A thread from 2009 on the same subject you might find interesting: http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/cgi-bin/wa?A2=CONLANG;p7512Q;200907191435570700C My latest thinking on the subject is: If "reality" is a computer simulation then "magical" incantations and rituals are really just "cheat codes" for the game, or passwords granting higher permissions within the game's hierarchy of users. The ultimate in power being the discovery of The Creator's username and password. That would give a player the same power as the Giver Of Data (G.O.D.) Himself. --gary On Wed, May 9, 2012 at 4:16 PM, Logan Kearsley <[log in to unmask]> wrote: > So there's this start-up game company called Serpent's Tongue > (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/500894669/serpents-tongue-a-new-magick-experience, > you may have heard about it on the Conlangery Podcast) which is > actually developing a real conlang for use in their game. > > This has gotten me thinking about what the distinguishing features > might be of a language of magic / supernatural beings. E.g., when God > says "let there be light" and expects it to actually happen, what > would that kind of language be like. Seeing as how culture has an > influence on language, it seems to me that the fact that saying things > in a particular language inherently results in them coming true would > create some interesting social pressures. Those will of course be > largely influenced by *why* the language works for doing magic, so for > purposes of this thought experiment I'm going to go with an animist > model in which magic is done by giving instructions to an intelligent > and responsive world, and this happens to be the language that natural > elements understand and can respond to. This leaves open the > possibility of being disobeyed, which means you don't become Archmage > just by learning the language; unless the language is incredibly > difficult, this results in a more interesting story setting. > It probably also results in extreme long-term conservatism (a common > trope for magical languages anyway), just how much depending on how > good The Natural World is at recognizing different accents. > > Since the primary use of the language is doing magic, and magic > consists of giving commands to the world, the most common expressions > are going to be imperatives or requests (informational questions can > be reformulated as commands: "tell me this"). Thus, it would make > sense for there to be no particular distinction between imperatives > and declaratives (I mean, why should a god go around putting "Let" at > the front of every sentence, when everyone knows that's what's meant > anyway?) The equivalent of a declarative statement would just be > command to make it so, with the implication to the hearer that it > therefore *is* so. This creates the interesting situation of having a > language in which it is literally impossible to lie; but it is > possible to be disobeyed, so one could get a corner case of making an > utterance which one *expects* to be disobeyed while intending to > communicate the implication that it wasn't. Assuming that Nature is > not fond of liars and therefore unwilling to follow there commands, > you then end up with a positive feed-back loop where the intent to lie > results in a statement being a lie that otherwise would not have been. > > Anyway, that's all of my coherent thoughts on the subject so far. > Perhaps I shall have more later.... > > > -l.