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As happens every so often, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel on conlangs as of late, so I thought I would appeal to the audience to help us find some gems to feature on the show.  We’re looking for linguistically sophisticated conlangs with good documentation.  It doesn’t have to be a whole book, of course … just enough content for us to talk for about 20 minutes about.  You can consult our episode list to see what conlangs have been featured previously and email suggestions to conlangery@gmail.com.

Also, I am out of top-of-show greetings — another common occurrence.  You can find out how to submit those on our contribute page.

Thanks!

UPDATE:  A viewer has convinced me to accept translations of the top-of-show greeting into natlangs, given that those translations come from native speakers.  So, if your native language is something other than English, feel free to contribute a translation.  So far we have a German one which will be used for the next episode (#46).

19 Responses to “Can we get some suggestions?”

  1. Tolomer

    Oh wow this sounds interesting! Any requirements other than “decent documentation”? That’s a little broad.

    Reply
    • Wm Annis

      Haha! We discussed this just a few days ago. So far, we have deliberately avoided using our own languages, for various reasons. I do have one of mine that I think would be a fine candidate, because just by myself I can come up with all sorts of problems with the thing, with the superior vision of hindsight.

      Reply
      • Anthony

        Now that Bianca’s not one of the hosts, could you have one of hers as the Feature Conlang?

        Reply
        • admin

          Hmm, I don’t know. Has she been gone long enough? I guess I could ask her about it.

          Reply
          • Ossicone

            I don’t mind. As for the timing it’s up to you guys. But if you do decide to just message me and I’ll send you the documentation.

  2. James McCleary

    Just a few suggestions:

    1 — You could do an entire show on “spiritual conlangs,” that is conlangs which the creators feel somehow more accurately describe their world view in some way. Some of these conlangs are used for journals, prayer, and meditation. I would think that these particular languages carry meanings very personal to their authors, as well as religious and emotional states which may not be readily translated into other languages. Examples of such languages are gzb, Itlani, Alursha (which I think you did), and possibly Lingua Ignota. How do these languages differ from other types of conlangs? Are they grammatically simpler but with a more quirky vocabulary?

    2 — Conlangs and translation. Which conlangs have a substantial literary tradition and why? Do conlangs change when they are used for translation? How does the translated language change? Esperanto obviously has a long translation tradition as well as many texts, but you could also discuss the Klingon works in some depth and how the Dao Te Ching, Gilgamesh, and Shakespeare were adapted. How does translating alien works work to the development of a language like Klingon? You could discuss attempts at translating into Neo-Quenya and Neo-Sindarin. How does the Elvish in the LOTR films differ from Tolkien’s Elvish? Plus there are many wonderful new editions of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” being published by Evertype.com which you could discuss. (As I am translating Alice myself, I can attest to some of the challenges).

    3 — Natural languages that fall upon the Conlang spectrum. These may include reconstructed languages such as Proto-Indo-European, languages with a long poetic tradition such as Sanskrit, or revived languages such as Neo-Cornish and Israeli Hebrew. What lessons can a conlanger take from them? How are such languages alike or dislike in their reconstruction?

    4 — Conlangs in literature or as literature. A discussion on the history of conlanging as seen in “Gulliver’s Travels,” “Across the Zodiac,” the Barsoom series, “The Coming Race.” Some of these are naming languages, but others actually supply a bit of grammar. Focus on pre-Tolkien languages. What were the trends? How were these fictional languages influenced by contemporary conlangs such as The Philosophical Language, Esperanto, and Volapuk? How were these languages influenced by greater interest in non-Western languages? What literary themes does one find in the uses of these languages?

    5 — Finally, many of the languages you have discussed were quite wonderful, but I think you could actually discuss them again from a different perspective. Most of the languages you barely even touch. You could spend an entire show discussing (from the top of my head, so this may not be accurate) the development of Quenya, how Klingon verbs work, some of the nitty gritty of Tepa, how Esperanto is actually used … and that’s just purely grammar. Added to that you can discuss these languages as art and their place in the conlanging world. How has the success of certain languages contributed to the field? What problems or pitfalls do conlangers often find? Are there language structures being avoided because of the success of a small number of languages?

    These are just a few ideas, but I hope they help.

    James

    Reply
    • Carsten B.

      Lykara Ryder (@LykaraR) would be a person to talk to for 4. She is doing research about the history of constructed languages in literature for her PhD (IIRC) and held a talk about this topic at LCC4. The slides for the talk should still be somewhere on the LCC4 page.

      Reply
    • Wm Annis

      Oh, James, we have no shortage of topics at all. And you’ve just added some more. 🙂 The problem is finding conlangs to discuss that have reasonable coverage (i.e, they don’t need to be huge, but I personally prefer to avoid languages with, say, almost no discussion of syntax, say, or haven’t finished out the verb system, but there are always exceptions), are available freely online, and with creators we can find. Of course, we could do a year of episodes about various auxlangs, but our focus is really artlangs, since that’s what most conlangers are up to these days. And we try to pick new language creators, or, again, we could spend a few months on just Zompistlangs and DJPlangs.

      Reply
      • James McCleary

        I don’t think that artlangers would object to too many discussions on auxlangs. After all, there are still lessons to be learned, as well as a similar creative process behind them. Volapuk and Ido are both well known enough and unique enough that they feel to me to be works of art. I looked at the announcement of “Alice” in Nova Franca, and that language certain seems to be unique.

        It may be interesting to consider presentation if you’re going to do several Verdurian and DJP languages however. For instance, one week you could discuss Swahili, and then the next week a DJP language which was inspired by Swahili, among other things. You could even lump together a couple of less developed languages from these creators. One could also do a similar thing with the Tekumel languages of M A R Barker. A review of Sindarin would naturally follow your discussion on Welsh, for instance.

        I do think that perhaps the five of six big named conlangs could easily warrent 3 or 4 episodes — such as Quenya, Esperanto, Klingon, Talossan. If I remember right, you seemed to spend much of the Klingon episode just discussing the phonology — and the same with Quenya too. Perhaps it would be useful to examine a specific text, such as the Namarie poem or the qoy QeylIS song. Instead of discussing an entire language, the episode could just be “Esperanto poetry,” for instance.

        There are probably an infinite number of topics that you could discuss, since just about every element of language applies to your show — How to form conditions, How do subordinate Clauses work, What mood to use at a mad tea party. However, I can’t help but add a few more topics which are more specific to our particular art.

        1 — Language games. The use of language in such authors as Lewis Carroll and James Joyce. It can’t be an accident that many of us who create entirely new languages are also interested in other elements of language deformation and change. I must admit that I’ve only gotten 20 pages into Finnegans Wake though.

        2 — Language revision. You discussed this a little with Tokana/Okuna, how a language is revised by its creator. But one could also compare long development from Qenya to Quenya as well as Noldorin to Sindarin. We have early Esperanto from Zamenhof that is very different to today’s. Ithkuil and Kelen have also in recent years undergone similar transformation.

        3 — Fanlangs. I’m not sure that’s a word … How other people expand a language. For instance, how Frommer took bits of Barsoomian to make his language. I’ve seen two versions of Orcish or Black Speech and at least one version of Khuzdul from the fragments that Tolkien left us. I’ve seen a fan version of Kzinti from Larry Niven’s Known Space series. What decisions do fans make? Are these languages successful for their goal? What challanges do their creators face?

        Reply
  3. K

    You guys may have already covered this in your podcast on noun genders (#34), but there’s a whole community on reddit that’s dedicated to creating LGBTQ-friendly conlangs (ie, a language that doesn’t have only “he” and “she,” but also a third, neutral pronoun). It’s a bit risqué and specific, perhaps, but if you guys really are at the bottom of the barrel… 🙂

    Reply
  4. MBR

    In light of this, I’m going to be working feverishly on documenting my langs. I’m also going to be submitting some top-of-the-show greetings.

    It’s too bad we don’t have documentation on Huttese or Geonosian, both of which I know are fairly notable a posteriori conlangs. The same goes for Goa’uld, though I’d say it’s lesser known than the Star Wars langs.

    Now I’m off to read about Nootka and Makah so that I can get some inspiration.

    Reply
    • admin

      Really? My impression is that nothing in Star Wars is really a proper conlang. Granted, I have not examined Huttese or Geonosian carefully, but I always though they were at best relexes (and Geonosian sounds almost like a sound-effect language á la Shriiwook).

      Reply
  5. admin

    As per the update on the post — we will now accept natlang translations of the top-of-show greeting from native speakers.

    Reply
  6. Aaron Gabrielson

    I am part of a team developing a spell casting game that requires mastery of a conlang. You can check out the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/500894669/serpents-tongue-a-new-magick-experience?ref=live

    Would you be interested in talking to us about the game in your podcast? This situation is unique because success in the game creates an incentive for learning a conlang. The problem with conlangs is generally that they are created, but not used much.

    We have developed the outlines of the language, but we are looking for a conlanger to work with us on this project.

    Thanks,

    Aaron Gabrielson
    aarongabrielson@gmail.com
    801.319.6876

    Reply
    • admin

      I heard about your game through the LCS (I am on the board of directors). It sounds like a great project. I’ll be sure to pimp your Kickstarter on the show. I think it’s awesome that you guys want a conlanger to go over your stuff and turn it into a proper language. I’m sure most players will just memorize the incantation without particularly caring, but for us conlangers it’ll be kinda awesome just to look at the linguistic materials.

      Reply

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