> On Jun 10, 2016, at 5:20 PM, And Rosta <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> That leaves the question, prompted by what you say here, rather than by
> anything I've said in the thread, of what counts as the unconscious
> creation of full inner workings. If you just, say, unconsciously borrow
> English's, and don't know that you have, does that count as creation? I
> don't think I have any particular views on the matter as of yet, but I'd be
> interested in others'.

I think I accidentally conflated two things which I shouldn’t have:

(1) Whether or not making something explicit is a prerequisite for having actually invented it (I think the answer to this most certainly has to be no, but I think you’ve said elsewhere in this thread that the answer is yes).

(2) Whether unconscious creation counts as creation, at least with respect to creating a language.

The second is the question you’re after, and I don’t think I have a good answer to it, though I lean towards yes. If you go pretty far down the rabbit hole, one could say that taking something out of its original context and putting it in a new context, whether conscious or unconscious, is a creative act. So, using a very concrete example of unoriginality wrt English and conlanging, here’s something that happens in English:

I want to eat.

I want him to eat.

I hate to eat.

*I hate him to eat.

This is something true of English that isn’t necessarily true of any other language. It’s also something that an English-speaking conlanger who’s unaware of the peculiarities of English may not realize, so they may rather unconsciously replicate it in its entirety, albeit with a different grammar:

Bulak dornel.

Er bulak dornel.

Zadak dornel.

*Er zadak dornel.

(Above, the first word conjugates with first person morphology, the second is an infinitive, and er is a 3rd person object pronoun. So a demonstrably different grammar from English, but, nevertheless, the exact phenomenon shown above replicated in full.)

One COULD say that because the environment is different, the phenomenon is different. That since the words have been changed, it’s, in fact, impossible to copy anything from another language, even if the behavior is the same. The mere fact that it’s different is evidence of creation on its own. (This is going to extremes a bit, though.)

This is also something that could have been done consciously, for whatever reason (if one language can do it, so can another). The result is indistinguishable. Absent an explanation, though, the result looks very familiar to English, and it would be odd for that to be a coincidence.

The difference here is this, though: Conscious or unconscious, I don’t take this as evidence that something hasn’t been created. Rather, it’s evidence of not doing a very good job. That is, if there’s something going on in your conlang for no good reason and it looks like it didn’t come about organically (i.e. emerging naturally through translation, etc.), then the conlang probably isn’t as good a piece of art as it could have been. (Though even this can change if the audience decides they don’t care—as with any art.)

> Pure opinions can be interesting, I find, if you're interested in the
> person whose opinion it is, and I am certainly interested in the opinions
> of my confreres here, because I am in interested in my confreres here. But
> in this thread I essayed not an exchange of mere opinions but rather an
> exchange of reasoned arguments such that from it there should emerge either
> a single conclusion that we converge upon, driven by the dictates of
> reason, or else a mutual awareness of a difference among us in our initial
> premises. Is it not socially reasonable that at least some discussion
> threads be devoted to seeking to discover the absolute truth of the
> universe?

Sure, but at least with respect to this question, it appears like you have no stake in the game at all (i.e. there’s no way to convince you of anything contrary to your opinion), and I don’t have any interest in participating in discussions like that. The question above (about unconsciously borrowing something into a conlang) is a question where there’s discussion to be had, and that I find interesting.

David Peterson
LCS Member Since 2007
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