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I'm of the Tolkien-inspired cohort, and the started-at-age-twelve group!
For me that was 1984, but it really got going in 1985.  I'd been given
The Book of Lost Tales, part I, covering Tolkien's earliest worldbuilding
efforts; and since Tolkien as my hero and I wanted to emulate his work,
obviously the first step was to build a world!  I made a map, and labeled
it in the new language of Ea.

That language is now merechi, and still the one I'm closest to fluent in
although its vocabulary is utterly deficient even after thirty years.
I mostly only ever made words as I needed them, and go for years at a time
with the project in hibernation, but I've never forgotten, for example,
the poem of couplets listing the 20 goddesses I made up and their attributes.

I can't give up on that first language even though it inevitably has baked-in
flaws dating back to my lack of knowledge when I began.  I rather like 
an alternate-world version I split off from it with spelling changes, a 
vowel shift, and completely different grammar (Mirexu) - but I didn't end up
using Mirexu in very many relays because it takes more than twice as long
for me to figure out how to say anything in it!

Over the years merechi acquired grammatical insights from German, Russian,
Japanese, and all sorts of other bits and bobs I ran across, including
other conlangs - particularly Rick Morneau's Lexical Semantics, but also 
notably Mavod, an old language William Annis may or may not remember
creating, which broke open my brain on the subject of derivational affixes - 
but of course there was less and less scope for things I learned to 
influence it as it fleshed out.  

tylakhlp'f,
Amanda 

On Mon, Feb 05, 2018 at 04:56:38PM -0600, Paul Schleitwiler, FCM wrote:
> I was not yet eight years old and had just read a book about Near Eastern
> hieroglyph systems. I was inspired to create my own pictographs. One for
> each sound I could distinguish in the languages I knew. Each pictograph was
> an image from a word in one of the languages Then I used them to write in
> those languages.
> But the pictographs also suggested reading them as a string of images to
> convey a concept as I had done earlier looking at Egyptian hieroglyphs.
> Then the combined sounds suggested words and I was on the way to creating a
> language. I never developed a grammar for it.
> But i continued conlanging since. When my son, Vincent, got on Yahoo, I
> joined too. There I found the connection to this group.
> I really enjoy it here. I have been enlightened, educated, informed and
> amused by you all. And humbled, in a pleasant way, to find so many doing so
> much of what I love to do.
> Thank you for being you and sharing what you do.
> God bless you always, all ways,
> Paul
> 
> On Mon, Feb 5, 2018 at 11:42 AM, Seth KAZAN <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> > Since I was ten years old in the 70's, when I discovered Caesar's cipher,
> > I have never stopped playing with combinatorics of the senses, signs and
> > sounds....
> > When you think that language is the source code of the universe, how not to
> > try to hack it...
> > I use my conlang as a gate to amalgamate a parallel world with this real
> > world... Unless it's the other way around... The result is a mixture of
> > both in which I usually live...
> >
> > 2018-02-05 17:02 GMT+01:00 Jrg Rhiemeier <[log in to unmask]>:
> >
> > > Hallo conlangers!
> > >
> > > On 05/02/2018 02:57, Walter Sperat wrote:
> > >
> > > > Hey everyone!
> > > > Due to a recent thread on which several people listed their ages, and
> > > > having recently watched Conlanging: The Art of crafting Tongues, I got
> > > > curious about the individual stories of the people on this list, i.e.
> > how
> > > > did you get into conlanging?
> > >
> > > I have always been fascinated by systems in which small things combine
> > > into something bigger: LEGO, letters, numbers, chemical formulas - that
> > > sort of stuff. And when I was ten years old (that was in 1980), my older
> > > brother started learning Latin in school, and the curious kid I was, I
> > > leafed through his Latin grammar and saw all those wonderful
> > > inflectional paradigms. That was the spark which lighted the "conlanging
> > > fire" in me!
> > >
> > > My first conlang was an attempt at an IAL, which never flew far (see
> > > http://www.frathwiki.com/Homu). Later, I made conlangs for some
> > > fictional worlds I created, especially after encountering Quenya and
> > > Sindarin in Tolkien's writings. After all, foreigners speak foreign
> > > languages, so why shouldn't fictional nations speak fictional languages?
> > > Little survives of these conlangs, and they worked basically just like
> > > German (my L1) and Latin.
> > >
> > > But what really got the ball rolling was an oddball Tolkien fan fiction
> > > story featuring Elves in the world of today
> > > (http://www.alt-tolkien.com/r13home11.html). I wondered, what kind of
> > > language would those Elves speak? That was early in the year 2000. I
> > > decided to build that language myself! Obviously, it would be a
> > > descendant of Sindarin, hence I began to peruse Internet sources on
> > > Tolkien's languages, and also found the late, lamented Langmaker conlang
> > > database and the CONLANG list which I joined. And so "Nur-ellen" began
> > > to take shape. The old-timers on this list perhaps still remember it.
> > >
> > > But I got carried away. The Elves began to mutate, from Tolkienian Elves
> > > to a human ethnic group who share some cultural traits with Tolkien's
> > > people, and whom I imagined to be the grain of truth in Germanic and
> > > Celtic traditions of Elves, as well as the Greek tales of Hyperborea,
> > > the Phaeacians and Atlantis. Nur-ellen was briefly considered for
> > > inclusion in Ill Bethisad at this point, but it was soon revised out of
> > > it again because I had disagreements with some other members about the
> > > direction of the project.
> > >
> > > Then, I took a brief detour, as Andrew Smith's Brithenig (Latin with
> > > Welsh sound changes) and Geoff Eddy's Breathanach (Latin with Irish
> > > sound changes) inspired me to build a Latin with German sound changes,
> > > originally also intended for Ill Bethisad: Germanech. This was done
> > > quite quickly and gave me a language ready to use in translation relays
> > > and such. After my departure from Ill Bethisad, Germanech ceased to be a
> > > part of it, and soon after, I pretty much abandoned it (after changing
> > > the name to "Roman Germanech": http://www.frathwiki.com/Roman_Germanech
> > ).
> > >
> > > But Germanech had taught me how to properly work diachronically. I
> > > realized that Nur-ellen was in this sense done not very well. Also,
> > > after my Elves had ceased to have to do anything with Tolkien's, I
> > > decided it was time to sever the link to Tolkien's languages. So I
> > > scrapped Nur-ellen and started from scratch.
> > >
> > > At this point, the conlanging interest spawned a second linguistic hobby
> > > in me: historical linguistics. And I found that two former Soviet
> > > scholars, Tamaz Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav Ivanov, had written a book in
> > > which they proposed some novel ideas about Proto-Indo-European:
> > > _Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans_. And a library in the city where
> > > I live carried it! So I checked it out, and found an interesting idea
> > > therein: PIE may once have been an active-stative language, like what I
> > > had in mind for my Elven languages. I decided that the Elven languages
> > > were related to IE, branching off at that early stage.
> > >
> > > So the Albic project (http://www.frathwiki.com/Albic) was born. Today,
> > > the classical language of the old Elven civilization, Old Albic, has
> > > grown a lot, I can already compose texts in it, though I am still far
> > > from being fluent, and the vocabulary needs being laid down in an
> > > ordered dictionary. At the same time, I am working on Old Albic's
> > > ancestor, Proto-Albic, and that one's ancestor, Proto-Hesperic, which is
> > > a sister of PIE.
> > >
> > > And right now, yet another lost language family of Europe is beginning
> > > to take shape: Tommian, to which the Razaric languages belong. Tommian
> > > will be related to Kartvelian in a similar way as Hesperic is to IE, and
> > > Razaric is the language of a people who are to Dwarves what the Albic
> > > speakers are to Elves.
> > >
> > > --
> > > ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
> > > http://www.joerg-rhiemeier.de/Conlang/index.html
> > > "Bsel asa am, a am atha cvanthal a cvanth atha amal." - SiM 1:1
> > >
> >