On Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 8:35 PM, Jim Henry <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> A grammar and an epistolary novel in one.
> I'm not sure yet what I make of the conlang or the conworld as yet; it
> reminds me a bit of Henry Darger's work, in nonspecific ways.   I find
> it all very charming but still hard to read very much of at a time.
> It also reminds me slightly of Andrew Drummond's _A Hand-Book of
> Volapük_, which had Vp lessons worked into the story at various points
> (but not with this density).
> --
> Jim Henry

> Interesting. But it seems to me that a more readable scenario would be
> something like the story of a couple of exo-linguists on expedition to a
> distant planet deciphering the language of a lost civilization. That way
> their discoveries about the language would have a plausible reason for
> being
> introduced into the story. And perhaps by the end of the novel the reader
> might be able to read and write an elementary version of the language of
> the
> lost civilization of planet Caliphus delta 3.
> --gary
And tying that into a discussion on AUXLANG about ways to introduce children
to linguistic concepts and basic language training before they embark on 2L
classes, it could be a children's story. Maybe a bit too advanced for
6-year-olds, but it sounds right up the alley of an 11-year-old. Hmmm.....

                Dear Constructed Language List,

                I suppose it is time for me to introduce myself.  My name is
James McCleary, and I am responsible for the rather odd work in progress
which has been mentioned before.  Or rather, in some ways, the Babel
Language and Puey and the Princess are responsible for creating me, for they
have been part of me for almost as long as I can remember.  Perhaps this
should be less of an introduction to myself then unto them.  When I was very
young my Grandfather used to tell me stories about his best friend Puey, and
by the time I was eight years old I was writing stories about Puey for
myself.  By the time I was twelve, though, Puîyus, as I was beginning to
call him, for only his Sisters and the Princess would dare call him by such
a diminutive, was already developing his own mythology about him, and
concurrently I was sketching runes and alphabets that had never existed
before but which I knew were the glyphs of his people.  In that year Puîyus
also acquired a sweetheart, the Princess Éfhelìnye, and she it was who
really began developing the language which I have always called Babel.  Now
all these many years later, I am trying my best to learn the craft of
writing so that I can share with others all of the various stories which
have been swelling up within me for quite some time.

                I belong to an informal writers’ group, and every Monday
evening we meet and read aloud each others’ works for criticism and comment.
I have decided, though, for this summertide not to continue the actual story
but completely to revise the grammar and lexicon of Babel in a format which
would be interesting unto others.  And so for the last month or so I have
left my characters quite literally in the midst of a rather tenuous battle
(involving pirates, aliens, and some monsters of some sort if I remember
correctly) and just skipping after the happy ending and unto the
supplementary material which one may expect to find in an appendix to a
novel.  Rather, though, than present Babel as a linguistic artifact or a
conventional grammar book, I’ve decided to try something different and make
it into a living conversation about the language itself.  And so Princess
Éfhelìnye is writing unto her beloved about various grammatical topics and
explaining this and that case, but the language is present in her terms and
in the metaphors of her culture.  The epistles, however, can sometimes take
a life of their own, and feature digressions, mistakes, diversions, bits of
encylopædic lore, family gossip, and sometimes just don’t seem to be going
anywhere at all  And sometimes after she sends an epistle the very next one
will be written by her Tutor who will correct her and tell her that what she
had deemed to be grammatical usage was simply not acceptable.  Sometimes she
gets complaints that Babel is too irregular in one fashion, and sometimes
she can respond as to why that is, and othertimes she just has to accept the
language as it is.

                I must admit, the grammatical epistles, being supplementary
material after the main action of the story, are not the best introduction
to the characters or to their world.  The epistles leave out a great deal of
what happens, and they assume some knowledge of the characters.  Also, the
epistles that I am setting unto my web blog are raw first drafts, as anyone
in my writing group can attest.

                The actual story of my novel, aside from containing within
it an imaginary language, and having all of its names in the Babel language,
is also a story about Language itself.  The plot, in many ways, is about a
young Princess who creates language.  For she, as long as she can remember,
has been inventing words and constructions.  In the course of the story –
and I don’t have it all written down yet, I shall have to return unto it
after I finish rewriting the grammar and lexicon – the Princess meets Puîyus
who never talks.  He can speak in the Language of Beasts; he can purr and
mew and click, but he does not speak Babel, and Babel is the only language
of the Dreamtime, the Glossopoeia, the Land of Story.  And so throughout the
course of the story the Princess is not only collecting words from the
aliens and pirates and clockwork automata and dragons and the rest, but she
is also trying to teach Puîyus to talk.  In the novel itself, so I envision
it, Puîyus never will say more than an handful of words, and so I thought
that one way to discuss Babel would be to have her write these grammatical
epistles as a learning aid unto him.

                Language and forms of language, and language with music, and
language with mathematics, and language with magic are various themes which
I would like to explore when I return to the actual story.  For the
meantime, though, I shall continue to document the Babel language.  Just to
give you an idea of the flavor of the language, yesterday I was writing some
sample sentences about the deictic suffixes and came up with some rather odd

Xhthènte xhmir qiêlengut óqlayekhmoyàlyar tsenajakhtaqtayèlkhim xhnoipe

Yon warrior and the other one, a maiden, go towards these hills from those

Tnarjhwèkhmat úlaxhéyu jakhtaqtayànejait.

I, warrior that I am, paint the tree on purpose.

Eîxir khnujóloi xhroe ki yontet jètra jetra pfhu yèkhwus xhmir tsenastélar
ti Fhermáta.

Fhermáta gives yon jewels or some other pies or possible both to that

Xhurnamatènye qí khornatòtwoji xhroe jongarjininwi.

Haply I, young and dear one, recently ate all the mochi.

Xhùrnamat qí khornatòtwoji xhroe’ óxing poa.

I seems that I might have eaten all of the mochi.

                The vocabulary of Babel of course reflects their worlds.  I
am not aware of another language which has at least three different words
for ballerina princess, for instance.  My favorite term for ballerina
princess is jhpaipasàraxim (singular), jhpaipasàraxa (plural).  Do any of
your languages have a word for ballerina princess?

                Please forgive the lateness of this reply.  I am not at all
comfortable with computer technology, and if I feel inspired I may neglect
to respond to electronic epistles for a week or so.  At another time we can
discuss Henry Darger and *A Hand-Book of Volapük* and whether or not Babel
or the epistles have a plausible reason for being.  But for now I remain


Puey McCleary