LCC3 Speakers

Jeff Burke

The Early Central Mountain Ordinal-Aspectual-Modal System

The Central Mountain (CM) languages are polysynthetic, head-marking and incorporating. I will discuss the obligatory ordinal-aspectual-modal marking present in the early CM languages, as exemplified in pre-Proto-Central Mountain (pPCM), the family’s earliest reconstructed ancestor. Words in pPCM mark two orders (the manifest and the unmanifest), three aspects (the continuative, the imperfective and the perfective) and two modes (the indicative and the imperative). Tense, strictly speaking, is not marked. In the indicative mode, marking of one of four levels of evidentiality is mandatory: (1) by firsthand experience, (2) by secondhand experience, testimony, hearsay or common knowledge, (3) by deduction or implication, or (4) by assumption, guess or speculation. The imperative mode divides into sub-modes consisting of imperatives proper (the immediate imperative and the delayed imperative) and two others associated with the imperatives: the obligative and the hortative, which deal with suggestion and urging.

Jeff S. Burke was born in Eleeve, in the Ellda Valley, in 1977. His primary research areas include the Algonquian, Iroquoian and Central Mountain language families. He currently lives near Rocky Top in the South County.

John Cayley

Reading Unreadable Chinese: A Brief Introduction to Xu Bing’s Book from the Sky

Between 1987 and 1991, the Chinese graphic and fine artist, Xu Bing (born, Chongqing, 1955, and a MacArthur laureate), designed a ‘vocabulary’ of four thousand characters which appear, in terms of their graphic form and structure, to be Chinese, but which are entirely unreadable in terms of natural linguistic signification. None of them appear in Chinese dictionaries, and they do not relate to any living or dead, spoken or unspoken language on earth. During the same period, Xu personally carved (in reverse) the pear-wood type from which he eventually had his Tianshu (or Book from the Sky) set and hand-printed in a small book-making factory in China. As a conceptual art work and printmaking tour de force, Xu Bing’s Tianshu has been seen by some critics and scholars as one of the most important works of late 20th-century Chinese art. This talk will briefly introduce Xu Bing’s work based on my recent extended essay and description of his book. In particular, I will address questions of the relationship of Xu Bing’s non-language to linguistic practice and language art.

John Cayley writes digital media, particularly in the domain of poetry and poetics. He has worked in the Chinese section of the British Library and for Hanshan Tang Books in London. Three recent and ongoing projects are imposition, riverIsland, and what we will. Cayley is a Visiting Professor at Brown University, Literary Arts Program. A brief monograph by Cayley and the artist on Xu Bing’s Book from the Sky, with essay contributions by other critics, will be published by Quaritch Books, London, March 2009.

Schuyler Duveen

Designing non-linear two-dimensional writing systems

What if we took systems like flow-chart diagrams and made them fully expressive, so we could communicate anything with them? What if we did the same thing to sentences that Chinese or other ideographic systems do to words? Or paragraphs? This talk will try to answer these riddles. Schuyler will trace the evolution of his conlang, Ouwi, and then examine the general advantages and perils of this class of writing systems.

Schuyler Duveen is an amateur conlanger. Since 1997 he has worked on the language Ouwi, whose primary features include foundational vocabulary based on poetry and a non-linear 2-dimensional writing system. Professionally, he works for Columbia University’s New Media Center developing educational applications with a focus on visualization and user interface.

Sai Emrys
Alex Fink

A Gripping Language

Alex and Sai—partners brought together by conlanging (a rarity, indeed!)—are making a covert language mediated entirely by touch. This gripping languageallows two people to converse freely while appearing to be doing nothing more than holding hands. It includes a system specialized for discreetly commenting on an ongoing spoken conversation.
This talk will be “hands on”, so please be sure to sit next to someone you like!

Sai Emrys is the three-time co-organizer of this conference, two-time teacher of the Conlangs DE-Cal course at UC Berkeley, founder of the LiveJournal Conlangs community, and founder / president of the Language Creation Society, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. He finished his B.A. in Cognitive Science at UC Berkeley in 2006, and currently makes a living in Ruby on Rails based Web n.0 development, scaling, and design, as well as occasional gigs doing professional massage therapy. He is looking to do graduate work in cognitive neuroscience, particularly the study of mirror neurons, empathy, and brain/computer interfaces. Sai can converse in English, Russian, Spanish, French, American Sign Language, and occasionally Japanese. He currently lives in Berkeley, CA with his cat and partner-in-crime, and is interested in seeing how far the boundaries of language creation can be pushed.

Alex Fink is in his third year of the PhD program in math at UC Berkeley, before which he lived in Calgary, Alberta where he was born. He’s been conlanging since 1999ish, and in that time has created a couple of relay-worthy languages of the naturalistic sort (Sabasasaj, Pjaukra, AhH?) and a great spray of sketchier projects. Alex co-ran LCC2 with Sai and is chuffed to have a partner also into the secret vice.

Samantha Gorman
Edrex Fontanilla

Lingua Ignota

Lingua Ignota, meaning “Unknown Language,” is a network of interactive installations that use computer graphics, text and sound to represent multilingual mobile phone text messages. Through text message dialogue between the U.S. and the Philippines. Lingua Ignota seeks to link people from different walks of life through an artistic treatment of auxiliary language as a platform for exchange and a space for contemplation on the ways in which a person’s thoughts, functions and assumptions are shaped by the constructs of their native language. Text messaging, a ubiquitous form of communication in the Philippines and U.S., is Lingua Ignota’s forum. Here, writers and laypeople from depressed areas of the Philippines may participate in global storytelling without the use of a computer. The data visualization system of Lingua Ignota transforms incoming SMS text conversations into three-dimensional animations projected on sculptural surfaces. These animations of SMS conversations are in a constant flux between their native languages and neutral concept space of Blissymbolics: an ideographic language composed of easily drawn and recognized symbols. Lingua Ignota employs Blissymbolics to reveal the visual poetry of cross-cultural themes that emerge from multilingual SMS conversations. At this juncture, physical proximity between the symbols in Lingua Ignota indicate the relationships between international communities — communities formed not by location, but by shared ideas and storytelling.

Edrex Fontanilla trained formally as a classical musician at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music before integrating his training with studies in new media while a graduate in Brown’s multimedia composition program. Mutable Sculpture, his most recent work created in conjunction with cognitive scientist Robert Goldschmidt, has been shown nationally and abroad. Currently, Edrex is interested in the various unstable ontological states between video, sculpture, and installation.

Samantha Gorman is a first year MFA Candidate in the Electronic Writing Program at Brown University. She graduated from Brown University in 2006 with joint degrees in Digital Media and Literary Arts. Recent projects have incorporated studies in constructed artistic and auxiliary languages. She is particularly interested in the literary possibilities that emerge from the intersections of old and new technologies and languages.

Jim Henry

The languages of our souls: Conlangers’ fluency in their own conlangs

While most conlangs are too incomplete to be learned, and most creators of even very well-developed conlangs make no attempt to become fluent in them, there are a few exceptions, conlangers who have become more or less fluent in their conlang, whether intentionally or as an unintended side-effect of developing and using it. I will present the results of a survey on conlangers’ fluency in their conlangs and present some preliminary analysis of the results, hopefully showing commonalities between these atypical conlangers and sharing stories from their experiences.

Jim Henry was born in 1973 in Decatur, Georgia, and has lived in the Atlanta area most of his life. He started creating constructed languages in 1989 after discovering Tolkien’s Quenya and Noldorin (in The Book of Lost Tales rather than his better-known works), but his early works were all vocabulary and no syntax. In 1996, after discovering Jeffrey Henning’s conlang site and the CONLANG mailing list, he started creating somewhat more sophisticated fictional languages; and in 1998, he started developing his personal engineered language gjâ-zym-byn, which has occupied most of his conlanging energies since then, and in which he has developed some degree of fluency. He retired recently after working for some years as a software developer, and does volunteer work for Esperanto USA.

Denis Moskowitz

Rikchik: A Speechless Orthography

Rikchik is a language with no phonetic component. I’ll present a quick introduction to its writing system and discuss the general design of the language.

Denis Moskowitz is a computer programmer and occasional graphic artist. His main conlang project is Rikchik, a logographic language signed by tentacled aliens. He also has created fictional flags and new astronomical symbols. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

David J. Peterson

Stick to the Script: Orthographies, Fonts, and Philosophy

In this chautauqua, David discusses the nature of writing systems, how to create them, and why they’re so neat. He’ll also touch briefly on some of the issues that face a conlanger creating a font for an orthography.

David J. Peterson received a BA in English and a BA in Linguistics from UC Berkeley, where he discovered language creation via a class on Esperanto. Since then, he’s made it a goal of his to learn more about language and linguistics in order to create more naturalistic languages. He’s the author of seven or so languages (among themZhyler and Kamakawi), and is now a consulting editor of and contributor to Speculative Grammarian. David has recently left the confines of academia at UCSD, where he received his MA in linguistics, for the glamorous world of writing instruction at Fullerton Community College (commonly referred to without the “Community” part).

Lila Sadkin

Nonspoken text in Tenata’s written language

Tenata uses a combined phonemic and logographic writing system. The language is not written linearly. A word in Tenata has at least three parts – a prefix, the root, and one or more suffixes. The root is written with an alphabet and the prefix and suffix or suffixes are written above the root. Data source statements are written vertically, expanded in size (or repetition) to fit the length of the sentence they apply to. Elements of the writing system (most often data source statements, though also others) can be repeated, eliminated, and written in varying sizes, to add meaning that usually isn’t included in spoken Tenata.

Lila Sadkin received her BA in Linguistics from the University of Florida in 2007. Her first “real” conlang, Tenata, was created for her honors thesis project at UF. Since graduating, she’s managed to get a real job and start an online Master’s program in Library and Information Science from Florida State University, and regrets both, because she no longer has time even to just sit and read, what to speak of the mental energy needed to write or conlang. She hopes she still remembers how to speak intelligently about language.

Diana Reed Slattery


Wikiuniversity offers a wry definition of Xenolinguistics: “the scientific study of languages of non-human intelligences. Publications in this field tend to be speculative as few people have made the claim to have understood an alien language, at least not reliably.” The encounter with aliens and their languages is also an aspect, though by no means a universal one, of the psychedelic experience. Terence McKenna’s experiences of a hyper-intelligent, multidimensional form of visual language in the DMT experience; of the teaching voice of the Logos in high-dose psilocybin trips; and of glossalalia-like utterances experienced as the underpinnings of language develop these themes.

It is within this barbarian discourse that I frame my own tale of how I became a xenolinguist, through the construction and investigation of the Glide model of a dynamic visual language, and speculate on the feedback system of the co-evolution of language and consciousness. Glide, according to its myth of origin in the story-world, is a psychedelic language. Psychedelics provided the means to emerge from the cocoon of natural language into what could be understood as both a pre-linguistic state of direct apperception of the world around and inside us, and as a post-linguistic (post-natural language) realm of evolutionary forms of language. States of extended perception were used in the conception, design, and implementation of LiveGlide, and in learning how to read the writing produced.

Diana Reed Slattery is a novelist and video performance artist based in Albany, NY. For the last 10 years, she has been developing the visual language, Glide, which appears in her sci-fi novel The Maze Game. This investigation has led to the development of software that animates the glyphs, and allows them to transform into each other, in two and then three dimensions. Glide has been presented and/or performed live at art, technology, and consciousness conferences in Tokyo, Beijing, Sao Paulo, Bilbao, San Jose, Plymouth, Perth, Siggraph (LA), Tucson, and most recently, at the World Psychedelic Forum in Basel. Slattery is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Plymouth, UK, investigating linguistic phenomena in the psychedelic sphere. She directs the collaborative performance group, DomeWorks.

Sylvia Sotomayor

Letters Tied Up In Knots: An Interlace Alphabet

I will discuss the Ceremonial Interlace Alphabet that I developed and now use for Kēlen names. I will talk a little about the history and techniques of interlace and knotwork. I will then show in detail how to make the letters of my alphabet.

Sylvia Sotomayor has been conlanging since she was 14. She has a BA in Linguistics from UC Berkeley. A Kēlen grammar, dictionary, and some texts can be found at Notes on the planet Terjemar can be found there, too. She currently lives in Claremont, CA, with too many cats and not enough computers.

Paul Varkuza

Varkuzan: A Language Built Around The Personalities of Prime Numbers

Paul Varkuza is 26 and the author of Varkuzan for seven years. Varkuza(n) is a root he picked for his name and language for its ethnic ambiguity and psychoaccoustics. He came to conlanging because of his perception that natural language fatally flaws rational philosophy. He has thus far avoided college because he believes in his own process of being self-taught in everything, of travel and self-negation, of nurturing internal creativity and abstract thinking through the words and experiences he chooses. He is a synesthetic and this is highly reflected in Varkuzan’s structure of interconnectivity and interdependency. To him, conlanging is a laboratory akin to a psychoactive substance where new versions of reality (not just descriptions) can be created. Some of his additional hobbies include various types of writing and philosophy, activism, coffee, Tesla machines, and lately home ethanol production.

Conlang: The Movie screening

Conlang is a universal story set in the unique world of conlanging. A comedy about secret crushes, extreme linguistics and the language of love, it tells the story of Carl, 26, an unemployed conlang enthusiast. Even though Carl has no trouble creating new languages, he has a hard time finding the words to express his feelings to Libby, his secret crush. Will he be able to share his true feelings with the girl he adores?

This is the world premiere screening of the film.

Marta Masferrer (director)
Marta Masferrer is a Cuban-American director and screenwriter pursuing her MFA in Film at Columbia University where she was awarded a Dean’s Fellowship. Through her production company, Swandive Films, Marta has worked in New York City for the last eight years creating television, film and web-based content for clients such as Nick Jr, NOGGIN, The N, SONY Entertainment, ANIMAX,, and numerous amnesty organiziations. Marta is an alumna of the Latino Producers Academy, a graduate of the UCLA Professional Screenwriters Program, a Fellow of the NALIP Latino Writers’ Lab, an AIVF Screenwriting Fellow and a Honoree of the IFP New York Project Involve diversity initiative. Marta received her BFA in Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University. Most recently Marta wrote and directed Here Comes the Bride, a short film that won First Prize in a national Harley-Davidson competition.

Baldvin Kári Sveinbjörnsson (writer/producer)
Born to a family of filmmakers in Iceland, Baldvin has worked on Icelandic television and film productions since 2002 in various positions, ranging from stage manager and television host to assistant director and producer. He has also produced and directed several of his own short films and music videos. Alongside his work in film and television, Baldvin earned a BA degree in Philosophy and Classics from the University of Iceland in 2006. He is currently pursuing a MFA degree in filmmaking at Columbia University in New York, where he resides.

Kári Emil Helgason (author of Uscaniv)
Kári has long since been interested in science, both fictional and factual, and all kinds of fantasy. These interests converged when he discovered conlanging and conworlding whilst poking through old books and encyclopaedias. In 2003, he joined the Zompist bboard, through which his interest and knowledge on the subjects increased. He studied Classics and linguistics at the Reykjavik Gymnasium, but eventually decided to move to New York and fulfill his dream of studying graphic design. He remains an active conlanger. His language, Uscaniv, which is used in the short film Conlang, was first started in 2005.

Posters & Exhibits

Carsten Becker

Ayeri Relay Text

Carsten Becker [‘kʰaː̩ ‘bɛ.kʰɐ] hails all the way over from Kassel, Germany. He got interested in the Secret Vice at age 16 and has since worked on a couple of language projects, but in the end did only stick with one – Ayeri . He has been working on it every now and then since 2003, refining the language as well as the scripts associated with it as he goes. Carsten had a professional training in publishing business and is currently looking forward to beginning his university studies in English and ?possibly German, as it looks like at the moment (though still thinking about Linguistics)? this fall.

Mary-Anne Breeze (mez)


Twitterwurking is the product of an online residency completed at New Media Scotland by the code poet Mez Breeze. The residency consisted of poetry production in the form of “tweets” using the social networking software Twitter. Each tweet involved the use of the invented code-poetic hybrid languagemezangelle. To mezangelle means to take words/wordstrings/sentences and alter them in such a way as to extend and enhance meaning beyond the predicted or the expected. It’s similar to making plain text hypertextual via the arrangement and dissection of words. Mezangelling attempts to expand traditional text parameters through layered/alternative/code based meanings embedded into meta-phonetic renderings of language.

Mez does for code poetry as jodi and Vuk Cosic have done for ASCII Art: Turning a great, but naively executed concept into something brilliant, paving the ground for a whole generation of digital artists.” (Florian Cramer). The impact of her unique code/net.wurks constructed via her pioneering net.language mezangelle has compared with Shakespeare, James Joyce, Emily Dickinson, and Larry Wall. Her awards include the 2001 VIF Prize (Germany), the JavaMuseum Artist Of The Year 2001 (Germany), 2002 Newcastle New Media Poetry Prize (Australia), and winner of the 2006 Site Specific Index Page Competition (Italy). Mez is also a Futurist and game theorist who practices Poetic Game Interventions (the creative manipulation of MMO parameters in order to disrupt or comment on various aspects of augmented states).

Donald Boozer

Cleveland Public Library Language Creation Exhibit

This major, ground-breaking exhibit on constructed languages (conlangs) was on display at Cleveland Public Library from May through August, 2008. Covering the span of conlangs from ancient history through modern times, the exhibit examined everything from conlangers’ inspiration to specific conlangs like Esperanto and Klingon. The worldwide community of conlangers was instrumental in putting the exhibit together with gracious submissions of biographies, photos, and Babel Texts.

Don Boozer lives in Ohio and is currently the KnowItNow24x7 Coordinator at the Cleveland Public Library, one of the nation’s largest public research libraries. As a former Subject Department Librarian in Literature, he increased the library’s holdings of relevant books in the field of conlanging by purchasing copies of the Klingon translations of Gilgamesh and Shakespeare, Elgin’s dictionary and grammar of Laadan, and Salo’s A Gateway to Sindarin, among others. He has also presented programs on conlangs in literature and films and the basics of language creation, as well as published articles on conlangs including an one specifically on introducing conlanging to teens. His interest in the “secret vice” stems from an early fascination with languages and scripts going all the way back to discovering On Beyond Zebra! by Dr. Seuss in his elementary school library. His on-going projects include working on languages for inhabitants of his conworld, Kryslan, which include Umod, Elasin, and Drytok, as well as developing an online version of The Conlanger’s Bookshelf.

Peter Ciccariello

The tache of language

Peter Ciccariello’s digitally rendered image poems are multi-disciplinary, cross genre visual/poetic objects that are modeled in a three-dimensional virtual environment and texture mapped using real-world photographs, found image, and various source texts. His work is an ongoing, serial experiment with the interstices of language and text in the visual world. A form of postliterate, asemic writing, the language these images speak are at once pure conception and simultaneously notes from the realm of dreams.

Peter Ciccariello creates visual poetic experiments that are a pastiche of language and text in 3-D digital environments. His work has been exhibited most recently at Harvard University, Boston, MA, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, Tucson, AZ, and at the “Interruptheque – Language driven digital art” Festival, at Brown University in Providence, RI.

Recent work has appeared both in print & online in, amongst other places, Poetry Magazine, Sous Rature, Angel House Press, Fogged Clarity, MOCA The Museum of Computer Art, and Otoliths. His book “Uncommon Vision” is available at Liminal Spaces. He also blogs at Invisible Notes and Hope Street.

Trey Jones

Cartoon Theories of Linguistics

Trey Jones is a dead-beat conlanger: he creates languages with outlandish features, improbable speakers, and absurd histories only to make fun of them in the pages of Speculative Grammarian under the pseudonym Claude Searsplainpockets. The only language he ever treated well was Shigudo, which has a melancholy history and improbably features adverbs as the only open class of words. He’s been committing these atrocities for more than 15 years, and continues to do so as the Managing Editor of SpecGram. In his day-job, Trey is a computational linguist with experience in search engines, AI ontologies, onomastics, and general information extraction. The Cartoon Theories of Linguistics series is an attempt to reduce the essence of important linguistics concepts down to an intuitive yet humorous graphical form.

Arika Okrent

In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build A Perfect Language

This is a pre-release galley copy of Arika’s book. Arika has kindly donated three signed copies for auction, inscribed in whatever language / manner the winner chooses and to be received in May with the book’s public release. Proceeds go directly to benefit the Language Creation Society and future conferences. Please talk to David Peterson or Sai if you would like to place a bid.

Just about everyone has heard of Esperanto, which was nothing less than one man’s attempt to bring about world peace by means of linguistic solidarity. And every Star Trek fan knows about Klingon, which was nothing more than a television show’s attempt to create a tough-sounding language befitting a warrior race with ridged foreheads. But few people have heard of Babm, Blissymbolics, and the nearly nine hundred other invented languages that represent the hard work, high hopes, and full-blown delusions of so many misguided souls over the centuries.

In In The Land of Invented Languages, author Arika Okrent tells the fascinating and highly entertaining history of man’s enduring quest to build a better language. Peopled with charming eccentrics and exasperating megalomaniacs, the land of invented languages is a place where you can recite the Lord’s Prayer in John Wilkins’s Philosophical Language, say your wedding vows in Loglan, and read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Lojban.

Arika Okrent is the author of In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers who Tried to Build a Perfect Language. She has a Ph.D. in Linguistics and Psychology from the University of Chicago. She has also earned her first level certification in Klingon. She thought about making her own conlang once, but then found out how difficult and time-consuming it is to make a good one. So she is content with her role as a conlang “art appreciator.”

John Quijada

Welcome to LCC3 (in Ilaksh & Ithkuil)

John Quijada, a California native, has a degree in linguistics and is the creator of Ithkuil, a philosophical language on which he worked for 25 years, which he is now revising into a language called Ilaksh. His talk on cognitive linguistics at the First Language Creation Conference was well-received. He has written a novel exploring the implications of quantum physics and cognitive science, and enjoys many pastimes and hobbies including music, art, European travel, astronomy, protozoology, cooking, and cats.

Rob Sato

The Infernal Alphabet

Rob Sato is an Los Angeles-based artist whose artwork has been described as allegorical, whimsical, satirical, phantasmagoric, surreal, and plenty of other things. In 2004, he won the Xeric Foundation Grant to write his first book Burying Sandwiches, and since then has produced a few others. He recently put on his first solo show in LA, Dirty Paper Machines.

Steven Travis

Tapissary: Hieroglyphic Collages 2

Since childhood, Steven has been strongly attracted to manuscripts. The subject of this exhibit introduces his invented hieroglyphic language called Tapissary, to which he has devoted thirty-two years. On the gallery wall hang four greatly oversized ‘pages’. Similar to the embellished initials of a medieval parchment, Steven enjoys investing his symbols with detailed flourishes. He liberally sews the seeds of image and text within the silhouette of each of the four hieroglyphs until an energetic ‘language-scape’ is achieved.

Steven Travis began inventing alphabets when he was eight, as the natural complement for his twig and painted mud civilizations in a garden behind the family home. Since 1977, as an adult, he has been focusing his attention on a glyphic obsession: his language named Tapissary. Steven devised a grammar based on the introduction of cycles through which ride his eight thousand glyphs. Tapissary figures into several journal books, scrolls, short demo videos, a translation of “The Stranger” by Camus, paintings, ceramics, and gallery exhibits. Currently he’s working on his own version of Alice in Wonderland where language becomes both theme and character. He has exhibited his art and language in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Bordeaux, and Paris.