Reviews of The Art of Language Invention and The Interpreter’s Tale

Don Boozer has been interested in invented languages ever since discovering Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra in his elementary school library in the 1970s. Boozer’s previous articles include “I Want to Speak Elvish! Teens and the World of Imaginary Languages” (VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates. August 2007), “Speaking in Tongues: Literary Languages” (Library Journal, Reader’s Shelf column. September 15, 2006), and “Conlanging: An Introduction to the Art of Language Creation” (Fiat Lingua. June 1, 2013). A librarian by trade, Boozer created the exhibit Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond: The World of Constructed Languages which appeared at the Cleveland Public Library in 2008 and the 3rd Language Creation Conference in 2009.

Abstract

When the word conlang was enshrined within the venerable Oxford English Dictionary in June 2014, many conlangers rightly rejoiced. It was a major milestone in the public awareness of the secret vice of language construction. The decision of Penguin—a major, mainstream publishing house—to release David J. Peterson’s The Art of Language Invention (which, at its heart, is a conlanging how-to guide) establishes another high-water mark in the long process of making the public-at-large aware of the art and craft of language invention. Included with the feature review is a shorter “bonus” review of E. M. Epps recent book, The Interpreter’s Tale.

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Frelling Shtako! A Review of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing and Its Applications for Conlanging

Don Boozer has been interested in invented languages ever since discovering Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra in his elementary school library in the 1970s. Boozer’s previous articles include “I Want to Speak Elvish! Teens and the World of Imaginary Languages” (VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates. August 2007), “Speaking in Tongues: Literary Languages” (Library Journal, Reader’s Shelf column. September 15, 2006), and “Conlanging: An Introduction to the Art of Language Creation” (Fiat Lingua. June 1, 2013). A librarian by trade, Boozer created the exhibit Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond: The World of Constructed Languages which appeared at the Cleveland Public Library in 2008 and the 3rd Language Creation Conference in 2009.

Abstract

DISCLAIMER: The following review essay includes topics not suitable for all ages and language not suitable for work (NSFW). Reader discretion is advised. As the author of the book under review states: “If you haven’t already been offended by this book, chances are you will be. I can only apologize in advance.”

Although swearing has probably existed since humans began using language to communicate, it remains largely a taboo subject of discussion in “polite circles” let alone an acceptable mode of speech. This form of language is powerful, demands attention, and can evoke visceral reactions in both speakers and listeners. This makes swearing an important and interesting facet of language, and Melissa Mohr’s Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing joins a growing corpus of works examining this fascinating subject.

Additionally, many conlangers (and artlangers specifically) often speak of wanting to create a conlang that emulates natural language. Including profanity within one’s created language, especially if the conlang is meant to be spoken by inhabitants of a con-culture, would be yet another way to provide the verisimilitude for which many artlangers strive. This review-essay then examines both the natural and conlang dimensions of swearing.

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Conlanging: An Introduction to the Art of Language Creation

Don Boozer has been interested in invented languages ever since discovering Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra in his elementary school library in the 1970s.  A librarian by trade, Boozer created the exhibit Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond: The World of Constructed Languages which appeared at the Cleveland Public Library in 2008 and the 3rd Language Creation Conference in 2009. Boozer currently serves as Secretary/Librarian of the Language Creation Society and maintains The Conlanger’s Library online, and tweets from the official LCS Twitter account: @fiatlingua.

Abstract

Based loosely on the exhibit Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond: The World of Constructed Languages, “Conlanging: An Introduction to the Art of Language Creation” provides an accessible primer to the history and practice of language creation for the non-conlanger. Conlangers should be able to refer to the article when asked “What is conlanging?”, “Where did it come from?” or “Why do you people do that?” For the conlanger, some points of the history of conlanging may also prove interesting.

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From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages, A Review

Don Boozer has been interested in invented languages ever since discovering Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra in his elementary school library in the 1970s. Boozer’s previous articles include “I Want to Speak Elvish! Teens and the World of Imaginary Languages” (VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates. August 2007), “Speaking in Tongues: Literary Languages” (Library Journal, Reader’s Shelf column. September 15, 2006), and “Playing God: If Language Is a Divine Punishment, Why Are ‘Conlangers’ Creating More of Them?” (The Linguist Magazine: Official Journal of the Chartered Institute of Linguists [UK]. July/August 2006). A librarian by trade, Boozer created the exhibit Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond: The World of Constructed Languages which appeared at the Cleveland Public Library in 2008 and the 3rd Language Creation Conference in 2009. Boozer currently serves as Secretary/Librarian of the Language Creation Society and maintains The Conlanger’s Library online.

Abstract

From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages, a collection of essays edited by Michael Adams (University of Indiana, Bloomington) and published by Oxford University Press, is a welcome addition to the small but growing corpus of works on the subject of invented languages. The essays contributed by experts in their fields run the gamut from popular culture journalism to erudite scholarship in tone. Topics as diverse as invented languages in video games, the “invented vocabularies” of Nadsat and Newspeak, and revitalized and reconstructed languages like Modern Hebrew are covered. With its thought-provoking ideas, interesting facts, and in-depth coverage, From Elvish to Klingon should appeal to a wide audience; and everyone should find at least one essay that speaks directly to his or her curiosity.

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