On Fri, Jan 10, 2003 at 01:01:02PM -0500, Sally Caves wrote:

> Ursula Le Guin is said to be a conlanger, but
> I have reservations about that, despite some of the linguistic information
> she gives about the invented words in some of her novels.  I read an article
> in which she was interviewed twenty-five years ago (so she might have
> changed over the years)

"Always Coming Home" was her only conlanged book.  It was published in 1985,
which would be 8 years after that interview...

> _Always Coming Home_ may represent a more involved use of conlanging on
> her part.  I know that the novel has some linguistic notes at the end of it,

That's not the half of it... it came with a cassette tape with songs sung
in the language (I can still sing most of them) and poetry.  There was a
rather extensive dictionary in the back, and a brief grammar overview.  I
wrote her a letter with a sentence in her language on the envelope, "Please
listen to my words" I think it was[1], and she responded with the grammatical
information I'd been wondering about :)  It's at least as much of a conlang
as many of our efforts.

[1] The language was therefore successfully used for practical communication
between two people, something many of us can't say :)

> but I'm
> still not convinced that she is as compulsively dedicated as some of the
> rest of us are to the nitty gritty details of our inventions.  I, for one,
> have been working on Teonaht for almost forty years; it's like a nursing a
> child that will never quite grow up.

True, it didn't seem to have the depth of Tolkien's languages, with their
long evolution, both synchronic and diachronic.  True, she didn't make a
lifetime project of it.  But her language was a lot more mature than 90%
of the ones I've made up! :)  (Heck, it has everyday words in it so it's
more useful even than my two main ones.)

The only fault I can see here is that she had the temerity to *complete*
it :)  Perhaps she *wasn't* as enamoured of the process as we are.  Maybe
she saw the end and not the means as the goal.  But what's published is
a workable language, and what was invented exceeds what was published.


(One of the songs:

A weyewey heyiya a, na-am, na-am; gewakwasur weheyiya, na-am, na-am.
Om, o na-am (wisuyu, wisuyu, wisuyu); wisuyusur.  Weheyiya!  Om o na-am,
om o na-am, om o na-am.

Oh everything is holy, by the river, by the river; we dance holy-ly, by
the river, by the river.  Down by the river (willows, willows, willows);
we are willows.  Holy-ly!  Down by the river, down by the river, down
by the river.

Postpositional and somewhat agglutinative.)