I have finally made some long overdue additions, corrections, and overall housekeeping to The Conlanger’s Library. You can see the primary ones on the “Most Recent Updates” block on the homepage. I have a number of other things I’d like to do to the Library’s overall look, etc., but we gotta start somewhere.
You’ll also notice that the countdown to St. Hildegard’s Day is at 70 days. I had made a St. Hildegard’s resolution last year, so we’ll see if I can fulfill that. I do have a new Kryslan blog that I can use for information on Dritok. We’ll see if the Fates are kind.
Okay, not recent in the sense of recently published but recent in the sense of “I just recently checked them out of my local library.” I thought I’d get them on the record with some links and brief reviews:
- Writing Systems: A Linguistic Approach by Henry Rogers (2005)
- Case (2nd ed., Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics) by Barry J. Blake (2001)
- English Verb Classes and Alternations: A Preliminary Investigation by Beth Levin (1993)
The icons link to places you can either purchase the books or look for them at your local library through WorldCat . These icons have also begun to be incorporated into the entries in The Conlanger’s Library as well.
Writing Systems (part of the Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics series) covers a wide range of ancient and modern scripts and should serve as a good source of inspiration for conlangers developing “native” writing systems for their conlangs. While not exhaustive in its coverage, it does provide enough detail on the scripts to give the aspiring con-scripter the ability either to work directly from the information from the book or to begin to dig deeper on the Internet or databases for additional in-depth details on a writing system of interest. Personally, I really liked Rogers’ information in the sections on “Cuneiform”, “Semitic”, “Indian Abugida and Other Asian Writing”, and “Other Writing Systems”.
Blake’s Case is typical of the Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics (e.g., cover, layout, etc.). The abundant interlinear translations provide excellent examples of each topic covered. Lots of good inspiration for going beyond the “usual” case systems. The “Language Index” references well over 150 languages used as illustrative examples, from Abaza to Zoque.
Levin’s English Verb Classes has been recommended by none other than David J. Peterson at LCC4. The book is a tour-de-force of (no surprise) English verb classes and their alternations. As David suggested, this is a great source for developing a con-vocabulary.
None of these are cheap. If you can’t afford adding them to your personal conlanging bookshelf, they are well worth checking out at your local (public or academic) library. If they don’t have them on the shelf, don’t forget to request them through the interlibrary loan service. Most libraries will borrow items for you from outside the local area.
Enjoy! And happy conlanging!
(P.S. I almost forgot to add that Sylvia Sotomayor was instrumental in helping me get those icons incorporated into the Library. She did coding and was exceptionally patient in guiding me through the updates needed. lelāñ, Sylvia!)
Although J.C. Catford’s A Practical Introduction to Phonetics has been part of The Conlanger’s Library for some time, it was only recently that I sought it out in the library to take a look. I have a recent (Nov. 4, 2010) posting of a glowing recommendation of the book on the CONLANG listserv for bringing it back to my attention. Luckily, my day job is at a large public library, and it was on the shelf just waiting for me to pick up.
The brief biography on the cover of the book states simply that J.C. Catford is “widely regarded as the leading practical phonetician of our time.” According to his obituary posted online, he was also “famous for his amazing ability to repeat speech backwards” and recorded Jabberwocky in this way (backwards and forwards) for the BBC. In his retirement, Prof. Catford worked on Ubykh, “a language of 80 consonants and just two vowels!” So, maybe it’s no wonder that Amazon.com lists as one of the “Customers Who Bought This Item [i.e., A Practical Introduction to Phonetics] Also Bought” Mark Rosenfelder’s Language Construction Kit.
His work itself is absolutely essential for conlangers who wish to include “exotic” (i.e., non-English) phonetics in their works. Catford takes the reader step-by-step through initiation, articulation, phonation, co-articulation, and much, much more. What is so valuable about the book is Catford’s Exercises (over 120 in all) throughout where he clearly shows how to pronounce every sound he discusses. I personally knew I may have to end up owning a copy of this when I found the following exercise clearly explaining how my own Drushek pronounce their “ejectives” (which I now know are actually pronounced by a velaric initiatory mechanism):
Say a velaric suction [|\ [in X-SAMPA, a dental click]]. Now immediately after the sucking movement of the tongue and the release of the tongue-tip contact, remake the contact and reverse the tongue-movement — that is, press instead of sucking — then release the tongue-tip contact again. The result should be a velaric pressure sound, for which there is no special symbol, so we shall represent it by [|\^ [again, in X-SAMPA]]. Continue to alternate velaric suction [|\] and velaric [|\^]: [|\], [|\^], [|\], [|\^] . . .
All this must be done without ever releasing the essential velaric (k-type) initiatory closure. We will now demonstrate that velaric initiation, whether of suction or pressure type, utilizes only the small amount of air trapped between the tongue-centre and an articulatory closure further forward in the mouth. To carry out this demonstration make a prolonged series of velaric sounds, for example [|\], [|\], [|\], and while continuing to do this, breathe in and out rather noisily through your nose. The experiment should be repeated with hum substituted for breath. Make a series of [|\] sounds while uninterruptedly humming through the nose. This proves that the velaric initiatory mechanism is completely independent of the pulmonic air-stream — it uses only the air trapped in the mouth in front of the velaric closure.
And this is just one of the exercises. I’m considering a voiced bilabial trill for one of my other languages and had never even considered a bidental fricative before now. Granted, one has to be careful to not make a kitchen-sink phonology, but a careful choice among the myriad sounds offered by Catford’s book can go a long way to giving one’s conlang any Sprachgefühl one wishes.
I finally got around to posting the three (fairly) recent articles that were tweeted (@FiatLingua) in the Magazine section of the Library. Namely, the one on ROILA (the spoken robot language), the one on “how to write the next great alien language” from io9, and one from Crossed Genres. Á harya alassë!
It’s been awhile since anything new has been posted to the blog (or the library). Mea culpa. I’ve had some enhancements and improvements planned for The Conlanger’s Library and have slowly been working on them, but they’re still not ready for prime-time. Stay tuned. Some of the proposed additions include new navigation, some back-end coding, and a Contact page. As anyone can see, these have not been implemented…yet. I had intended on doing those and making announcements here on the blog, but “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”. Those things are still in-the-works, but I wanted to post something to keep the blog and the Library at least marginally up-to-date.
First, several new postings have been made to the Library. Check out the “Most Recent Updates” box at the home page of the Library. These include a new paperback edition of Arika Okrent’s book and two Dothraki postings to the Scientific American online Guest Blog (one by Sai Emrys and David J. Peterson (Mr. Dothraki himself!)).
For those who haven’t followed the blog closely, we’ve had a very interesting conversation between David J. Peterson, myself, and several other posters on the topic of “Fantasy” literature, its past and present.
So, enjoy the Library, and look forward to a few enhancements in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future.
A new email address has finally been implemented for The Conlanger’s Library: library – at – conlang – dot – org. Readers can use this email address to contact the Conlanging Librarian to suggest new materials for inclusion in the library or to ask questions about existing materials.
A box for Most Recent Updates has been made to the homepage of The Library. The idea is to provide a quick and easy way of looking at “new stuff” on the homepage, while at the same time providing some context within this blog for those items. The current “Updates” include:
- New quotation from L. Sprague de Camp
- New page dedicated to David J. Peterson’s Dothraki for HBO
- New educational materials page
- Parkvall’s Limits of Language added to Books
…plus, we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of this blog. Hmmm…we’ll have to think of some way to celebrate.
A new Book has been added to The Library:
Limits of Language by Mikael Parkvall of Stockholm University. The book is an entertaining collection of trivia, facts, and information on language, linguistics, and languages. The calendar is also an interesting collection of important dates for the field. Enjoy!
Have you ever wanted to share your love of conlanging with a group in a more-or-less formal classroom setting? Have you ever wanted to give a presentation on the art and science of conlanging? The Conlanger’s Library can now help! The Education page at the Library contains materials you can use to create a PowerPoint presentation, handouts, and also includes inspirational videos. Materials there have been created by Nathan Richardson, Sai Emrys, Sheri Beth Wells-Jensen, and yours truly. If you have any items from formal classes which you have taught or presentations which you have given and you’d like to share them with the community, email lcs (at) conlang (dot) org.
The Conlanging Librarian has been busy adding new items to the Library:
- A new book has been added to Books (Science Fiction): Years in the Making: The Time-Travel Stories of L. Sprague de Camp.
- Several new articles and a video (from Arika’s appearance at Geeking Out) have been added to the Press Coverage of Arika Okrent and her popular book.
- And, finally, a new article by Arika Okrent herself that appeared at Slate.com about Paul Frommer’s Na’vi. Find this one in the Press Coverage of Dr. Frommer and his language of Pandora.