Monday, April 21, 2008

artlangs (artisitic) used in fictional works

D: today we'll look at Tolkien and his fantasy languages from Lord of the Rings (LoTR). Plus, Klingon from Star Trek.

Tolkien was a huge language designer.
"...artistic languages usually have irregular grammar systems, much like natural languages. Many are designed within the context of fictional worlds, such as J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth and Mark Rosenfelder's Almea. "

"Parallel to Tolkien's professional work as a philologist, and sometimes overshadowing this work, to the effect that his academic output remained rather thin, was his affection for the construction of artificial languages. The best developed of these are Quenya and Sindarin, the etymological connection between which formed the core of much of Tolkien's legendarium. Language and grammar for Tolkien was a matter of aesthetics and euphony, and Quenya in particular was designed from "phonaesthetic" considerations; it was intended as an "Elvenlatin", and was phonologically based on Latin, with ingredients from Finnish, Welsh, English, and Greek"

D: this artlanger did not like auxlangs at all!
"Tolkien considered languages inseparable from the mythology associated with them, and he consequently took a dim view of auxiliary languages: in 1930 a congress of Esperantists were told as much by him, in his lecture A Secret Vice, "Your language construction will breed a mythology", but by 1956 he had concluded that "Volapük, Esperanto, Ido, Novial, &c, &c, are dead, far deader than ancient unused languages, because their authors never invented any Esperanto legends"

D: what little success Esperanto had was due to its association with the internationalist then world peace movements.

Klingon is similar to Elvish in why it is successful.

"A small number of people, mostly dedicated Star Trek fans or language aficionados, can converse in Klingon. Its vocabulary, heavily centered on Star Trek or 'Klingon' concepts such as "spacecraft" or "warfare", can sometimes make it cumbersome for everyday use — for instance, while there are words for "transporter ionizer unit" (jolvoy') or "bridge (of a ship)" (meH), there is currently no word for "bridge (that you drive over)". Nonetheless, mundane conversations are common among skilled speakers."

D: note the "small number of people" vastly exceeds the number that speak Esperanto!
Again, we see the power of inspiring the imagination of viewers, and showing language as part of a the rich backdrop of some fascinating culture.

D: I plan to showcase my languages in similar fashion. VERSE (google dinosnider666), a futuristic quasi-creole with a tone system, is just part of a sea nomad subculture. I try to imagine a scenario where the pressures would exist to bring such a language into being based on the utility it provides.
Decimese works better with a completely isolated culture, perhaps a scifi new planet colony. Auxlangs suffer from a conundrum. They would be useful- if only everyone already knew them! But nobody wants to be an 'early adopter', for fear of being only able to talk to themselves.

Attaching to some ideological movement has some merit for an auxlang, essentially adopting some surrogate subculture to call its own.
Lojban and "The Brights" and/or hard atheists might be an example of this.
D: I'll cover Lojban tomorrow. It deserves its own entry.

The Brights (self-named).
D: at best they are religious naturalists. At worst, they simply place their faith in science.
D: they just accept that humans will feel such religious sentiments as joy, a sense of wonder and awe and mystery. But direct it towards the natural universe.


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