It seemed to me that there was a flurry of conlang-related activity during the latter part of 2012, so I decided to take a look back and see if any other significant events in conlangs and conlanging took place this past year. Turns out, there were quite a few. I’m sure I forgot any number. Feel free to add others as comments to this post.
Enjoy the list and happy conlanging in 2013!
- John Carter, based (loosely) on the Edgar Rice Burrough’s series of novels, premiered on March 9, and featured a Barsoomian (Martian) language created by Na’vi creator, Paul Frommer. The film touched off a series of posts on this blog on the Barsoomian language.
- Also back in March, David Peterson (creator of Dothraki, LCS President, and all-around good guy) did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit.
- Mark Rosenfelder (aka Zompist) published his Advanced Language Construction Kit in July. Zompist’s online Language Construction Kit continues to be a good first stop for budding conlangers.
- Dr. Christine Schreyer’s ANTH474 class (Pidgins, Creoles, and Created Language) at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, was offered in the Spring 2012 semester. Yours truly had the honor of speaking (via Skype) to the class on November 1 about the LCS, the Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond exhibit, and my own conlanging efforts. Through her active twitter feed and the hashtag #ANTH474, we were all able to interact with the class.
- On October 4, Dothraki gets a shout-out on Season 9, Episode 3 (Andy’s Ancesry), of NBC’s The Office (video). David Peterson himself blogged about the epidose and even canonized the noun-verb compound concept for the language using Dwight’s example.
- Also in October, the first Klingon wedding to occur in the UK took place. Neatorama has posted video coverage (along with some tlhIngan Hol).
- On Novemer 10, 2012, Pete Bleackley started the Conlang Tip Exchange over on Google+.
- Registration for the 5th Language Creation Conference opened. LCC5 will take place on May 4 & 5, 2013, in Austin, Texas, and presentation proposals are still being accepted.
- A Klingon Christmas Carol was performed during the month of December in Chicago at the Raven Theatre by Commedia Beauregard. According to its Wikipedia entry, the play “was written by Christopher O. Kidder and Sasha Walloch and was originally translated by Laura Thurston, Bill Hedrick and Christopher O. Kidder. Additional content and translations were provided by Chris Lipscombe.” The 2012 production received positive reviews like this and this. Qapla’!
- On December 3, Stephen Colbert kicks off Hobbit Week on The Colbert Report with “Elen síla lumenn’ omentielvo.”
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of Peter Jackson’s planned prequel trilogy, opened on December 14. The film featured dialogue in Sindarin and an Orcish dialect. As of December 31, the film has grossed $360,903,000.
- The idea of creating a new word for your conlang on every day of December was inaugurated by Mia Soderquist on Twitter with the following tweet on November 21: “I am suddenly inspired to create a common word for each day in December, just to start filling more obvious gaps.” Leland Paul Kusmer suggested “Lexicon December = Lexcember, perhaps?” and thus #lexember was born.
- On December 24, Joshua Foer‘s article (Utopian for Beginners) on John Quijada and Ithkuil was posted online at The New Yorker. Subsequently, a podast with Foer was posted (Out Loud: Unspeakable Language) that touched on aspects of the original article.
Two weekends ago, I was in California for the ALA Annual Conference (as part of my day-job not as Secretary-Librarian of the LCS) and had the chance to hang out a couple evenings with my friends David Peterson, his wife Erin, and Sylvia Sotomayor. Yes, that David Peterson. It had been well over a year since I saw David and Sylvia, and I hadn’t seen Erin since LCC2 back in 2008. It was great, and I’ve been remiss about thanking them all for a wonderful time. The first evening, after dinner at a nice little sushi place, the four of us stopped at the grocery store and picked up various sorbets, ice cream, and “chocolate covered honeycomb.” Decadent! Unfortunately, Sylvia had a long drive back home so I only got to see her one evening.
David and Erin, once they found out that I had never partaken of the experience that is In-N-Out Burger, offered to go out to supper the following evening with me. So, the next evening, David, Erin, and I piled into David’s natural-gas-powered car and rode over to In-N-Out Burger to order our repast. So, back at Erin and David’s then I experienced my first Double Meat, Animal-style, “Lemon-Up”, and fries. None too shabby (although Erin and David gave the meal a “B”… They’re In-N-Out connoisseurs) although I think I’m still a Five Guys guy, which is good since we don’t have any In-N-Out’s where I live.
It was great to hear stories from David and Erin about meeting Jason Momoa and his wife, Lisa Bonet, and other Game of Thrones tales.
I don’t get to hang out with my California conlanging cohort very often, but I have always been welcomed and feel fortunate to be able to be involved with them in the LCS. So, once again, thanks for a great time, for introducing me to In-N-Out Burger, and for sharing some of your valuable time with me. Dothras chek!
Today, I downloaded the relatively-recent English translation of Kirill Eskov‘s Последний кольценосец (The Last Ringbearer), the story of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings as told from the viewpoint of Mordor and its inhabitants.
I’m only a couple chapters into it, but it got me thinking: Conlangers should really root for Sauron in Tolkien’s work, because Sauron is a conlanger! From what we know, he singlehandedly devised the Black Speech to be used by those who serve him.
Well, that wasn’t very satisfying. After all, Sauron is the bad guy. (At least in Tolkien’s work, not Eskov’s). Who wants to root for the bad guy? (Although, I must admit, I thought Darth Vader was the coolest until I found out he was Luke’s father. Ew! And, mind you, this was way back when A New Hope was the first Star Wars film. But I digress…) So, I started thinking, and remembered Aulë who created the Dwarves and devised a language for them, Khuzdul. It’s interesting to keep in mind that Sauron was originally one of the Maiar of Aulë.
To the best of my knowledge, Aulë and Sauron are the only two conlangers in Middle-earth. Yes, it’s true a couple elves (i.e., Rúmil and Fëanor) devised writing systems, but they didn’t create entire languages.
So, who ya gonna root for? Ash durbatulûk.“
Waay back in January, I was in San Diego for the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting (as part of my job, not as The Conlanging Librarian). Being rarely in California, I took the chance to contact David Peterson and ask if he wanted to get together on Sunday afternoon. Well, the “event” took on a life of its own and, before I knew it, Sylvia Sotomayor was coming along and John Quijada was flying in for the day from northern California. I hadn’t seen any of them since LCC2 back in 2007, so I was very excited to get to hang out with my conlanging brethren and sistren.
Having some official work-related duties on Sunday morning, I met up with them near the marina behind the convention center for lunch. Using the wonders of modern technology, we triangulated and coordinated and finally met for hugs and handshakes all around. We all piled into David’s natural-gas-powered automobile and headed over to Old Town for lunch. The pozole was great!
After lunch we traveled to the Gaslamp District in San Diego proper and walked around, had some snacks, and just got a chance to talk. The photo to the right is of Sylvia, David, and John sitting in Horton Plaza, an M.C. Escher of a venue if I ever saw one. Very cool.
As David’s already tweeted, this was a fantastic day. Not only did I get to hang out with some quintessential conlangers, two recipients of the Smiley Award (and its originator), and the creator of Dothraki, but David, Sylvia, and John are some of the most personable, friendly, and interesting people I’ve had the opportunity to meet. Thanks for a great day (and sorry it’s taken me so long to say so!)
Today, I unfortunately had both my Gmail and Yahoo hacked. If you received an email from me saying that I was stranded in the UK, I apologize for the inconvenience…even though I really had nothing to do with it. Anyway, you get the idea. It’s been highly, excruciatingly inconvenient but it doesn’t appear (as of right now) that anything major was compromised. Still working through the Google mess. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this post just to re-assure myself that the blog still works.
One rather unexpected silver lining was that I actually got an email in my work Inbox from one of our prominent conlang community members living in Europe asking where I was and if he could help. I emailed (from that account) to let him know I was still in the US and had been hacked. He was somewhat amused at the creative lengths to which these people will go to get money and also wished me luck in resolving this. I was impressed that he took the time to contact me. Not only are conlangers erudite, but, gosh darn it, if they aren’t awfully nice people, too.
Thanks for listening, and don’t forget to keep those passwords, et al., battened down.
Israel Noletto has published a new book examining the world of constructed languages entitled Glossopoese – O Complexo e Desconhecido Mundo das Línguas Artificiais. As you might guess from the title, the book is written in Portuguese, Noletto’s first language. He has graciously supplied The Conlanging Librarian with an English translation of the book’s description:
Many have probably already seen, heard or read something about languages like Esperanto, Quenya and Sindarin. Maybe some have seen films or read pieces of literature full of exemplars of the artificial languages. Yet, when people hear anything related to this, they frequently react out of total surprise, and ask questions like: That language was invented by an individual, how so? Is it a mixture of other languages? Is it a code? In Glossopoesis – The Complex and Unknown World of the Artificial Languages, the author researches the available literature and the various communities throughout the world and the Internet. As a result, the answers to the forementioned questions have been found, and a new scientific perspective on the Glossopoesis has been developed.
When asked if he plans an English translation of Glossopoese, Noletto replied “I definitely plan on translating my book into English, although I don’t see it happening any time soon, since I’m already involved in a number of other conlanging related researches to make our secret vice more well-known and scientifically respected in my own language right now.” An extremely admirable goal! Glossopoese definitely has the potential to spread the word to the Portuguese-speaking world about the art and science of language creation. In the meantime, Noletto’s important new work should spur those English-speakers with an interest in conlanging to brush up on their Portuguese.
Israel Noletto is well-qualified to pen a book on conlanging. On January 26, 2009, he was the first person to host a “conlang event” in the Brazilian state of Piauí. Actually, this was his final essay defense for his degree in “‘Letras/Inglês’, a University course focused on the English Language and Literature.” (Click here for his posting in Portuguese.) It would also appear that conlanging runs in his family. (Click here for a rough English Google translation of that page.)
So, Parabéns! on publishing the book and Obrigado! for the efforts on behalf of conlanging. (Note: I’m hoping those mean “Congratulations!” and “Thank you!” respectively. I had to look them up online.)
As many of you may be aware, David J. Peterson has posthumously awarded his annual ~:D Smiley Award to David Bell’s Tolkien-inspired conlang ámman îar. Being that we just commemorated the anniversary of Prof. Tolkien’s death, it seemed appropriate on this blog to also highlight the work of David Bell.
I had been dimly aware of ámman îar for some time, but the Smiley Award got me to take another look at it. Evidently, previous looks were cursory at best. I had no idea of the depth of detail that had been included. One page that caught my eye this time was the script which David Bell created for his language. Many conlangers are familiar with Tengwar clones. Bell’s is definitely not a clone but rather a well-thought-out evolution of the scripts of Middle-earth into a cursive form. At first glance, his tal-eglar looks like cursive letters in any Roman-script alphabet. However, on closer inspection, they are firmly based in the tradition of the script of Feanor.
The Smiley Award write-up does a great job of highlighting some of the finer points of Bell’s creation, but to truly appreciate it, one needs to delve deeply into his web site, now preserved at graywizard.conlang.org. You will not be disappointed.
(For past Smiley Award winners, click here)
Today is the anniversary of the death in 1973 of JRR Tolkien, arguably the Shakespeare of constructed languages. Although my personal penchant for playing with language (okay, that’s more than a sufficient amount of alliteration) dates back even to Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra in elementary school, Tolkien was a HUGE influence on my early conlanging efforts and beyond. My personal constructed world owes a lot (in its early incarnations) to Middle-earth. I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings, but I think my favorite parts were the Appendices. It was the background that Tolkien felt compelled to create that really sparked my imagination and set me down the path of language creation.
Furthermore, “A Secret Vice” is still instructive and remains a pivotal, eloquent document in the line of apologetics for our craft which has continued with David J. Peterson’s The Conlang Manifesto and Boudewijn Rempt’s Apologia pro Imaginatione to name only two.
So, thank you, Professor Tolkien, for your inspiration.
Nan úye sére indo-ninya símen, ullume; ten sí ye tyelma, yéva tyel ar i narqelion, íre ilqa yéva nótina… (from Firiel’s Song)
(Note: The photo at left is one of my most enduring images of JRRT. It was the one on the back cover of the first edition of The Lord of the Rings that I ever bought.)
I had the oddest experience today. I work at a large metropolitan library and was walking down the hall today when a patron saw me and said, “Saluton! I was reading about you in a book today.” This particular patron was vaguely familiar, but I hadn’t really had the opportunity to speak with him for a couple years. Not since I worked in a different department. Well, my brain started spinning, and I finally asked, “Do you mean Arika Okrent’s In the Land of Invented Languages? He said, “Yeah. Can you say hello in your chipmunk language?” Unfortunately, I’ve been away from Drytok for a while, so I couldn’t oblige him…the shock of being asked to speak it out-of-the-blue notwithstanding. We talked for a while; I told him about Arika’s new book I heard she was working on, and I encouraged him to check out the posting at the Language Creation Society page of the actual LCC presentation of Drytok’s first public appearance. All in all, a great way to brighten up a Monday! 🙂
Our twtpoll received 38 responses. The question, you might remember, was:
Who has had the most impact/influence/inspiration on you in your own conlanging?
The single person with the most votes was JRR Tolkien with 14; however, the “others” received more votes overall. Here is the raw data:
Other – 15 votes (39%)
JRR Tolkien (Quenya, Sindarin, etc) – 14 votes (37%)
LL Zamenhof (Esperanto) – 5 votes (13%)
John Quijada (Ithkuil) & Sonja Elen Kisa (Toki Pona) – 2 votes each (tie) (5% each)
Marc Okrand (Klingon) – 0 votes
I will admit I cast my one vote for Tolkien.
The comments left by those responding to “other” were the most interesting pieces of information to come out of the poll. There were 13 in all. Some were general:
- No-one has had any significant impact
- various fantasy novels with naming languages, but not Tolkien (haven’t read him)
- No one, really. I just read somewhere that artificial languages existed, and I thought it was a neat thing to do.
Others named persons who were influential. One comment on the previous post said, “I think only to have conlangers here is a bit of an issue. I mean… my philosophy teacher was a big reason for me to start conlanging…” This is exactly why I was so glad we got the following responses to the “other” category:
- Von Wahl (Occidental-Interlingue)
- Suzette Haden Elgin (Láadan)
- Kindaichi Haruhiko, linguist of Japanese
- Farrell Ackerman
- M.A. Foster
- (Latin), ? (?), Elzinga (Tepa)
- Rick Morneau (Latejami)
- David Peterson (Kamakawi)
- Edward Nelson Bridwell
- Jan van Steenbergen for his “historical bogolang” Wenedyk
The links are all my own, and the comments are typed here as they were at the poll. If any links point to the incorrect person, I sincerely apologize. That being said, I was fascinated to find that someone attached to MAD Magazine (Edward Nelson Bridwell) was instrumental in coming up with a “language” for Superman. I was glad to see our own David J. Peterson (or Mr. Dothraki as I like to call him) was mentioned. Suzette Haden Elgin is one conlanger that deserves more mention. All in all, a nice collection of esteemed names, both linguistically and conlanguistically.
Thanks for taking part in the poll! Head over to twtpoll.com/r/nl7r0j to see the colorful graph created by twtpoll from our data.