Apologies for not doing the survey sooner; holidays.

Have you based your conlang(s) wholly or partially on a Celtic language?
If so, on which?  or combined with which?
Tsiréssa's complex mutation features are inspired by generic Celticism.

What is your name and what do you call your conlang(s)?
Shreyas Sampat.  Seinundjé, Tsiréssa.

When did you start it/them?
Sein was started close to the inception of the Arda Project.  Tsiréssa
was a little later than that, I think.

Are you still working with it/them or have you abandoned it or them?
I'm still working in Sein.  Ts. is on a back burner for now; its sound
changes don't really excite me, and I want to start over.

What Celtic features have you borrowed?  What is the structure of your
language?  Be specific.
Initial consonant mutation in Ts.  Tsiréssa's heavily prefixing, which
leaves ample opportunity for mutated forms and weird sandhi.

What innovations did you introduce?  (new constructions, perhaps a new
script, etc.)
I would have to say that the Celtic-influenced features are the
innovations, being as they were added to a late stage of a different

What features of Celtic languages (or a particular Celtic language)
initially inspired or intrigued you?  Was this a [beauty] draw for you
as well in choosing Celtic as a model? (I understand that T's Elvish
languages are not exclusively "Celtic."  He has described them, however,
as being "European-like.")
I'd rather say that my conlangs are aimed at texture than any specific
ideal of beauty.  Tsiréssa tries to have the spikiness of Sanskrit,
while Seinundjé is like a beef stew, thick and full of surprising

On the other hand, perhaps the Celtic structures, their VSO, their
paraphrastics, their initial mutations, their spelling conventions,
their general strangeness caught your fancy, not necessarily their
"beauty" or "romance."  Comment?
Strangeness, to me, is not a goal but maybe a side effect of other
goals.  The weird spelling conventions certainly caught my eye, and I
keep them (and others) in mind when designing Latin orthographies.

How many of you are also scholars of Celtic languages?   Scholars of
other languages?
Not I.

How were you introduced to them?

PART II:  INSPIRATION BY TOLKIEN (tangential to the questions on
inspiration by Celtic languages):

How many of you were inspired to invent a language because of your
exposure to Tolkien?
T. exposed me to the idea, indeed, but my inspiration came from less
well-known sources, including a good many members of the Conlang list.

How many of you based your conlang on one of Tolkien's languages, or
your conculture in Middle Earth?
Not me.

How many of you have a constructed world, and, if so, does it include
some of the races we associate with Celtic or Scandinavian mythology?
(Elves, Dwarves, medieval societies of humans, Faeries or Fays?
Selkies?  Wizards?)
I do; it shares Seinundjé with Arda.  It isn't Scandinatian in nature,
though; rather it's Vedic and animistic.

How many of you were inspired to examine Welsh, Hebrew, or Finnish
because of your examination of Tolkien?
H and F, yes.

How many of you were inspired to invent a conlang or a conculture
because of some influence OTHER than Tolkien?
I.  See above.

How many of you were inspired to invent a language because you engage in
Roll-Playing Games?
I'd like to mention that 'roll-playing' is a spelling that certain
gamers use as a disparaging term for certain (ill-defined) types of
play; the term in more general use is 'role-playing'[/rant]
I do use my conlangs in RP occasionally, but their existence is

How many of you were inspired to invent a language because you heard of
this listserv?
I was.

How many of you are members of the Mythopoeic Society, or the Society
for Creative Anachronism, or other High Fantasy Groups?
Not me.


In the discussions I've witnessed on Conlang in almost five years, I've
observed that many conlangers have deliberately avoided "Tolkienesque"
languages, and even Indo-European languages as models for conlangs, and
especially the "Celtic."  Why?  Boring?  Overdone?  Trite?  Too pretty?
Too Western?  Or none of the above--just more interested in something
else? <G>  I don't want to give the impression that I think we conlang
only because of Tolkien, and that anything we invent has to be INSPIRED
BY or a DEPARTURE from the "Great One"; but in this question I'm eager
to see some eschewal of or at least indifference towards the Tolkien,
the "Celtic," and/or even the Indo-European model.

I don't agree entirely with T.'s aesthetic ideals; I think kshatriya is
a much prettier word than 'cellar door'.  So, indifference.  What T. did
with his goals is certainly an excellent realization of them, but my
interests lie in other places.

>What is your name and what do you call your conlang?

So what is unappealing about the Indo-European model for conlanging?  Or
Tolkien's Elvish?
T.'s Elvish family, in my opinion, lacks a certain oomph.  I'm a big fan
of the sounds of stop clusters and voiced fricatives, something that no
Quendian language retained for long.

How did you start conlanging?  What was your initial inspiration?
I started, years ago (about five), with a Samoan-inspired thing full of
vowels and /l/s.  That soon bored me; it had the liquid mushiness I
associate with Quenya.

Did you know about Tolkien's inventions?  Read the books, the
appendices? etc.  Or not?
Yes.  For a while I was fascinated with Khuzdul and Valarin.

What language types have you modeled your language(s) after?
Indic ones, for the most part, when I was modelling deliberately.
Seinundjé is picking up French influences.

What features of these languages or language types appeal to you?
The abundance of consonants, Sanskrit's compounding, baroque inflection
patterns, sandhi and liaison, that sort of thing.

Some of you, and I'm thinking in particular of a conversation I had with
And Rosta, are not interested in producing a language that is
"mellifluous"--that "mellifluousness" is a thing to be avoided in your
conlang and especially as it is associated with Tolkien's Elvish or
of Elvish.   Is this so?  Why?
"Mellifluous" particularly is an uninteresting quality for me; I'd
rather create something "like the chirping of birds or the glitter of
swords".  Mellifluous, I associate with soft and textureless.

For how many of you, though, is beauty and/or efficiency a factor in
your language?  Or elegance?  How would you define these terms?
I do have a standard of beauty, strange as it is.  Elegance is another
matter; I couldn't care less for grammatical elegance at times, but I'd
like my languages to have a weird lure to those that don't know them.

For how many of you is the "exotic" a desired feature of your invented
Not me.  Like strange, a side effect if it's any effect.  The fact that
I take my influences from less-than-common places brings this about, but
I don't try for it.

How many of you invent a non-human language?  And if so, how alien are
its sounds and constructions?
Not me.

Do you prefer inventing an a posteriori language or an a priori
language? In other words, how many of you invent a language wherein you
base it closely on a natural language (Arabic, Tagalog) or a combination
of languages, and how many others of you invent a language from, well,
scratch? (if that can be done.)
I am more experienced in a posteriori, I think; two of my conlangs of
approximately three (I have sketches of several others) are based on
other conlangs.

How many of you invent a language based on a particular type (Ergative,
Accusative, Trigger, etc.)?
I've done this.  Coatlalopeuh is a trigger language.

To what degree is difficulty and irregularity of language important to
you in your conlang?  what natural language eccentricities (or
efficiencies) do you like and try to reproduce?
I have incorporated extreme "difficulty" through baroqueness of
grammatical patterns (Nrit verbs have at least ten tenses, three
numbers, three persons, voice marking, and come in five different
inflection classes), phonetic peculiarities, etc., but I'm not
particularly interested in irregularity or idiomatics, and so haven't
worked much on those.

To what degree is accessibility, efficiency, and regularity important to
your conlang?  What natural language "faults" are you correcting?
Not important.

How many of you invent logical languages?
Not me.

How many of you invent IALs?
Not I.

How many of you have invented non-Tolkienesque or non European
concultures and what are they like?
I have.
The conculture I designed for Nrit and its descendant Tsiréssa is a
strange one; it's based on a set of Europeanish ideals, but evolved in a
different way; like Vedic India, it places a lot of respect on the word
and its power, and through the word onto other forms of art and beauty
in all its forms.  This developed into a cult of beauty and grace, a
worship of the person-as-art.

How many of you started out by pulling words out of the air, originally?
How many of you have chosen a more methodic form of vocabulary building?
I.e., how have you gone about setting up the framework for your words
and your grammar? (I started out pulling words out of the air.)
I tend to pull a few words and then build a phonology to fit them, to
restrict out things that I don't think fit, and then move on to some
kind of root generator.

PART IV:  THE LUNATIC SURVEY REVISITED (because we are all "fous du
langage," according to Yaguello and other French critics.

Why do you conlang?  Who will speak it?  Read it?  What's the point?
What's the beauty?  what's the intellectual draw?
Solely because it's a creative outlet.  Like any other, the pleasure is
in the process, not the result.  It lets my mind act in ways that
ordinary life doesn't require.

To what would you compare a conlang?  Is it a miniature?  Is it a model?
Is it a tapestry?  Is it an act of obsession and madness? <G>  Or is it
a communicable language?
To an experimental gourmet dish.  We all have a set of ingredients open
to us....  I could make this into a wild and elaborate analogy, but I
Anyway, with a closed set of ingredients (some of which we may not be
aware of), we all create unique combinations.

If it is a communicable language, to whom do you speak it?

To what extent is the opacity or "alterity" of your language something
that pleases you?  In other words, the sounds and the script have, even
for you, a quality of being foreign, and this delights. Comment?  (I
know that when I make maps of cities, and imagine myself in them, they
delight me because they are both familiar and foreign at the same
A great deal, at some times.  I've engineered my phonologies so that I
can't pronounce many of them; recently I changed the Sein. stress system
such that I have to perform analyses on words to know where the stress
falls and how vowels reduce.  It's very exciting.

This is a difficult question:  how is it that a word sounds "right" to
you? We recently discussed this.  To what extent are you finding
righter, better words for the world in your conlang?  (Perhaps
For Sein., this is a project of messing with the sound changes so that
they spit out something with the right 'taste'; it's a lot like baking a
cake, in that I know what's going into the processes and what the
processes are, but I can't easily predict what comes out.
For Ts. and Nrit, I pull words out of the air; this is difficult, and I
follow my intuition.

How many of you are fictive map-makers, designers of fictive floor
plans, fictive yachts, fictive star-ships, world-builders,
calligraphers, cartoonists, etc.?  (These pursuits have been associated
with conlanging.  I 've done most of them.)
Calligrapher, occasional cartoonist.  I've done the floorplanning and
worldbuuilding, too.  Mostly, I'm a game and costume designer.

How many of you have a special script in your conlang?
Rapidly in flux, but always working on one or more.

If you use Roman script, how recognizably "phonetic" is your writing
system? In other words, do you use unconventional letters to represent
sounds? Why?
My Latin orthographies tend to be historically correct; I find a stage
of the language that I can show with the script without using extremely
unconventional devices, and then insert the succeeding soundchanges as
reading rules.  This has led to some very odd vowel orthographies.

This is a question Heather asked, but I also asked it four years ago:
how many of you write in your language?  What do you write?
I do, occasionally, but in no appreciable quantity.

How many of you sing in your language and have invented songs for that
Not me.

How many of you started conlanging when you were a teenager and have
to the same language over many years?   Why?
Yes and then no.  I tend to be working on more then one thing, and never
really abandon projects, just let them rest for years at a time.

How many of you change conlangs regularly, developing structures for
many languages but not sticking with any one for very long?  Why?
As I said, I tend to oscillate with long periods of working on one
subset of projects.

For how many of you does your language function as a spiritual
instrument? This is a deeply personal question--let me give you an
example.  When I first started inventing "Tayonian" in my early teens,
what I wrote were spells and prayers.  They had a talismanic quality.
Does that ring a bell for anybody?
*shakes head*

For how many of you was your language at least at one stage of its
making meant to fool others, or to write secret diaries? (Me, waving my

How many of you can speak your language, at least to yourself and your
pet? child?  spouse?  <G>  To what extent?
Nope; I have a hard time pronouncing (in connected speech) the nasalized
liquids and other eccentricites I use so often.

How many of you have put up websites where your language can be
showcased? If so, what is the website address?
I had one up, but have taken it down for remodelling.

How many of you have made soundbytes of your language so the rest of us
can hear it?  If so, give the site.
Not me, though I should.

How many of you are comfortable talking to your boss, your professors,
family members about this pursuit?   How many of you have received
condescending or other negative responses to your disclosure?  (I have.)
Or even been called "pathological"?
Not to authority figures, but to equals, yes.  Those who I've mentioned
it to seem to find it not particularly interesting, but not given
otherwise negative responses.

If this attitude is changing, to what do you attribute the change?  (On
New Year's Eve, a delightful, elderly gentleman could not understand why
I would be interested in this pursuit.  What purpose could it serve?)
I think that the more obscure creative arts (game design and comics as
art, for example) are gaining more respect in the public eye.

For how many of you is the damning statement "better to learn real
languages than invent private ones" a criticism you have encountered?
What would be your response to such a remark?
Not I.  I would respond along the lines of "Well, I'm doing that too,
but you'll observe that the two activities serve completely unrelated
goals, and I do them for very dofferent reasons.  Don't compare apples
and cows."


What is your age (optional--and can be general: 30-40, for instance).

What is your profession or your station in life (i.e., if you are a
student, what is your MAJOR; if a middle or high-school student, what is
your intended major)?
College student.

What is your gender?

What is your nationality and your native language?
American; I speak English and passively understand Gujarati.

What natural languages do you speak or have studied?
Besides those, I've studied Hindi, Sanskrit, Latin, and French.

How many of you have chosen a profession in linguistics because of your
interest in inventing languages?  Or plan a profession in linguistics?
I plan such a one, yes.  The two are correlated, but not causally, I
don't think.

What have you learned from conlanging?
A lot of cool linguistic trivia.  Also, a much better understanding of
some principles that my classes haven't gone over very well.

What texts on language and linguistics have you consulted to help invent
your language?
A few, though I don't recall the titles.

Do you know of anyone who has not connected with the Internet or the
List who has invented a language? (I'm firmly convinced that
"conlanging" has been a private pursuit for many people long before the
list started, but that the list has increased its visibility as an art).

Can you give me a short sample of your language with interlinear
description and translation?
If you're still interested in these, I can compose a couple, but I don't
have any on hand at the moment.

Would you object to my mentioning your conlang/and or your name in my
talk? I will be discreet about some of the more personal questions you
No objections.

Sally, enjoy!

---Shreyas Sampat