Archive for June, 2008

The History of Your Conlang

Friday, June 13th, 2008
I was thinking about my conlanging today, and specifically about how Yes and No are said in Reformed Pitak and Old Fauleethik, which is simply Sa and Ne, or Sau and Nei (or Saw and Nay to make pronunciation a little more clear). Now the interesting thing I was reflecting on was that I came up with these words a LONG time ago, way before I knew much about phonology, morphology, grammer, etc. But these words have survived through the various iterations and changes I've made over the years. I thought it might be interesting to recount to myself and for you how I've continually made changes and how these words have managed to remain unchanged.

First of all, my phonology has never changed to a point where these sounds would not be allowed, but if it had, I could have just changed a vowel or a consonant and moved on. Second, as I began developing my morphology for words, I had decided that, in Pitak, words ending in -a are generally verbs in the present tense. But, verbs usually have a CVC- structure with an e, a, or o on the end to identify future, present, or past tense. But as I was translating sentences, I liked just using "se, sa, so" for all the tenses of is/be. It took me awhile to remember that I had originally used "sa" for yes. When I did remember, I kind of harumphed and scratched my head for a minute, because I really liked using "sa" for yes, but I also really liked using a short, one-syllable word for the is/be verb. In a flash, I kind of put something together in my head an realized that I didn't need to change anything. "Sa," as a verb, literally meant "it is being." "Yes," in another language, could also mean "it is so" which is pretty close to "it is being." So "sa" would be okay without any changes. This is kind of minor, but it excited me cuz I realized I was "thinking" in my language!

And then, I started thinking, well, this is probably a progression, a shortening, of something from the old days of Pitak. "It is being" is more properly said as "la sa," or maybe "wa sa" for "this is being" (which, in question form, is the same as saying What is being? or, heh, WHASSSUUUP?). So just saying "sa" is basically a shortened form; people came to understand that just saying sa was enough to convey a yes. And so it wasn't hard to jump to "la nesa"being shortened to just "ne!"

Although these insights aren't HUGE, I thought they conveyed a few ways anyone can begin building a history into their conlang.

The History of Your Conlang

Friday, June 13th, 2008
I was thinking about my conlanging today, and specifically about how Yes and No are said in Reformed Pitak and Old Fauleethik, which is simply Sa and Ne, or Sau and Nei (or Saw and Nay to make pronunciation a little more clear). Now the interesting thing I was reflecting on was that I came up with these words a LONG time ago, way before I knew much about phonology, morphology, grammer, etc. But these words have survived through the various iterations and changes I've made over the years. I thought it might be interesting to recount to myself and for you how I've continually made changes and how these words have managed to remain unchanged.

First of all, my phonology has never changed to a point where these sounds would not be allowed, but if it had, I could have just changed a vowel or a consonant and moved on. Second, as I began developing my morphology for words, I had decided that, in Pitak, words ending in -a are generally verbs in the present tense. But, verbs usually have a CVC- structure with an e, a, or o on the end to identify future, present, or past tense. But as I was translating sentences, I liked just using "se, sa, so" for all the tenses of is/be. It took me awhile to remember that I had originally used "sa" for yes. When I did remember, I kind of harumphed and scratched my head for a minute, because I really liked using "sa" for yes, but I also really liked using a short, one-syllable word for the is/be verb. In a flash, I kind of put something together in my head an realized that I didn't need to change anything. "Sa," as a verb, literally meant "it is being." "Yes," in another language, could also mean "it is so" which is pretty close to "it is being." So "sa" would be okay without any changes. This is kind of minor, but it excited me cuz I realized I was "thinking" in my language!

And then, I started thinking, well, this is probably a progression, a shortening, of something from the old days of Pitak. "It is being" is more properly said as "la sa," or maybe "wa sa" for "this is being" (which, in question form, is the same as saying What is being? or, heh, WHASSSUUUP?). So just saying "sa" is basically a shortened form; people came to understand that just saying sa was enough to convey a yes. And so it wasn't hard to jump to "la nesa"being shortened to just "ne!"

Although these insights aren't HUGE, I thought they conveyed a few ways anyone can begin building a history into their conlang.

Conlang film, comments requested

Thursday, June 12th, 2008
FOR WIDE DISTRIBUTION - PLEASE FORWARD

See: http://www.spinnoff.com/zbb/viewtopic.php?t=28210 for original message & more details

O fellow conlangers:

This is about the short film "Conlang" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFc3CvMMY48 - that is just a test for the real thing, set to begin production in two weeks.



We would like to give them as much support as we can in this. Your (very prompt) comments, suggestions, jokes, revisions, etc. (in addition to the specific items mentioned below) would be greatly appreciated.

Additionally, if you have items you could lend as typically conlangery props to use in the film (e.g. themed tshirts, books, & other paraphenalia) please let us know.

Please DO forward this to anyone who would be interested. If you have comments that you would like to discuss publicly, please post them on the ZBB thread linked above.

For all other comments, please use the emails below.

Thanks,
Sai Emrys
President, Language Creation Society

P.S. Please EMAIL responses to:

baldvinkari@gmail.com, davemaulbeck@gmail.com, mam@swandivefilms.com, lcs@conlang.org

... or post them to the ZBB thread above.



---
Salutations!

My name is Baldvin and I'm an Icelandic graduate film student at Columbia University in New York. I've always been very interested in languages but was first introduced to the magic realm of conlangery through my boyfriend, whom you ZBB folk probably know as "vecfaranti". On a side note, vecfaranti's very own "Uscaniv" plays an important role in the movie as the main character's conlang.

Anyway, I've written a short film, CONLANG, that is to be filmed in New Jersey in about two weeks - and we need your help.

The story is about Carl Tedesco, an avid 26-year-old conlanger who has a chance of becoming the president of his Conlanging Club, as the current president is going away to work on a new Star Trek movie as Chief Klingon Adviser. But before he can accept the presidency, he is challenged by another club member, a power-hungry Esperantist by the name of Kip (who plans to turn the club into an Esperanto League). The winner is to be decided in a "Herculean Tournament", as described in the Club Laws. Carl and Kip will compete for the presidency in a series of gruelling linguistical trials that include etymological and phonetic challenges, a Klingon crossword puzzle and a Scrabble game in Sindarin.

I don't want to give away the ending, but lets just say that the greedy Esperantists with their evil plans for world domination and the abolishment of true artistic conlanging get their just deserts.

But in spite of our honorable intentions, the fact of the matter is that we lowly filmmakers (however talented in other areas) need the talent and expertise of real conlangers to make this thing work in a believable way.

If any of you are interested in helping out with any of the following, we would be very grateful and would of course acknowledge your unvaluable contributions in the film's credits.

I should mention that this is a comedy, so we are willing to bend reality in favor of humor, but preferably without breaking it.

What we need:

Trial #1: An etymology of the Jive term "catch you on the flip side". (Note: I must confess I'm not sure if "etymology" is the right word here, since it's a phrase, not a single word. But this phrase was deemed more interesting and funny than the original challenge of tracing the word "tooth" to it's Indo-European origins.)

Trial #2: A phonetic account (IPA) of the American National Anthem as sung with a Southern accent.

Trial #3: A couple of (dirty) limericks in a well-known conlang of your choice.

Trial #4: The Gettysburg Address translated into "hip hop slang" with generous use of the suffix "-shizzle".

Trial #5: A giant Klingon crossword puzzle. (Note: An actual, functional crossword puzzle would be great, but this is a movie so a "fake" one that looks real would suffice.)


Again, any help is greatly appreciated.

Also, if you want to tell us about something that is "totally awesome and just has to be in the movie or otherwise it can't even call itself a conlang movie", please feel free to share.

Someone has already tried to tell me about a left-handed, gay Lithuanian with a red beard or something, but I never really got that joke.

Thank you all in advance!