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Conlang Descriptions English Language

Yuletide Cards from the Dreamtime

James William McCleary was born somewhere, possibly in the usual way, though some accounts claim he was given, as a baby, to an uncle and aunt to rear, after he was given a lightning scar by some Wizard who shouldn’t be named, whereas other accounts claim he arrived in an alien space ship from a dying world and was found in some Kansas cornfields by an elderly farming couple. Sophocles gives a completely different account as to James McCleary’s beginnings, but let’s not get silly.

By the age of eight he was writing and drawing his own stories based upon a character his grandfather had created, a boy character named “Puey.” By the age of twelve he added the character of a Princess who created her own fairy language to these stories, because it seemed like a good idea at the time. In general, fairy languages and Princesses make any story or artwork better, as he came to learn.

In high school he probably studied something, though his surviving notebooks are somewhat filled with doodles of Princesses and a made up language. At university he probably studied something, but his surviving notebooks are completely filled with doodles of Princesses and a made up language. Teachers had no idea what to do with him, and frankly, I can’t blame them.

In 2009 he read a book that claimed that “conlangers” exist. He sought them out using the alchemy of “computers” (some sort of clockwork journal, one my suppose) mostly so that he could exchange Christmas cards with them, since he celebrates Christmas for about half of the year. In 2012 he translated the entirety of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and “Hunting of the Snark”. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Nowadays James McCleary can mostly be found solving crime, fighting dragons, rescuing Princesses, engaging in mad science, and being completely serious. Maybe next year he’ll start making his Christmas cards early since they take so long to craft. He’s never actually met a “conlanger” face to face, but he’s reasonably sure that they, along with mermaids, sasquatches, and the Great Pumpkin, exist.

He has been accused of being silly, a charge which I can assure you is completely false.

Abstract

Do you love Christmas? Yep! Do you love Christmas cards? Sure, we all do!

Making a Christmas Card in a fairy language can be quite a lot of hard work, requiring sketches, a lot of planning, and even more patience. In 2014 James McCleary created eight original Christmas cards featuring text in the Khlìjha language, and he recorded every step in the process. This paper gathers together all of the sketches and works-in-progress of his first Christmas Card of 2014. Each image represents anywhere from one to three hours of work. It takes a lot of Christmas cheer to finish one of these cards, so let’s take a look, shall we?

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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.

Abstract

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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Conlang Descriptions English Language

Siinyamda

Britton Watkins began his career in high tech in his native South Carolina before moving to Japan for much of the 1990s, where he worked for the Japanese company Mitani Shōji, the Apple subsidiary Claris, and eventually the German e-commerce infrastructure software firm, Intershop in various management roles. Since leaving Intershop and returning the to the US, Britton has been and independent consultant specializing in market strategy research and communication strategies for companies like Adobe, Fujitsu and Sony. In 2010 he became interested in conlanging and specifically the intersections of conlanging and film production. Most recently he’s also branched out into filmmaking itself with his husband of 12 years in the roles of writer, producer and art direction/production design.

In addition to his native Southern American English Britton is comfortable communicating in Japanese, Spanish and Na’vi, which was his first major “gateway language” into conlanging. He’s also studied Thai, Mandarin, French, some Latin and Cherokee. His core passions lie in orthography but he loves everything about human (and alien) language and in 2012 was very pleased to teach Zoë Saldana and several other Klingons their lines for Kronos in the JJ Abrams production, Star Trek Into Darkness.

Siinyamda is Britton’s first foray into fleshing out a conlang of his own design to the extent that it might begin to work for everyday communication and he is hopeful that it will live beyond the film for which it was created, Senn.

By day, William S. Annis is a mild-mannered Unix system administrator. By night (and most weekends) he is, by turns, a not very mild-mannered banjo player, a hobbyist language creator, a paid language creator, a reader of science fiction novels and linguistics papers, a terrible gardener, and an ok cook. He is one of the hosts of the Conlangery Podcast. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Abstract

DISCLAIMER: The following document includes topics not suitable for all ages and language not suitable for work (NSFW). Reader discretion is advised.
Siinyamda was created for use in the independent film “Senn” (2013). In addition to a grammar, lexicon and brief texts for the language, this paper discusses the design process for both the language and the writing system, and how that process was shaped by the needs of the film. The fictional internal history of the language is also described. The paper ends with examples of the several typefaces developed for the writing system.

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Conlang Descriptions English Language

Victoria Fromkinʼs Reform-Pakuni of 1995

Thomas Alexander has been interested in languages since his youth. He has a minor in German, spoke Esperanto as a home language for a number of years, and has dabbled in well over a dozen other languages. His conlanging interest is primarily in historical auxlangs, including Volapük and the Zamenhof reform Esperanto of 1894, but with fond memories of Saturday morning television, he also enjoys Pakuni from Land of the Lost.

Abstract

Victoria Fromkin’s Pakuni language was released to the world through the 1974 TV series Land Of The Lost but it wasn’t till more than 20 years later that she released a lexicon and grammatical description of the language. This description was not widely distributed and contains a number of self-described ‘corrections’ to the language as it appeared in the show. It also contains a surprising number of typos and internal inconsistencies. This article discusses those errors and contrasts the language Fromkin described in 1995 to the language seen in the show, and puts Fromkin’s later description in the context of what insight it can give to fans of the show.

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Conlang Descriptions English Language

NailScript: Text as Tuff as Nails…Literally!

Mattthew M. DeBlock received a BA in Chinese from Beijing Language and Culture University as an adult student. Before university, he worked as a Unix software developer, and afterwards as a business consultant in mainland China. He is obsessed with devising codes, data formats, and constructed scripts. A a jack-of-all-trades and “Mad Scientist” at heart, he loves inventing commercially worthless devices to challenge standards and seek strange synergies.

Abstract

Inspired by shoddy carpentry and cuneiform, NailScript is an attempt to devise the simplest most efficient way to write alphabetical text with a hammer and nails. Like cuneiform the nail heads allow directional distinction of lines. Unlike cuneiform, nails can also be laid down in layers upon each other with layer depth preserved and distinguishable. These aspects, along with the ability to fully set the nail leaving only the head visible as a “dot” provide some interesting possibilities.

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Conlang Descriptions English Language

Comprehensive Illustrated Pakuni Dictionary

Thomas Alexander has been interested in languages since his youth. He has a minor in German, spoke Esperanto as a home language for a number of years, and has dabbled in well over a dozen other languages. His conlanging interest is primarily in historical auxlangs, including Volapük and the Zamenhof reform Esperanto of 1894, but with fond memories of Saturday morning television, he also enjoys Pakuni from Land of the Lost.

Abstract

Pakuni was developed by the late Victoria Fromkin and was used in the 1970’s TV program Land of The Lost by Sid and Marty Kroft. A complete description of the language as used in the show has never been published, and a lot of the information on the internet included errors or words that were made up by fans later and were not part of the original conlang. This dictionary is the result of putting together the word lists that had been compiled or published previously and compared to a corpus of carefully transcribed examples of Pakuni from the show. The dictionary includes examples of how the words were used in the show and/or what episode the words were used from.

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Conlang Descriptions English Language

Sodna-lɛni: The Language of Motion

Sylvia Sotomayor has been conlanging since she read Tolkien at an impressionable age. She is best known for the Kēlen language, which won a Smiley Award in 2009. She is currently the Treasurer of the Language Creation Society, and keeps the membership rolls and the LCS Lending Library.

Abstract

This is the grammar of the language Sodna-Leni: a new language, conceived and born in December 2012. While most languages feature an open class of verbs, Sodna-Leni has a fixed set of verbs whose primary semantics are motion-based. Consequently, all action in Sodna-Leni is described in terms of motion.

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Conlang Descriptions English Language

Grammar and Lexicon of Okuna

Matt Pearson received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from UCLA, and currently serves as Professor of Linguistics at Reed College (Portland, Oregon), where he teaches syntax, typology, morphology, semantics, and field methods. His research on word order and clause structure in Malagasy has appeared in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory and other publications. In 1996-97 Matt created the alien language for the NBC science fiction series Dark Skies. Matt’s naturalistic artlang Okuna, developed over more than 20 years, earned a Smiley Award from David Peterson along with a mention in his book The Art of Language Invention.

Abstract

Matt Pearson’s Okuna has long been recognized as one of the premier artistic language created in the modern era. This is the full grammar and lexicon of Okuna presented in one document.

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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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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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