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Showing posts from October, 2010

If Zamenhof had been Cree

In the last few days there has been a few posts on the conlang-l list about conlangs based moribund or dead languages. Since Native American languages were named, it reminded me of thoughts that have rolled around in my head from time to time over the last year or so.

I don't really deal in auxlangs, but it a moment of musing it occured to me that the only real chance one has of being widely adopted in the U.S. is if Native Americans one day get sick of conducting their inter-tribal business in English and decide they need something else. No existing Native language would probably really work for several reasons. First, an auxlang should be a lot easier than a natural language to learn, and there not a single Native language easy enough to reasonably fill the auxlang role. Second, there would be political problems — there are standing tensions between some tribes, some of which go back very far indeed. For example, there are probably very few Hopi or Navajo who would be willin…

Old High Coochy-Coo

Of those few conlangs that reach a pretty well-developed state (beyond 1500 words or so, a reasonable corpus), a good number will have well-defined formal and literary registers. Part of this is probably yet another lingering influence of Tolkien, though for most people a literary conlang may be the first they encounter. In my own Vaior I created syntax and a good dose of parallel vocabulary for fairly common words used only in the poetic register (raie was the normal word for star, emme poetic), as well as poetic syntax (animate direct objects of perception verbs are in the genitive, not accusative).

One thing I've never seen in a conlang is baby-talk. How different cultures talk to children isn't exactly universal. Some people don't talk directly to children until they have something interesting to say back, without apparently causing developmental problems. But it's a pretty common practice. What I would not have suspected, until I read about it a few days ago,…