Analysis Conlang Descriptions English Language Essays Experiments

Ma’alahi: Use of a Simplified Language to Test a Linguistic Hypothesis

Jeffrey R. Brown received a BS in Mathematics from Yale University and an MS from University of St. Thomas. He has held jobs too diverse for his professional life to be reasonably called a career—unless “unpublished novelist” can be considered a job title—though when making small talk he usually says he works as an engineer. He speaks about a half-dozen natural languages with varying degrees of incompetence, and has created Temenia, Sim-Arabic and Maʻalahi. He has been a member of the Language Construction Society since 2009. The work in the current article follows from his belief that conlanging is more than art; it is also a science.


Ma’alahi is a constructed language derived from a single source language, Hawaiian, with a ruthlessly simplified Polynesian grammar. This makes it an appropriate candidate for investigating hypotheses about the ease of L2 language acquisition. An exploratory study was performed to determine whether grammatical features or external factors (social or personal) are more significantly correlated with perceived ease of learning and correct performance on translation tasks. Only external factors were shown to be significantly correlated.

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