Hallo conlangers!

On Friday 07 February 2014 21:57:50 BPJ wrote:

> I'm quite worked up over this for some reason -- even Wm's
> short definition quote smacks of elitism in a way abhorrent to me!
> Those not in rant-reding mood are advised to delete this mail!
> Likewise those who find this too political, albeit conlang political!
> Who has the right to set up criteria what your lang and your
> relation to it should be like but yourself?!

I am in perfect agreement with you.  Of course, one may try to
put a conlang to a use not meant for it by the author, but then
it is that person's fault, not the conlanger's, if the thing
breaks.  Nobody, for instance, can blame John Quijada for
choosing a too large phoneme inventory and a too complex
morphology for an auxlang - because Ithkuil was never meant by
John to be an auxlang (at least not as far as I know)!

So you may say that Ithkuil would be a bad auxlang (a matter
that, of course, belongs to AUXLANG, not here), but not that it
was a bad conlang.  For this, the (un)suitability of Ithkuil as
an auxlang is simply irrelevant.  The term "conlang" says
nothing about the "purpose" or design criteria of the conlang,
and thus in order to decide whether a conlang was a "good" or
"bad" *conlang* (as opposed to auxlang, or fictional language,
or whatever), you can only apply *its own* design criteria to it.

>       I am -- or at least
> have been in the past -- the kind of conlanger who creates many
> languages to explore and express different interests, modes and
> moods. Some of them are throw-away, although I've been known to
> 'revive' or at least revisit langs which have been shelved for a
> long time. I would say that have I a bond with all of those which
> have had any staying power, and they all express my mind.
> Hopefully their multiplicity indicates that I am not single-
> minded! ;-)

Yes.  My current main conlang, which could be called by current
"heartlang", is Old Albic, a language of a fictional ethnic
group of ancient Europe, but it is actually a language in which
I try to express myself.  For the fictional conceit I have chosen
for it, it is of course relevant whether this kind of language is
indeed a plausible ancient European language.  But the main goal
of Old Albic is actually to come up with a language that sounds
"truthful" and "beautiful" to me.  With the first "purpose", as a
fictional ethnic language, the appropriateness of the design can
be tested to some degree, as we have some good ideas what such
languages look like.  With the second "purpose", the relevant
notions are entirely subjective.
> Moreover I'd say that if I have a lifelang it is a posteriori,
> since I have had a Romlang of some sort going ever since my late
> teens (around 30 years ago),

I don't really have a lifelang.  Old Albic has been with me for
only about 13 years, and there has been a long time in my life
when I did not conlang at all.

>       albeit disguised as auxlang for a
> long time since my parents did and made me doubt the sanity of
> artlanging. (My mother is still convinced of its insanity, but I
> stopped to care shortly after I joined this list; I was a grown
> man, my father had passed away and the woman I still live with
> had become my primary relation.)

Your experience with your mother sounds familiar to me.  When I
told my mother about my fictional worlds, she told me, "Stop
fooling around with that nonsense; do something useful instead."
I took the consequence to cease telling her *anything* about my
projects in this regard.  So she knows nothing about my conlangs
and concultures.  My father also never was interested in such
things, though he was less dismissive.

>       The thing is that every
> incarnation of that many times demolished and rebuilt Romlang has
> been an expression of my ideal Romlang, although the ideal has
> shifted quite a bit over the years, though less as time went on.

I feel that Romlangs are overdone, and it is difficult to do
something that is *both* interesting and plausible.  Either the
language is "just another Romance language", or it is just not
a plausible Romance language.  There is a very narrow margin
between these two failure modes which you have to steer along.
And once you have found a path along this narrow margin, you
are likely to find that someone else has trodden it already ;)

But that is just my personal opinion.
> Also how is anyone to judge how I should integrate my conlang(s)
> into my life? *Conlanging* is strongly integrated in my everyday
> life; it is what I do in preference to all other 'leisure'
> activities -- closely followed by programming, and my programming
> is mostly language-related in one way or other --, and conlangs
> and conlanging are on my mind in some way or other daily, even on
> days where I find no time or energy for 'leisure' activities and
> those are too many due to my medical condition, which includes
> fatigue.

With me, conlanging is quite important, though not to such a
extreme degree.  It is just some of several ways to express
myself, besides music, writing (fiction and non-fiction) and
drawing.  And I have observed that I am more and more drawn
towards these other modes of self-expression at the cost of
conlanging, not least because I see a better chance at
reaching a significant audience along those ways than with the
pretty esoteric art of conlanging.

> I do a lot of reading about natlangs too, but now that I
> don't do so professionally any more the conlanger's hat is never
> far away. I've even found inspiration for my conlanging in
> foreign learners' 'errors' I've encountered in the course of my
> professional occupation.

I am not professionally involved with foreign languages much,
and most of my reading about natlangs is related to my
conlanging, or to my interest in the linguistic prehistory of
Europe, which in turn to a large degree serves as input to my
main conlang project.  I do not seriously expect to attain any
reasonable contributions to historical linguistics!
> It seems to me from the descriptions given in this thread that
> conlexicists are mostly proud over and mostly concerned with acting
> out their conculture. I acted out my conculture quite a bit in
> and before my early teens -- before the parental ban -- but have
> no desire to do so now, especially as my conculture in no way
> expresses my ideals of what a society should be like, but rather
> the reverse: much of SohlÁan culture is more or less abhorrent to
> modern western society since I think it's more interesting as a
> fiction that way! In short not all concultures are apt for
> enactment!

My Elvish conculture is not very abhorrent, but given that the
world has changed a lot since the time in which I imagine the
Commonwealth of the Elves to have existed, many of their values
and institutions would no longer apply meaningfully to the
modern world.  (However, the fictional conceit involves modern
descendants of those ancient Elves - for whom I am planning to
design daughter languages of Old Albic - who have adapted their
values to the changed world.)

You say that an abhorrent conculture was more interesting as a
fiction than an attractive one.  This is not untrue, but I feel
that the threats to our society have been over-rehearsed in
negative utopias such that people are aware of the *problems*
but not of the *solutions* - which leads to frustration and
cynicism.  I wish to create fiction which raises solution-

> Not all conlangs excite me aesthetically,

Of course not!  However, when I see a conlang which does not
appeal to me, I simply refrain from comment and do not follow it.

>       but never ever have I
> judged the mode in which anybody else practices conlanging
> qualitatively or quantitatively

I would be hesitant to say that I "never" did, but I try to
avoid such judgments.

>       -- except that I've found the the
> motivation of auxlangers and the unlikeliness of them attaining
> their goals make their efforts somewhat tragic --,

The idea of an artificial IAL is an attractive one to me, but
indeed it has so far been a tragic failure.  Right now, it seems
that English - despite all shortcomings - is about to win the

>       and even the
> most cacophonous engelang phonology has always aroused my
> curiosity at least a bit! 

There are many conlangs which I find *ugly* but *interesting*.
(The same holds true in some other arts as well.)

>       It's an old -- and true -- adage of
> this list that the success or quality of a conlang can only be
> judged by its creators stated goals and design criteria.


>       Both
> those of my conlang projects which have had the most staying
> power have their deep roots in conlanging and conculturing I did
> when very young, and they are both in a way failures: Sohlob
> because of its sluggish pace of development -- it's perhaps a
> bonsai conlang! --

Old Albic doesn't have such deep roots - it was started only in
2001 - though Elves (the Tolkienian kind, not the fairy-tale
or Santa Claus kind!) have been fascinating me ever since I
read Tolkien's books.

>       and my Romlang because it has ended up so
> close to Old Occitan that it's almost superfluous,

A problem I see with Romlangs in general, see my essay:

>       except that
> the subject matter of Old Occitan literature mostly leaves me
> unimpressed! My major conlang literary project would BTW be an
> historical grammar of Rhodrese -- my Romlang -- written in
> Rhodrese; a truly hopeless project!

I am dreaming of writing a grammar of Old Albic in Old Albic, but
currently have no concrete plans to do so.  Currently, I have a
creation myth under construction, and that one moves ahead only

>       But I'm not working to finish
> anything here: my conlanging is a performance art in my own way
> and I have always felt that I'm discovering and uncovering
> something from deep inside myself -- so what if I spoke an odd
> dialect of Occitan in an earlier life!

I know that feeling.  I often feel a truth in my personal view
of the Elves, and my elaborations on the Elves and their language
are what I call a "re-creation" of a possible lost truth.  Yet,
I am aware that all this is just a *fiction* which tells much
more about *me* than about prehistoric Britain.

>       The archeological metaphor
> of my earlier mail was not chosen randomly, mind! My study is
> more alike to a book storage room -- in disorder! -- than to a
> library, there simply is not wall enough to keep everything on
> shelves, so although I live in a rented apartment which my wife
> keeps orderly except for this one room, perhaps like And's my
> conlangs and my home both reflect something about my personality:
> I'm a burrower more than a builder!

I manage to keep my study somewhat orderly, though not perfectly
so.  My books are on shelves, sorted by subject matter (for non-
fiction) or alphabetically sorted by author (for fiction; no
sorting by genre), but for almost every moment, there are a few
books pulled off their shelves, and some books borrowed from
libraries, depending on what I am currently working on.
> Last but not least: what right would I have to foist my interests
> -- my conlangs, my conculture -- on my family by speaking to them
> in my conlangs?


>       I do share interests with my family members,
> including quite nerdy ones (I even share some such interests and
> activities with my 16yo, all three beginning in "Star"
> incidentally! :-) but none of my loved ones shares my language
> interest, let alone my conlang/conculture interest; all the books
> on runes and stencils of Egyptian hieroglyph letters I gifted my
> kids with were in vain! This I have to accept.

I have no wife and no children yet, so the question is moot at
this point of time.  Should I ever have a family, I'd not keep my
conlanging a secret from them - but also not force it on them!

... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
"BÍsel asa …am, a …am atha cvanthal a cvanth atha …amal." - SiM 1:1