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Showing posts from January, 2012

Art and Conlanging

If you listened to the out-takes from the most recent Conlangery Podcast you heard an out-of-context quote from an experience I had in college. I went to a show of performance art pieces put on by art students. One of the episodes involved a man walking out on stage with a boom box, turning on some industrial music, stripping naked and proceeding to duct-tape sausage to himself.From time to time, both on the show and off, Bianca and I have amused ourselves by imagining how various schools of art would map to styles of language invention. But now I think we've been going at this backwards. There is nothing intrinsically confusing about an earnest, naked gentleman with kielbasa affixed to his person. The problem is that no one in the audience knew what language he was speaking. If he had passed out a grammar and lexicon first, the audience would have some idea of what he was trying to say.So, my current idea is that conceptual art is actually a form of conlanging. People just…

And ACADEW, too: Tsolyáni

While some of us invented our first languages without any idea others might indulge in this hobby, most of us come to it through exposure to some other conlang. Esperanto was the most likely for a long time, and many, many of us create languages in the Mirkwood-deep shadow of Tolkien's languages. Somewhat more recently, Klingon may be the first taste of invented languages, and now Na'vi and Dothraki are bringing a few to the hobby.I don't remember if I had seen Esperanto when I started creating my first languages — puny relexes of English with hybrid German-Latin grammars, including the dative case before I even know what one did with it. The deepest influence on my languages, however, come from an author who never invented a single language, Frank Herbert.When Herbert needed non-English touches, he grabbed historical human languages and made modest sound changes, largely to accommodate his editors, I'm sure. Arabic infuses the books (CHOAM = OPEC), and Romani make…

Perceiving ANADEW

One feature of Láadan that always struck me as odd was how it handled perception. There are no verbs for see, hear, taste, etc., rather there is a single verb láadperceive, which is used with an instrumental noun to clarify.Bíiláadlene-thoyu-nanwa.DECLperceive1SG2SG-ACCear-INSTEVIDI hear you. I was never clear what effect Elgin was aiming at with this, and it has always struck me as unnatural. I should know better, but if you had asked me last week if this would occur in a natural language, I would have said, "no." But no, it does occur — in one language, Kobon.Kobon is known for having a very small number of verbs — on the order of 100, of which about 20 get regular use. It achieves clarity by combing the verbs with nouns, adjectives and adverbs. So, eye perceive for see, ear perceive for hear, etc. It heads off into territory even Láadan wouldn't enter, with sleep perceive for dream (Láadan ozh).I really should know better by now.Some people might enjoy A universa…