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Parker: That was a cool quotation, thanks.

Carsten: Thanks for your comments. I also will be writing
my journal in my conlangs once I get them up and running.
All my langs are in a shambles, a state of disrepair, at
the moment. (I lower my head in shame.)

Jan van Steenbergen wrote: 

> Sometimes I have made modifications in my work as a
> result of feedback by readers. But conlanging is still
> something I do for my own fun (or call it a calling, if
> you like). Pleasing the audience is certainly not my
> primary reason.

Thanks for all of your insights, Jan, particularly that bit
and the comparisons to other arts. 

> I have the impression that nowadays there are a lot of
> conlangers who actually started conlanging AFTER they
> saw conlangs online. They start conlanging because
> there are others doing it as well. In other ways, a bit
> of the opposite from Tolkien's Secret Vice story. I
> can't speak for them, but it may very well be that they
> are very much guided by the opinions of other
> conlangers.

I think those who have the calling, or the language-making
gene or whatever, are often triggered (usually during
adolescence) by _some_ external thing. It might be your
first encounter with a foreign language textbook or
bilingual dictionary, or seeing your mom/sister's
stenography notebook from school, or bceoming aware of
Esperanto or Tolkien's languages.

The modern era provides more potential triggers -- Star Trek
languages, conlangs on the web -- but I think those who were
destined to conlang would have been triggered by _something_
anyway. Those who don't have the calling might dabble in it
briefly but won't stick with it long.

(Efforts to publicize conlanging won't change the percentage
of people who are destined to conlang. We've seen that in 
the amateur radio a.k.a. ham radio hobby. The ARRL's publicity
campaigns bring in thousands of people who don't really have 
the radio gene, but they invariably end up letting their
licenses expire and selling their gear.)

"Guided by the opinoins of other conlangers." I sometimes
wonder how many people are conworlding now who wouldn't have
done so before it became fashionable. Socially pressured
into making up fictional users of one's conlang? Instead of
just saying "I made my lang this way because that's just
what I felt like doing." I wonder if such pressure exists.

Jim Henry wrote:

>> And the existence of a potential audience 
>> limits your options.

> Can you expand on that?

No diarist writes down everything he does or every thought
that crosses her mind during the course of the day. We
censor ourselves, omitting many of the negative thoughts,
the less than praiseworthy deeds, the less than helpful
things we say to others. We portray ourselves as being a lot
more saintly than we actually are.

The degree to which we do this seems to be proportional to
our willingness to make the journals available to others. A
few people burn their journals shortly after writing them;
presumably they have more freedom to write out their dark
sides than those who write non-encrypted journals and don't
burn them.

(Thoreau's journals are perhaps the most incredibly extreme
example of social posturing within a journal; take a gander
at them sometime. My respect for Thoreau plummeted when I
read some of his journals.)

I don't know if there is anything in conlanging analagous to
this skewing of the data that goes on in journals.

> If by "for an audience" you mean "hoping that others
> will actually learn and use your conlang", yes, that
> indeed limits your options, but only as any set of
> goals and design criteria naturally limits your options
> once chosen.

Agreed. Although I would say, if attracting users is a 
design criterion, you might be basing your work on a mistaken
belief that you know what will attract users. I don't think
anybody has quantified what qualities made Klingon, Lojban, 
Toki Pona, Esperanto relatively popular; it seems to have more
to do with the milieu than anything in the language designs.

---
Richard K. Harrison of Florida