Vatum: A Growing Collection of Conlang Literature, no. 1

DeSDu’/Jack Bradley is an artist, conlanger, and dedicated speaker of the Klingon language based in Chicago. He holds a BA in Visual and Media Arts from Université Laval and is currently working on an MFA in Fine Arts at Columbia College Chicago. In 2018 he passed level 3 of the Klingon Language Certification Test and has since worked on a number of Klingon literary projects, both as a translator and as an author of original works. He has worked on a number of professional conlanging projects and is currently working on a personal language, Chátsu, which will be at the center of his MFA thesis art project. He is the editor of Qugh, ‘eSrIv, and VATUM.

Abstract

This is the 1st issue of VATUM, a quarterly publication whose goal is to share and showcase the original literary work done by conlangers in their own languages. Each work is presented in a conlang with an English back-translation.

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Designing an Artificial Language: Transitivity

Rick Morneau is a long-time language creator who lives in rural Idaho. In the early 1990s, he wrote a series of essays on language design that proved to be quite influential in the early language creation community. Their quality has endured since their original publication, and continue to be read and enjoyed by language creators the world over.

Abstract

This essay discusses how changes in transitivity are accomplished among natural languages, and how the apparent flexibility of a system like that of English is not only uncommon, but also not really flexible. For a much more thorough treatment of transitivity, read the monograph Lexical Semantics.

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Conlang Courses Around the Globe

Jessie Sams is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Stephen F. Austin State University. She generally teaches courses rooted in linguistic analysis of English, though one of her favorite courses to teach is her Invented Languages course, where students construct their own languages throughout the semester (she was even able to get Invented Languages officially on the books at SFA with its own course number). Her research primarily focuses on syntax and semantics, especially the intersection of the two within written English quotatives; constructed languages; and history of the English language and English etymology. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hosting game nights with friends, baking (especially cupcakes), and, of course, conlanging.

Abstract

This is an attempt at a comprehensive list of the various constructed languages courses offered at the university level throughout the world. As courses are added, readers are encouraged to share information with the author, so that the list may be updated.

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Setvayajan: An Abandoned Conlang

Barry J. Garcia is a 40-year-old staff and alumnus of California State University, Monterey Bay. He didn’t major in linguistics, but his interest in constructed languages initially began back in 1999 when he found the CONLANG mail list online after wondering what it would take to make a language. He is not a prolific conlanger and put the hobby aside for a number of years. He returned to conlanging in 2014 with his initial attempt at Setvayajan, now retired. He is currently working on a new version of Setvayajan which may or may not retain the name, but definitely will retain the spirit of the original Setvayajan language. Aside from Setvayajan, past projects have included his first conlang which was an unfinished Philippines-styled language and an experiment in sound changes to remove grammatical gender and reduce verb conjugations in Spanish called “Azhin” (from “Angelino”, the name for the residents of Los Angeles, California). He has also created numerous constructed writing systems.

Abstract

This document is an as-is preservation of the grammar and sound changes that went into what was created for Setvayajan from November 2015 through March 2020, with an introduction explaining why the project was abandoned.

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The Constitution of the Itlani Commonality

James E. Hopkins received a BA in French from Hofstra University in 1974 and an MS in Metaphysics from the American Institute of Holistic Theology in 1998. He is a published poet, Eden’s Day (2008), and has a novel which features five of his conlangs, Circle of the Lantern, with the publisher as of this writing. He has been involved in language construction since 1995 with the birth of his first conlang, Itlani (then known as Druni). Although Itlani is his first and foremost love, since that time he has been developing Semerian (Pomolito), Djiran (Ijira), Djanari (Nordsh) and Lastulani (Lastig Klendum), the other languages spoken on the planet Itlán. One further language project, Kreshem (Losi e Kreshem), is also under development. His primary interest in language construction is from an aesthetic and artistic perspective.

Abstract

A little more than 5,000 years into the Itlani Imperium the people of the united planet Itlán started to push for a more decentralized form of self-governance. As a result, the Itlani Commonality was founded. The original Itlani language version of the new Basic Law (Constitution) and its English translation is presented here.

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How to Not Verb

Logan Kearsley lived in multilingual Belgium for three years as a child, but didn’t realise other languages were cool before moving back to the anglophone United States, where he started conlanging at a still-young age and eventually studied Russian in high school. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Masters in Linguistics, and has had the opportunity to study a wide variety of languages while working to develop software for teaching and learning foreign languages at the university level and researching language pedagogy.

Abstract

“Can a language exist without verbs? What would such a language look like?” These are perennial questions in many conlanging communities. They do not, however, have a single unique answer. Whether a language can exist without verbs, or what that question even means, fundamentally depends on how one chooses to define “a verb”–something which is not universal between language or between linguistic theories. Under any given definition of “a verb”, however, a number of different strategies have been investigated by different conlangers over the years for eliminating the category from their languages. In this article, Logan Kearsley surveys some of the strategies that have been tried, with an analysis of which definitions of verblessness they do or do not meet, and provides reference materials and recommendations for other conlangers who may wish to tackle this kind of project themselves.

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The Creation of Meaning

Olivia Nelson is a 17-year-old high school senior living in Pennsylvania. Her interest in language started at a young age as she began noticing the imprecision of English. As she learned more about the study of language, her education became more specific. She has recently focused in on etymology, language construction, and linguistics, while formally studying Chinese and American Sign Language. Today, she excels at providing unrequested lectures about linguistics to her classmates during their lunch period.

Abstract

In this presentation, The Creation of Meaning, Olivia Nelson reviews the process for creating a language, as well as the foundation of constructed languages. Her research, primarily using The Art of Language Invention by David J. Peterson and other scholarly texts, outlines the basics of creating a language to a lay audience. Within the presentation she explores what brings meaning to language, arguing that a dictionary is an outline for what a word means, and the true definition of the word lies in a culture’s repeated use in a consistent context.

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Dothraki Relative Clause Structure

Caroline Elizabeth Melton has a BS in biology from the University of Memphis and an MA in linguistics from Stony Brook University. Currently a PhD student in biology and bioinformatics at the University of Memphis, she looks for any excuse to compare language change to biological evolution, to the exhaust of her professors.

Abstract

In this analysis, I aim to objectively assess the claim that Dothraki is a naturalistic language by comparing its case system and relative clause structures to known morphological and syntactic universals common to natural language.

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The Journey Into Conlanging & The Way Back Home

Carl Avlund is a conlanger from Denmark. He graduated from Osted Friskole in 2017, Eriksminde Efterskole a year later, and is currently attending Gefion Gymnasium in Copenhagen, studying Ancient Greek and Latin. He expects to graduate in 2021 and plans to apply for University of Copenhagen afterwards in order to study linguistics. His conlanging can be summarized as a mixed focus between diachronic realism and phonological, morphological, and syntactic aesthetics. He primarily works on two related languages called Kotekkish and Pakan.

Abstract

In his short text, The Journey Into Conlanging & The Way Back Home, Carl Avlund tells the general story of how conlanging became a part of his life, one that many conlangers may recognize themselves in. Over the course of three pages, he details his initial fascination with language, how and why he began constructing languages, and where it has led him.

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Designing an Artificial Language: Opposites

Rick Morneau is a long-time language creator who lives in rural Idaho. In the early 1990s, he wrote a series of essays on language design that proved to be quite influential in the early language creation community. Their quality has endured since their original publication, and continue to be read and enjoyed by language creators the world over.

Abstract

This essay discusses one approach to dealing with words of opposite meaning. For a much more thorough treatment of opposites, read the monograph Lexical Semantics.

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