On Thu, 15 Oct 1998, Tim Smith wrote:

> I had a great time at Albacon.  The high point was finally getting to meet
> Sally Caves, after several months of corresponding on this list and
> elsewhere.  Our two-hour panel on conlanging (which, in addition to me and
> Sally, included Melissa Scott, Brenda Clough, and, as "guest moderator" for
> the second half, my wife, Billie Aul) went very well, even though it went
> off in some unexpected dirrections.  (At least it didn't get bogged down in
> arguing about the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, unlike some similar panels I've
> been on at other cons.) But our off-panel conversations were far better,
> though all too brief.

Hi, Tim!  I finally found this.  Whew!  Talk about climbing down the dark
ladder... I'm not deleting quite so many of the "superior" messages as I
was at first.  It has taken an interesting turn.  Yes, let me say that Tim
Smith was the first adult conlanger I have ever met.  He didn't look a
thing like I expected him to!!  That's beside the point... I am delighted
now to have a FACE and a VOICE to be able to call up in my mind now
whenever I read his posts.  We had a great time.  About seven people came
to our panel, so that was encouraging! <G> The panel members were
interestingly divided:  here were Tim and I on one end--avid inventors of
languages for their own sake, and Melissa and Brenda on the other end,
avid writers of fiction for whom inventing a language was irrelevant, but
who put made up words into the mouths of their characters.  We had a
lively discussion of what different things were at stake for us:
Tim/Sally--minutia, believability, the language itself, the coherence, the
challenge, the self-amusement; Melissa/Brenda--readers, readers, audience,
sales, and readers...yes, a coherent culture, but they didn't feel they
had to invent the language to get the feel of it in their novels.  Neither
did they put every article of clothing in their little alien closets,
either.  It was an interesting discussion of where it is you STOP in the
production of an invented culture you hope to share with others and for
what purposes. Brenda Clough brought up Vance's _Languages of Pao_ as a
product of a novelist who probably had much more of his language invented
than he revealed.  We talked at great length about the salability of art,
its accessibility to other non-artists.  That has been a discussion we've
aired a number of times on "conlang."  In the middle of the first hour the
discussion veered exasperatingly away from conlangs and into the
weirdnesses of the English language... how you say or pronounce this or
that in English, but it got back on track in the second hour where we went
around and talked about the things you must take into consideration
generally when you set out to construct an imaginary language: phonetics,
morphology, syntax, and...  I've forgotten the fourth... vocabulary?
Billie Aule moderated that one and it interested the Tim/Sally contingency
far more, I think, than it did the Brenda/Melissa contingency.  Brenda was
frantically knitting the whole time.  I'll never forget that.  I was able
in this last hour, to discuss the Lunatic Survey--not in the depth that I
would have liked, but Brenda and Melissa were the most interested in the
one question I posed to y'all:  "Wherein lies the sexiness of an invented
language"?  We discussed the role of power and control in making invented
cultures, and that was great. I have great things in mind for the Lunatic
Survey, and will get back to you later about it.  Thanks so much for your
participation.  I even thought of two new questions along the lines of
power and control... such as what percentage of us on Conlang prefer to
invent rather than learn a conlang.  Some of you are deeply involved in
Brithenig, for instance.  Or in an auxlang.  Someone some months ago
expressed a desire to learn the conlang of anyone who was willing to teach
it to him--so that he could have a secret language.  Multiple response:
why not make your own?  Some of you are makers and others learners, some
both.  In my selfishness, I'll have to admit I can stick more compulsively
to Teonaht, because I have so much personal investment in it... it has a
color, a flavor for me, and I'm not so good at committing myself--yet--to
learning another's conlang.  With a few exceptions.  Terrible admission,
and I hope to overcome it. The second question that was an obvious one to
ask and I didn't was:  how many of you invented scripts to go with your
conlang?  Ah well, that's water under the Lunatic Survey.  At any rate...

Tim, it was great.  Tom... I realize you're far away, and couldn't come to
Albacon, but aren't there conlangers in the Northern tier, in New Jersey,
in Connecticut?  It's not that far a haul to Schenectady (where the con in
Albany is strangely held...utterly charming little industrial town under
the shadow of General Electric and its defections), so maybe we could make
it a mecca for conlangers in this region.  If there are any.

And that's all for now, folks!

Sally Caves
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