On Sat, Jan 11, 2003 at 01:38:49AM -0500, Sally Caves wrote:

> Okay...  I stand corrected.  This is terrific.  We can add her to the list
> of women conlangers!  But I have always felt that Le Guin's first priority
> was her novel writing and not any invented language.

Yes, I'm sure this is right.  She probably did it in order to have done it,
if you know what I mean.

> developing this language for this book, so, yes, she is a conlanger.  But a
> more notable and versatile author (than she is a conlanger), AND ("...than
> Tolkien is/was."

I agree.  The movie has had to add in more stuff for the female characters
to do, in part because Tolkien sucked at women :)

> And she had anthropologist parents;

That puts an interesting spin on the book's conceit of being a collection
of anthropological notes.

> Hmm.  My book didn't come with a cassette. :-(

They've been selling it without a cassette lately :(  Would you like a
copy?  (I don't think that would be immoral, given that you did buy the

Oh, here we go.  The tape insert says "Distributed by Valley Productions,
P.O. Box 3220, Ashland, Oregon 97520".  Maybe it's available separately?
The name of the composer for the music was Todd Barton.

> Does she sing the songs herself?

They are sung by multiple people, including snippets of "background
conversation" and stuff.  It's meant to sound like real field recordings,
I guess.  Musicians are credited on the cassette insert, but nothing as
to whether they are playing or singing.

I suspect that she may be the voice on the one "Teaching Poem", which
seems rather strongly to be a statement of her philosophy.

> It depends on what you mean by "rather extensive."

*Blushes*  I meant "rather extensive to 13-year-old me in 1985".  There
are about 520 words in the glossary in the back.  Note, however, that she

        It was my intention in making this glossary to include
        all the Kesh words which occur in the text of the book
        or in the songs and poems in the recording that accompanies
        it.  A number of other words were included for the pleasure
        of my fellow dictionary-readers and adepts of what an
        illustrious predecessor referred to as the Secret Vice.

so there may be more words that weren't published (or there may not).
But still, 520 words is more than any of my languages have, or more
likely about as many as my oldest and truest language has.  (It had 483
words in the 1990 glossary that's online, but I don't know how many I've
added since then; they fit in two memos in my Palm Pilot.)

And note that The Silmarillion itself has only 180 word roots listed in
its appendices, and none of them useful for everyday conversation :)
From those two books alone, one can't really tell which is the greater
work, though if you include the rest of the stuff Christopher Tolkien
has published it becomes clear :)

> I believe that Amman-Iar boasts something
> like ten thousand words, and David Bell has the glossary to prove it.

*sigh* that is greatness...  I work slowly.  If the weather is balanced
on some magical equinoctial point on its way up or down the calendar
and inspiring restless thoughts, *and* I don't have to go to work, I
take a walk in the park and write in the Palm Pilot 5-10 sentences of
inspiration, with 10-20 new words.

At least the words always sound right.

> I can appreciate the fact that all of us are at different levels in this
> pursuit.  And this is a marvelous story, Amanda!  But did she respond in her
> language?

No.  And now that the fervour of defending my second-strongest Conlanging
Influence has passed, I will admit that I had to adapt my attention-getting
sentence to work around the absence of a word for "read", if I remember
correctly (the glossary is Kesh->English so I can't verify that).

> Did you write your request in her language?

Nope.  (I wish I had the letter here... I think it's at my parents'

Also, another correction... I don't think there is actually a grammar
in there anywhere.  I think I had reconstructed the tense system and
verb agreement morphemes from the songs and poems, and was writing to
ask her about a missing piece.

> ....can't say that our languages do?   Can't say that you've done in your
> language?  But Amanda, we communicate in small ways to each other all the
> time

Of course you are right.  My tunnel-vision was in effect when I wrote
that we don't.  I don't know why I didn't count Relays, and even if I
go back to 1985, I used to sign letters to my best friend "I miss you"
in merechi, which surely counts.

> We've had Conlang Relay Exchanges.  We post extensive websites detailing
> grammar and usage.  You and I could have a "practical communication," too,
> if we took the time to learn something about each other's conlang.

You know, I keep meaning to study other people's conlangs, but so far
that has only happened when I had a Relay to prepare for :)

> No one will be married in Teonaht,

Ooooh... now what a cool idea that is!  Getting married in one's conlang
(especially if it has spritual significance!)  Only problem is that one's
partner would be rather short-shrifted by it :)

> Maybe we should issue new challenges to one another besides the extremely
> popular Conlang Relay Game.  Maybe we should be doing more with each other
> what Amanda did with Ms. Le Guin.

I feel all embarrassed now, since it was really just the one sentence.

> For those of you who've taken an interest
> in Teonaht, I'm blown away.  I'd like to return the favor, if there were
> world and time!  I have two paper editions of grammars: one is Padraic
> Brown's Kernu, carefully handbound, and another is Matt Pearson's Tokana.

It's a sad fact that many interesting, quirky self-publications that
used to come on paper are now just online.  On the other hand, that means
I can read them at work :)

I admire people whose grammars are well-documented enough to print and

> But I'm not overawed yet.  I've seen some prodigious stuff.

Indeed, many of us do much more than she did.  I'm not one of 'em.
17 years of intermittent conlanging, and I still can't say "pass the
salt" :)

> > (Heck, it has everyday words in it so it's more useful even than my
> > two main ones.)
> Be patient, Amanda.  And allow yourself to be a little mad!  <G>

Being a little mad has got me where I am with all the words for goddesses
and holiness and feelings and the outdoors, but it's unlikely to generate
"rice" and "salt" and "bake".  Maybe I should start doing like some of
you and making recipes...

> No one person "completes" an invented language. Did you mean that unlike us
> she had the sanity to stop working on it? <G>

Yes :)

> > Perhaps she *wasn't* as enamoured of the process as we are.  Maybe
> > she saw the end and not the means as the goal.
> What are the ends?

In her case, presumably a book and a place among the "adepts of... the
Secret Vice" :)

> > But what's published is
> > a workable language,
> And I would still challenge you on your choice of words.  At least let me
> look at the glossary.

I back down slightly from "workable".  But at least she had the sanity
to include words from the sacred to the profane, from the household to
the outdoors, with plenty of local California animals and plants.

I didn't even have words for "mother, father, brother" till I needed
'em for my first Relay.  Which was in language number two, unfortunately.
I think my primary language still lacks them.

(In both languages I had a word for sister, which was meant to be used
non-biologically, one for my best friend and one for my personal goddess.)

> Somewhat repetitive, too, which eases production of  a comprehensive
> lexicon.

And made it one of the easier ones for me to remember for the email :)
The *first* one I thought of just consists of "I want to go home" over
and over, which was less than interesting.  Other songs have a bit more

Should I type in the songs and poems?  One of the neat things about
them is the way they illustrate the postpositions and derivational
processes so neatly.

> ("Eek!  As for me, I blue a bit tonight-- i.e., getting ornery, sniffish,
> "blue," out of sorts.  My apologies.  Me envious?  Not a chance!")

Well, I'm envious of many on this list more disciplined than I :)