs group; anywhere else?   And maybe
                                    >> we should go ahead and create a separate
                                    >> listgroup for this project, before we announce it
                                    >> elsewhere than here, so we can invite people
                                    >> to join said list in those announcements.

                                    > OK we can discuss the scheduling and boring stuff like that on that
                                    > list, then.  I'd make a list now, except I don't have any clever ideas
                                    > what to call it.  The all-learn-a-conlang-at-once list?  No that's no
                                    > good.  Hey, there's supposed to be people here who are good at making
                                    > up words for things, right? :)  What do you call this thing we're
                                    > planning, huh?

                                    Hmm. Earlier I think I called it the Let's-all-learn-
                                    so-and-so's-conlang project. That's even more
                                    unwieldy thatn your version, though. What about
                                    conlang_learners@<list domain> ?


                                    > I would go further than just using it as scaffolding, though.  I would
                                    > keep the organization of the language into bundles as a central part
                                    .......
                                    > It would be possible of course to retain many different levels.  For
                                    > instance a 10 year project, one word per day, each year's level about
                                    > 365 words.  After ten years you have 3650(ish) words, a decent
                                    > language.  Each tenth of it is a moderate, nearly tokiponish gulp,
                                    > though, and there's at least a year's worth of conversation and
                                    > literature in each level to help you find your way through it.

                                    That would be really cool!


                                    > I'm a student of the history of Lojban, but I'm a very bad historian,
                                    > as I rarely write anything about it.  I'm planning to write a book,
                                    > though.  It's going to be a beginner's textbook, actually, but it's
                                    > also going to involve a lot of history.  I'm going to try to teach
                                    > Lojban for the first time as a living language, instead of as a
                                    > prescriptive theory.  For instance when it comes to our arcane grammar
                                    > debates whenever possible I'm going to try to teach the conflict. :)

                                    Do that and you might convince me to finally learn
                                    Lojban. I was interested in it back when I first got
                                    seriously into conlanging, but was put off of learning
                                    it mainly by the fact that it had been around for,
                                    I think, ten years or so at that point and still had no
                                    fluent speakers. After meeting a fluent speaker
                                    (Robin something?) at Worldcon a few years ago
                                    and hearing some about the current community
                                    from him, I've been thinking off and on about
                                    learning it.

                                    --
                                    Jim Henry
                                    http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/
                                  • Amanda Babcock Furrow
                                    ... For a while I was semi-learning a 10-years-old version of someone s conlang. I have the documentation in paper form, from back when people didn t just slap
                                    Message 17 of 19 , May 27, 2009
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 05:21:39PM -0400, Brett Williams wrote:

                                      > Ha! All learning someone's conlang against their wishes sounds pretty
                                      > interesting too! That can be a different project. ;>

                                      For a while I was semi-learning a 10-years-old version of someone's conlang.
                                      I have the documentation in paper form, from back when people didn't just
                                      slap it up on the web, and I like it better than their more recent versions.
                                      I didn't tell them...

                                      I still mean to get back to that.

                                      tylakèhlpë'fö,
                                      Amanda
                                    • Philip Newton
                                      On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 01:41, Jim Henry wrote: [on Lojban] ... Presumably Robin Lee Powell, aka camgusmis. I ve heard a couple of
                                      Message 18 of 19 , May 28, 2009
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 01:41, Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...> wrote:
                                        [on Lojban]
                                        > a fluent speaker (Robin something?)

                                        Presumably Robin Lee Powell, aka camgusmis.

                                        I've heard a couple of other fluent speakers mentioned as well, but at
                                        least two of them (Nick Nicholas and someone from, I believe, Croatia)
                                        were in historical reminiscences so I don't know whether they are
                                        still fluent or even interested in Lojban these days.

                                        Cheers,
                                        Philip
                                        --
                                        Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
                                      • masukomi
                                        ... I saw Jim s post on the Toki Pona list about this discussion and getting a group of people together to choose and learn a conlang. I d be interested in
                                        Message 19 of 19 , Jun 10, 2009
                                        • 0 Attachment
                                          >> It seems evident to me that there's a much larger pool of people who
                                          >> could be interested in being taught some particular unknown conlang..

                                          I saw Jim's post on the Toki Pona list about this discussion and getting a
                                          group of people together to choose and learn a conlang.

                                          I'd be interested in that. Actually participating would probably depend a
                                          lot on which language people ended up choosing because there are some out
                                          there that really don't do it for me. But, I think it's a great idea.

                                          -Kate
                                        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.