Language Creation Tribune, Issue 10


Language Creation Tribune

Issue 10

November 2016


A word from our President

 

Welcome to the 10th edition of the Language Creation Tribune—the last one of the year! And my, what a year it’s been, right? For me personally, 2016 wasn’t a good year. I nearly lost my job due to a reorganisation, I have had various health issues, and a month ago I had to say farewell to my best friend Buddy (whose picture is below). And although he lived to the respectable age of 14 years and 9 months, his loss has hit me very hard, and I am still recovering from it. Luckily, the memories remain, and his name will forever remain in my conlang Moten as the word badi: “dog”.
buddy-from-christophe

But it’s not the right place for me to speak only of my personal life; for the art and craft of conlanging in general, and the LCS in particular, 2016 has definitely not been a bad year. The Paramount vs. Axanar court case resulted in a lot of attention—quite a lot of it positive—and while once again no definite decision was made as to the legal status of conlangs, the fact that Paramount effectively dropped their Klingon ownership claim (albeit silently) only strengthens our position on the matter (as described in the link) and conlangers’ ability to create without having to face spurious legal attacks.

Summer was also a good time, with the Conlanging documentary successfully completing its crowdfunding effort. LCS members had a big role in it being a success, as members generously donated to the cause, and ensured the LCS also made a full $3000 donation. Now, unless a calamity arises, the documentary should be ready next year in time for the next Language Creation Conference, where it will be viewed by the live audience!

Indeed, as the year draws to a close, we don’t only look back on it, but we look into the next year. And the big event next year is of course LCC7! (LCC7 in 2017? This calls for a logo that combines year and initialism. Anyone up for it?) As you know, we closed the call for proposals back in September. And if you’re wondering what happened since then, it’s quite simple: we had so many good proposals to choose from that the Board has had a hard time making a decision. But we eventually managed to make a choice, and I am happy to announce that the 7th Language Creation Conference will take place on the 22nd and 23rd of July 2017 in Calgary, province of Alberta, Canada! This time, the local host is Joseph W. Windsor, and the venue will be located at the University of Calgary. And Joseph is not alone in organising this LCC: he has enlisted the help of Christine Schreyer. If you think you’re somehow familiar with this name, that’s because Christine is rather well known in conlanging circles! She teaches a course called “Pidgins, Creoles and Constructed Languages” at the University of British Columbia, is the creator of the Kryptonian language for the movie Man of Steel (2013), and is one of the executive producers of the Conlanging film! With Joseph and Christine at the helm, I have no doubt that the LCC7 will be a resounding success!

Naturally, more information will be released as the event gets organised, but as I did back then with the LCC6 announcement, I want to use this occasion to start the call for presentations already. So if you are interested in giving a talk, please contact us at lcc7-talks@nullconlang.org with your name, the title of your presentation (or a placeholder if you are uncertain about it) and at least a short description of its topic. Once again, all topics relevant to language creation are allowed, with the exception of proselytism. If you have other ideas besides talks, you’re welcome to propose them via this address as well. And if you are interested in the LCC7 in general, whether you are planning to attend it as a presenter or as a participant, or even just remotely, don’t hesitate to join the LCC7 mailing list: lcc7-info@nulllists.conlang.org, which you can subscribe to via this webpage: http://lists.conlang.org/listinfo.cgi/lcc7-info-conlang.org. You can use this mailing list to ask us and/or the local hosts questions, discuss relevant ideas, or even plan your trip together with other attendees. It’s available for any discussion as long as it’s relevant to the LCC7.

Oh, and if you are wondering already, we will have an LCC relay once again, as we have done since LCC2. More information will be available in time, but I can already tell you that I am looking into providing the original text myself this time! Be very afraid?

Fiat Lingua!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,

President of the Language Creation Society.


Conlang Curiosities 

by John Quijada

 

Oh, damn! I’m O’odham

I recently returned from an Arizona road-trip, during which I visited my ancestral homeland, the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation west of Tucson. During my childhood, my mother told me and my siblings that our deceased paternal grandfather was Native American. (My father would never talk about it.) My mother whispered to us that she thought our grandfather might be Yaqui because he was from Arizona. (No idea how she reached that conclusion.)

Then a couple of years ago, my cousin learned from one of the aunts or uncles that our mutual grandfather Juan Quijada and his brother Eduardo had been enrolled in one of the Arizona Indian schools during the early 1900s. (Similar to the situation with the aborigines in Australia, these “Indian schools” were designed to take Native American children off their reservations, teach them to hate and deny their culture and heritage, then train them to be docile and obedient second-class American citizens.)

My cousin did some sleuthing and managed to turn up the 1910-1911 enrollment ledger for the Phoenix Indian School, listing Juan and Eduardo Quijada and indicating their tribe as Papago, the politically-incorrect former name of the Tohono O’odham people. (NOTE: Being south of the Gila River, the tribe’s lands were entirely in Mexico prior to the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. Therefore, most Tohono O’odham adopted Spanish-language names to avoid persecution by the Mexican army, which is why I have a Spanish surname.)

So, like Paul Muad’dib Atreides from Dune, I can now say I am a desert person, as tohono o’odham means “desert people” in my grandfather’s native tongue.

Needless to say, upon seeing the records my cousin unearthed, the first thing I did was purchase a Tohono O’odham grammar book and dictionary. I’ve been studying this Uto-Aztecan language off and on since then and, as is often the case when examining a non-Indo-European language for the first time, I discovered some nice linguistic surprises, one of which I want to share with you.

It turns out the language has a really cool feature when it comes to describing spatial position and orientation of objects — something that some of you might want to think about for your conlangs.

Like many languages, the language utilizes postpositions to indicate the usual array of positions or direction of an object relative to the speaker or relative to another (landmark) object. Where things get interesting, however, is that sentences containing such a postposition are accompanied by one of three particles called “specifiers” that precede the noun: ʼab, ʼam, or ʼan. These specifiers are used to indicate the orientation of the directional/interactive “face” of the noun relative to the speaker. Specifically, the sentence tells the listener whether the object is facing/moving toward the speaker, facing/moving away from the speaker, or standing/moving alongside/parallel to the speaker. Here are some examples using the postposition wui ‘to(ward)’ and the verb of motion him ‘walk’:

Huan ʼo ʼab Cuk Ṣon wui him.
Juan 3rd/sg/IMPERF SPECIFIER1 Tucson toward walk
John is/was walking to(ward) Tucson [coming toward the speaker (who is in Tucson)]

Huan ʼo ʼam Cuk Ṣon wui him.
Juan 3rd/sg/IMPERF SPECIFIER2 Tucson toward walk
John is/was walking to(ward) Tucson [going away from the speaker (who is not in Tucson)]

Huan ʼo ʼan Cuk Ṣon wui him.
Juan 3rd/sg/IMPERF SPECIFIER3 Tucson toward walk
John is/was walking to(ward) Tucson [parallel to/alongside the speaker (who is also headed toward Tucson)]

(ORTHOGRAPHIC NOTE: the letter <c> represents the affricate [tʃ] while <s> with underposed dot represents sibilant [ʃ], both unrounded. Long vowels are indicated by a colon.)

Here are some examples using the postposition ba’ic ‘in front of (a person)’ and the static verb ke:k ‘stand’:

Mali:ya ʼo ʼab Klisti:na ba’ic ke:k.
Mary 3rd/sg/IMPERF SPECIFIER1 Christina in-front-of stand
Maria is/was standing in front of Christina [and facing the speaker].

Mali:ya ʼo ʼam Klisti:na ba’ic ke:k.
Mary 3rd/sg/IMPERF SPECIFIER2 Christina in-front-of stand
Maria is/was standing in front of Christina [and facing away from the speaker / with her back to the speaker].

Mali:ya ʼo ʼan Klisti:na ba’ic ke:k.
Mary 3rd/sg/IMPERF SPECIFIER3 Christina in-front-of stand
Maria is/was standing in front of Christina [and on a line parallel to the speaker’ s position relative to Christina].

The following example using the postposition we:big (in some dialects we:gac) ‘behind/in back of’ further illustrates how the specifier ʼan is used with static verbs:

Mali:ya ʼo ʼan Klisti:na we:big ke:k.
Mary 3rd/sg/IMPERF SPECIFIER3 Christina behind stand
Maria is/was standing behind Christina [and next to the speaker].

While the above system is reminiscent of the elaborate matrix of spatial/locative noun cases found in Northeast Caucasian (Dagestanian) languages, e.g., Tsez, those languages merely specify position relative to a landmark object and any accompanying direction of motion relative to the speaker (or lack thereof). They do not specify the orientation of the face of the object relative to the speaker as does the Tohono O’odham system.

I am reminded of Benjamin Lee Whorf’s claim that Hopi (also a Uto-Aztecan language) is a better language than English for discussing physics. For those readers who know some higher physics, Tohono O’odham’s capacity for specifying the internal orientation of an object relative to the speaker seems to echo the mathematical description of an object in Hilbert space, where in addition to the usual three-dimensional x-y-z coordinates, an object’s internal orientation (like the degree of pitch, yaw, and roll of an airplane) is also specified.

Pretty weird/cool for a natlang, eh? I’m guessing other Uto-Aztecan languages do the same thing, and perhaps a few natlangs elsewhere in the world, but I’ve certainly never encountered such a system before. Now that I think about it, I ought to explore how to incorporate it into Ithkuil, as a nod to my own heritage!

p.s. An interesting note for conlangers/conworlders regarding tribal nomenclature: the former name of the Tohono O’odham, “Papago,” is a Spanish-language corruption of an insulting nickname used by the neighboring (and closely related) Pima tribe for the Tohono O’odham: ba:bawĭko’a “eating tepary beans.” Ironically enough, the name “Pima” is a Spanish-language corruption of the words pi mac “(I) don’t know,” apparently indicating their frequent reply to questions from the Spanish conquistadors. (The correct name for the Pima is now Akimel O’odham “river people.”)

 


LCS Lending Library Update

New library books

Any member can check out these books.

Phonetics & Phonology

 Writing Systems

 Typology

 Other


Conlanging News

Articles and online media relevant to conlanging

  • There’s still time to sign up for the 2016 Conlang Card Exchange!  Please visit https://goo.gl/lSuzIg to sign up by Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 24th). If you have any questions about the Exchange, please email jamin@nullbenjaminpauljohnson.com.
  • The LCS now has an official Tumblr: tumblr.com.
  • Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets was interviewed for Apex, a British radio show, for a segment focusing on conlanging, titled “From the Mouths of Snakes.”
  • There will be a panel on conlanging and linguistic pedagogy at the January 2017 Linguistics Society of America conference in Austin, TX. The panel is called “Teaching Linguistics with Invented Languages,” organized by Jeffrey Punske (Southern Illinois University) and Amy Fountain (University of Arizona). The panel will be held at the JW Marriott Austin, Grand Ballroom 7, on Saturday, January 7, 2:00-5:00 p.m. Anyone who wishes to attend will need to register for the LSA conference.

Fiat Lingua‘s latest articles

  • September 2016: “Nuvutani: Introducing a new language” by Sylvia Sotomayor
    • Abstract: “Sylvia is most famous for Kēlen, a verbless language, and so for her second language, sodna-leni or sodemadu, she created a language with a closed class of verbs. However, in fleshing out Sodemadu, she became frustrated with its limitations, so one weekend she decided to forego the limitations of Sodemadu and created a new language, her third, that had an open class of verbs. Like Sodemadu, most of the vocabulary has cognates in Kē At the end of the weekend she had a draft of a story in this new language. The story comes from a book of Australian Aboriginal myths and legends, shortened and adapted to suit her and this new language.”
  • October 2016: “Language Creation in Early Learning” by Danny Garrett
    • Abstract: “This paper explores how conlanging impacts learning outcomes for middle school students in a structured English classroom. Starting in May and ending in the same month, 6th and 7th graders from Iberville Charter Academy in Plaquemine, LA created conlangs for their end-of-the-year English projects. 44 students participated. Danny Garrett, their teacher, oversaw the project, taught the necessary material for it, and studied the project’s pre- and posttest data. The data and highlighted student works are presented in this paper, framed in their proper historical, pedagogical, linguistic, and literary contexts. To protect student identities and statuses as minors, all student names are fictional and thus obscured in accordance with California law.”
  • November 2016: “A Naming Language” by Jeffrey Henning
    • Abstract: “In this essay, Jeffrey Henning describes how to create a naming language. Unlike a full conlang, which has its own grammar and syntax, a naming language is a phonology coupled with rules for compounding that can, among other things, allow a novelist to generate realistic, language-like names for characters, towns, regions, and geographical elements. Since its first publication in 1995 it’s continued to serve as a useful tool for world builders and game makers—and has also served as a jumping off point for many conlangers.”

Call for submissions: Fiat Lingua publishes everything conlang-related, including reviews of conlang-relevant books, conlang grammars, essays on style, conlang criticism, scholarly work on a conlang-related topic, and conlang artwork and prose or poetic composition. If you have something you’d like to publish or have an idea you think might work as an article, email fiatlingua@nullconlang.org. All submissions must be in PDF format.

Conlangery podcasts

  • September 2016
    • Conlangery #123: Stress Systems
    • Description: An overview of word-level stress systems.
  • October 2016
    • Conlangery #124: Old Irish (natlang)
    • Description: Matt Boutilier, a guest speaker, focuses on Old Irish.
  • November 2016
    • Conlangery #125: Grammatical Number
    • Description: A discussion on grammatical number distinctions in languages and how it interacts with other grammatical systems.

LCS Member Milestones

In July, John Quijada posted a new video on YouTube as part of his Kaduatán progressive-rock music project, once again featuring David J. Peterson singing the lyrics in Ithkuil.

 

John E. Clifford celebrated his 80th birthday on September 21. His daughter flew in from Portland, OR, and his niece’s choir serenaded him. How cool! Happy birthday, John!

On October 22, William S. Annis gave a brief talk, “How to Invent an Alien Language,” at the Science Storytellers’ Jam, part of the Wisconsin Science Festival.


LCS Membership benefits

You can find more information about becoming a member, as well as more information on the benefits, here.

  • Two permanent yournamehere.conlang.org domain names and free full web and email hosting; for more information or to fill out the form to claim a domain name, please visit this page.
  • Checkout privileges for the LCS Lending Library.
  • Access to a Hightail account (you can find more information about Hightail, an online file server, at its website); please email Sylvia to create your account.
  • Full voting rights in the LCS.
  • Discounts on all LCS events.

Please direct any questions you have regarding LCS membership to memberships@nullconlang.org. Also, all communication regarding your membership will come from that address as well, so please white-list memberships@nullconlang.org.


You shop. Amazon gives. If you shop Amazon, you can now support the LCS by using this Amazon link for your shopping. Amazon will give a percentage of its profits on all the purchases you make through that link to the LCS.

Language Creation Tribune, Issue 9

Language Creation Tribune

Issue 9

June 2016


A word from our President

Welcome to the 9th edition of the Language Creation Tribune. Summer is coming (at least for those in the Northern hemisphere), and I hope you are not all staying inside working on your conlangs, especially if the weather is nice. A breath of fresh air does wonders for one’s creativity! I myself am writing this column from the beautiful and sunny island of Corfu, taking my own advice to heart. And it is needed: as you may have noticed, I haven’t been very active as President of the LCS lately. Various circumstances have conspired to sap me of my energy, and I really need a recharge. So I apologise in advance for my lack of activity. I hope to get back on track in the next few months.

As you probably noticed, the last few months the LCS has mostly been busy with the Paramount vs. Axanar court case. I will not focus on it in this column (our position has been clearly stated in the link I just gave, and you can check the links below for even more information). Rather, I will just repeat that by intervening with our amicus brief, we did exactly what the LCS stands for: to promote and further the art and craft of language creation, and to ensure conlangers and non-conlangers alike can carry on enjoying our craft without hindrance. And we will stay vigilant in the future, to ensure it stays that way.

However, I realise that our focus on the Axanar case means we have not been focusing on our core activities, and I do understand if people find that irritating. I know some people have been asking these kinds of questions: “What about the next LCC?” “Where are the updated videos from the LCC6 that we’ve been promised?” “What about the LCS’s social media presence?” And so on… I could once again explain that we are a volunteer organisation with limited time and energy, but in truth I agree that we (and by “we” I mean “I”) have not been responsive enough lately, and I can only promise that we will pick up the slack in the next few months.

Concerning the next LCC, like last time an email will be sent within a few weeks to the Members’ List kicking off the bidding round. However, you don’t need to wait for it: as I know some people are already doing, if you are interested in hosting the next LCC, don’t hesitate to start and looking for venues already.

As for the updated videos from the LCC6, the fault lies squarely with me, and a lack of ability to delegate, which is why I hereby ask for help: if you have experience with video editing and are interested in helping to get the ground work done so we finally get HD videos of the LCC6 presentations, please contact me privately, so I can explain to you what kind of work must be done.

I will also get back on track concerning our social media presence, so you can expect some kind of announcement in the next weeks.

Also, don’t forget that your members’ benefits, as described at the end of this newsletter, are always available to you all. Don’t hesitate to make use of them. And if there are other things that we are not yet doing, but you think we should be working on them, don’t hesitate to contact us with your ideas. We are always looking for more ways to support the conlanging community.

As usual, I can only say that the LCS wouldn’t exist without your support, and I hope you will carry on supporting us, even when times are hard and we (or rather “I”) have difficulties to stay on top of things. Your support does mean a lot, and helps us supporting you in return.

Fiat Lingua!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,

President of the Language Creation Society.


Conlang Curiosities 

by John Quijada

Get It While You Can

Two common English verbs, “can” and “get”, which native speakers such as myself take for granted as seemingly simple words signifying simple concepts, are in fact minefields of outright semantic anarchy. In fact, if their semantic patterning were to be exactly paralleled in a conlang, the community-at-large would berate the conlang as being unrealistic, a joke-lang, or a sure sign of newbishness.

Nevertheless, reality is stranger than fiction (as is usually the case) and the lexico-semantic bizarreness of these two “simple” English words is worth looking at if only to demonstrate that the great majority of natlang-style conlangs are too regular and too lacking in the subtly outlandish oddities found in real-world natural languages. In this respect, exploring the semantic patterns of these two English words is worthwhile for any artlanger or natlang-style conlanger.

One way to appreciate the semantics of English “get” is to see how its various meanings are translated into another language, say, Italian, where every single instance of this little English word requires a completely different verb:

  • I got it yesterday. → L’ho recevuto ieri. (“I received it yesterday.”)
  • Get me my wallet. → Portimi il portafoglio. (“Bring me the wallet.”)
  • I don’t get it. Non lo capisco. (“I don’t understand it.”)
  • He’s getting old. → Diventa vecchio. (“He becomes old.”)
  • I’ll try to get there on time. → Tentarò di arrivare a tempo. (“I’ll try to arrive on time.”)
  • You’re going to get it! → Ti farai sgridare. ( “You’ll make yourself scold.” [idiomatic construction])
  • Did you get ahold of him? → Hai potuto parlare con lui? (“Were you able to speak with him.”)
  • I get 20 euros an hour. → Guadagno 20 euro all’ora. (“I earn 20 euros per hour.”)
  • Can you get me some money? → Puoi procurarmi del denaro? (“Can you procure me some money?”)
  • A lot of cars get sold here. → Si vendono molte macchine qui. (“Many cars sell themselves here.”)

And let’s look at our poor little defective modal verb “can”, which means:

  • “be permitted to”, e.g., You can go now.
  • “have the potential to or possibility of”, e.g., It can flood this time of year.
  • “have the opportunity to”, e.g., I can ask about it when I arrive.
  • “have the physical capacity or ability to”, e.g., Can you touch your toes?
  • “offer to”, e.g., I can sing for you if you like.
  • “know how to”, e.g., I can swim, can you?

Anyone who’s studied Romance languages knows that the lexico-semantics of English “can” do not map in a one- to-one correspondence to those languages’ verb of potential/capacity, e.g., English “I can see you” = Spanish “Te veo”, French “Je te voix”.

So the curious conlanger looking to impose curiosities within one’s conlang might do well to play around with the lexico-semantic ranges of certain “common” words (perhaps using a dart board or some Dungeons & Dragons twenty-sided dice) to achieve similar effects. And perhaps such shattering of lexico-semantic boundaries might even result in something as bizarre as the one additional meaning of English “can” that I left out above:

“I bought a can of tomatoes.”

Clown6


Conlanging News

Articles and online media relevant to conlanging

  • The Atlantic published this article titled “The Man who Invented Dothraki: How one linguist creates obsessively detailed—and fully functional—languages for Game of Thrones and other shows.”
  • Unwinnable published an article about building languages in video games.
  • Several sources provided articles about the Paramount v. Axanar case, including NPR, Hollywood Reporter, and Mother Board.

Fiat Lingua‘s latest articles

  • March 2016: “Gnóma: A Brief Grammatical Sketch of a Conlang” by Jessie Sams
    • Abstract: “Gnóma is a conlang for garden gnomes, who have a grim past behind their currently pleasant statued smiles. Their language is rooted in Gothic (as that was their native language) and has been influenced by both Romani and Turkish through long periods of language contact. The description of Gnóma in this paper treats it as a natlang, comparing it to typological trends of world languages and providing a brief overview of its sounds, writing system, and grammar.”
  • April 2016: “Invented Languages: From Wilkins’ Real Character to Avatar’s Na’vi” (collected) by Angela Carpenter
    • Abstract: “Angela Carpenter taught an undergraduate course on conlanging at Wellesley College during the fall semester of 2015. Collected in one .pdf are the final papers of the students from her course. In each paper, the student has documented their conlang and presented a text in that conlang. The document also contains links to audio recordings of the included texts.”
  • May 2016: “The Slovio Myth” by Jan van Steenbergen
    • Abstract: “The “universal simplified language Slovio” has been controversial since it was first published on the Internet in 2001. It claims to be immediately understood by 400 million people, and to be mutually understandable with all Slavic and Baltic languages. The impression is given that Slovio is a huge project, spoken by hundreds or even thousands of people and officially supported by major international organizations. At the very centre of a large network of websites in Slovio is the site Slovio.com, featuring a complete grammar, learning materials and an exceptionally large dictionary. But even though Slovio is being vigorously propagated as a serious rival for Esperanto, it also claims to be first and only Pan-Slavic language, and in spite of its declared global intentions, the motor behind Slovio appears to be radical Slavic nationalism more than anything else. In this paper, Jan tries to determine what Slovio is really about and on what scale it is really used, in other words, to separate myths from facts.”
  • Call for submission: Fiat Lingua publishes everything conlang-related, including reviews of conlang-relevant books, conlang grammars, essays on style, conlang criticism, scholarly work on a conlang-related topic, and conlang artwork and prose or poetic composition. If you have something you’d like to publish or have an idea you think might work as an article, email fiatlingua@nullconlang.org. All submissions must be in PDF format.

Conlangery podcasts

  • March 2016
    • Conlangery #117: Kash
    • Description: A discussion on last year’s Smiley winner, Kash.
  • April 2016
    • Conlangery #118: Linguistics Databases
    • Description: An overview of online linguistics databases.
  • May 2016
    • Conlangery #119: Paramount v Axanar
    • Description: A discussion with Sai, Christophe, and attorney Mark Randazza about the Paramount v Axanar case.

LCS Member Milestones

William Barton published the second book of his conlang-related SF/F series: Venusworld Book2: White Sea Crossings.

White Sea Crossings cover

Alexis Huchelmann writes, “In mid-June, I’ll present before a jury the first part of my master thesis (linguistics) at the University of Strasbourg. It’s a basic review of the nature and history of conlangs and existing research in the field. I had the good luck to write it under the patronage of Hélène Vassiliadou, who encouraged me to describe in the second part the complete creation of a language, from scratch.”


LCS Membership benefits

You can find more information about becoming a member, as well as more information on the benefits, here.

  • Two permanent yournamehere.conlang.org domain names and free full web and email hosting; for more information or to fill out the form to claim a domain name, please visit this page.
  • Checkout privileges for the LCS Lending Library.
  • Access to a Hightail account (you can find more information about Hightail, an online file server, at its website); please email Sylvia to create your account.
  • Full voting rights in the LCS.
  • Discounts on all LCS events.

Please direct any questions you have regarding LCS membership to memberships@nullconlang.org. Also, all communication regarding your membership will come from that address as well, so please white-list memberships@nullconlang.org.


You shop. Amazon gives. If you shop Amazon, you can now support the LCS by using this Amazon link for your shopping. Amazon will give a percentage of its profits on all the purchases you make through that link to the LCS.

Language Creation Tribune, Issue 8

Language Creation Tribune

Issue 8

February 2016


A word from our President

Welcome to the 8th edition of the Language Creation Tribune. Wow! I can’t believe I’ve been President for two years now! (And no one is plotting my demise as far as my spies have been able to ascertain, so I must be doing something right! Sorry, did I say that out loud?) Anyway, I am glad to be of service to the conlanging community, and I hope to carry on with it!

As you know, 2016 is what we could call an “LCC-less year.” Since the LCC4, the Language Creation Conference has been a biennial event, a schedule that fits our organisation well. However, as I’ve heard people saying they would like more frequent LCCs, even calling for “regional” or “informal” LCCs in off years, I thought I might clarify what my thoughts are on this.

First, people may remember that I’ve been saying that the conlanging community cannot support LCCs happening more frequently than once every two years. I want to explain exactly why I think this is the case. I’m not talking about a lack of interest—I know the interest is there. It’s not even a problem of getting enough people to attend a yearly LCC, although I do think that this could become an issue. Conlangers are typically not a very wealthy lot, and attending an LCC is not a cheap endeavour (especially if you have to fly to attend it). That’s why we try to keep attendance costs to a minimum, while still offering as much as possible (free lunches, for instance). This does mean that, given the costs we have for each LCC, we tend to run them at a loss. It is a manageable loss, given the current LCC biennial schedule, but I’m concerned that it would get worse if we moved to a yearly schedule. A yearly schedule would probably mean fewer participants at each LCC (many of us just don’t have the means to attend every year), which would mean a larger loss for us at each LCC (only part of the costs of an LCC is dependent on the number of attendees; venue location, for instance, is a fixed cost, regardless of attendance), which could easily start eating into our reserves unless we either increase attendance costs or remove features like free lunches. Both those measures would likely cause even fewer people to participate, meaning we would end up operating at an even larger loss… You can probably guess where I’m heading with this.

Yet even that isn’t the core reason I have for saying that the conlanging community cannot support more than one LCC every two years. The problem as it is right now isn’t actually with the attendance numbers or with the LCC budget. It is with getting people to organise the LCC itself, the local hosts. Look at it this way. Of the last three LCCs:

  1. LCC4 was organised by yours truly, not because I sent the LCS a proposal and won against other proposals, but because David Peterson asked me personally if I was interested in doing it after every person expressing the wish to organise an LCC ended up retracting their proposals;
  2. Although I was not involved in the organisation of the LCC5, as far as I know, the LCS was not submerged with proposals when it came to organising it;
  3. As for LCC6, Pete Bleackley’s bid ending up winning not only because it was the best proposal (although it always looked really good, and it would probably have won against other proposals), but because every competing host retracted their proposal before the deadline was even reached!

The issue here is quite simple: organising an LCC may not be extremely hard, but it is definitely time-consuming and (at least somewhat) stressful. The organisers really need to have enough time and energy to handle it, not to mention a very stable situation, or they simply won’t be able to handle the additional pressure. It’s not for everyone, as many have found out. Moreover, making a proposal isn’t just about throwing a few vague ideas about a venue. We need concrete plans for venue, lunch and technology, cost estimates associated with them, and more (see our checklist—warning: PDF).

So in the end, the main issue is not that the conlanging community cannot support attending more than one LCC every two years; instead, it’s that it cannot realistically support organising more than one LCC every two years.

That’s also why I don’t think proposals for “regional” or “informal” LCCs will help during our “LCC-less” years. LCCs are by nature already regional enough, and it’s definitely not the formal part of an LCC that is the bottleneck here. For now, we should keep our conferences on a biennial schedule—a schedule that works for our community and that allows the conferences to continue being great events.

That said, the need to meet like-minded people is strong, and I completely understand and share it. So what can be done during LCC-less years?

Once again, my answer is to turn it to you, the people who make up the conlanging community. As a reminder, the Language Creation Society is not here to “lead” the conlanging community. That would be arrogant and misguided. What we are here for is to support it, in all its endeavours. And that includes supporting conlangers who want to meet with other conlangers. But it’s up to you to take the lead on that. We can support you, but you’ll have to make the first step. I can imagine quite a few things people may want to organise:

  • A simple conlang meet-up at some local bar in your area. We could help by advertising such events. Just tell us when and where you are planning something, and we will be happy to advertise it on social media, like we do for job submissions;
  • Piggybacking an existing event. Some conventions (for instance Sci-Fi and Fantasy conventions) are likely to attract people interested in conlanging and conlangers themselves. If something is being organised in your area, let us know! We may look into participating in the convention itself (for which we will most likely need your help), or we could help you organise some sideline activity;
  • Organising some event yourself. It may sound daunting, but I am not talking about something of the size of the LCC. I am not even talking about something like a conference. There are plenty of other things you can do to attract other conlangers, or at least people interested in conlanging. An exposition (schools and universities may help providing the necessary venue), a screening of the film Senn or of the upcoming Conlanging, the Film documentary, for instance, are ways to attract people. We can, once again, help, both with advertisement, advice, organising support, and even possibly financial support.

And these are just a few ideas on top of my head (you can also consider promoting conlanging in your area—a very good way to meet conlangers that you may have not known were even in your neighbourhood). Really, the LCC is just one out of many events that could be organised around conlanging. If you choose to take a step and organise an event or outreach, we are happy to support you. Also, don’t hesitate to discuss possible events to organise on the Members List. Who knows, there may be other people among our members who would like to help you!

So, go ahead and start organising! Let us know, and we’ll do our best to support you!

Fiat Lingua!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,

President of the Language Creation Society.


Conlang Curiosities 

by John Quijada

Using my koindarauk to order øŋgör

While I tend to seek out the odd and unusual when looking for material for this column, I also like coming across conlangs that simply demonstrate the author’s intense ardor for the craft of conlanging, along with an impressive level of detail, originality, and a scholarly exposition of the material.

A great example of this kind of conlanging work comes from linguistics student Zachary D. Hart. Zach is the creator of several conlangs associated with his conworld creation The Republic of Ánhrush on the planet Askath. The primary language on this world is Gomain, and Zach has spent over a decade lovingly composing an official Gomain Reference Grammar.

The attention to detail and overall academic rigor of the Gomain Reference Grammar is truly admirable. It is a model for other conlangers in putting together their own grammars. And the language itself is a testament to what can be accomplished in natlang-style conlanging, displaying not only an attention to detail but also the sorts of subtle, only-in-real-life grammatical quirks and lexical oddities I talked about in my presentation at LCC5 that add real verisimilitude to a natlang-style conlang.

Con-cultural background and con-history are all discussed in the introductory sections of the grammar, followed by sections devoted to phonology, morphology, syntax, lexical domains, dialects, an appendix on irregular verb paradigms, and a dictionary.

The following example illustrates the Gomain script as well as the system of nominal case-prefixes:

LCT 8 - CC1

The language is mostly agglutinative, sometimes in the extreme, as for example:

LCT 8 - CC2

Unusually detailed rules for expressing mathematical operations are presented and illustrated, e.g.,

LCT 8 - CC3

 

Interesting oddities include an “intrative” case (a locative case signifying “between two [of something]”); separate neutral, honorific, and pejorative second-person pronouns; four different infinitives for verbs (simple and perfect, each with an active and passive form); informal versus formal imperative forms; and nine distinct conjugational classes/paradigms for verbs, as well as numerous “classless” or irregular verbs. There is also a very rich system of correlative pronouns reminiscent of Esperanto:

LCT 8 - CC4

There is a whole section providing nicely detailed rules for derivational morphology, with separate sub-sections for nominalization of verbs, adjectivization, and verbalization of nouns. A sub-section on compounding shows a myriad of innovative ways that Gomain can combine words with each other to form new concepts. Gomain’s complex phonotactic constraints often lead to some interesting internal sandhi/juncture effects and elision in these compounds, e.g.,

  • presäg ‘agreement’ + oproig ‘holy’ → preskoprë ‘covenant’
  • aukau ‘physical power’ + aišu ‘lightning’ → aukaišu electricity
  • ainu ‘air’ + praiķwei ‘say’ → aimpraikki ‘radio’

Some compounds utilize only part of their formative words (e.g., a single syllable), leading to some interesting results morpho-phonologically speaking e.g.,

  • koïund ‘machine’ + darúde ‘logic’ + aukaišyn ‘electronic’ → koindarauk ‘computer’

There is a rich assortment of verbal moods in Gomain. In addition to the usual indicative, subjunctive, conditional and imperative, we have obligative (“I have to/must…”), hypothetical (“I could…”), potential (“I can/am able to…”), deductive (“presumably, I…”), dubitative (“I might be…”), and a cohortative mood which signifies encouragement of the subject to perform an action and whose usage is worth illustrating via examples:

LCT 8 - CC5

The above examples only hint at the richness of the Gomain language and its associated con-culture. Check it out! I mean, after all, how can you not want know more about a language whose word for “pizza” is øŋgör?


Conlanging News

Articles and online media relevant to conlanging

  • ScienceLine wrote an article about conlangs, titled “Speaking in invented tongues.”
  • The New York Times published an article titled “Create Your Own Language, For Credit,” which discusses colleges that offer courses on conlanging.
  • FarpointCon took place Feb. 12-14 in Maryland; this year’s convention celebrated the 50th anniversary of Star Trek; Marc Okrand spoke about Klingon at the convention.
  • Karen Myers offers advice for creating a language for a fantasy novel.

Fiat Lingua‘s latest articles

  • December 2015: “Remembering Defiance” by David J. Peterson
    • Abstract: The show Defiance aired on the Syfy network for three seasons from 2013 to 2015. It featured four full conlangs, each with its own writing system. This paper details some of what went into making that a reality.
  • January 2016: “The Romanization of Middle Pahran” by George Corley
    • Abstract: In this essay George Corley expands on his “Design Parameters for Romanization” (Corley 2011), defining five parameters for designing and discussing conlang romanizations: elegance, accessibility, aesthetics, internal history, and technical factors. He applies this framework in a detailed discussion of his own process designing the romanization for his current conlang, Middle Pahran. He pays special attention to overspecifying the phonology for accessibility, and to the compromises he made due to the technical limitations of the software he uses.
  • February 2016: “The Birth of Xiis – A guide to font creation” by George Marques
    • Abstract: This paper shows general instructions to create a computer font for Xiis (a conscript made by George Marques). It uses the free (libre) font-making application FontForge to overview the basic knowledge of OpenType features needed to make fonts for more complex writing systems and how they were applied to Xiis.
  • Call for submission: Fiat Lingua publishes everything conlang-related, including reviews of conlang-relevant books, conlang grammars, essays on style, conlang criticism, scholarly work on a conlang-related topic, and conlang artwork and prose or poetic composition. If you have something you’d like to publish or have an idea you think might work as an article, email fiatlingua@nullconlang.org. All submissions must be in PDF format.

Conlangery podcasts

 


 

LCS Member Milestones

Maria Rui Corley (王柯睿 Wáng Kēruì), daughter of George Corley and Li Wang Corley, was born on December 17, 2015 at 11:25:04 pm. Congratulations to the Corleys!

 

Post-production work continues on the Conlanging documentary by Britton Watkins, his husband, Josh Feldman and producers David J. Peterson, Christine Schreyer, David Salo, Marc Okrand and Paul R. Frommer. A crowdfunding campaign IS coming in March and Britton, David P., and Josh will be speaking on a workshop panel about conlangs and the film at Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC)  also in March. They will be showing a 15 to 20 minute custom preview of the film at that time. If you can make it, please come. The custom preview will only be shown as a one off special sneak peek at the workshop event. Thank you, All, for your continued interest and support.

Conlanging Producers Meeting

 

John Quijada has released a second music video from his Kaduatán progressive-rock music project. The new song is called Unk’àtân (the Ithkuil word for “renegades”); as with his first song, David J. Peterson sings the lead vocals in Ithkuil. The lyrics to the song with translation can be viewed on the “Texts” page of the Ithkuil website.

 

Lorinda Taylor completed the final volume of the SF/F series The Labors of Ki’shto’ba Huge-Head. The series incorporates her conlang Shshi, which is spoken by extraterrestrial termite people; the final book is titled The Buried Ship at the End of the World. Earlier volumes in the series are included in LCS’s library and have received positive feedback from our members.

Taylor - Buried Ship, front cover, final

 


LCS Membership benefits

You can find more information about becoming a member, as well as more information on the benefits, here.

  • Two permanent yournamehere.conlang.org domain names and free full web and email hosting; for more information or to fill out the form to claim a domain name, please visit this page.
  • Checkout privileges for the LCS Lending Library.
  • Access to a Hightail account (you can find more information about Hightail, an online file server, at its website); please email Sylvia to create your account.
  • Full voting rights in the LCS.
  • Discounts on all LCS events.

Please direct any questions you have regarding LCS membership to memberships@nullconlang.org. Also, all communication regarding your membership will come from that address as well, so please white-list memberships@nullconlang.org.


You shop. Amazon gives. If you shop Amazon, you can now support the LCS by using this Amazon link for your shopping. Amazon will give a percentage of its profits on all the purchases you make through that link to the LCS.

Language Creation Tribune, Issue 7

Language Creation Tribune

Issue 7

November 2015


A word from our President

Welcome to the 7th edition of the Language Creation Tribune! With the days getting shorter and colder, it’s the perfect time of the year to stay at home with a cup of hot cocoa with a computer or writing pad in front of you, thinking about all these grammatical rules you want to add in your conlang, right?!

These last months, the conlanging world has been dominated by the news of David Peterson’s publication of his book, The Art of Language Invention. I will not add anything to everything that has been said about this book, except that it’s really worth reading, even if you are a seasoned conlanger. Instead, I want to turn my attention towards the Language Creation Society.

As you know, we finally managed to have our yearly meeting, and with it (although this year separately from it), our yearly Board and Officers’ elections. So now we start with new colleagues on the Board of Directors, and I wanted to use this space to congratulate Jamin Johnson, Jan van Steenbergen, Jim Hopkins, and Jeffrey Brown for joining the Board. I hope you’ll like it here! Also, I want to congratulate Tim Stoffel for becoming our new Secretary. Tim is going to have big shoes to fill, as Don Boozer, our previous Secretary, has done a fantastic job in that role, but I am very confident Tim will be up to the task. As for Don, although he has resigned as Secretary of the LCS, he is still a member of the Board, and I am looking forward to keeping working with him.

Finally, I want to give very special thanks to Sylvia Sotomayor, who has been re-elected for another term as our Treasurer and has worked far beyond her Treasurer duties to keep the LCS running. Sylvia is truly the backbone of the LCS, and without her the whole organisation would just fall apart. So thank you, Sylvia, for spending so much of your precious free time on keeping the LCS from collapsing!

When I say that Sylvia is the backbone of the LCS, I mean it. Besides her duties as Treasurer, Sylvia has been handling memberships, our entire online presence (websites, mailing lists, etc.), the LCS Lending Library, and most of the non-local LCC organisation, along with other duties I am probably forgetting. Such a situation is unfair, both for Sylvia who ends up spending far too much of her free time handling LCS matters, and for the LCS. Sylvia will not be here to help forever, and we need to stop being so dependent on her.

Luckily, we have started getting people to take over some of her current duties. John Quijada and Tony Harris have agreed to take over handling our online systems, relieving Sylvia from quite a weight. It will take some time for them to get fully up to speed, but hopefully in short order Sylvia will be able to relinquish all webmaster duties over to them.

And this is what I want to talk about: as an organisation, the LCS relies entirely on volunteer work to function, and we are all only humans, with private lives and day jobs. There is only so much we can do as Board members and current officers. We do have plans, and we would love to expand our activities, but we are limited by the amount of manpower we have available. But this is where you come in. Basically, this is a call for volunteers. You don’t need to be a Board member or an officer to be able to help the LCS function. There are plenty of activities you can help with as an LCS member. Moreover, the more people we have who are willing and able to help, the more we can distribute the work load, and the less amount of work each person will have to do. For a few hours of your time per week, you can help make the LCS a much more efficient organisation, so please consider it.

As for where we need help, here are a few areas where we could use a hand:

  • Our Social Media presence has been mostly underwhelming. While Don Boozer has done a great job on Twitter, our Facebook page is dormant and unmaintained, our Google+ page is rarely updated, and although we have plans for it, we still don’t have a Tumblr blog, despite that space being where most new conlangers show up nowadays. So, basically, we need volunteers to take ownership of our social media sites. We need at least three different people, each of whom will handle a single social media site (our Facebook page, our Google+ page, and our future Tumblr site). Don’t worry, we are going to automate some of the tasks related to these sites (like getting job listings from the Jobs Board, and even this very newsletter, advertised on those places), but we need people to spend some time (a few hours a week at most) to keep our social media presence up to date. Of course, we on the Board will help you get up to speed. It’s a very important job, and a good social media presence is vital to the LCS’s image, so please consider volunteering for this.
  • Fiat Lingua, our online journal, could do with both more submissions and more editors. Please consider giving David Peterson and his team a hand.
  • The Conlanger’s Library needs a makeover. Don Boozer is our Librarian and wants to keep working on it, but I’m sure he could do with some help. Please consider giving him a hand, especially if you have webmastering and/or database skills.
  • This very newsletter could do with more people scouring the web to find interesting, conlang-related news, and to help Jessie Sams with the editing process. As this is a quarterly event, this requires very little time yet could be very helpful. Just think about it.

These are just a few ideas. There are plenty of things the LCS does that need additional manpower. If you are interested, please contact me (or one of the people I mentioned above), and we’ll see how we can help you get started.

Once again, let me reiterate this: the LCS is nothing without you, its members. We literally cannot exist without you, and your help will always be welcome. So please consider it. As I wrote, the more people volunteer their time, the less time each one will have to volunteer. There is strength in numbers!

Fiat Lingua!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,

President of the Language Creation Society.


Conlang Curiosities 

by John Quijada

An IAL . . . On a Galactic Scale?

As a fan of (well-written) sci-fi, I’ve always been intrigued by those works of the genre that discuss languages used extra-terrestrially. I’ve always wanted to see or read about space-faring explorers having to tackle the difficulty of learning alien languages, or adopting some sort of pidgin or learning the lingua-franca of the space lanes. Unfortunately, films and television usually cop out on the problem, utilizing “universal translators” or simply ignoring the problem entirely and having aliens just speak English (with a few pretty scripties shown in the background to suggest that the aliens actually have their own languages).

The acclaimed author David Brin handled the issue more intelligently in his “Uplift” series of novels in which the citizens of the billions-of-years-old Galactic Empire speak a dozen official languages, labeled Gal 1, Gal 2, Gal 3, etc., each specifically tailored to the needs of different bio-forms, e.g., humanoids, avian-like beings, etc., as well as the needs of differing situations. However, no actual examples of these languages are given.

Here on measly ol’ Earth, the arguments over an international auxiliary language (IAL) have raged for more than a century and even led to the famous “sundering” of the Auxlang Mailing List from the venerable Conlang Mailing List back in the 1990s. These days, few members of the Conlang Mailing List, or the Language Creation Society for that matter, have much interest in IALs. I, too, am inclined to yawn in the face of discussions on the merits of Ido versus Novial versus Interglossa. However, recently, I came across a paper proposing a new IAL which piqued my curiosity, given that in this case, the acronym would stand for “Interplanetary Auxiliary Language.”

The paper in question is a twelve-page PDF by long-time conlanger David Njenfalgar entitled “The Pangalactic Language”. Some of you may remember David from his talk at LCC4. Originally from Belgium, he is a theoretical physics researcher living in Vietnam. He describes his Pangalactic language as being:

the auxiliary language used most generally for communication between people of biped type. The language is designed so as to be usable by as large a number of biped type species as possible. It is the working language of the Pangalactic Community and has been so since time immemorial.

 

It is unknown who invented the language. Artifacts of approximately a billion years old have been uncovered, with inscriptions in the pangalactic language. It seems like the language hardly underwent any change in all that time. Many proposals to set right real or perceived as have been made over the aeons, but it seems that none were ever implemented. What is sure, however, is that the language cannot have been based on any natural language, but that it has to have been constructed from whole cloth. The language comes too close to being the optimal language for interspecies communication to have more than negligible basis in any naturally evolved language.

The language is named Yésináne suKísu, translated as the Language of All, or simply Kísu for short. The phonology is very simple, with a simple CV syllable pattern, as it is designed to accommodate as many different species’ speech organs as possible. As the author states as an example: “due to the non-negligible fraction of species having a tongue either too weak or too inflexible to pronounce clicks, such sounds do not occur in the language.”

The consonant inventory is twelve in number: b, t, k, g, n, s, z, h, l, w, y, and ʼ, the latter two presumably representing /j/ and /ʔ/; while the four vowels consist of centered, open, closed front, and closed back, the specifics of pronunciation according to the speaker’s species. For convenience, these are transcribed as e, a, i, and u. Because all language-capable species are able to orally produce and recognize basic tonic distinctions, the language has two tones, high and low, the former transcribed with an acute accent. No two high-toned syllables can occur in succession, nor can high tone occur in the last syllable of a word. In order to reduce the possibility of vowel-reduction leading to undesired phonological evolution of the language, there is no syllabic stress. Speakers whose native language employs syllabic stress (and therefore have a hard time avoiding it), are advised to stress high-toned syllables or to stress the last syllable of a word, unless they are speakers of languages that normally stress low-tones syllables, in which case they are advised to stress the syllable following high-toned syllables.

The morpho-syntax of the language is right-branching, except that subjects precede verbs. The grammatical typology is agglutinative, utilizing prefixes without any fusion or sandhi.

Verbs derive from nominal roots and take numerous prefixes indicating tense, aspect, causatives, passives, and the equivalents to various modal concepts. Many verbs are constructed utilizing auxiliary-like verbs in conjunction with nouns. There is no conjugation for person or number. The paper goes on to devote specific sections to adjectives, prepositions and case prefixes, and syntax. Nothing in these sections is really strange or very alien from a human-natlang point of view. The last section is entitled “When to Deviate From The Rules,” essentially a rationale for using a shorter “jargon” version of the language for military contexts (no examples given), reminiscent of “Clipped Klingon.”

The following examples illustrate some of the morpho-syntactical details, as well as the somewhat Polynesian-meets-Bantu-sounding phonology.

zúhi kázazúlu kehe wuka wúyi
‘because of those three kind female friends’
zúhi káza-zúlu kehe wuka wúyi
Because friend-female kind three that

Wanu hinuyúya yasili ‘ebílu ke bakísu tunáne ha’u wi.
‘I’ll show you that person who always speaks with himself.’
wanu hi-nu-yúya ya-sili ‘e-bílu ke ba-kísu tu-náne ha’u wi
I FUT-CAUS-seeing DAT-you ACC-person CONJ TEMP-all have-speaking with self

Wanu hi’iyile gika kusikéla buKasane ʼinaha ʼekusibagíwe.
I’m going to the Kasane galaxy to help with the war.’
wanu hi-’iyile gika kusi-kéla bu-Kasane ʼi-naha ʼe-kusi-bagíwe.
I FUT-do-moving to COLL-star ART-Kasane do-help ACC-COLL-struggle

With Pangalactic, there’ll be no need to argue with extra-terrestrials (or amongst ourselves) over whether or not to force them to speak English (or Esperanto or . . .) since all the groundwork has been nicely laid out for us in the form of Kísu. Now let’s just hope the first thing they say to us isn’t the following:

Kúnu ʼuhu ʼihini getu ʼatúhu gezesíga.

we not do-arrival ESS-have fact-wanting ESS-peace
‘We do not come in peace.’

 


Conlanging News

Articles and online media relevant to conlanging

  • Fiat Lingua, an online archive of articles related to conlanging, is looking for submissions! Fiat Lingua publishes everything conlang-related, including reviews of conlang-relevant books, conlang grammars, essays on style, conlang criticism, scholarly work on a conlang-related topic, and conlang artwork and prose or poetic composition. If you have something you’d like to publish or have an idea you think might work as an article, email fiatlingua@nullconlang.org. All submissions must be in PDF format.
  • Lexember is quickly approaching! December 1 kicks off the annual Lexember event, where participating conlangers create (and post) one new word per day throughout the entire month of December. For those posting on social media sites, you can use the hashtag #lexember so that other participants can more easily find you and your posts. You can read more details about it on the FrathWiki page. Happy conlanging!
  • The Atlantic published an article titled “How to say (almost) everything in a hundred-word language.”
  • New Republic included an article about the rise of invented languages.

New conlanging book

David J. Peterson’s book The Art of Language Invention hit the shelves in September and has received quite a bit of press, including the following:

Congrats, David!

LCS news

LCS has access to YouTube’s Creator Spaces. See this page for details. If members are interested in using a professional video production site for something LCS-related, contact Sai. We need to submit details to Google for approval after we have a firm plan for how to use it.

 


LCS Membership benefits

You can find more information about becoming a member, as well as more information on the benefits, here.

  • Two permanent yournamehere.conlang.org domain names and free full web and email hosting; for more information or to fill out the form to claim a domain name, please visit this page.
  • Checkout privileges for the LCS Lending Library.
  • Access to a Hightail account (you can find more information about Hightail, an online file server, at its website); please email Sylvia to create your account.
  • Full voting rights in the LCS.
  • Discounts on all LCS events.

Please direct any questions you have regarding LCS membership to memberships@nullconlang.org. Also, all communication regarding your membership will come from that address as well, so please white-list memberships@nullconlang.org.


You shop. Amazon gives. If you shop Amazon, you can now support the LCS by using this Amazon link for your shopping. Amazon will give a percentage of its profits on all the purchases you make through that link to the LCS.

Language Creation Tribune, Issue 6

Language Creation Tribune

Issue 6

August 2015


A word from our President

Welcome to the 6th edition of the Language Creation Tribune! I hope this summer (or winter, or whatever season you may have where you live) has been good for you! It’s certainly been busy for me, on many fronts.

What I want to talk to you about this time is a topic that has popped up regularly lately, on various social media and within the LCS. It’s clearly something that lives within the conlanging community, so I felt I needed to let people know where I stand. I’ve already done so in some places, but with this I hope to reach further into the community. And to be clear, what follows are my personal thoughts about this topic, and not necessarily the official position of the LCS. In fact, the LCS does not have an official position on this issue yet. The issue I’m talking about is the question of a fair remuneration for professional conlangers.

I’ve seen this question pop up already quite a few times these last few months, whether because of one specific job posted on our Jobs Board, or in general by interested parties. A general sentiment seems to be that conlanging jobs, at this moment, do not pay enough, at least compared to the difficulty and time needed to do the job well. And, indeed, I agree that however much fun one has with conlanging, once you do it for an employer, rather than for your own personal enjoyment, you need to get paid a fair wage for it. Because dealing with an employer means dealing with different opinions about what needs to be done (rather than focusing on what you want to do), and really, even if it fits perfectly with your tastes, doing a conlanging job for someone else means spending your own time on someone else’s project, effectively, and time is money. So it’s not weird to expect a fair compensation for it. The minima we set up on the Jobs Board (which you can check here) work out to only a few dollars per hour, not at all how much conlanging is really worth, given the difficulty of the trade, and definitely not enough to make a living out of it.

However, the solution is not to simply raise those minima, as some have proposed. Indeed, doing so would actually be counterproductive, and would probably destroy the awareness we have slowly been building among potential employers. The problem is two-fold. First, we have a very skewed market here: very little demand (we receive job requests once every other month on average) for a very large audience (many conlangers willing to do work for others). Such a situation naturally drives prices down, as an employer will likely always find someone willing to do the job, even for a pittance. Of course, the result will probably not be so great, but here’s the second problem: non-conlangers have absolutely no idea what a good quality conlang is. Worse yet, there is no evidence the majority of the general public actually cares! I know Game of Thrones fans who don’t care that Dothraki and High Valyrian are well-crafted constructed languages because, for them, Game of Thrones is only about the story and its characters—not about the status of the Dothraki language. Of course, there are non-conlangers who are actually interested in the languages of Game of Thrones and other shows, to the point of wanting to learn to speak them. And that group is very vocal, at least on social media. But that group is still only a minority among the larger fantasy and science-fiction fan community, itself only a fraction of the general public. In absolute terms, conlanging is still very much niche. No wonder it’s often considered only as an afterthought by potential employers.

Also, don’t forget that conlanging has only very recently been “discovered” by non-conlangers. It’s 2015. 20 years ago, the idea that one could be actually paid for conlanging was not even a dream—it was a laughable fantasy! Indeed, at that time, people in the conlang community didn’t even discuss the possibility. Instead, they wondered whether it would actually be worth the hassle to even admit to their friends and family what their hobby was. Conlanging was still seen as frivolous and ridiculous (if not downright dangerous). The only book about modern conlanging available at that time, Marina Yaguello’s Lunatic Lovers of Language, was, as its title indicates, not friendly at all towards conlangers, and people referred to admitting to doing it as “coming out”, an act that often had negative repercussions (one of our best modern conlangers kept her real identity and her conlanging persona meticulously separated, as she was a university professor and had enough evidence that showed that admitting her hobby at her workplace could cost her her job!). If you consider the situation 20 years ago, you may realise the incredible amount of progress we have made since then.

This said, it’s not as if we should just relax and let things take their course naturally. Conlanging will not be recognised as it should be, an actual art form worth paying a fair price for, if we do nothing. At the LCS, we are looking into the issue, and trying to decide what we can do. If you check the glossary of the Jobs Board again and remember how it was just a month ago, you may notice that some descriptions have actually changed: while we didn’t change the minima, we did clarify what these minima can get you, so as to prevent one to request a full conlang with teaching materials, two chapters of translated texts and a 3000-word vocabulary for $300. Now, it’s clear that the minimum compensation will only get you a minimum (if grammatically complete) conlang. We’re also trying to teach potential employers exactly how hard and time-consuming conlanging is. And we’ll try to keep track of conlanging jobs better, once they’ve been granted to someone, so as to check how much they were actually paid.

But there’s only so much the LCS can do. We’re only one small organisation, run by volunteers, and we can’t pretend to represent the conlanging community. It’s never been our goal either: we’re a support organisation, not a leading one. Also, we’re neither impresarios nor a conlanging union, and those are not roles we should take. So our reach is limited. This means that if we all want things to change, we at the LCS are going to need the help of the entire conlanging community! There is strength in numbers, and there are more of us conlangers than you think. We’re everywhere. So, what do we need to do? I can think of a few things:

  • Tell people about conlanging, and what it really entails. Create awareness in your communities—especially if you are in science-fiction and/or fantasy fandoms, you can teach people how realistic fictional languages are an important part of worldbuilding, and that a sophisticated audience should expect no less from their media. We’re already making great strides among book and graphic novel writers, and we need to keep it going. Eventually, we’ll reach the TV, film and game industries, which at the moment are the most conservative in that matter;
  • Actually support works that contain good conlanging. We need to prove that good quality conlanging sells more than botched jobs. If employers see that good conlanging has a positive return on investment, they will be more willing to pay more for it;
  • Do not apply for jobs that pay ridiculously low wages. Even if they come from our Jobs Board. Make it known (on social media for instance) when you see a conlanging job offer that is obviously underpaid. Get others to pledge not to apply to such jobs. The payments only stay low because people are willing to work for them. If employers see, on one hand, an audience clamouring for realistic conlangs, and, on the other hand, the people able to create such conlangs refusing to accept ridiculously low wages, they will revise their offers.

Be careful though: the situation of conlanging is fragile at the moment and pushing too hard could cause a backlash that would throw it back to obscurity quickly. We are currently riding on the popularity of Game of Thrones, but that series won’t be around forever. We are slowly creating momentum, but one wrong push and we could tumble and crash. Also, some employers just don’t have that much money. I mentioned (graphic) novel writers for instance. Those writers usually request conlanging services quite early in their creation process, usually at a time when they have not published anything yet, and they usually have little money to spare. But they do get it, and they should be supported in their effort to get good conlangs in their works, even if they cannot pay much upfront. So be discerning in your efforts.

So, now, I leave it to you all: what do you think should be done to enhance the position of conlanging? What steps do you think should be taken so that conlanging is better recognised for what it truly is? Your ideas are worth just as much as ours, and we’d be more than happy to hear what you think about this. And in any case, always carry on doing what you love, and…

Fiat Lingua!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,

President of the Language Creation Society.


Conlang Curiosities 

by John Quijada

Norlogyd nêsúo!

Psst. There’s a really cool conlang out there called Celinese that one learns about in bits and pieces at a time. Why? Because information about it is spread across numerous web pages, Facebook pages, Tumblr pages, a PDF-formatted dictionary, a database-driven look-up dictionary, a published children’s book, and probably more places both virtual and hard-copy than my poor sleuthing skills can find. One learns about the grammar from two different wiki pages (each of which explains certain details the other does not), while learning to pronounce the Romanized orthography is found on a dedicated “Learn Celinese” Weebly site.

Nevertheless, all the searching is worth the rewards one reaps in discovering the many cool aspects of Celinese: its beautiful phonology and morpho-syntax, the large amount of material available in the language, and its associated conworld of Lorech. All these wonders come from the mind of their multi-talented creator Andy Ayres, a language teacher and translator currently living in Spain, who also happens to be a musician, photographer, travel writer, playwright and peripatetic wanderer. Andy analogizes conlanging to a painter “surrounded by the beauty of our world to the extent that they are motivated to create their own images thereof. Instead of paint, we use sounds and words. I have been captivated by the beauty and diversity of our world’s languages since I was a child—conlanging is my way mixing colours and shades to create a new picture that corresponds to my concept of beauty and phonoæsthetics.”

Celinese is an a priori language; however, it is heavily influenced by Welsh and other Celtic languages, particularly in regard to morpho-phonology and certain morpho-syntactical traits such as initial consonant mutation and inflected prepositions. While word order is superficially quite free, the ordering of arguments with their verb, as well as the ordering of clauses within a complex sentence, take on quite specific shades of meaning and semantic nuance.

Great attention to detail has been paid to the diachronic aspects of Celinese as well. The con-history associated with the language is quite convoluted, in that the language, somewhat like modern Italian, is a standardized form of what is essentially a grand dialect chain scattered throughout one of the major regions of the world of Lorech. It is the language of the Commonwealth of Elitho, amongst other nations of that world, and one of Lorech’s linguæ francæ.

However, what makes Celinese a real treasure in my opinion is the material available in the language. Rarely have I seen such a wide variety material available in a conlang. In the case of Celinese, these are mostly poems and songs translated from other languages, although the author also mentions having translated a few screenplays and short stories as well. There’s even a published children’s book called “Am I Small?” by Phillipp Winterberg available in a bilingual English/Celinese version. Here is the first stanza of the Celinese translation of Rudyard Kipling’s “If” available in its entirety with audio recording on the Learn Celinese weebly site:

Ôn heðwast sú, célois to logynirain
Né path codac sún, ar ané beichún;
Ôn taipyrí polús, célois té gyrthún
Mair syr gyrthoiot né anoir corún.

Also on the Learn Celinese website is an entertaining phrasebook which provides all sorts of readymade phrases and sentences under topics such as Shopping, Medicine, Transport, Leisure, Dining, and basic survival phrases such as:

Twys dyðín elıcír ðo na sàsaneg ceoní polús?
/twɪs dɪˈðin ɛləˈkiʐ ðo na ˈsasanɛç ˈkeoni pɔlˈus/
Is there someone here who speaks English?

The Celinese Facebook page has videos of Lorechian history being narrated in Celinese. I found myself listening solely for the purpose of enjoying the phonaesthetics of the language. There are also posts consisting of what appear to be news correspondents announcing Lorechian current events. As for the Celinese Tumblr site . . . what a treat! Travel posters, restaurant menus, and road-signs, all in Celinese! There’s even a curious little dialogue between a father and son, where the former tells the latter Norlogyd nêsúo – Don’t be foolish — literally, “don’t be a bat.”

If I’ve managed to pique your curiosity, start with this biographical page for Andy Ayres, as it contains a collection of links to most things Celinese (as well as a recording of Andy reading the Babel Text in the language).

I must say, I never fail to be amazed by those conlangers who pour such effort into these labors of love for so little recognition or feedback. Nice job, Andy! Araðí ðéðo foís (“I appreciate what you’ve done”).


Member Milestones

BenJamin Johnson (Jamin) and his husband, Terry, just moved to Philadelphia and celebrated their first anniversary by buying a house in the East Falls neighborhood. It is the first house for both of them, and, needless to say, they are very excited about it. Congratulations!

CressonStHouse

After a bit of a hiatus from composing, John Q has composed four new songs and reworked some older songs to put together an album. He chose to write the songs in Ithkuil to explore the possibilities of using the language for poetry. He has titled the project Kaduatán (‘wayfarers’ in Ithkuil). You can check out a video for the recording of the first of his songs on YouTube, which features artwork from his brother Paul and David J. Peterson on vocals. This song contains the lyrics used as the LCC6 Relay Text. If you’re interested in seeing the lyrics with an intralinear analysis, you can check out the Texts page of the Ithkuil website.


Conlanging News

Classes, talks, conventions and articles relevant to conlanging

  • Fiat Lingua, an online archive of conlang articles, is looking for submissions! Fiat Lingua poses new articles on the first of every month and accepts submissions in these categories: analysis, art, conlang descriptions, essays, experiments, interviews, literature, presentations/demonstrations, and reviews. To find out more information, please head over to the website.
  • Sasquan, the latest World Con, was held in Spokane, Washington, in late August.

 

Websites and media relevant to conlanging

The following is a message from David Johnson regarding the Conlang Blog Aggregator:

We in the conlang community are fortunate in that a number of members have provided online tools we can all use for free. One of these is the Conlang Blog Aggregator. Like all aggregators it brings together material from a range of sources, but more than that it brings together writers and readers.

If, like me, you enjoy reading about conlangs as much as writing about them, then you’ll have days when you’re looking for something new to read about and other days when you look at the traffic statistics for your website and wishing they were a bit higher.

These occasions are when the Aggregator helps. As a reader, it brings you new material from a wide range of conlang blogs, some written by well-known conlangers, others by less-known writers waiting for you to discover. There’s grammar updates, words of the day and scripts. Conlang community blogs are also featured such as the LCS Jobs Board, Podcast and Newsletter. There’s even humour from the inimitable Bad Conlanging Ideas. So, if you’re stuck for something to read, check out the Aggregator.

Is your conlang blog there, though? If not, it’s worth joining because it’s a good way to make your work more visible to potential readers. If you’d like to add your blog to the Aggregator, just send an e-mail to lcs “at” conlang “dot” org with a link to your feed, and a description of your blog.

Posts made to the Aggregator should be related to conlanging in some way, so if you have a blog with conlang-related and non-conlang related posts, please send the feed to a tag or category featuring only conlang-related posts.

The more blogs on the Aggregator, the better for both writers and readers!

 

News specific to LCS

Our LCS Library has some new acqusitions.

Dixon’s Basic Linguistic Theory (3 vols) includes a section on how to learn linguistics. In it he has a list of recommended titles that all serious students of linguistics should read and/or study. To find out more about why he recommends an title, check out his book and read it. Linked items are currently in the Lending Library and available for members to check out. (For multi-volume titles, links are to the first volume.)

  1. Aikhenvald Classifiers: A Typology of Noun Classification
  2. Aikhenvald Evidentiality
  3. Aikhenvald A Grammar of Tariana, from Northwest Amazonia
  4. Benveniste Problems in General Linguistics
  5. Bloomfield Language
  6. Boas and Deloria Dakota Grammar
  7. Comrie Aspect
  8. Comrie Language Universals and Linguistic Theory
  9. Corbett Number
  10. De Saussure Course in General Linguistics
  11. Dixon Ergativity
  12. Dixon A Grammar of Boumaa Fijian
  13. Enfield A Grammar of Lao
  14. England Grammar of Mam, a Mayan Language
  15. Evans A Grammar of Kayardild, with Historical-Comparative Notes on Tangkic
  16. Foley The Yimas Language of New Guinea
  17. Freeland Language of the Sierra Miwok
  18. Haas Tunica
  19. Jakobson On Language
  20. Jesperson Philosophy of Grammar
  21. Kimball Koasati Grammar
  22. Kruspe A Grammar of Semelai
  23. Ladefoged and Maddieson The Sounds of the Words Languages
  24. Lyons Semantics (2 vols)
  25. Matisoff Grammar of Lahu
  26. Matthews Morphology
  27. Matthews Syntax
  28. Meillet The Comparative Method in Historical Linguistics
  29. Merlan A Grammar of Wardaman, a Language of the Northern Territory of Australia
  30. Nida Morphology: The Descriptive Analysis of Words
  31. Refsing The Ainu Language: The Morphology and Syntax of the Shizunai Dialect
  32. Sapir Language
  33. Sapir Southern Paiute: A Shoshonean Language
  34. Shopen Language Typology and Syntactic Descriptions (3 vols)
  35. Thomsen The Sumerian Language: An Introduction to Its History and Grammatical Structure
  36. Trubetzkoy Principles of Phonology
  37. Vitale Swahili Syntax
  38. Watters A Grammar of Kham
  39. Zeitoun A Grammar of Mantauran (Rukai)

In addition, several other new books have arrived, including Newmeyer’s Possible and Probable Languages and Peterson’s Living Language: Dothraki.

 


LCS Membership benefits

You can find more information about becoming a member, as well as more information on the benefits, here.

  • Two permanent yournamehere.conlang.org domain names and free full web and email hosting; for more information or to fill out the form to claim a domain name, please visit this page.
  • Checkout privileges for the LCS Lending Library.
  • Access to a Hightail account (you can find more information about Hightail, an online file server, at its website); please email Sylvia to create your account.
  • Full voting rights in the LCS.
  • Discounts on all LCS events.

Please direct any questions you have regarding LCS membership to memberships@nullconlang.org. Also, all communication regarding your membership will come from that address as well, so please white-list memberships@nullconlang.org.


 

You shop. Amazon gives. If you shop Amazon, you can now support the LCS by using this Amazon link for your shopping. Amazon will give a percentage of its profits on all the purchases you make through that link to the LCS.

Language Creation Tribune, Issue 5

Language Creation Tribune

Issue 5

May 2015


A word from our President

 

Welcome to the 5th edition of the Language Creation Tribune! A little late again, but we are all in the afterglow of the LCC6, so I hope you’ll excuse us. Why, of course, I am going to talk about the 6th Language Creation Conference. What did you expect?

LCC6 group shot 2

Before I talk about my personal experience of the LCC6, let me once again give special thanks to the people who made it a reality, and ensured it was such a fun and successful event:

  • Thanks to our local host Pete Bleackley, for organising this wonderful event;
  • Thanks to Sai and Alex Fink, for working very hard at getting the fickle live-streaming technology working, so even people who couldn’t attend live would be able to attend it remotely;
  • Thanks to the people of the Horsham Capitol Arts Centre for providing us with such a great venue;
  • Thanks to Sylvia Sotomayor, who worked really hard in the background to get everything ready, from the LCC6 website to the lunch and coffee breaks, and made my job so much easier;
  • Thanks to Erin Peterson, who took over front of house so that Sylvia could enjoy the LCC itself with the rest of us;
  • Thanks to the speakers, for all the fun, informative and interesting talks they gave us;
  • Thanks to everyone who participated in both rings of the LCC6 conlang relay, and special thanks to Jessie Sams, our very own editor-in-chief, for organising it so masterfully;
  • Thanks to everyone who attended in person! Some of you travelled from very far, and you’ve helped make this LCC the best attended one so far (with 55 people present at once in the venue);
  • And finally, thanks to everyone who attended on line as well! You’re also part of the success of the LCC!

As you all know, the first time I came in contact with the Language Creation Society was when David Peterson, then President of the LCS, asked me whether I’d be interested in being the local host for the 4th Language Creation Conference. This request is what resulted in the series of events that put me in the position I hold today, so the LCC holds a special place in my heart. It’s no surprise that I met the prospect of the first LCC under my presidency with both excitement and apprehension. And to tell you the truth, to me the LCC6 felt like the first true test of my abilities: I was afraid at the idea of having to lead it (you can ask David about that!). And even worse, I was terrified that my lack of experience would hinder other people’s efforts to make the LCC6 a successful event. Luckily, everyone was very understanding (especially Sylvia—I wouldn’t have managed if it wasn’t for her advice and her patience!), and it seems my attempts at playing Master of Ceremony were not altogether unsuccessful (or at least the audience was very understanding!). So it seems I passed this milestone, and this makes me feel both relieved and elated. I’ve received great feedback, I enjoyed myself immensely, and I finally got to meet a lot of people in real life that I have known for a long time only through words on a computer screen. The feelings associated with such an experience make all the anxiety beforehand more than worth it!

Les-Presidents

All three presidents of the LCS , together for the first time!

However exhausting the preparations were, the success of the LCC6 made me again aware of the important role we have in the LCS in serving the conlanging community, and it’s with renewed energy that I get ready to serve you all again to the best of my abilities. Thanks again for your trust, and I hope to be able to help even more in the future!

Fiat Lingua!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,

President of the Language Creation Society.


Conlang Curiosities 

by John Quijada

Layin’ Back With the Leyen

At the recent Sixth Language Creation Conference in Horsham, England, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting LCS member and conference host Peter Bleackley. For a laid-back Californian like me, meeting such an authentically English (and brilliantly eccentric) gentleman like Peter is a rare treat – whether we’re discussing conlangs or sharing a beer at the pub (which we did!).

At any rate, Peter is a long-time participant on the Conlang mailing list, and his Khangaþyagon conlang is well-known to Conlang-L members. Lesser known is his more experimental iljena language, spoken by the Leyen on a world orbiting the star Delta Pavonis. Peter gave an interesting presentation at LCC6 called “When Is Case Not a Case?” showcasing both of his conlangs, but it was the portion of his talk dealing with iljena that really piqued my curiosity. A truly different, fascinating conlang worth examining beyond the tidbits offered at LCC6.

iljena holds no surprises in the phonology department, but when it comes to morphology and syntax, one might argue that iljena is the greatest language ever invented for the purposes of poetry. Why might that be? In iljena, Pete has found a way to truly merge the concept of noun and verb into one holistic unit that paints what I think of as a little “action-image”. An iljena word consists of a tri-literal consonant pattern (à la Semitic languages) which conveys the nominal portion of the word, while the vowel pattern interfixed among the consonants carries the verbal portion of the word. Each of these little action-image units is then placed together sequentially (a simple syntax that Pete calls “clause-chaining”) to create a “flow” of action-images corresponding to sentences in other languages.

As a lovely example, we can take the noun pattern h-w-m “she/he” and merge it with the verb pattern eCaCC “travel”, then merge s-f-k “boat” with CoCCa “carry”, and follow this with the patterns m-r-j “sea” plus CeCaCi “separate” to create a “sentence” ehawm sofka meraji – literally “he/travel boat/carry sea/separate”, translatable as She/he travelled across the sea.

Another example:

ewtag              kvis                 mohn
student/have    raven/perch     hand/hold
The student’s raven perches on his hand.

As can be inferred from the above, all iljena words are monovalent; there are no subjects or objects, as everything is a participant in the action-image. Morphological elements such as tense or mood are conveyed periphrastically as yet another action-image. The use of certain verb components in a word sometimes correspond to concepts like case in human languages, e.g., use of the component meaning “hold” to convey a locative sense, or “undergo” to convey a word’s role as an accusative object. However, humans learning iljena often overuse these patterns in an attempt to force the noun component of an iljena word into human-language semantic roles. Indeed, while researching this article, I surprised myself by discovering that I once actually translated from iljena way back in Conlang Relay No. 16, and according to Pete’s instructions to me at the time: “Humans learning iljena often find it difficult to choose appropriate vowels for the participant that they regard as the object, while Leyen learning human languages have difficulty with the idea of separating objects from their actions. As The Essential Guide to Alien Languages puts it, ‘Morphologically, iljena is essentially a Semitic language turned up to 11. Syntactically, it is essentially a slightly exaggerated version of Mandarin.’”

The Leyen themselves refer to the nominal component of an iljena word as its “body” and the verbal component as its “spirit.” It is the union of the two that gives life to a word. Consequently, Leyen grammarians consider words from human languages to be “like corpses and ghosts”, given that nouns (“bodies”) and verbs (“spirits”) never combine together to come alive. You know, I’ve read a lot of con-cultural ideas in my time, whether in sci-fi novels or descriptions of con-worlds, but that has got to be one of the coolest (and thought-provoking) exo-viewpoints on humans I’ve ever read.

Another cool aspect about iljena is the fact that Pete sought out fellow LCS member Sylvia Sotomayor, asking her if he could incorporate elements of her Kēleni con-world into his own, to which Sylvia agreed. As a result, both Leyen and Kēleni explorers have interacted with each other and commented on each other’s languages (to quite curious effect, given the verbless nature of Kēlen).

Last but not least, Pete provides a wonderful Whorfian explanation for the nature of iljena grammar: the skin of the Leyen are covered with vibrissae, somewhat like cat whiskers an inch apart from one another, “which make them highly sensitive to air movements. This sense is very important to them, and gives them a sense of being fully immersed in an active world.”

One of the reasons I wanted to showcase iljena is because the online resources about it are so sparse (a minimal Frathwiki entry, a few relay texts, and one short parable). A language so subjectively expressive, so naturally poetic, yet so simple in its grammar deserves to be better-known.

I will leave you with an iljena sentence that every conlanger can use to describe him- or herself:

wolm                           himwa            hwima            ahiwem
“all time”/hold             (s)he/wish       (s)he/make       (s)he/learn
He/she always wished to be making and learning.


Member Milestones

May 19, 2015, marked the 25th anniversary of the marriage of John Clifford and Martha Baker. John is an LCS Board member and a quondam epigone of Loglan, Lojban, aUI, toki pona, and dama dewan. Martha doesn’t mind much.

On May 23, Alex Sands, local host of LCC5 in Austin, Texas, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, earning his Bachelor’s in Social Work. He was also included in the very short list of Distinguished College Scholars. Congratulations, Alex!

David and Erin Peterson are expecting their first child in early December! Congratulations to both of you!

David Peterson’s latest book, The Art of Language Invention, has a set publication date of September 29 and is now available for pre-order on the Penguin Books website.

Medicine for the Dead, the second novel in Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson’s “Children of the Drought” fantasy trilogy, was published in March 2015. Jason Wells-Jensen is a language consultant for the series, which is set in a multicultural world reminiscent of the American Southwest. The setting and languages are discussed in this interview about the first book, One Night in Sixes:

One night in the sixes

Medicine for the dead

 


Conlanging News

News on classes, talks, conventions and articles relevant to conlanging:

  • You can access the live streaming videos of LCC6 on the LCS YouTube channel.
  • The Indy PopCon will be held June 26-28; PopCon is touted as being created “for the fans, by the fans” and covers a variety of genres.
  • Worldcon 2015 is coming to Spokane, Washington, in August 2015. One of the guests of honor is astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindgren, who will be participating from the International Space Station.
  • You can keep up with an ongoing list of current Sci-Fi conventions at UpcomingCons.com.

News of media and websites relevant to conlanging:

  • Season 3 of Defiance, featuring four conlangs (Irathient, Castithan, Indojisnen, and a new one), premieres in America on June 12th at 8/7 Central on Syfy.
  • Season 2 of Dominion, featuring the conlang Lishepus, premieres in America on July 9th at 10/9 Central on Syfy.
  • May is ReCoLangMo (Redditt Conlang Month), which is divided into seven sessions for constructing a language in a month. You can check out the schedule and information here.
  • Deconstructed Construction on Tumblr took a break from posting over the past year but is beginning to post again; they provide some good conlanging resources and information.

News specific to LCS:

  • You shop. Amazon gives. If you shop Amazon, you can now support the LCS by using this Amazon link for your shopping. Amazon will give a percentage of its profits on all the purchases you make through that link to the LCS.

LCS Membership benefits

You can find more information about becoming a member, as well as more information on the benefits, here.

  • Two permanent yournamehere.conlang.org domain names and free full web and email hosting; for more information or to fill out the form to claim a domain name, please visit this page.
  • Checkout privileges for the LCS Lending Library.
  • Access to a Hightail account (you can find more information about Hightail, an online file server, at its website); please email Sylvia to create your account.
  • Full voting rights in the LCS.
  • Discounts on all LCS events.

Please direct any questions you have regarding LCS membership to memberships@nullconlang.org. Also, all communication regarding your membership will come from that address as well, so please white-list memberships@nullconlang.org.

Language Creation Tribune, Issue 4

Language Creation Tribune

Issue 4


 

A word from our President

 

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 4th edition of the Language Creation Tribune. Sorry for the delay (which was mostly my fault, I have to admit), but it’s finally here for you to enjoy! Once again, Jessie, John and the other editors have done a great job in putting it together. And given Jessie’s infinite patience waiting for me to get my column ready, she deserves an extra round of applause!

So, as you already know, the Sixth Language Creation Conference is really going to happen (we’re busy setting up the schedule at the moment). So if you plan to attend but haven’t registered yet, now’s the time to do it! (The registration form is on the LCC6 page.) Also, if you are interested in a giving a talk but haven’t made a proposal yet, there are still slots available in the schedule, so you are welcome to send a proposal to lcc6-talks@nullconlang.org. Because we only have a few slots left, though, make sure you send a proposal as soon as possible!

With information about LCC6 out of the way, I’m going to turn my focus onto another point: As you probably know, it’s now been just over a year since I was elected President of the Language Creation Society (if you don’t, that means you’re a relatively new member of the LCS, and let me use this opportunity to welcome you here. It’s a great place; the snacks are at the back). It’s a good time to reflect on how that year has been. I’m not going to talk about how the LCS has fared during the year (that is something for the Members’ Meeting), but I do want to talk about my personal experience as the President of the LCS. A little bit of introspection never hurt anyone!

So, how was my year?

When I first considered putting up my candidacy for the position, I knew that I was taking a very big bite, possibly more than I could ever hope to chew. And indeed, since the elections, it has been a very steep learning curve for me. Even today, I’m still learning a lot about what this position entails. Luckily, people have been very understanding and patient with me, and I cannot thank them enough. There are a few people I want to mention by name, though, as they’ve been especially helpful to me: David Peterson, for helping me through the first months of my presidency and taking the time to teach me the ropes, despite his busy schedule; and George Corley, for picking up the slack when I just didn’t have the time to handle things. But I want to give very special thanks to Sylvia Sotomayor, who’s really helped me get through this first year as President and has been extremely supportive even when I was constantly asking for help and even though the President no longer lived close to home but lives half a world away, with different ideas, approaches, and time zones. Really, Sylvia, I wouldn’t have managed this well without your help!

Of course, I also want to thank all the Officers and Directors of the Board for being so patient and putting up with all my ideas, even the weirdest ones. And naturally, I’d like to extend a big thank you to all the members of the LCS, for making me feel so appreciated. Basically, for me, this year was one big learning experience, and I’m really glad I was given this chance.

But how did I do during this first year of presidency? What did I do well? Where do I need to improve? Those are incredibly difficult questions to answer—especially since I’m not the best at self-assessment. Feedback from LCS members is really the only way I’ll be able to evaluate my performance thus far. So let me ask you these questions: How have I done so far? Are you satisfied with my performance, or do you think I’ve made a mess of things? Are there things I’ve done that I should do more of? Are there things I haven’t done that I should do? As I said when I was elected, I’m not here to lead you but to serve you, and I can only serve you when I know what you need. So don’t hesitate to contact me and tell me what you think. I can’t promise I will be able to answer quickly (one of the few things I’m aware I’ve been bad at is the speed with which I answer e-mails), but I promise I will read everything you have to say. Getting your feedback is vital for my performance, so don’t hesitate to respond!

Fiat Lingua!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,

President of the Language Creation Society.


Conlang Curiosities 

by John Quijada

FOLLOWING THE ARGTXEPOR INTO THE CITADEL . . .

I’ve been spending a few days exploring a French-language website called Argtxep created by Argor, the nom de plume of Jean-Pierre Mallaroni, a computer scientist from Marseilles, France. The Argtxep website is rather chaotic at first glance (especially given the garish colors and outmoded use of frames) and is organized in a rather peculiar fashion. The homepage welcomes us to ARGTXEP “The Concept of the Citadel” and immediately announces a language for the gay world, further explaining that the language is not meant to isolate gays, but rather “to give the opportunity to foreigners of the same affinity who would . . . like to communicate on equal terms in spite of their linguistic differences . . . .” What’s weird is that nowhere on this homepage is the name of the language given nor the title “Argtxep – Concept of the Citadel” explained. One must click on another link labeled in French “Letter to the Visitor” to begin to understand what all this is about.

The “citadel” in question turns out to be his conlang Silarg, a word meaning “Celestial Citadel”. The word Argtxep (pronounced /argtʃɛp/) refers to Argor’s overall project, i.e., the Silarg language, its four different writing systems, and the language’s intended use as an international auxiliary language. I found it curious that, despite the grand announcement on the homepage that this is a conlang for use by gays, nowhere else in the website could I find any basis or rationale for this exclusivity. Sexual orientation isn’t even mentioned anywhere in the grammar or on any of the numerous pages describing the writing system or other aspects of the language, nor could I find any aspect of the grammar or writing systems that would suggest why the language should be specifically for an exclusive group of people.

At any rate, once past the homepage and introductory letter, the “Concept of the Citadel” becomes quite interesting. First of all, the Citadel itself, Silarg, must be approached by a door. That door is Argpal (meaning “Gate to the Citadel”), the writing system. Argor devotes a thirty-page treatise to the writing system and, I have to say, it is quite a fascinating script, akin in some ways to the Ithkuil writing system in its degree of complexity. The script is phonemic like any alphabet, but the individual symbols are essentially ligatures constructed from individual parts and pieces in ingenious combinations. One gains the impression that Argor is far more enamored by the Argpal script than by the Silarg language itself. In fact, the site features a series of English-language videos explaining in detail how the script functions and can be used to transliterate any language. An example of Argpal is shown below.

Argpal script

Argpal script

In addition to Argpal, a cursive version of the script exists called Argclaw (“Key to the Citadel”), as well as a secret script called Argbriht (“Labyrinth of the Citadel”) known only to the Argor. Argor has also created a font for both Argpal and Argclaw, which is available for download on his site.

Eventually, one finds their way to the Silarg Grammar, which begins with a detailed explanation of the fourth writing system – the Romanized transcription called Argla, which I personally find fascinating but others will think bizarre, e.g., digraphs such as <ye> = /œ/, <yy> = /ə/, unusual semi-vowels such as <bk> = /œ̯̃/, <dk> = /ã̯/, <qh> = /ɔ̯/, <th> = /ɛ̯/, and nasal vowels shown by following <h>. The phonology appears heavily influenced by French in its use of nasals and front-rounded vowels and the semivowel /ɥ/. The strange phonotactics and even stranger orthography give us Silarg words such as bkyhq, pronounced /œ̯̃œ̃ʒ/ (the name of a letter in the Silarg alphabet). Not exactly the friendliest Roman orthography for a proposed IAL.

The vocabulary of Silarg is based on real-world word-roots from the world’s languages. Visitors to the site are even invited to submit proposed Silarg words based on roots from real languages. These roots are then mutated and/or truncated to comply with Silarg phonology frequently to the point of being unrecognizable (in a manner reminiscent of Volapük). An example is phews “violence” derived from the corresponding Hungarian word heves. The name Argtxep itself derives from Latin arx “citadel” plus Latin conceptus “concept”. The site contains a comprehensive Silarg dictionary with detailed etymology for each of the several thousand entries. In addition to common Western European languages, Silarg roots abound based on words from languages as diverse as Aztec, Aruak, Coptic, Hebrew, Finnish, Japanese, Quechua, Fon, Tahitian, as well as sources such as Marseillais slang, Picardy-Walloon dialect, Ladin/Rumansch, Ancient Greek, Anglo-Norman, Corsican and Old French. And there are even some a priori native Silarg words!

Despite the original phonotactics and orthography, and word etymologies global in their scope, the grammar of the Silarg language itself strikes me as a bit conservative. Compared to the treatise on the Argpal script and the huge dictionary, the grammar itself is relatively brief, being contained on a single HTML page. It appears to be heavily influenced by French with a few Germanic-looking, non-Romance morphological structures. For example, the tense system for verbs and the pronouns bear an almost one-to- one correspondence with French, however genitive and partitive constructions are much more like Germanic languages.

Being one who has spent decades working on a single conlang, I can appreciate efforts such as Argor’s to craft one’s vision of language with exquisite and exacting detail. The fact that the finished product is so esoteric and unpredictable—okay, I’ll avoid the euphemisms and just call it plain weird—makes it all the more fascinating.


Member Milestones

William Annis created the language for the Beta aliens in the RTS video game Grey Goo, which came out on January 23. This post on William’s Tumblr has a link to an example of the language in use.

Congratulations to D.R. Merrill, whose book Lamikorda was named a Book of the Year on SciFi365! On a more personal level, Merrill has continued work on Kiitra (the main conlang featured in the novel) and has expanded its vocabulary to over 3600 entries.

William Barton released his novel Crimson Darkness in December, which primarily focuses on the Semkanya conlang.

J.S. Bangs has recently released a new novel, Storm Bride, which contains several of his conlangs.

Storm-Bride-800-Cover-reveal-and-Promotional

 


 

Conlanging News

News on classes, talks, conventions and articles relevant to conlanging:

 

News of websites relevant to conlanging:

  • Jonathan Fleury, the moderator of the “Linguistics and Conlangs” Facebook group, has started publishing a monthly online magazine, Conlangs Monthly, available here.
  • Jeffrey Brown published his sociolinguistic study on auxlangs in Fiat Lingua.
  • Google provided a statement in Elvish in response to the addition of Sauron’s Tower, Barad-dûr, to Google Maps.

 

News specific to LCS:

  • You shop. Amazon gives. If you shop Amazon, you can now support the LCS by using this Amazon link for your shopping. Amazon will give a percentage of its profits on all the purchases you make through that link to the LCS.

LCS Membership benefits

You can find more information about becoming a member, as well as more information on the benefits, here.

  • Two permanent yournamehere.conlang.org domain names and free full web and email hosting; for more information or to fill out the form to claim a domain name, please visit this page.
  • Checkout privileges for the LCS Lending Library.
  • Access to a Hightail account (you can find more information about Hightail, an online file server, at its website); please email Sylvia to create your account.
  • Full voting rights in the LCS.
  • Discounts on all LCS events.

Please direct any questions you have regarding LCS membership to memberships@nullconlang.org. Also, all communication regarding your membership will come from that address as well, so please white-list memberships@nullconlang.org.

Language Creation Tribune, Issue 3

Language Creation Tribune

Issue 3


 

A word from our President

 

Hi everyone, and welcome to the third edition of the Language Creation Tribune. Once again, Jessie Sams and the other editors have done a stellar job of putting it together, so a big round of applause for them!

As you may already know, one of the LCS’s main roles is running the Language Creation Conference. It’s even one of our primary purposes right in our Articles of Incorporation! And since the last conference was in Spring 2013, it’s time for us to announce the next one.

It is my pleasure to announce that the 6th Language Creation Conference will take place on the 25th and 26th of April 2015, in Horsham, UK, just South of London in West Sussex. I’m really happy that for the second time in its history, the LCC will take place in Europe, giving another chance for European conlangers to experience this wonderful event first hand!

As you may remember, before I became President, I was mostly known in the LCS as the local host of the LCC4, the first LCC to take place in Europe. It was a heavy responsibility and I’m still not completely satisfied with how I ended up handling it. It was still a great learning experience, though, and the event itself was exhilarating! This time, we actually have a team of local hosts handling the organisation of the LCC6, in the persons of Pete Bleackley, Alex Fink and Lykara Ryder. Allow me to thank them in advance for taking up this responsibility. I have complete faith in them and I’m sure the LCC6 will be a great success.

More information will be released as the event gets organised, but I want to use this announcement already to make a few calls to you, fellow conlangers. The LCC itself is but an empty shell without people giving presentations. So we need you! If you are interested in giving a talk, please contact us at lcc6-talks@nullconlang.org. We’ll need your name and the title of your talk, and at least some description of its topic for now. All topics are allowed, as long as they are related to language creation. The only exception is proselytism in any form, which is strictly forbidden. In any case, please contact us with your presentation ideas, so we can start building up a schedule of events. Other event ideas besides talks are also welcome (we’ve done film screenings in the past, for instance), as long as they are workable in the short time frame of the conference.

Also, if you are interested in the LCC6, whether because you are planning to attend it as a presenter or a participant, because you want to help, or just because you are curious, we have set up a special LCC6 mailing list: lcc6-info@nulllists.conlang.org. You can subscribe to it via the following webpage: http://lists.conlang.org/listinfo.cgi/lcc6-info-conlang.org. You can use this mailing list to ask questions to us and/or the local hosts, discuss relevant ideas, or even plan your joining the conference together with other attendees. It’s available for any discussion as long as it’s relevant to the LCC6.

And as usual, the LCC6 will be streamed online, with an IRC chat channel available for people to participate remotely. So don’t hesitate to join the LCC6 mailing list even if you don’t plan to attend the conference itself physically!

And for those who will attend it, I look forward to meeting you all face to face!

Fiat Lingua!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,

President of the Language Creation Society.


Conlang Curiosities 

by John Quijada

 Chayke lo!

So I’ve been poking around LCS member Jayelinda Suridge’s con-creation, Kadreilia, and find myself drawn to it for reasons atypical for me. Usually I’m interested in the extremes of conlanging and conworlding, the really innovative or just the unusual. But in the case of Kadreilia, I simply find it beautiful and full of small but satisfying little surprises as you navigate though its layers. While it’s still a work-in-progress (originally created as background for a never-completed novel), there’s enough material on the con-history, languages, culture and kinship, songs, religion, folklore and mythology, demographics, flora and fauna, and maps to keep a visitor busy for hours.

Jayelinda, an Aussie video game designer now living in New Zealand, has created a website whose overall aesthetic design is understatedly elegant, and while the navigation links appear quite simple and straightforward on her homepage, one soon gets lost in the sub-pages containing links to nooks and crannies which are difficult to locate a second time.

Kardii illustration

Illustrations and graphics occasionally appear in obscure and unlikely places, some of them impressionistic and artful such as illustrations of plants, others crafted to near clinical perfection such as the vocabulary guides for body parts.

Kardii vocabulary guide

The most well-developed Kadreilian language on the site is Kardii, the language of the Shela people. One finds sections on phonology, verbs, noun classes, numbers, dialects, and a lexicon of over 3700 entries. The language also has a ceremonial form called Kardiifa.

Special mention should be made of the Kardii phrasebook, a selection of phrases and sentences grouped into the following categories along with cultural notes on each topic: The Basics, Look and Listen, Feelings, Going Places, Shopping, Food & Drink, Time, Amounts, Making Friends, Emergencies, Health, and Fighting Words. Some of these are really fun to read, such as phrases in the Shopping category, containing sub-sections on haggling and customer-service complaints, e.g., ‘Why do you charge so much?’ (Niijeeche tripa lo ma i?) and ‘I think you’re ripping me off’ (Shorriche ki eripykeche pa).

Also noteworthy are the samples of Shela songs and poetry, written in Kardii. There is one song in particular on the site called J’ tek Koshtera Onas a (“Song About Shadows”), which I find particularly moving and beautiful.

Kardii has its own script, which displays an interesting innovation I haven’t seen elsewhere. It allows for an alternate, simplified and smaller-height mode of writing (called taytastu) which is used for the equivalent to parenthetical asides, footnotes, quoted speech, or direct address, inserted right into the primary text itself. If representing actual speech, it conveys lowered voice or whispering, as in the following example:

Kardii script 2

I also want to mention the cool-looking script for another Kadreilian language, Tasa. It reminds me of various stylized drawings of little ears. Here’s an example:

Kardii script

Kadreilia represents the painstaking, loving craftsmanship that makes conworlding and conlanging so rewarding—a deep, personal reflection of one’s imagination and artistry. So, as the Shela say, Chayke lo! (“Look at that!”)


Member Milestones

Hash yer ray char astof vezhvena? (‘Have you heard the good announcement?’) David Peterson’s Living Language: Dothraki was released in October. Now you, too, can master the Dothraki language!

John Q made headlines in the New Haven Independent when he appeared for “Amateur Hour” at the Institute Library to discuss Ithkuil.

Congratulations to Doug Ball, who received the 2014 Smiley Award for his language, Skerre!

Our president, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets, was quoted in the Guardian article “The golden era of fictional languages is now.”

 


 

Conlanging News

News on classes, talks, conventions and articles relevant to conlanging:

 

News of websites relevant to conlanging:

 

News specific to LCS:

  • We are forming a committee to manage social media presence for the LCS (including helping with Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook) and are searching for two volunteers to help with that committee. If you are interested in serving on such a committee, please email Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets (president@nullconlang.org).

LCS Membership benefits

You can find more information about becoming a member, as well as more information on the benefits, here.

  • Two permanent yournamehere.conlang.org domain names and free full web and email hosting; for more information or to fill out the form to claim a domain name, please visit this page.
  • Checkout privileges for the LCS Lending Library.
  • Access to a Hightail account (you can find more information about Hightail, an online file server, at its website); please email Sylvia to create your account.
  • Full voting rights in the LCS.
  • Discounts on all LCS events.

Please direct any questions you have regarding LCS membership to memberships@nullconlang.org. Also, all communication regarding your membership will come from that address as well, so please white-list memberships@nullconlang.org.

Language Creation Tribune, Issue 2

Language Creation Tribune

Issue 2


 

A word from our President

 

Hi everyone, and welcome to this new edition of the Language Creation Tribune. Once again, thanks to Jessie Sams and the other editors for putting it together.

Ironically, for people whose hobby is to create languages, we tend to have issues with communication. I myself am no stranger to it, as people on the Conlang Mailing List know. I’ve participated in my share of flamewars! The early history of the Language Creation Society is also fraught with misunderstandings, which left a bitter taste in the mouths of some people.

So when I became President of the LCS, my number one priority was to enhance the LCS’s communication efforts, both towards its own members (this newsletter is, I hope, a good first step in that direction) and towards the conlanging community at large, as well as to reframe it the way it should be: the LCS is not here to “lead” the conlanging community (whatever that may mean), but to serve it.

But if I want to enhance communication between the LCS and the conlanging community, I must also be present where conlangers are so that they can easily reach me. While I am active on the Conlang Mailing List and can be reached by email, I am also on Twitter (@Tsela) and on Google+. And to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, I also, despite some misgivings, joined Facebook a few months ago. With the LCS itself present on all these fronts as well (Twitter, Facebook, Google+), we can reach conlangers far and wide in the social media sphere.

But we are still missing a lot of conlangers out there. For instance, there is a vibrant and young conlanging community on Tumblr, composed of people who are only rarely present on other social media, and so far the LCS has ignored it entirely. It’s time to correct that mistake. And while we are still busy setting up an official LCS Tumblr blog, I have personally decided to join Tumblr as well. My personal Tumblr site is at http://christophoronomicon.tumblr.com/, and while it’s not all about conlanging (a lot is about dogs!), I do talk about conlanging a lot there, and I answer all the questions I receive via that site. So if you are on Tumblr and want to contact me, you can now do it directly on Tumblr itself. And if you want me to follow you there, just drop me a line!

Naturally, we at the Language Creation Society will only know whether our efforts are successful if we get feedback from you. So don’t hesitate to contact us! Whether it is by email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, this newsletter’s comments, or even with smoke signs, do tell us what you think! And if you have ideas to improve the LCS’s services, don’t hesitate to let us know!

Fiat Lingua!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,

President of the Language Creation Society.


Conlang Curiosities

by John Quijada

 

A Class Act

Recently I came across young LCS member David Tait’s Hopyratian Grammar, created as part of his Sepistania con-world. While Hopyratian is a fairly new conlang and remains to be more fully developed (the online grammar is a relatively scant 25 pages with no separate lexicon/vocabulary given), it nevertheless shows some of the fascinating quirks I look for in natlang-style conlangs. In the case of Hopyratian, this includes a script that looks half rune-like and half katakana-like, some nifty oddities to its romanization scheme (“x” is a voiceless interdental fricative and “y” is silent if between two consonants or before an “a” or an “ā”), a proximal vs. distal distinction in both the past and future tenses, and a complex participial scheme involving a part of speech he calls “nounals” that are noun participles which carry verbal tense information and are separate from adjectival participles which also carry tense information. But the real pièce de résistance of the Hopyratian grammar is found in its noun classes . . . .

I’ve been fond of the concept of noun classes ever since I first read the essay “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins” by my favorite author Jorge Luis Borges, in which he describes the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, a fictional ancient Chinese encyclopedia in which the world of animals is divided into fourteen categories: (a) those belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed ones, (c) trained ones, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g) stray dogs, (h) ones included in this classification, (i) ones that tremble as if mad, (j) innumerable ones, (k) ones drawn with a fine camel’s hair brush, (l) others, (m) ones that have just broken a flower vase, and (n) ones that resemble flies from a distance.

My good friend (and conlanger hero) David Peterson tells me his favorite conlang he’s created for Hollywood so far is Irathient (from Syfy’s Defiance show) because of its eighteen noun classes including sentients, plants, and animals—each of which distinguishes dangerous from non-dangerous—as well as places, abstracts, diminutives and augmentatives, and over a half-dozen more. But I’m afraid Irathient doesn’t hold a candle to David Tait’s Hopyratian when it comes to being a “class” act.

I sat open-mouthed as I read through Tait’s tables of Katýcarem, the suffixes and infixes that indicate his fourteen “animate” classes and fifty “inanimate” classes, each of which inflects for number and case as well. In addition to the more straightforward classes of animals (-sa/-sū), royalty (-kenu), races (-vikā), military ranks (-efto), and occupations (-gio), the “animate” classes include languages (-ia), celestial bodies (-fūro), fictional characters (-nū), government positions (- oso), sounds (-inu), genders (-asa), relationships (-xa), health (-hū) and life-stages (-da).

And the Hopyratian Weltanschauung becomes even more Borgesian when we examine the “inanimate” classes, including allegiances (-nýg), art (-vel), cleanliness (-edut), clothing (-dāg), completed processes (-vus), emotions (-aj), glass (-of), indents in the Earth (-xac), injuries (-in), jewellery (-og), lengths of time (-et), magic (-mag), ongoing processes (-vuf), personalities (-ion), rooms (-fem), scents (-aul), states of mind (-gerv), weather (-mūn), and over thirty more.

Now that’s a noun classification scheme—quirky and odd enough to fall into what I think of as the “weird enough to be believable” department. Delightful!


Member Milestones

In October 2014, an official Dothraki guide will be published; it is a conversational language course created by David Peterson. You can pre-order the book directly from its LivingLanguage website.

Jason Wells-Jensen, an ESOL and linguistics instructor at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, collaborated with Tex Thompson on bits of three languages for her debut fantasy novel One Night in Sixes, which is being released this month. You can read more about the book on the Publishers Weekly website or on its Amazon page. Jason was recruited for this job in October 2013 via the LCS Jobs Board.

D.R. Merrill’s science-fiction novel Lamikorda has received a number of positive reviews and comments on Goodreads, including its own discussion thread. Visit the book’s site for excerpts and links to purchase ebook or paperback copies, as well as a link to the Kiitra language site.

JS Bangs’ fantasy novel Storm Bride will be coming out later this year from Red Adept Publishing and will be available as paperback and ebook from all online retailers. The book is set in the conworld which contains Yivrian and several other conlangs.

Congratulations to the family of Jim Hopkins! His son Zak and fiancée Melissa were married on June 28, 2014. Jim composed an “Itlani Wedding Blessing” in verse (Zar Ukumú Mu Eyla) and delivered it in Itlani and English at the wedding reception. It was quite popular and many guests took copies for themselves. Both families are very aware of his conlanging and involvement with the LCS.

James, Zak, and Melissa

Zak, James, and Melissa at Zak and Melissa’s wedding

You can read the Itlani Wedding Blessing below; because Zak is a fan of Star Wars and Melissa is a fan of Harry Potter, James worked in references to both:

 

AN ITLANI WEDDING BLESSING

ZAR UKUMÚ MU EYLA

Zar ukumú loshkadimyaven.

Varem vey parem vutova lulyaven.

Mu eyla say ta zaridéyn onyazha.

Mu nikh, mu zakh, mu talmenshún.

Loshkuuyaren zar ukumú.

Pronyuunyaren zar zheytumú.

Loshifyaren ta yavyoenunú.

Kenatyaren rinkasún vey ta pronú.

Chalí vey idakín, kenatunyati!

Uridenovó iküigiuryati!

Amborinovó dinilulyati!

Teynilu ta gidanit afakuna mogí.

Tishiret, gidanit talmenshunél,

Dagál-Zakh, Tsayadiór,

Mu eyla say, ta varem samyazha,

Mu nikh, mu zakh, Burakhenún!

TWO DOVES OF ONE NEST

 

Two doves have come together.

It’s love and respect that calls them here.

Into one nest for life forever.

One soul, one heart, one dream.

 

Two doves rejoicing together.

Two families sing a new song.

Two great joys unite as one now.

A party complete with dancing and song.

 

And so let us heartily join this feast!

Enjoying this wonderful food!

Imbibing this drink to slake our thirst!

To show them our love as we rejoice!

 

Honeybee, a great Enchantress,

Tiger-Heart, a Jedi Knight,

Of one nest now, great love sustaining,

One soul, one heart, one Blessing profound!

 

Tsiasuk-Pron – James E. Hopkins

June 28, 2014

 


 

Conlanging News

News on classes, talks, conventions and articles relevant to conlanging:

  • WorldCon is being held in London (LonCon) August 14-18. While the event is not strictly devoted to conlanging, there will be a lot of conlanging enthusiasts at the convention (not to mention the conlangers who live in London even if they won’t specifically be at the convention). Sylvia is organizing a get-together for conlangers on August 15 at 3:00 p.m.; the location is still yet to be determined. If you are interested in getting together, please email Sylvia at terjemar@nullgmail.com.
  • The first Summer Esperanto Study (SES) in Russia is being held August 17-25, where they will host workshops and teach all levels of Esperanto. More information can be found on the SES website.
  • In June 2014, the word conlang was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

 

News of websites relevant to conlanging:

  • Mike Bacon began a new blog for his conlang, Kardak; you can find the blog here. There is also an accompanying Tumblr page with beautiful photographs of the written script for Kardak.
  • There is an LCS Tumblr in the works; keep your eyes out for that new website!

 

News specific to LCS:

  • If you are interested in hosting the next LCC, please remember that the deadline for venue proposals is August 31, 2014. For more information about the proposal, please see the LCC Host Checklist.
  • The LCS Lending Library will be closed from July 25, 2014 through August 25, 2014. The Librarian will be on vacation.

LCS Membership benefits

You can find more information about becoming a member, as well as more information on the benefits, here.

  • Two permanent yournamehere.conlang.org domain names and free full web and email hosting; for more information or to fill out the form to claim a domain name, please visit this page.
  • Checkout privileges for the LCS Lending Library.
  • Access to a Hightail account (you can find more information about Hightail, an online file server, at its website); please email Sylvia to create your account.
  • Full voting rights in the LCS.
  • Discounts on all LCS events.

Please direct any questions you have regarding LCS membership to memberships@nullconlang.org. Also, all communication regarding your membership will come from that address as well, so please white-list memberships@nullconlang.org.

Language Creation Tribune

A word from our President

Hi everyone, and welcome to the very first edition of the Language Creation Tribune! Jessie Sams and the other editors have worked very hard to make this crazy idea of mine a reality, so please join me in a round of applause for them!

The idea behind this new quarterly newsletter is to give our members (and whoever else is willing to read this) a digest of what’s been happening in the conlanging world in the previous three months. The conlanging community is a vibrant one, and much is happening around language creation these days, that it can be difficult to follow, even if you’re on Twitter, and Facebook, and Google+, and Tumblr, and all those other forums and mailing lists that form our community. The LCS members themselves also have things happening that they’d like to share to other members and the world, and this newsletter is a way to allow this to happen. We at the LCS also want to give LCS members more exposure to their conlanging works, and this is where John Quijada’s Conlang Curiosities rubric comes in. Finally, we of the LCS Committee and Board of Directors work hard at bringing LCS members new and improved perks, and part of the goal of the Tribune is to remind you of the things your membership gives you access to, and to announce new benefits as they become available.

As with everything we do, the Language Creation Tribune is meant for you, our members. So your feedback is more than welcome. Did we miss a vital piece of news, or do you have an idea for a useful rubric? Then don’t hesitate to mention it to us. We want this newsletter to be the best you could ever wish for!

Before I leave you to read the rest of this newsletter, I’d like you to have a quick look at the future. As you know, the Language Creation Conference is a biennial event, and the next one is scheduled to happen next year. But if we want it to be a success we need to start thinking about it now. I have already sent a call for proposals, but you may have missed it. So if you’re interested in hosting the next LCC, please make yourself known (if you haven’t done so yet) by sending an email to lcs@nullconlang.org. We will send you further instructions on how to set up a proposal then. Be quick, the deadline is August 31!

So, without further ado, I’ll let you enjoy the rest of the Language Creation Tribune. Fiat Lingua!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets,

President of the Language Creation Society.


Conlang Curiosities

by John Quijada

 

Reflections on Introflection

Welcome to the Conlang Curiosities column, which will feature interesting observations, tidbits and musings regarding various conlangs. In this premiere column we feature the Antapa language created by LCS member Dr. Jan Havliš.

Antapa is a fictional language which is associated with the con-nation of Qiní. It was created for a novel Jan wrote called Höw Nehhinaäf (Song about the Northern Star). The language uses discontinuous morphology like the Semitic languages (Jan uses the term “introflective”), but rather than using a consonantal root system, Antapa’s roots are based on a three-vowel system, where interspersed consonants signify the part of speech and its morphological derivations. So, for example, the abstract root an-a-a ‘SPEAK’, renders words such as ansapar “to speak”, antapa “the speaking”, bá-antapa “language”, and gá-antapa “speaker.”

Antapa also declines its nouns for case, shown via a consonantal infix between the second and third vocalic radical. There are eleven cases, a few of which are a bit unusual: agentive (case of the active subject or naming case), facitive (case of the passive subject), causative (case of the direct object), addressive (case of the indirect object or directing case), partitive, attributive, possessive, mediative, agitative (case of movement), locative and temporal. The enumeration system is vigesimal (base-20).

Conjugation of the verb likewise is shown via consonantal infixes as well as syllabic suffixes, e.g., osupor – to go

  • osuhorfe – I go or osuhorvó – I do not go [-fe is the suffix for indicative mood]
  • osuxorfe – thou goest
  • osuborfe – (he) goeth, osudorfe – (she) goeth, osukorfe – (it) goeth
  • osuzorfe – we go
  • osucorfe – you go
  • osuvorfe – (they-males) go, osuqorfe – (they-females) go, osugorfe – (they) go

Another interesting feature of the language is the way that affixes conveying certain verbal modalities can be expressed only in conjunction with specific tense markers. For example, the expression of wishes, demands, exhortations, and beliefs each have their own specific affix which can only be used with the infix for future tense. The evidential hearsay affix can only be used with the past tense, and an affix indicating something Jan calls “supertemporal actions” (I assume that means a timeless/gnomic sort of tense) can only be used with the present tense infix. It is morphological constraints such as these that are the kinds of subtleties I enjoy when examining artlangs and go a long way to giving a conlang its character.

You can check out all of Jan’s conlangs and read much more about his eclectic and academic activities by visiting his uniquely minimalist homepage.


 LCS Member Milestones

 

Congratulations to George Corley on his recent engagement to Li Wang! They are planning to get married on July 26th.

 

The LCS worked with Ari Handel and Darren Aronofsky to find a conlanger to create an angel language for Noah, which recently debuted. Bill Welden created the language. Ultimately, they decided not to use any language material in the movie (they decided to move in a different artistic direction), but they were very happy with Bill’s work.

 

D.R. Merrill recently finished the manuscript for his science-fiction novel Lamikorda, which features the full-blown conlang Kiitra (plus sketchlangs Baija, Konarai, Krishkarha, Saakh, and Alplai Sign Language). You can find more information about Kiitra and other Alplai languages here. He is currently searching for a publisher and wants to assemble a “street team” to get word out about his novel via word-of-mouth, social media, and other venues. He is happy to send out copies of the manuscript to people who would like to volunteer to help him; you can contact him at hirajnashaijaat@nullconlang.org if you are interested.

 

Sai appeared (remotely) before the Federal Election Commission on April 23 to discuss bitcoins; while the vote from the FEC has not yet been publicized, you can find more information on Sai’s appearance and bitcoins in general at the Make Your Laws website.

 

Britton Watkins and his husband, Josh Feldman, are pleased that their first feature film, Senn, has been selected by 6 different film festivals in the US and Europe. The most recent festival was Sci-Fi London (29 April) and the next festival coming up is The Gothenburg Independent Film Festival (22~25 May). Senn contains an original conlang that is featured prominently in its written form in the production design and used for the lyrics of two of the soundtrack’s songs. Britton and Josh are currently in the UK and will be traveling to Sweden for these screenings and participating in Q&A sessions after each. More information and the film’s trailer can be found here.

Senn movie poster

 

Thanks to the LCS Jobs Board, Britton is currently working on developing a working grammar and lexicon for the fictional language, Aklo, which was originally imagined and named by Arthur Machen 1899. It has since been referenced often in the Cthulhu Mythos that originated from the work of H.P. Lovecraft. This language will be featured in the 2014 web series, Whispers from the Shadows, produced by Marx Pyle in collaboration with The Lovecraft eZine.

“The devil is in the details and with one episode heavily using Aklo, I thought it would just make sense to develop that language. Since I barely speak one language we decided to seek out a real expert. We had so many fantastic submissions from the LCS. It was tough, really tough, but Britton won us over with his experience in fictional alien languages and his work on his own independent sci-fi film. We felt confident that he would be able to do the job and have been very impressed by the language that he has developed.” – Executive Producer Marx H.Pyle

To follow and support the production, please visit its Facebook page and look for the Kickstarter campaign as well.

Whispers teaser poster


 Conlanging News

 

News on classes, talks, and articles about conlanging:

  • David Peterson, creator of Dothraki, visited the University of Colorado Boulder on April 21 to talk about conlanging.
  • There was an Esperanto Performing Arts and Film Festival from April 11-20 on Whidbey Island near Seattle, where there were Esperanto language classes and filmmaking classes taught in Esperanto.
  • Morley College is now offering an Elvish language course which will teach students the syntax, phonology, and vocabulary of Common Eldarin and Sindarin.
  • Conlanging is a real profession and is becoming more well known because of shows like Game of Thrones. David Peterson and Paul Frommer discuss how they created their languages and the future “stay-power” of the languages is looked at; you can read articles about these interviews in the Boston Globe and Deep Media Online.
  • On January 18th, 2014, the word ‘conlang’ was officially added to the website Online Etymological Dictionary.
  • Aequinox, a compendium of constructed language literature, is an online publication started by Inara Tabir and Andy Ayres of the Facebook group “Conlangs.” All current and future issues can be found here.

 

News of websites relevant to conlanging:

  • Neil Whalley’s website is a portal for discovering Celtic and Cumbraek, including in-depth information on grammar and history.
  • For those on Reddit but not Facebook, Google+, etc., the /r/conlangs subreddit is an active discussion board full of translation challenges and conversations about conlangs and conlanging. You do not need to have an account on Reddit to view these posts.
  • Matthew DeBlock’s Dscript website “turn[s] alphabetical language into glyphs.” Dscript allows the conversion of primarily English texts, numbers, and chemical models. It is designed to be intuitive and versatile.

 

LCS news:

The LCS Lending Library will be closed from July 25, 2014 through August 25, 2014. The Librarian will be on vacation.


LCS Membership Benefits

 

You can find more information about becoming a member, as well as more information on the benefits, here.

  • Two permanent yournamehere.conlang.org domain names and free full web and email hosting; for more information or to fill out the form to claim a domain name, please visit this page.
  • Checkout privileges for the LCS Lending Library.
  • Access to a Hightail account (you can find more information about Hightail, an online file server, at its website); please email Sylvia to create your account.
  • Full voting rights in the LCS.
  • Discounts on all LCS events.

Please direct any questions you have regarding LCS membership to memberships@nullconlang.org. Also, all communication regarding your membership will come from that address as well, so please white-list memberships@nullconlang.org.