Conference Feedback

Organized by recipient.

Conference
  • (Andrew) Make 1st 1/2 of conference more focused on beginning conlangers and 2nd 1/2 on more advanced material.
  • (Anonymous) Great food, great venue, great speakers. Excellent to be there for the start of this new tradition.
  • (Anonymous) Well organized!!
  • (David Peterson) First and foremost: Well done! This was exactly what the community needed right now, and I think the whole weekend (the conference itself, the events beforehand, etc.) was a smashing success. All we have to do now is let everyone else know just how great it was, so when we do it again, we can get an even better turnout (and I myself was impressed with the turnout we got). This was a huge step forward for the language creation community as a whole, and I’m proud to be able to say that I was associated with it.
  • (John Quijada) It was a blast. Next time let’s see if we can involve the East Coast and Western European contingent by doing an East Coast (e.g., NY or New England) venue.
  • (Matt Haupt) Some great speakers and great attendees! I was amazed to see people coming from across the country and listen to professors speak on the topic. I left feeling enthused and enlightened about my conlanging, and eager to think about and explore a few new directions. If I was organizing the next conference (a possibility! although I am so new to this still I don’t know if I’m the best pick), I would get two rooms or have one room for two days, and in one room or on one day I would have speakers explore or go over the basics of creating a language, perhaps even collaboratively creating a rudimentary language in the process, a step at a time, each talk covering a different step in the process. I think this would help a lot of beginning conlangers, and also give experienced conlangers opportunities to share their wisdom.
  • (Sally Caves) On the entire thing: An excellent conference, informative, helpful, creative, friendly, funny, good food, gorgeous stained glass windows, new friends and ideas. The linguistic arguments were brilliant and well-presented and give me quite a bit of insight into what I was/am trying to do without the terminology I needed. “-s is cool!” πŸ™‚ Go conlanging.
  • (David Peterson): If this ain’t a step in the right direction, then rightness isn’t a destination worth achieving, says I. I was truly surprised at how well it was run. Having been affiliated with conferences before, they tend to be zoos. But everything was organized from the get-go (or at least when I got there). I think we got started a little late because of a technical issue, but other than that, great from start to finish. (Oh, man, and so much food, and food-related materials! As much Arizona Iced Tea as you could drink! And Gatorade!)
    … the unanimous sentiment was that this first LCC should definitely not be the last. It was just too much fun. … As an unpaid spokesperson, I heartily endorse the LCC, and wish it continued success. It’s my goal to attend every LCC in the future, so if you can make it out to one, I’ll see you there (especially if we can hold one or more in Hawai’i ala!).
  • (Douglas Nerad): a unique and extraordinairy conference
  • (Sarah Higley): GREAT conference! … Sai, and everybody who helped make this happen, should be showered with rose petals. I had a wonderful time! Met a lot of wonderful people. Learned a lot about language and its intricacies and differences, its various cognitive dimensions as well as its structures. Conlanging is harder than ever! πŸ™‚
David Peterson
  • (Andrew) Great talk. I’m glad you talked about what a morpheme is. It would have been nice to do _more_ “how to” and less “why to”.
  • (Anonymous) This was AWESOME, totally inspiring, so entertaining, and great use of conlangs in the examples. I had never heard of this approach to morphology, but it really jibes with my experience in L2 acquisition. Now I just need to figure out how to rewrite all my reference grammars along these lines…
  • (Anonymous) Great new paradigm! Sounds very useful!
  • (Anonymous) Kick-ass talk. I learned something new about language and got lots of ideas for inventing language. Awesome.
  • (David Peterson) Pff! What’s up with that sweater?! Black don’t go with brown!
  • (John Quijada) A delightful presentation. Thought-provoking, easy to follow without having to “dumb down” the examples, and full of comic relief and wit. (David: your “[s] is cool” remark, which quickly took on a life of its own at the conference, (e.g., “[s] are cool”), is already becoming legendary on the Zompist board). David did an excellent job of showing how supposedly straightforward IA morphological analysis is actually a gross violation of Occam’s Razor and gives rise to absurd logical entailments. The lexically based WP alternative was presented most effectively.
  • (Sally Caves) “Systematic irregularity.” Brilliant. “-s is cool!” Brilliant. “[null] is cool.” Brilliant_er_. So is overturning conventional notions of Morphology. Loved your talk! Very funny, dynamic, informative.
Doug Ball
  • (Andrew) Over my head.
  • (Anonymous) Doug is cool. Go Doug!
  • (Anonymous) Interesting new perspective on seemingly familiar.
  • (Anonymous) Interesting, concise, felt like I took away helpful information. Doug Ball = the shiznit.
  • (David Peterson) Kudos to one of the few that actually fit into the 30 minute timeframe! Doug’s talk was well-planned and professionally presented. His examples were a great asset to any conlanger trying to see what natural languages do, and his advice well-founded. (Also, for what it’s worth, I thought the French examples were good.) Finally, from a linguist’s point of view, what a good handout! Short, with all the right examples, and someone who wasn’t at the talk can successfully reconstruct the talk without having been there. Perfect!
  • (John Quijada) While on the surface, Doug’s presentation was probably the most technical and analytical (and certainly the most Chomskian!), his examples were excellent in showing just how constraints and options in linear sequencing of clauses and lexical elements in natural language offer an important (and probably little noticed) way of adding realism to a natlang-style conlang. Talks like this one add a sense of professional legitimacy to a conlanging conference. I’m filing this one for future review when I eventually return to designing natlang-style conlangs.
  • (Sally Caves) I am proud to have been your teacher — ever so briefly. It was nicely ironic timing for your talk to follow Sai’s – shows how diverse we are.
Jeff Burke
  • (Anonymous) Excessively brief. I would have liked to have heard more about all those phoneme charts in the program.
  • (Anonymous) Proved ephemeral, both in his presentation and his presence.
John Clifford
  • (Andrew) a bit dry, but I really believe in Semantic Primes, especially the core words. They allow [force] conlangers to develop relationships between concepts [like Quenya cirya “ship” from CIR “to cut”] and to compile a base vocabulary to allow the language to be usable. For the talk, focus less on criticizing aUI but it was good to talk about it and its flaws/failings.
  • (Anonymous) Great information and food for thought, and entertaining. I finally know everything I ever wanted about aUI. A shame that time ran short–I would have liked to see how Lo{gl/jb}an and Esperanto figured into all this.
  • (Anonymous) Focuses attention on a often overlooked area, and good framework.
  • (Anonymous) I like John! I learned a lot about aUI.
  • (David Peterson) It’s a shame that time constraints prevented John from giving his talk in full, for it was truly fantastic. I myself have tried a semantic prime-type language from an artlangers point of view, and it seems to me now obvious that I wasn’t thinking about it as critically as I should’ve been. John’s examples (and his phonomenal handout!) both pointed out to me what I should have been thinking about, and also where I can go in the future. Also, from a purely aural perspective, John has a magnificent speaking voice. I liked listening!
  • (John Quijada) John Clifford gave an informed talk on the various attempts at semantic primes (aUI, Wierzbicka’s work with the NSM, Toki Pona). It was interesting and amusing to see him set up the concept, seemingly rave about the particular idea (aUI was a good example), then start wryly demonstrating how the damn thing just doesn’t work at all. I would like to see him speak at a future conference about his long, intimate involvement with the Loglan/Lojban community.
  • (Matt Haupt) VERY interesting for me. I’m just starting out and haven’t studied that many conlangs, so it was great to hear some in-depth exploration of a few conlangs, in relation to ANY topic (in this case, ease-of-transmission). aUI reminded me of Futhark in that every rune has a meaning, but I don’t think they construct words in the fashion of aUI. An interesting concept I want to explore some more.
  • (Sally Caves) Wonderful examples of what NOT to do! I enjoyed your talk immensely and felt alternately worried and relieved! πŸ™‚
John Quijada
  • (Andrew) Excellent speaker. I want to study this image schema more. Good at relating the subject to the conlanger, and not making the con-langer feel bad for using English.
  • (Anonymous) Theoretically interesting and useful content, but seriously marred by the offensively condescending tone of the talk. John is not a master teaching his disciples; he needs to treat the conlang community as equals. I would also have loved to see more concrete examples of these principles at work in existing conlangs (cf. Dave Peterson’s talk).
  • (Anonymous) Great talk on hidden assumptions!
  • (David Peterson) “This overview of general cognitive linguistics was a real treat for an old Lakovian (Lakoffian?) Berkeleyite like myself. The ideas are an asset for those who were learning about them for the first time, but even for those of us who knew some things about cognitive linguistics beforehand, the presentation-style was entertaining, and attention-keeping, and there were some great examples I at least had never encountered before. Further, the examples of what could be done with a conlang were priceless. To draw on the metaphor GIVING A TALK IS DIFUSING A BOMB, John’s talk really cut blue wire. (P.S.: The bit at the beginning where you spoke in all our conlangs was fantastic! I’m glad that was captured on tape. I’m also glad to see that someone’s read Sathir’s aphorisms section. Your pronunciation’s better than mine!)”
  • (Matt Haupt) It was great to hear someone who has made an intentionally difficult language actually speak it, as well as speak some snippets of several other conlangs. I’m not personally too concerned about whether or not my language has many similarities to English or other IE languages, but he gave me a lot of good reasons for determining good reasons for why my language is the way it will be.
  • (Sally Caves) John, this was a wonderful talk; as a humanist, metaphors have always fascinated me — read Lakoff’s book (so felt *very* informed naturally). Your advice to conlangers was so creative. Teonaht: “onto chair I sit. Comfort covers me.” πŸ™‚
Matt Pearson
  • (Andrew) A bit over my head (i.e. ERG/ABS), but I was able to understand some (i.e. telicity).
  • (Anonymous) Ah, Tokana. What a treat. When will he be releasing his “Selections from the Tokana Reference Grammar” audio CD? Tokana has always been just about my favorite of others’ conlangs, and it keeps getting more and more amazing. A brilliant presentation, and a great closer.
  • (Anonymous) Very interesting expadaption! [sic]
  • (Anonymous) Clear. Concise! Matt speaks with art & authority. Who would have thought that a talk on conlanging could take my breath away?
  • (David Peterson) This was a good talk to end the conference with. It was pretty much the perfect talk: started out with some excellent natlang examples (including the Dani example, which was inspiring in and of itself), and concluded with exactly how you can take the data and use it to create not the exact same thing in a conlang, but use the ideas to create something new which doesn’t exist but which could. What more can one ask for? I think it was a shame that we didn’t get a question and answer session, but that’s obviously not the presenter’s fault. And though I’m sure it hardly needs saying, this was an excellently presented talk. I didn’t expect anything less from a pro, but it never hurts to recognize a job well done. Finally, the handout was perfect. Going over it, I was so happy that I got to go home with it. Great job!
  • (John Quijada) Matt gave what for me personally was the most interesting talk, an analysis of how case-marking in natural languages does “double duty” as indicators of things other than case relations. Using these patterns from natural languages, he then showed how his own experiments with case-marking in his conlang Tokana had evolved as a natural progression toward areas apparently NOT found in natural languages (such as using Dative case to mark objects of telic, i.e., endpoint-oriented) acts or events. I found his work fascinating because it was a living illustration of the sorts of metaphorical extension of categories and schemas that cognitive linguistics talks about, which he in fact acknowledged himself in his talk. It is the best example I can recall seeing of how it is possible to create original, novel structures in a natlang-style conlang while still remaining naturalistic.
  • (Sally Caves) You make me want to give Tokana a prize. Your analysis of languages and their idiosyncracies is formidable, and I like the fact that Tokana is both your laboratory and your love. (How can I incorporate the telic into a largely non-inflected language?)
Sai Emrys
  • (Andrew) Too much set up for the talk “before I talk, I need to…”
  • (Anonymous) A cool idea with lots of possible applications, though perhaps more of a rhetorical system of sorts than a writing system. I would really, really have liked to see Sai present even a partial system of his own to bring the discussion out of the ether.
  • (Anonymous) Very thought provoking!
  • (David Peterson) Having read some posts on Sai’s fully 2D non-linear writing system idea before, I thought I had a kind of idea of the whole enterprise beforehand, but I think I better understand it now after having seen his talk. If there was anything wanting, I think it was more visual examples. That would have made it a bit easier to picture (which is the point). Also, it would have been okay to talk about other conlangs to point it what ways they did or did not live up to the fully 2D non-linear ideal. Consider that John Clifford talked about aUI, Toki Pona, NSM and Lojban and how each of them used the idea of a semantic prime, and to what extend, and in some cases he was rather critical. He wasn’t necessarily passing judgment on the conlang or the conlanger (in fact, I gather he’s a fan of Toki Pona); he was merely pointing out in what ways the conlangs did or did not use semantic primes in a useful or logical or regular way. Sai might have safely done the same with other visual conlangs without igniting any flames.
  • (John Quijada) Sai was most successful in communicating his passion for an idea in his head that he sees more clearly than anyone else; his ultimate two-dimensional non-linear writing system/thoughtmap. I keep thinking I get it, then I think maybe I’m not getting it. It certainly got everyone in the audience (I think) thinking about how such a system might work and be practical. What made things somewhat difficult was the lack of tangible examples (or even examples of failed attempts) to point to during the talk as a tangible reference point. Without having such a system (or attempt) to demonstrate or use as a baseline, the talk was left entirely at the conceptual level for each audience member to interpret individually, thus possibly giving rise to different interpretations and levels of understanding. At the end of the talk, Sai mentioned systems that were approaches to what he envisions, and especially noted the Glyphica Arcana and Heptapod-B as worthy contenders. It would have been nice to see those two systems illustrated to act as a baseline for translating Sai’s verbal description into a readily comparative context (e.g., show exactly which aspects of Heptapod-B meet Sai’s criteria, then pointing out which aspects do not). Nevertheless, the idea is intriguing and his talk whetted my curiosity to the point that I am entertaining the notion of someday (when I have time) taking a stab at designing something along the lines of what Sai envisions. [Ed. – I mentioned Ouwiyaru, not GA, as being an especially good approach to NLF2DWS.]”
  • (Matt Haupt) Some interesting concepts here, but the lack of conclusions and degree of speculation as to the possibility made me want to play devil’s and debate the viability of the concept more than contribute and aid in the growth of this writing style. However, I talked to some family about the idea of this writing language once I got home!
  • (Sally Caves) This could lend itself, Sai, to some beautiful artistic and philosophical productions. I’m very tempted to experiment with it but admittedly at very simplistic levels. I’ll stick to my suggestion that it resembles, for me at least, a contemplative form of communication. My friend at San Jose State got a grant to offer a course in contemplative vs argumentative thinking and discourse. Argumentation and rhetoric overtook contemplation in the medieval universities and have been the scholastic model since.
Sally Caves
  • (Andrew) Fun. I remember the talk as a “defence of con-langing”
  • (Anonymous) Spellbinding, fascinating, passionate. What a speaking style. I wish I could have her repeat her talk to all my family and friends. Also a great choice to open the conference.
  • (Anonymous) Very intriguing and interesting. Great lead in to conference!
  • (Anonymous) I was transfixed and fascinated. Sally’s the only one here who really has her fingers on the pulse of the conlang community.
  • (David Peterson) What a way to start off the conference! This is the second time I’ve heard Sally speak, and I’ve loved it both times. Though we have the internet (and even an annual conference!), language creation itself remains a kind of private activity, and it’s not uncommon for me, at least, to feel shy about it, and even uncomfortable talking about it amongst nonlangers (we need to keep using that term…). To hear Sally triumphantly trumpet our art from the rooftops is a real treat, and genuinely inspiring. Listening, one feels not only kind of awed by Sally’s presence, but also proud of one’s self, proud of one’s work, and proud of one’s art. Kudos, Sally! Keep fighting the good fight!
  • (John Quijada) It was a nice touch starting off the conference with a talk that, rather than diving into technical how-to material, was instead an insightful, witty, provacative, at times dramatic, and ultimately profound commentary on the conlanging art — presented, compared and contrasted from both historical and contemporary perspectives. It really set the tone for the conference — fun but meaningful and profound. By the end of her talk, I felt more proud than ever to be a practitioner of the Increasingly-Less-Secret Vice. Sally is a real kick (or a “tickler” if you know the equivalent Teonaht idiom)!
  • (Matt Haupt)A great lecture on the past, present, and future state of conlanging. Hadn’t realized that it is not as rare as I thought. I would have liked to have heard more about the conlang Sally has worked on for so long, especially the milestones and Aha! moments she’s had along the way.