1. Who are you,... Gary Shannon. conlangs: Tazhi
(semi-Romance) Piktok (ideographic), Mutlak
(progressively mutated English), about a dozen
fragments or half-baked beginnings.

*2. Are you new to the Lunatic Survey... New

3. Do you have a website... No organized site, just a
few transient pages that come and go.

4. What is your email address? ... [log in to unmask]

5. What is your age?... 59

6. What is your gender? ... Male

7. What is your nationality?  Where do you live now?
... American, Oregon, USA

8. What is your native language? ... English

9. What natural languages ... German, Latin, Russian

10. What is your level of education? ... MS Computer

11. What is your profession? ... Software Engineer

13. If you are a student... N/A

14. How long have you been developing your invented
language(s)? Since 1952 - 53 years

15. At what age did you first start inventing a
language? ... Age seven
    Can you briefly describe your early efforts? ...
At age seven: Igpaya Ussianruski - a Russian-sounding
varient of Pig Latin with multiple endings instead of
just "-ay".

16. What drew you to start... I don't recall. I've
always loved languages.

17. Did you start inventing before... 50 years before
the list! I discovered Esparanto at age 10.

18. Tolkien calls it a "shy art" and a "secret
vice"... A few family members know. My grandson is
also a conlanger at age 16, and started before he knew
I was doing it too.

19. Yaguello has called it "pathological,"... Mostly
perplexed looks, like "why?"

*20. Do you consider it nerdy... It's just something I
do. I don't much care what others think of it.
   Do you need to get a life... I have what I consider
to be a rich life outside of conlanging.

21. ...Are you musically inclined... I studied piano
formally for 14 years. I have composed 3 symphonies
and many shorter symphonic works plus string quartets
and brass quintets, etc.

22. ...Are you mathematically inclined or inclined
towards computing... My degrees are math and computer
science. Math, particularly number theory, is my MAIN
hobby, followed by music and conlanging in that order.

23. What other passions do you pursue... I have
dabbled in all those mentioned at one time or another,
particularly sculpture and woodcarving.


1. Pick the best term ... artlang

2. Is your conlang a priori... A posteriori. My
current project is a non-spoken language of gestures
and an orthography for the same. Being fairly familiar
with ASL I'm borrowing some basic ideas from that sign

4. Do you have a script for your conlang? ... That is
what I am currently working on inventing. Not complete

5. Briefly describe the outlines of your invented
language ... VSO Analytic.
  ... have done with it that is innovative ... Using
an orthography for physical gestures that does not
attempt to actually "explain" or describe the
gestures, but to have a spelling that is simply
somewhat reminiscent of the gesture it depicts.

7. How extensive would you say your invented language
is, now?... My current project has a few hundred
gestures.  My earlier language Tazhi has about 1000
words. My earlier pictographic conlang had well over
3,000 pictographs. Only fragmentary note on scattered
web pages. No organized site yet.

8. How do you build vocabulary? For spoken conlangs
I've used computer programs, 20-sided dice, and other
randomizers to select syllables.  For my present
sign-con-lang project I mostly just make hand motions
till I stumble onto something that resonates with the
concept I'm trying to find a gesture for.

3. Does a constructed world... Tazhi was based on the
Atlantis myth. Other projects have had no associated

*9. Has your language and conworld ever served in a
role-playing game... No

*10. Briefly describe your conculture... Tazhi used
the stock Atlantis mythology. Tazhi was supposedly the
ancestor of Latin and Greek (IE didn't exist in this
mythological world)

*11. Are the beings who speak your invented language
human or alien? ... In my current conlang the
"speakers" are alien and have no speech aparatus.
Hence a languge of gestures.

12. What do you write in it? ...I used my older
pictographic language Piktok extensively in my
personal journals and in note taking in school.  Other
conlangs have not been put to use in that way.

13. Can you speak your conlang? ... Yes, for my
   Are you fluent in it? Not yet. It's in its infancy.
   Is this a goal for you? Not a high priority
   Have you tried to teach it... No

14. Have you made any soundbytes... No

*15. If you use Roman script, how recognizably
"phonetic" is your writing system?... Tazhi is very
regular and, in the mythology, was a global language
pronounced with many different accents, but all
mutually understandable.  Con-sign-lang and Piktok
have no romanizations.

16. How many of you sing... No

*17. How many of you, for entertainment or any other
reason, resort to gibberish? ..."Resort" to
gibberish!?! Gibberish is a powerfull tool that I've
used since I was 1 year old. :)  I use it all the

*18. What on-line games do you play? ... No lang-based
online games, several RPG games (EQ, WoW, Unreal).

19. Which do you prefer doing... 1. Script 2. Building

20. Do you start and stop several different
conlangs... Some of each. I start and stop for a while
till I get one that's off to a good start, then I
follow through on it. I started and stopped my
pictographic language 6 or 8 times before it took off
and ended up with over 3,000 pictograms.

21. What do you think makes a "complete" conlang. ...
When I can translate the first two or three McGuffey's
Readers without having to invent a bunch of new words
or grammatical principles.
   What are your goals for completion? ... My current
con-sign project I hope to be able to translate any
arbitrary text at an average adult reading level.
   When do you grow "tired" of your conlang... Most
often when some aspect of THIS project gives me an
idea for the NEXT project, at which time THIS gets
dropped and the NEXT gets started.

*22. Which came first: The conlang


1. What aesthetic features do you value in inventing
language? Logical word structure. Scripts (I love
strange scripts) stucture, in that order. Phonology
just bores me for some reason, so I gloss over it.

2. What commonly applied aesthetics have you ever
tried to avoid... "exotic" sounds that must be
produced in some specific way. I've always built a
HUGE tolerence for varient pronunciations into my
conlangs. It's sumfin I think natlangs have, that
conlangs need.

3. Is difficulty or obscurity a goal... Never. Ease of
use is always a key issue.

4. Is efficiency a goal... It matters, but it is not
an overriding design goal. After all, internal
redundancy makes language easier to use in the real

5. How natural do you wish to make it... So natural it
could be mistaken for a natlang.

6. Can conlanging be sexy? sensual? obsessing? ... I
don't think those apply in my case.

*7. How many of you have developed a rich vocabulary
of obscenities?... My pictographic language had a
dozen or so.  None of my other projects have had them.
 My gesture language certainly will, eventually.

8. Can it be mystical? ... Very much so. In my teens I
dabbled in "magick" and exotic incatations have an
allure all their own.

9. How many of you have developed a rich vocabulary of
magical... Only Tazhi had such terms, but not more
than a few dozen.

*10. How many of you have striven to invent words that
express novel ideas... Hadn't really thought about
that.  Although I have certainly partitioned the
meaning-to-word mapping differently.

11. Name a few of the words in your language(s) that
you are most pleased with... This one is funny. In
Tazhi, using the native roots and suffixes for "flat
bread with sauce + a place to purchase" gave the Tazhi
word "pitasariu".  Completely without conscious
planning, Tazhi's word for pizzaria turned out to be
almost "pizzaria".  It was only years after creating
Tazhi that I first heard the word "pita" bread in
English, which is also the Tazhi word for flat
unleavened bread.  Odd coincidences.

12. How do you sense that a word is "right" for its
meaning? ... I trust my ear to tell me.  I may try
dozens of words until I hit on the one that resonates
with the meaning.

*13. Do you ever rely on a software program to build
vocabulary? Yes.  As a programmer I have written
dozens (at least) word generating programs.  Mostly
they don't work too well.  My ear does a better job.

*14. Is conlang a hobby... For me it is a hobby,
nothing more.  Just as playing the piano is a hobby.
For others it may be an art, but not at my pedestrian

*15. If it is, who do you think are its consumers? ...

*16. This question is directed as well at any
auxlangers ... N/A

*17. ...If you could pick a metaphor... It's an
exploration of what languages might have been if
history had been a little different, or if we had been
born on a different planet.  For me it is just
exploring possibilities. Beyond that it doesn't need
any deeper justification in my mind.

*18. Why or why not would you eschew the metaphors
"miniature" or "model"?... A lot of my own conlangs
have never gotten beyond the miniature point.  I think
when a language is complete enough that it could, in
theory, be used for day-to-day conversation and
commerce it has outgrown the "model" metaphor.

*19. Is a conlang more like a glimpse of something
lifesize? ... It can be. Just as a Japanese garden can
be a taste of the greater wilds beyond the confines of
the city fences that enclose it.

*20. ...What experiments have you made with your
artlang(s) along these lines?... None. I prefer
naturalistic conlangs.

*21  What do you think distinguishes a conlang from a
natural language... That would have to be answered on
a case-by-case basis.
    What would it take for a linguist to be fooled...
Irregularity, a touch of irrationality, and, while
optional, a clear place in the family tree of nearby
languages would add to the illusion.

*22. How much do you study other languages... I have
grammars for for about 2 dozen languages. I don't
study them systematically, but I do dip in to skim and
sample. I like to keep it naturalistic.

*23. Can such a language function? ...An "unnatural"
language would not particularly interest me.

*24. There has been quite a bit of fascinating debate
about the relevance of conlanging to linguistic study.
... No opinion.


1. How did you first hear of this list? ...From a
conlang NTTP newsgroup

2. How long have you been on this listserv... On and
off for about 4 or 5 years.

*3. What is the appeal of being on a listserv... The
great ideas I get from it, and the great feedback on
my own half-baked ideas.
   Do you think you contribute... Moderately
   Do you tend to lurk ? ... At times when I have
nothing to add.

*4. For those of you who remember its inception... N/A

*5. How helpful has the list been in developing your
language? ... Very
    In learning linguistic information? ... Very

6. What books have you consulted? I now have about 15
books on the subject, most of which were recommended
on this list.

*7. Do you peruse the websites of other conlangers?
... Yes

*8. Do you sense that people on this list are
interested in your conlang... Yes

9. Have you ever set out to learn at least a little
bit of someone’s conlang... Yes

*10. Do you peruse Jeffrey Henning’s
site?... Infrequently

*11. What on-line techniques do you use to showcase
your conlang... None so far.

12. Have you ever tried to introduce a friend to the
list?... No

13. Do you know of anyone who does this kind of thing
but who has never heard of the list?.. Yes my 16-year
old grandson.

*14. What other lists do you frequent related to
conlanging?... Lurker on Romconlang

*15. What do you think will be the future of the list?
I see it giving birth to alternate lists like
Conworld, Lostlanguages, Romlang, etc. ...I would hate
to see it become two compartmentalized for the simple
reason that some new projects don't fit any existing
compartment, and they would have nowhere to go.

*16. What Internet technology would you most like to
see developed ... No opinion

*17. What lists like conlang exist in other cultures
and languages that you know of?.. Don't know.

*18. ... Is the CONLANG community enough? ... It's
enough for me, personally.

*19. ...Would you be inventing as furiously as you are
without the list... I don't think it makes any
difference to me. I conlang mostly for my own
amusement, and always at my own pace.  Some of my most
"furious" conlanging was done many years before home
computers when I built my pictographic language
entirely by hand, and under the impression that I was
the only nut in the world doing this sort of thing.

20. If asked whether it is not better to turn your
linguistic talents to the learning... My answer is
simply that's not what I want to do. You could replace
a golf club with a scythe and be productively cutting
down wheat instead of playing golf.  Is that what YOU
want to do?

*21. ...Do you think the contemporary world is more
open to language innovation or more closed?... I think
neologisms catch on with kids a lot faster, but the
vast body of printed text today tends to put a damper
on rapid change in common standard speech, slowing
down the evolution of the language.  Plus, we can now
listen to recorded speech from 100 years ago, and
watch movies from 70 years ago which also serves as an
anchor, preventing too much drift. Children used to
learn language from parents and grandparents, but now
can learn it from movies nearly a century old as well,
thus retaining those features.

*22. What would Tolkien have done with such a
community? ... It depends.  He might have spent more
time showing off his projects and less time actually
working on them.  It's hard to say.  But I think that
these days we can at least display our works without
fear of being burned at the stake for witchcraft.

*23. Is there a danger that over-exposure can make
conlanging "banal"? ... Personally, if I start feeling
over exposed I'll just take steps to reduce my
exposure so it doesn't go stale.  Besides, conlanging
is always sharing my time with 5 or 6 other hobbies,
so at times it sits on the shelf for months anyway.

Finally, may I have your permission to use any of this
material of yours for my academic work on conlanging?
First name? last name? pseudonym? anonymous? ... Yes,
full permission, including name.