A. PROFESSION, DEMOGRAPHICS, INCLINATION: 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 Science 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. B. FEATURES OF YOUR INVENTION 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 language. 4. Do you have a script for your conlang? ... That is what I am currently working on inventing. Not complete yet. 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 conculture. *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 con-sign-lang 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 time. *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 vocabulary 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 C. PHILOSOPHY AND AESTHETIC: 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 world. 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 level. *15. If it is, who do you think are its consumers? ... N/A *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. D. THE LISTSERV 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 Langmaker.com 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.