Posted by & filed under Podcast.

We talk at length about linguistic typology and all the weird and wonderful tendencies that human languages seem to have.  We also talk a little on Láadan, the language for women that our own token woman isn’t too fond of (philosophy-wise, anyway).


Featured Conlang: Láadan


First, could you post the link to Bianca’s conscript rant page?

Second, a very interesting discussion on “judging” conlangs. Of course, this is an old discussion, and not one that is going to go away any time soon, but I would suggest that there’s an additional element that’s not often taken into account: effort. For example, most people, if they go into a museum of modern art, will say, “I could throw something like that in 10 minutes from the junk in my garage!” Yes, there’s the message that the artist may be wanting to convey, but it’s a (universal, I believe) human trait to devalue that which is mass-produced, quickly made, with (apparently) little thought or effort put into its execution., especially if it has little to no utilitarian value. So in the case of modern art (especially the worst excesses), any message will be lost to the knee-jerk reaction, “This is junk, and someone actually paid good money for this?”

Now, very few conlangers are getting paid to create conlangs, and the Secret Vice is most likely to remain firmly within the realms of amateurs (in the best, original sense of the word) for a long time to come. However, I think that we can attach a fundamental value to effort when it comes to conlanging. It’s not about whether a conlang is “good” or “bad”, but the value we attach to it. I think it’s safe to say that generally speaking, a conlang “sketch” will be found to be of lesser value than something that has been a labor of love for years, decades even. We naturally find higher value in a conlang that has more detail and shows signs that a lot of time and mental energy has been invested in it; we might not like it for aesthetic reasons, but we can still admire it and find value in it, because the conlanger invested value into it. All a sketch can offer is a passing, “Oh, that’s clever.”

That’s not to say that a sketch has no value, just lesser. The value of a sketch is precisely in it’s ability to make us pause and say, “That’s interesting, I’d like to see that idea fleshed out some more and put into practice.” But what we’re really doing is valuing the idea. A mature conlang (or maturing–are they ever finished?), on the other hand, will be valued for what it is, in and of itself.


10 Responses to “Conlangery #06: Linguistic Typology”

    • admin

      Bonus points to anyone who pulls all those “magnificents” into a mashup and emails it to me.

  1. Ian

    Since you asked for feedback, I’ll post my thoughts here.

    I really enjoy listening to your podcasts, so be sure to make many more. I suppose that I’m a bit new to the conlang community, so I always find your podcasts informative and inspirational.

    Keep up the good work,


  2. Teal Briner

    Hi! This comment is coming a few years late, as I’m working through your archives, but you mentioned that a German university made a list of things that are generally rare, linguistically–but you didn’t link to it! I tried googling for it but I can’t seem to get it. Would you be willing to add a link? I’m very curious to look the list over.


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