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English Language Interviews

An interview with David J. Peterson and Sai Emrys about Dothraki and the Language Creation Society

Jim Henry was born in 1973 in Decatur, Georgia, and has lived in the Atlanta area most of his life. He started creating constructed languages in 1989 after discovering Tolkien’s Quenya and Noldorin (in The Book of Lost Tales rather than his better-known works), but his early works were all vocabulary and no syntax. In 1996, after discovering Jeffrey Henning’s conlang site and the CONLANG mailing list, he started creating somewhat more sophisticated fictional languages; and in 1998, he started developing his personal engineered language gjâ-zym-byn, which has occupied most of his conlanging energies since then, and in which he has developed some degree of fluency. He retired recently after working for some years as a software developer, and does volunteer work for the Esperanto Society of Metro Atlanta, Project Gutenberg, and the Language Creation Society.

Abstract

Jim Henry interviews David J. Peterson and Sai about their involvement in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

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Analysis English Language

The Culture of Conlanging: What Can We Learn About Culture from Created Languages?

Christine Schreyer is an assistant professor of anthropology at UBC Okanagan, where she teaches courses in linguistic anthropology. Her research focuses on language revitalization in Canada, and, more recently, in Papua New Guinea, as well as ethnohistorical research on Aboriginal place names in Canada collected by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Abstract

In my Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology class, my students are assigned the task of creating a new language over the course of the term. As the students learn new aspects of linguistic analysis they develop those pieces of their languages, including: phonology, morphology and syntax, proxemics and non-verbal communication, and language change. In this paper, my students and I argue that created languages help anthropology students realize how closely connected language and culture are, since students have usually found it hard to create any piece of their language without first imagining who the people are and what their culture is like (in other words – world building). Finally, we argue that creating languages allow students to more fully understand the concept of “cultural relativity” or the idea that each culture is unique and that we should not judge a culture based on how it compares to our own way of looking at the world.

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English Language Literature

Two Poems in the Kash Language

Roger F. Mills was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1934, served in the US Army from 1956-59, and received his B.A. rather belatedly from New York University in 1964. He attended graduate school in linguistics at the University of Michigan, receiving his Ph.D. in 1975. His main professional interest has been the historical/comparative study of languages of the Indonesian area. He created his first serious conlang in 1976, then devoted much more time to conlanging from 1999 to the present. He is long retired from the fray and now lives in Saugatuck, Michigan, a tiny but amusing resort town on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Abstract

This is the text of two poems written in Kash by Roger F. Mills accompanied by commentary.

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English Language Essays

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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Conlang Descriptions English Language

Srínawésin: Lexicon of Verb Roots and Thesaurus

Madeline Palmer was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1980 and lived there for most of her life until moving to Washington State, eventually attending the University of Washington, Seattle, earning a double-major degree in linguistics and anthropology. She then attended the New York University as a graduate student in linguistics, focusing primarily upon Celtic languages, a field which has long interested her. The idea for Srínawésin came to her about twenty years ago when she read a novel and began to wonder why dragons never spoke in their language in any story, legend or tale she had read. This thought led to thinking about what their language would sound like and this simple question spawned a lifelong interest in language in general and specifically how a draconic language would sound and function. This paper is the accumulation of all of that work.

Book Abstract

Srínawésin: The Language of the Kindred: A Grammar and Lexicon of the Northern Latitudinal Dialect of the Dragon Tongue
This series of papers sets out to describe and detail Srínawésin, the language spoken by dragons. As part of the paper’s fictional background it is adapted from original notes written by Howard T. Davis, a linguistics student at the University of New York from 1932 to 1937, the author attempts to present this language in a readable form for linguists as well as laypeople to give Mr. Davis’ work as wide an audience as possible. Section I includes an overview of the draconic worldview, mindset, and physical characteristics which give this language several “unique” features. In Sections II through VII the author explains the phonetic sounds which comprise the language, the morphology of the words, the ways in which verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and possessives are created as well as how sentences are constructed in grammatical form according to Davis’ notes. Section VIII includes several dialogues in Srínawésin, songs, legends, poems and discussions between Davis and his sources while Sections IX and X comprise an extensive lexicon, breaking down how words are derived from the original root forms, as well as a thesaurus of root forms according to their class structure.

Section Abstract

Srínawésin: Lexicon of Verb Roots and Thesaurus
To complete Srínawésin: The Language of the Kindred, this final section is a user-friendly lexicon and thesaurus of the Dragon Tongue with approximately one thousand commonly used verb roots listed in alphabetical order. The first part is a lexicon of verb roots with each form of verbal, adjectival, adverbial and noun derivations according to class structure listed for many, but not all of the roots. The second section is a thesaurus listing the original verbal roots as noun-verbs, divided up into sub-sections for each of the thirteen classes of the language. The final part is a thesaurus of verbs divided up into various semantic themes such as Hunting, Stalking and Avoiding; Killing Dying and Eating; Personal Characteristics; Animal Descriptions; Flying Maneuvers and Actions and Living Patterns and Actions. This Lexicon and Thesaurus includes all verbal roots used in Srínawésin: The Language of the Kindred to allow anyone who is interested full access to the language.

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Conlang Descriptions English Language

Section VIII: Draconic Speech; Dialogues, Songs and Conversations

Madeline Palmer was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1980 and lived there for most of her life until moving to Washington State, eventually attending the University of Washington, Seattle, earning a double-major degree in linguistics and anthropology. She then attended the New York University as a graduate student in linguistics, focusing primarily upon Celtic languages, a field which has long interested her. The idea for Srínawésin came to her about twenty years ago when she read a novel and began to wonder why dragons never spoke in their language in any story, legend or tale she had read. This thought led to thinking about what their language would sound like and this simple question spawned a lifelong interest in language in general and specifically how a draconic language would sound and function. This paper is the accumulation of all of that work.

Book Abstract

Srínawésin: The Language of the Kindred: A Grammar and Lexicon of the Northern Latitudinal Dialect of the Dragon Tongue
This series of papers sets out to describe and detail Srínawésin, the language spoken by dragons. As part of the paper’s fictional background it is adapted from original notes written by Howard T. Davis, a linguistics student at the University of New York from 1932 to 1937, the author attempts to present this language in a readable form for linguists as well as laypeople to give Mr. Davis’ work as wide an audience as possible. Section I includes an overview of the draconic worldview, mindset, and physical characteristics which give this language several “unique” features. In Sections II through VII the author explains the phonetic sounds which comprise the language, the morphology of the words, the ways in which verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and possessives are created as well as how sentences are constructed in grammatical form according to Davis’ notes. Section VIII includes several dialogues in Srínawésin, songs, legends, poems and discussions between Davis and his sources while Sections IX and X comprise an extensive lexicon, breaking down how words are derived from the original root forms, as well as a thesaurus of root forms according to their class structure.

Section Abstract

Section VIII: Draconic Speech; Dialogues, Songs and Conversations
The final section of this paper has no grammar, rules or standards of usage but instead is a presentation of the language itself, as a unified whole. It includes a variety of dialogues in the original Srínawésin and translated into English between Davis and several of his sources such as Moonchild, Bloody Face and Ash Tongue; as well as several draconic songs, poems and lyrical stories which Howard heard during his time among dragonkind. It also includes a variety of draconic “wise sayings,” which inevitably involve various predatory activities, as well as a short section on draconic riddles and word games which take advantage of several unique characteristics of the Language of the Kindred. This final section presents the language and situations that Howard T. Davis experienced and represents the truest accounting of draconic speech possible under the circumstances.

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Conlang Descriptions English Language

Section VII: Sentence Structure and Speech Patterns

Madeline Palmer was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1980 and lived there for most of her life until moving to Washington State, eventually attending the University of Washington, Seattle, earning a double-major degree in linguistics and anthropology. She then attended the New York University as a graduate student in linguistics, focusing primarily upon Celtic languages, a field which has long interested her. The idea for Srínawésin came to her about twenty years ago when she read a novel and began to wonder why dragons never spoke in their language in any story, legend or tale she had read. This thought led to thinking about what their language would sound like and this simple question spawned a lifelong interest in language in general and specifically how a draconic language would sound and function. This paper is the accumulation of all of that work.

Book Abstract

Srínawésin: The Language of the Kindred: A Grammar and Lexicon of the Northern Latitudinal Dialect of the Dragon Tongue
This series of papers sets out to describe and detail Srínawésin, the language spoken by dragons. As part of the paper’s fictional background it is adapted from original notes written by Howard T. Davis, a linguistics student at the University of New York from 1932 to 1937, the author attempts to present this language in a readable form for linguists as well as laypeople to give Mr. Davis’ work as wide an audience as possible. Section I includes an overview of the draconic worldview, mindset, and physical characteristics which give this language several “unique” features. In Sections II through VII the author explains the phonetic sounds which comprise the language, the morphology of the words, the ways in which verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and possessives are created as well as how sentences are constructed in grammatical form according to Davis’ notes. Section VIII includes several dialogues in Srínawésin, songs, legends, poems and discussions between Davis and his sources while Sections IX and X comprise an extensive lexicon, breaking down how words are derived from the original root forms, as well as a thesaurus of root forms according to their class structure.

Section Abstract

Section VII: Sentence Structure and Speech Patterns
All of the previous sections detailing Srínawésin have involved the way in which the language functioned grammatically, how it was pronounced, how verbs, nouns and adjectives were constructed and how they were modified. This section details not how Srínawésin functions but how it is used in everyday life by its draconic speakers. It includes word ordering, the use of evidential sentence enclitics, disjunctive and conjunctive usages, clauses, question words and speech patterns. It also explains more esoteric concepts such as three-dimensional directions and navigation inherent to a species which can fly, lunar and seasonal names, the various constellations and skywatching terms, poetic and lyrical forms and sensibilities, curses, figures of speech, insults, and various forms of non-verbal communicative strategies used by dragons in their everyday lives. This section ties together all the other more grammatically-based sections and all eight sections give a complete picture of how dragons speak, think, act and use their unique language.

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Analysis Conlang Descriptions English Language Essays

The Sehlerai Language

James R. Russell is Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard and worked previously at Columbia and the Hebrew University (Jerusalem, Israel) as professor of pre-Islamic Iranian languages and religions. He is also in Slavic, shamanism, and Rapa Nui studies. He is an artist, book designer, and motorcyclist, and plays the guitar so-so.

Abstract

Sehlerai is an international language invented by the 19th century Armenian polyglot eccentric of Smyrna Bedros Tenger(ian). This is the first substantial study of it in any language, though limited by the paucity of sources (and these are here studied in depth for the first time). Bedros was the only man in the Near East who ever invented a universal language, complete with the idealistic trappings of the Viennese Enlightenment.

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Analysis English Language Updated

The Contemporary Esperanto Speech Community

Adelina Solis received her bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Scripps College in 2011. This paper was written as part of her fulfillment of her degree. Since then, she has completed a 10-month term as an English teacher in Vietnam through the Fulbright program. She is fluent in English, Spanish, and Italian, and has studied French, Russian, Vietnamese, and American Sign Language. Beyond languages, her interests include art, creative writing, and steak.

Abstract

This study examines the contemporary Esperanto speech community. I begin with a review of the history of universal language movements, the history of language creation, and the development of Esperanto in particular. Then, drawing from 13 interviews with Esperanto speakers and preexisting literature, I address: who comprises the Esperanto speech community, the norms adhered to and ideologies held by members of the speech community, reasons for membership in the speech community, and the speech community’s objectives. Findings show that anyone who speaks the language may be a member of the speech community if they self-identify that way. Speakers are found all over the world, and can be of any age and gender.

Though Dr. Zamenhof’s (Esperanto’s creator) goal for world peace is not critical to the ideology of many contemporary Esperanto speakers, most value the international exchange that participation in the community provides. Some people learn Esperanto because of its founding ideology, while others do because they recognize that with it they can access more people and more information than they could if they did not speak Esperanto. To maximize Esperanto’s effectiveness, it is important to maximize the number of speakers, though current Esperanto speakers disagree about the best way to make this happen.

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Analysis English Language Esperanto Language

How international Is your word?

Johan Derks was born in 1940 to Dutch middle-class parents in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He learned Esperanto at the age of fifteen in secondary school. Johan studied theoretical physics (1957-1965) and sociology (1973-1979), and taught mathematics in Uganda and statistics in Cameroon, for a total of four years. Following his return to the Netherlands, he taught mathematics at various levels. He has been active in various fields such as the peace movement in the sixties and Amnesty International. Since 2005 he is a husband in an Esperanto-based marriage to a Serbian Esperantist, Svetlana Milanović.

Abstract

The concept of “international word” has never found any generally accepted definition. The definition may contain vague quantifiers such as ‘several’ or ‘the majority’. Its meaning may even depend on the language to which it is applied. Therefore it seems impossible to conduct any scientific research on the situations and conditions on why certain words are international and others not.

The interactive program “How international is your word?”, published by J.H. Derks on the site www.esp-evoluo.org, tries to make up for this omission by offering nine quantitative definitions which can be presented in a table with two entries. The first entry allows you to choose between three methods, i. e., counting the number of languages which adopted the word concerned, adding the numbers of native speakers or adding the “virtual academic values” of the languages concerned which entails accepting a Rawlsian definition of language value. The second entry allows you to choose an input base for the statistical calculation needed to compute the “degree of internationality” either starting from the “fifteenth rule” in the Esperanto grammar or from 28 European languages or from 51 languages in the world all over.

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