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Newbie Intro & Lovecraftian Language

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  • John Erickson
    Hello all, I m new to the list and fairly new to conlanging in general. I m still working on my first serious conlang, which has a very simple, regular grammar
    Message 1 of 6 , Sep 4, 2011
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      Hello all, I'm new to the list and fairly new to conlanging in general. I'm
      still working on my first serious conlang, which has a very simple, regular
      grammar and a vocabulary of less than 1000 words so far. I also have no
      formal training in linguistics and am learning as I go, so please forgive me
      if I ask dumb questions or make newbie mistakes. That being said...

      Has anyone ever tried to make a conlang based on Lovecraft's works? I know
      of one English transliteration script, but no full fledged conlangs. I've
      been making a half-hearted stab at it but if someone else has already done
      it (probably better than I ever could), I won't bother.

      P.S. I realize Lovecraft intended for his alien language snippets to be
      utterly incomprehensible, but therein lies the challenge and thus the fun.
    • Fausto Chikko
      There have been some efforts, here for example. And, though I haven t read it and can t even find a
      Message 2 of 6 , Sep 4, 2011
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        There have been some efforts,
        here<http://www.yog-sothoth.com/archive/index.php/t-8683.html> for
        example. And, though I haven't read it and can't even find a copy for sale
        on the Internet, *R'lyehian as a Toy Language *by Phillip Marsh looks, from
        its descriptions on various Lovecraft-fandom sites, interesting.

        What's your conlang like?

        On Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 2:30 PM, John Erickson <john.erickson.socal@...
        > wrote:

        > Hello all, I'm new to the list and fairly new to conlanging in general. I'm
        > still working on my first serious conlang, which has a very simple, regular
        > grammar and a vocabulary of less than 1000 words so far. I also have no
        > formal training in linguistics and am learning as I go, so please forgive
        > me
        > if I ask dumb questions or make newbie mistakes. That being said...
        >
        > Has anyone ever tried to make a conlang based on Lovecraft's works? I know
        > of one English transliteration script, but no full fledged conlangs. I've
        > been making a half-hearted stab at it but if someone else has already done
        > it (probably better than I ever could), I won't bother.
        >
        > P.S. I realize Lovecraft intended for his alien language snippets to be
        > utterly incomprehensible, but therein lies the challenge and thus the fun.
        >
      • Matthew Boutilier
        welcome! i can t count the times i ve thought of attempting this. it would be fantastic to organize the lovecraftian conlang canon (which, as far as i know,
        Message 3 of 6 , Sep 4, 2011
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          welcome!

          i can't count the times i've thought of attempting this. it would be
          fantastic to organize the lovecraftian conlang canon (which, as far as i
          know, is not very extensive) into something coherent. i am under the
          impression that old h.p. himself did not have a well developed conception of
          how the language of his elder gods - or other gods, or among whomever it was
          supposed to have fluency - *worked* as an actual language, although he
          certainly milked the hell out of its supposed phonetic shock value for the
          sake of the plot. (e.g., somebody (on wikipedia) suggests based on evidence
          that i forget that "cthulhu" in its native language can be approximated by
          [ˈχɬʊlɬuː], which if you aren't familiar with the phonetic notation is quite
          wonderfully disgusting-sounding, and has had some influence on the
          phonotactics of a few conlangs i have worked on in the recent past.) but of
          course, this lovecraftian "deep speech" is supposed to require certain
          speech organs possessed not by humans but only by the infernal and deranged
          monstrosities of the under-/netherworld. so that's problematic...

          but, to answer your question, no, i've not attempted this personally and in
          the year or two that i've been on this list cannot recall any such
          experiment being explicated openly. so, the challenge is yours. i'd be
          interested in seeing your so-called half-hearted stab.

          and i'm sure the rest of the list would find interest if you shared some of
          your "first serious conlang" (don't take my example - i have yet to expose
          anything substantial of a personal conlang). don't worry about linguistic
          training; CONLANG frequenters and members are rather diverse not only in
          linguistic expertise but in their linguistic interests and intentions in
          general. although, i might say that if you're interested in expanding your
          knowledge in such things, this is certainly a good place to do it.

          matt

          On Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 2:30 PM, John Erickson <john.erickson.socal@...
          > wrote:

          > Hello all, I'm new to the list and fairly new to conlanging in general. I'm
          > still working on my first serious conlang, which has a very simple, regular
          > grammar and a vocabulary of less than 1000 words so far. I also have no
          > formal training in linguistics and am learning as I go, so please forgive
          > me
          > if I ask dumb questions or make newbie mistakes. That being said...
          >
          > Has anyone ever tried to make a conlang based on Lovecraft's works? I know
          > of one English transliteration script, but no full fledged conlangs. I've
          > been making a half-hearted stab at it but if someone else has already done
          > it (probably better than I ever could), I won't bother.
          >
          > P.S. I realize Lovecraft intended for his alien language snippets to be
          > utterly incomprehensible, but therein lies the challenge and thus the fun.
          >
        • Anthony Miles
          On Sun, 4 Sep 2011 15:17:33 -0500, Matthew Boutilier wrote: welcome! I would enjoy seeing your idea of the speech of abominations. ...
          Message 4 of 6 , Sep 4, 2011
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            On Sun, 4 Sep 2011 15:17:33 -0500, Matthew Boutilier
            <bvticvlarivs@...> wrote:

            welcome!
            I would enjoy seeing your idea of the speech of abominations.

            >welcome!
            >
            >i can't count the times i've thought of attempting this. it would be
            >fantastic to organize the lovecraftian conlang canon (which, as far as i
            >know, is not very extensive) into something coherent. i am under the
            >impression that old h.p. himself did not have a well developed conception of
            >how the language of his elder gods - or other gods, or among whomever it
            was
            >supposed to have fluency - *worked* as an actual language, although he
            >certainly milked the hell out of its supposed phonetic shock value for the
            >sake of the plot. (e.g., somebody (on wikipedia) suggests based on evidence
            >that i forget that "cthulhu" in its native language can be approximated by
            >[ˈχɬʊlɬu�], which if you aren't familiar with the phonetic notation is
            quite
            >wonderfully disgusting-sounding, and has had some influence on the
            >phonotactics of a few conlangs i have worked on in the recent past.) but of
            >course, this lovecraftian "deep speech" is supposed to require certain
            >speech organs possessed not by humans but only by the infernal and
            deranged
            >monstrosities of the under-/netherworld. so that's problematic...
            >
            >but, to answer your question, no, i've not attempted this personally and in
            >the year or two that i've been on this list cannot recall any such
            >experiment being explicated openly. so, the challenge is yours. i'd be
            >interested in seeing your so-called half-hearted stab.
            >
            >and i'm sure the rest of the list would find interest if you shared some of
            >your "first serious conlang" (don't take my example - i have yet to expose
            >anything substantial of a personal conlang). don't worry about linguistic
            >training; CONLANG frequenters and members are rather diverse not only in
            >linguistic expertise but in their linguistic interests and intentions in
            >general. although, i might say that if you're interested in expanding your
            >knowledge in such things, this is certainly a good place to do it.
            >
            >matt
            >
            >On Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 2:30 PM, John Erickson
            <john.erickson.socal@...
            >> wrote:
            >
            >> Hello all, I'm new to the list and fairly new to conlanging in general. I'm
            >> still working on my first serious conlang, which has a very simple, regular
            >> grammar and a vocabulary of less than 1000 words so far. I also have no
            >> formal training in linguistics and am learning as I go, so please forgive
            >> me
            >> if I ask dumb questions or make newbie mistakes. That being said...
            >>
            >> Has anyone ever tried to make a conlang based on Lovecraft's works? I
            know
            >> of one English transliteration script, but no full fledged conlangs. I've
            >> been making a half-hearted stab at it but if someone else has already done
            >> it (probably better than I ever could), I won't bother.
            >>
            >> P.S. I realize Lovecraft intended for his alien language snippets to be
            >> utterly incomprehensible, but therein lies the challenge and thus the fun.
            >>
          • John Erickson
            Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone. There have been some efforts, ... Thanks for the link. I ll have to read through that before trying my own. Maybe I can
            Message 5 of 6 , Sep 4, 2011
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              Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone.

              There have been some efforts,
              > here<http://www.yog-sothoth.com/archive/index.php/t-8683.html> for
              > example. And, though I haven't read it and can't even find a copy for sale
              > on the Internet, *R'lyehian as a Toy Language *by Phillip Marsh looks, from
              > its descriptions on various Lovecraft-fandom sites, interesting.
              >

              Thanks for the link. I'll have to read through that before trying my own.
              Maybe I can build on what's already been done.


              What's your conlang like?
              >

              It started as a way to flesh out a fantasy world I'm making up (for a novel
              I'll probably never finish). I didn't want the people and place names to
              sound like randomly made up gibberish, so I started making up a language to
              give them a consistent sound & structure. But since then, I've gotten so
              caught up in the joy of conlanging, I've been more focussed on that than the
              story.

              It's supposed to be a traditional, colloquial language, so I've tried to
              make it easy to pronounce, and simple in structure (it's also simple because
              I'm new at this). To give it a more believable, natlang feel, I've also been
              sketching out the basic vocabulary of two parent languages, one direct
              parent, and one other source of vocabulary, a religious/scholarly language,
              like Latin in Medieval Europe.

              Anyway, enough rambling. Here's a sample. "A myu kuaru ya Zuthie yud arp a
              dhambu ol i teondeyai." It's the opening line of a short folk tale, and
              translates roughly, "I girl named Jewel lived in a village of farmers."


              but of course, this lovecraftian "deep speech" is supposed to require
              > certain
              > speech organs possessed not by humans but only by the infernal and deranged
              > monstrosities of the under-/netherworld. so that's problematic...


              One of my ideas is to have them be able to pronounce multiple phonemes at
              once. I think that would give it a really alien feel, and make it good and
              unpronounceable.

              In a way, I think the fact that it's so alien would/will make the project
              easier in terms of making it consistent with the source material. The chants
              and incantations and such in the stories are supposed to be rough
              interpretations of a language half remembered and never fully understood in
              the first place, so a certain amount of inconsistency between the "original"
              deep speech and what is in the stories would be okay.
            • Jim Henry
              On Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 3:30 PM, John Erickson ... Welcome! ... There have been some discussions on the list about it before. Try searching the list archives
              Message 6 of 6 , Sep 5, 2011
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                On Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 3:30 PM, John Erickson
                <john.erickson.socal@...> wrote:
                > Hello all, I'm new to the list and fairly new to conlanging in general. I'm

                Welcome!

                > Has anyone ever tried to make a conlang based on Lovecraft's works? I know
                > of one English transliteration script, but no full fledged conlangs. I've

                There have been some discussions on the list about it before. Try
                searching the list archives for "Alhazred", "Cthulhu" and for various
                other Lovecraftian words and names.

                Also, in Lovecraft's letters there are some bits where he says how
                some of the names and words are supposed to be pronounced. I'm pretty
                sure the first volume of his collected letters from Arkham House has
                something about the pronunciation of "Cthulhu".

                --
                Jim Henry
                http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/
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