Sally Caves wrote:

> LUNATIC SURVEY 2005, by Sally Caves
> There are four parts (A through D) of about 22-24 questions each.  These
> surveys have aided me in my ongoing research on conlanging, but they are
> also for YOU.
> *For the few that have requested it, I’ve put asterisks by the questions
> that are new to this third installment of the "Lunatic Survey," first
> posted in 1998, in honor of Marina Yaguello’s dismissive title, Fous du
> langage, translated by Catherine Slater as "Lunatic Lovers of Language."
> BEAR IN MIND, though, that I’ve started from scratch, and many of my
> "old" questions are recast in new ways.
> You need not answer every question; if you do, please keep most of them
> fairly brief, although I don’t want to deny you a chance to effuse!  I
> would like all the questions answered for A, 1-17, though, even if you
> took the survey in 2003.
> Please read them over before responding, so you know what lies ahead.
> You may respond publically or privately to me at [log in to unmask]
> I posted this publically, though, because I think you all like seeing
> other people's responses, and it was requested.  However, If you respond
> to any of the public responses, PLEASE CHANGE THE HEADER!!! Firrimby. :)
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> 1. Who are you, and what is the name of your invented language or
> languages? Pseudonyms allowed. (Are you using one? asked "Sally Caves")

Keith Gaughan; Térnaru, Eretas, a-Illiyar, Brasaelig.

> *2. Are you new to the Lunatic Survey or have you filled out a version
> of this survey before?


> 3. Do you have a website for you language/world(s)? If so, please list
> the URL address.

> 4. What is your email address? name at hostsite dot whatever.


> 5. What is your age? (vague answers allowed, but it is an important
> demographic)


> 6. What is your gender?


> 7. What is your nationality?  Where do you live now?

Irish. Ireland.

> 8. What is your native language?

English. Irish semifluently.

> 9. What natural languages foreign to you have you studied or do you speak?

Can speak French (when I've the nerve). Studied German, Spanish.

> 10. What is your level of education? i.e., your highest degree achieved
> or sought?

Honours Batchelors Degree.

> 11. What is your profession? Are you a professional linguist? If so,
> what also makes you a conlanger?

Software developer. No.

> 13. If you are a student, what is your major or your area of study?


> 14. How long have you been developing your invented language(s)?

Térnaru for at least 10 years on/off. Eretas in one form or another for
6, a-Illiyar for 2/3, Brasaelig under a year.

> 15. At what age did you first start inventing a language? Can you
> briefly describe your early efforts?

15 :-). Ternaru started off as a relex of English with some influence
from Irish and French. Then I bought a copy of The Klingon Dictionary,
which was a bit of an eye-opener, and I started searching for stuff
online. Then the fun started...

> 16. What drew you to start inventing a language and/or constructed
> world? What was the inspiration?

I wanted to add a bit of life to a species of aliens in a story I was
writing. The conlanging took over.

> 17. Did you start inventing before you had heard of the list or after?
> Before you had heard of Esperanto or Tolkien? (I name the two most
> common inspirations)

Started inventing before the list. Knew of Esperanto, but didn't care
for it. Knew of vaguely Tolkien, but I started conlanging at a stage
when I thought Tolkien was "for kids".

> 18. Tolkien calls it a "shy art" and a "secret vice"; but that was
> before the Internet. How secret do you keep it from others outside this
> list for much the same reasons?

I don't keep it secret, but I don't spread it. Some people who I've
mentioned it to have been rather dismissive of the idea.

> 19. Yaguello has called it "pathological," influenced, unfortunately, by
> a lot of psychiatric writings such as _Le Schizo et la langue_. To what
> extent have you encountered such reactions by outsiders you had taken
> into your confidence?

It's mixed. Some people have balked at the idea, while others just saw
it for what it was: building models.

> *20. Do you consider it nerdy to be doing this? This is a term that gets
> tossed around a lot. Or actually sophisticated? Do you need to get a
> life, or is this your life? What is a life?

Nerdy? No! It's one of my less nerdy interests, but the others manage to
feed into it.

Yes, I need to get a life, meaning I need to hang around the office a
little less (well, a *lot* less) and need to socialise a bit more.

> 21. There has been a connection noted between linguistic and musical
> ability. Are you musically inclined? Do you sing and/or play a musical
> instrument? Do you compose music?

I can sing, and taught myself how to play the piano, but I was never a
great lover of playing music when I was younger: it brought too much
attention on me. I compose music, mainly with soundtrackers and the
like. I've also written a ridiculous number of ringtones for my phone.

> 22. There has been a connection noted between linguistic and
> mathematical ability. Are you mathematically inclined or inclined
> towards computing in any way?

Programmer, and did higher-level maths and physics right through
secondary school.

> 23. What other passions do you pursue that give you creative pleasure?
> (painting, drawing, sculpting, calligraphy, model-building, novel or
> story-writing, role-playing games, map-making, book-making, poetry,
> web-designing, star-gazing or other?)

Typography used to be a hobby back when I had an Acorn Archimedes. It
had a freely downloadable font editor, which made producing high-quality
outline fonts rather simple.

I write stories too, which is kind of why I ended up doing all this.

There's others, but it's rather late and I need to sleep!

> 1. Pick the best term for the invented language you are currently
> invested in: auxlang, artlang, engelang, loglang, lostlang,
> philosophical language, or "other." etc.

Primarily invested in Eretas right now, seeing as its going through a
rebuilding stage. It's an artlang, kinda, or maybe a lostlang.

> 2. Is your conlang a priori (devised from scratch) or a posteriori
> (based on an existing natural language or drawing from a language class
> such as Semitic)?

All of them save Brasaelig are a priori. Brasaelig is a Norse/Irish

> 4. Do you have a script for your conlang? What is it called? Could you
> provide me at a later date with a sample of it?  Is it on Langmaker's
> "neography" site?

Yes, but it doesn't have a name, or at least not a proper one. The
speakers call it *fenai*, meaning "strokes/lines".

Most samples are paper-based, but the word "Eretas" is up online here:

> 5. Briefly describe the outlines of your invented language (syntactical
> structure--VO, OV, etc.; class or type--analytic, synthetic,
> agglutinating, incorporative, accusative, ergative, active, trigger,
> other, combinations, etc.), noting what you have done with it that is
> innovative in your opinion.

I don't consider Eretas terribly innovative. It's OV, synthetic,

Térnaru (which I'm currently reworking a bit) is more interesting for
two reasons: how it expresses reflexion, and its trigger system. Both
are interlinked.

It started out as a regular nominative language, with case marked with
particles, as in Japanese. I wanted to pare away any excess from the
language so it occurred to me that if I was to put two particles on the
one NP, I could express reflexion. Later I wanted to mark to topic, and
the same idea came to me: move the topic's particles onto the verb and
leave the topic freestanding. And so it became a trigger language.

> 7. How extensive would you say your invented language is, now? How big
> the vocabulary? Do you provide a vocabulary list or taxonomy on your
> website if you have one?

I tend to concentrate on the grammatical aspects when I've time to work
on them. I only create vocabulary in fits or if I'm short a word. For
this reason, my languages tend to do a lot of derivation.

> 8. How do you build vocabulary? Some people pull words out of the air;
> others build up a base of root words and affixes. Many do both.


> 3. Does a constructed world accompany your invention(s)? What is it called?

All of them do. Térnaru is spoken by the Térnadi, who are from the
planet Sionrjd. Eretas is based in an earth-like place with a culture
like in the middle-east and around the mediterranian around 2500 years
ago. Brasaelig is spoken in an alternate earth when Viking and Irish
colonies managed to prosper on the NE coast of North America. a-Illiyar
is a language used by vampires: I accidently gave some bad guys (the
Ananagyu) a nice-sounding language.

> *9. Has your language and conworld ever served in a role-playing game or
> a world shared by other conlangers?

Nope, unless you consider the few small modifications I've made to IB
irish to be a conlang.

> *10. Briefly describe your conculture (is it within the bounds of this
> world? on another world, etc.?)

See above.

> *11. Are the beings who speak your invented language human or alien? If
> alien, what features have you given the language to make it alien or how
> have you restricted or expanded its phonology? vocabulary?

See above. No restrictions or expansions: they all speak disappointingly
like Europeans. That's mainly because phonology isn't what I'm
interested in.

> 12. What do you write in it? Poems? chants? lullabyes? prayers? history?
> stories? recipes? Are any of these exhibited on your website?

I'm no poet, so a lot of that is out. As regards Eretas, seeing as it's
part of a book, I was half-thinking of writing it both in English and
Eretas, giving me a good excuse to expand the vocabulary and test the
grammar, with the finished product having one language recto and the
other verso. But it's since been pointed out to me that's a bit insane.

> 13. Can you speak your conlang? Are you fluent in it? Is this a goal for
> you? Have you tried to teach it to an intimate? a companion animal? :)

Not fluent. I don't have the time or an excuse, though writing a book in
one might help...

> 14. Have you made any soundbytes of your language? Could you provide me
> at a later date with a sample of them?

Samples? No. And I don't particularly like my voice anyway.

> *15. If you use Roman script, how recognizably "phonetic" is your
> writing system? In other words, do you use unconventional letters or
> letter combinations to represent sounds? Why or why not? I’m thinking,
> of course, of Etabnannery, for those who remember it.

I keep things simple as I can. But some of my romanisations have struck
some as a bit odd, but I've had other reasons for choosing them. For
instance, in Eretas I use _y_ to represent /A/, primarily because I can
put both tremas and acute accents on this in the Latin-1 encoding. I
considered using the digraph _au_, but that didn't fit right.

> 16. How many of you sing in your language and have invented songs for
> that purpose?


> *17. How many of you, for entertainment or any other reason, resort to
> gibberish? (This is in response to Adrian Morgan’s question in
> December). Does it give you ideas for conlanging? (Have you ever fooled
> anyone?) How many of you have sung gibberish?

I sing gibberish all the time, but it doesn't overlap with conlanging.

Except for once. I've a sketchlang that came about due to some gibberish
I heard while on a train between Dublin and Cork. It gave me the idea
for a highly vocalic conlang. I've yet to flesh it out though.

> *18. What on-line games do you play? (or devise?) Translations,
> Babel-text, Relays, etc.

None, to my disgust. I've been meaning to get involved in one, but I
never seem to be able to find the time. Bad time management on my part,
I think.

> 19. Which do you prefer doing: devising phonology? script? structure?
> building vocabulary?

Structure and script.

> 20. Do you start and stop several different conlangs, or do you tend to
> stick with one and develop it over years?

There's many dead conlangs in my past, but most of them end up being
absorbed into later works. For instance, a dead conlang of mine called
Iritasa managed to spawn Eretas later. A personal language of mine that
never really got off the ground was a big influence on a-Illiyar.

> 21. What do you think makes a "complete" conlang, if a conlang can
> attain completion? What are your goals for completion? When do you grow
> "tired" of your conlang, or don’t you?

Never complete. When things start to come together, I've a tendancy to
get annoyed with some aspect of it that doesn't fit, meaning I end up
rethinking the whole thing. This has happened too many times in the

> *22. Which came first: the conlang or the conworld?


> 1. What aesthetic features do you value in inventing language? Be
> specific as to phonology, structure, script, etc.

I prefer simple vocalic phonologies. I'm not afraid to introduce
phonemes I can pronounce, but I prefer to keep things simple. Irish is
an influence: I like languages that sound heavy and yet light.

Structure interests me most, but I couldn't say I have any definite
aethetics I stick to. Whatever fits stays and whatever doesn't goes.

I like scripts. Take a look at the Eretas sample for a good idea of my

> 2. What commonly applied aesthetics have you ever tried to avoid in your
> invention? This has been an oft debated question, especially when it
> comes to Tolkien.

I didn't try to avoid anything until somebody on the list described a
sample of earlier Eretas as "It looks rather like Tolkien's Quenya with
a triple helping of Finnish and umlauts 75% off the menu price". Then
and only then did I start avoiding anything like Tolkienism.

> 3. Is difficulty or obscurity a goal in inventing a language?

Nope, just fun.

> 4. Is efficiency a goal in inventing a language? This question needn’t
> cancel out the previous one.

Kind of. I like my languages to be a bit spare, doing as much as
possible with as little. I'm not a lover of grammatical redundancy.

Mind you, that's not always the only consideration.

> 5. How natural do you wish to make it, or is that a concern? Or rather,
> how unnatural do you wish to make it?

I prefer naturalistic ones, but it's not a big concern.

> 6. Can conlanging be sexy? sensual? obsessing? how does it heal or harm you?

It's sexy if the other person's cute and into it too. :-D

> *7. How many of you have developed a rich vocabulary of obscenities?

Nope. In fact it never even crossed my mind. I only invent vocabulary
when I've a need any none of the characters in any of the stuff I've
written have really had a need to say something obscene.

It'll happen eventually, I've no doubt.

> 8. Can it be mystical? To what extent does conlanging fulfill a
> spiritual purpose for you? Or a magical one? Did it ever start out that
> way?

It can for some, but not for me.

> 9. How many of you have developed a rich vocabulary of magical,
> religious, or incantatory terms?

Térnaru and Eretas have a fairly wide range of religous terms, but I
don't have that vocabulary online, I'm afraid.

> *10. How many of you have striven to invent words that express novel
> ideas, or are not expressed in any natural language that you know?


> 11. Name a few of the words in your language(s) that you are most
> pleased with and are the most original to you.

Eretas: Deasseressia, 'pantheon' from _Deass_ (god) and _eressia_
(nation/people). Ellevas, 'history' (lit. 'that which was done'), from
the verb Ellen, 'do/make'. Imarrelló, meaning 'conlanger' (lit.
'word-maker'). It's not a matter of originality, more that I just like
the sound of these particular words.


   Tagas       a-Lídu   íl  al-abrírun
   information ACT-Lídu PST PAT-desire-NMLS
   "The information that Lidu wanted"

PST = past tense; NMLS = Nominaliser

I've no other samples at hand though.

> 12. How do you sense that a word is "right" for its meaning? How much do
> you labor at fitting a sound to its sense? Or don’t you care?

I labour, but there's usually not a great need for me to.

> *13. Do you ever rely on a software program to build vocabulary? Do
> those who don’t think that’s cheating? :)

I haven't used any software, but I wouldn't consider it cheating.

> *14. Is conlang a hobby, a craft, or an art in your mind? This has been
> hotly debated, so the question is not as weird as it seems. Can
> conlanging be considered an art? Why or why not?

All three. It can be considered art in that it's a form of emotional
expression for the creator.

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

Does are need consumers?

> *16. This question is directed as well at any auxlangers on the list. Is
> it an art, a political tool, both? And who do you think could be its
> consumers?

"Given the ideal conditions, the organism will do as it bloody well
pleases." Unless you've thinking about newspeak, no conlang is a
political tool, unless it's meant to differenciate a group. There's
just too much effort involved.

> *17. There has been some exciting talk recently (and over the years)
> about what a conlang is or is not. If you could pick a metaphor or write
> a descriptive phrase defining "conlang," what would that be?

A conlang is the seed of a natlang. It becomes a natlang once it has a
population that speak it, and it begins to be shaped by those speakers
independantly of the originator.

> *18. Why or why not would you eschew the metaphors "miniature" or "model"?

I wouldn't eschew them. Some conlangs are just that, others are
something more.

> *19. Is a conlang more like a glimpse of something lifesize? (Irina’s
> suggestion in 2001)

Definitely! I consider myself as creating grammattical sketches of
something greater that *could* exist. I'm just "discovering" it.

> *20. There has been some invigorating discussion lately about what a
> conlang can do that most natural languages don’t (such as produce OSV
> structure, or eradicate verbs) What experiments have you made with your
> artlang(s) along these lines?

No experiments, just gradual changes that lead in odd directions.

> *21  What do you think distinguishes a conlang from a natural language,
> if you think so at all?  What would it take for a linguist to be fooled
> into thinking a conlang was a natural language?

See above.

> *22. How much do you study other languages in order to discover what is
> natural in language? Or to discover how you can stretch the boundaries
> of language to make it do things that are unnatural?

I don't really, that's not where I'm coming from.

> *23. Can such a language function?

Yup. Look at Fith.

> *24. There has been quite a bit of fascinating debate about the
> relevance of conlanging to linguistic study. We all know that
> linguistics can aid conlangers, but in what ways can conlangers aid
> linguists? Or does it matter?

It's relevant in the way that building model planes is useful to a
pilot. Ok, so I'm being a bit facetious. It's useful for building up
the skills for doing linguistic fieldwork.

> 1. How did you first hear of this list?

I stumbled across some mention of it on some site. It's been a while.

> 2. How long have you been on this listserv or on other related
> listservs? Continuously? Infrequently? Off and on? More off than on and
> vice versa?

On and off since late '98, I think. I lurked for a good while. I've been
on it whenever I could, but here's been times I've had to take breaks
for some reason or another and've unsubscribed.

> *3. What is the appeal of being on a listserv and contributing to it? Do
> you think you contribute moderately or excessively, or not enough? Do
> you tend to lurk ?

I like contributing because it's a way to give something back for the
stuff learned from the other contributers. I don't think I contribute
enough though, and I've a tendacy to lurk because I never seem to find
the time to participate as much as I'd like.

> *4. For those of you who remember its inception, how has it changed over
> the past decade?

Well, there's me out. But FWIW, faces have changed since I started, but
it's still the same old list.

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

Very much so. It's pointed me down some avenues I doubt I would have
found otherwise.

> 6. What books have you consulted? On your own, or because you heard of
> them on the list?

Hmmm... a few spring to mind, but the most recent is the copy of
Describing Morphosyntax I waited ages to get. Another is my copy of
Thurneysen, which is discovered in hardback for next to nothing in the
UCC book store.

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

Yup. I'm an information sponge.

> *8. Do you sense that people on this list are interested in your conlang
> and give you feedback on it?

No, but that's understandable. It's a busy list.

> 9. Have you ever set out to learn at least a little bit of someone’s
> conlang, if only a word or two, or a phrase?

I've read through them, printed them off and bound them, but never
learned any.

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


> *11. What on-line techniques do you use to showcase your conlang, such
> as Audacity or other sound programs, Dreamweaver, Illustrator,
> Fontography, and so forth? Did you hear of them on the list?

HTML and TeX, neither of which I discovered on the list.

> 12. Have you ever tried to introduce a friend to the list?

Don't have any friends interested in this kind of thing. I wish I did

> 13. Do you know of anyone who does this kind of thing but who has never
> heard of the list?


> *14. What other lists do you frequent related to conlanging?

celticonlang, concuture, lost languages (lurking), and conculture.

> *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.
> What improves the present list and its helpfulness or entertainment value?

It's basically the hub for a wider community.

> *16. What Internet technology would you most like to see developed that
> would aid you in showcasing your language(s)?

Being able to typeset IPA easily.

> *17. What lists like conlang exist in other cultures and languages that
> you know of?

I've heard rumours, but I can't recall any.

> *18. There has been some terrific talk about CONLANG as a community. And
> yet so many of us seem to want the world to know of it and respect it.
> Is the CONLANG community enough?

It's enough for me, I wouldn't mind the wider world knowing but it's no
big deal.

> *19. In my 2000 on-line article
> ( I suggested
> that the Internet "may provide a site that, with the impetus of
> competition and showmanship, encourages inutile and obsessive activity";
> I was quoting Jeff Salamon’s article "Revenge of the Fanboys." Village
> Voice 13 Sep., 1994. He wrote that over ten years ago. Do outsiders
> still entertain such notions, do you think, about listservs like this
> one? Do you? To what extent has the list increased obsessive development
> in you? Would you be inventing as furiously as you are without the list
> or knowledge of other inventors?

Competition is of no interest to me with conlanging. I mean, what'd be
the point? What's there to gain?

> 20. If asked whether it is not better to turn your linguistic talents to
> the learning and speaking of natural languages (a common response I’ve
> met with and aimed at criticizing introversion or solipsism), how would
> you answer?

"But I already speak two, and that'd be four if I could be bothered. And
this is fun, so why not do it?"

> *21. In Elizabethan times there were the inkhorn neologisms. There were
> ciphers and pasigraphies. Today there is conlanging. Do you think the
> contemporary world is more open to language innovation or more closed?

It appears more open, but that's mainly because we can find one another

> *22. What would Tolkien have done with such a community? He writes in "A
> Secret Vice" that language inventors "hardly ever show their works to
> one another, so none of them know who are the geniuses at the game, or
> who are the splendid ‘primitives’." He suggests that perhaps in a later
> time language invention will become respectable, and such things can be
> exhibited. Have we reached that time?

Well, if we have, he's the one that sparked it all off. I think he'd be
happy with us all.

> *23. Is there a danger that over-exposure can make conlanging "banal"?
> To what extent is it exciting because it is a) considered disreputable,
> "corny" or "mad," or b) largely unknown to the world? Does it have a
> fizzle-out date?  In other words, is it just a fad, or is it a natural
> human inclination that will stand the test of time?

If it's fun, people'll do it.

> 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?

Feel free to use all this whatever way you like.