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Conlanging, Quijada, and Kalmykia

Posted on Friday, July 16, 2010 in Conlangers

David J. Peterson posted the first version of his Conlang Manifesto to the CONLANG-L listserv in January 2002. It has stood the test of time (10 years is a long-time in the conlanging game) as a reasoned, coherent piece of conlang apologetics. One of my favorite portions is:

[Conlanging] gets one thinking about the multifariousness and beauty of language, and one who can appreciate this is less likely to misunderstand, deprecate and stereotype those speaking other languages, which is one of the main causes of racism and ethnocentrism. In short, language creation is one of the keys to social harmony and world peace. If one is going to take anything seriously, certainly world peace is it, and if so, shouldn’t language creation be given some credit too?

The conlanging community had a taste of that “world peace” recently with the experience of John Quijada. John was invited to present a talk on his well-known and well-respected engelang Ithkuil at a conference in Kalmykia in early July. Some will remember the article in the Russian magazine that mentioned Dzhonom Kikhadoy and his language, demonstrating the interest in Ithkuil in that area of the world. John has posted a brief summary (and photos) of his trip to Kalmykia on his website. John’s last line on that page, I believe, echoes the passage in David’s Conlang Maniesto:

I was humbled to discover so many people interested in my work, and whose work in turn I found quite fascinating (to the extent I was able to understand it through my interpreters). I now have several new friends halfway around the world.

John has promised to share more details about his experiences. It sounds like a fascinating adventure. He has also posted the slides from his session online. For anyone interested in an astounding exposition on what you can do with Ithkuil, this is a don’t-miss link.

As an aside, I had the pleasure of making John’s acquaintance way back at LCC2 (even having the honor of standing beside him at the official photo. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is the guy who created Ithkuil!”. He also graciously contributed to the CPL conlang exhibit. John is a man of many talents and interests, and I’m grateful to have met him. He is humble, personable, good-natured, and an all-around conlanger’s conlanger. The community couldn’t ask for a better international ambassador.

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