03 January 2007

The Art of Language

Believe it or not, I used to be a well-known character in a certain community. It was a small, focused community with a few luminaries (no, not me), a lot of shared knowledge and expertise, and an e-mail list which was old and respectable. It was the worldwide community of artistic/experimental creators of fictional languages, and the e-mail list was CONLANG — one of those old-time lists that were actually based on a physical listserver, at a time where the World Wide Web was a novelty, and which sent messages to your POP mailbox instead of to a forum-like website. Moreover, CONLANG was full of respectful individuals from all walks of life, people who'd never insult other members, people who (unlike those populating most open forums today) have a good grasp on English spelling and grammar, and a good disposition to either humbly learn or selflessly share what they knew about the most abstruse topics, from ergativity to the history of Germanic strong verbs. I can count myself an amateur linguist (specializing in trivia) thanks to those people.

CONLANG is still all of those things. I stopped writing sketches and grammars and phonologies for fictional languages years ago, and I stopped reading CONLANG (though I'm still subscribed to it). I was doing other things, such as having not-so-healthy fun, working under highly variable amounts of stress, and studying Japanese. Not long ago, someone approached me in a different place and told me he knew who I was — I was the guy who had written a long tutorial called How To Create A Language and kept it updated in a free website for years, then abandoned it, then moved it to a different free website, then lost it (if you need to know, Geocities and Angelfire don't let you upload many files at once comfortably using FTP — I was royally pissed by that), then placed it on a borrowed web space, and finally lost it again when the owner of said space decided not to re-register the domain for another year. Apparently my little tutorial had been linked from many places and now all those links were gone, and well, a tiny part of humanity had lost that valuable information.

So I thought it over and decided I'd start a different thing. How To... was based on the Language Construction Kit, by Mark Rosenfelder. The LCK was very good but I wanted to add my own stuff to it, so I gave due credit and then proceeded to steal parts of it, changing and expanding, giving more examples or alternative ones, and adding entirely new sections. In the end it was very difficult to maintain. Maybe a blog would be better, I thought. I could post a series of short issues covering increasingly complex topics, and I'd have the benefits of easy edition and quick feedback.

You can read the prologue issue of The Art of Language right now, and give your opinion. I realize this is probably not the least bit interesting to most of my readers, but hey, this is a personal blog as well, so why not let you know I have this secret vice...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous21:44

    Have you ever tried the archive to find your old stuff?



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