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William is leaving (temporarily), but don’t worry, we have one more episode before he goes.  Also, we talk with Eric about his lovely language Tayéin

Top of Show Greeting: Frixàð

Featured Conlang: Tayéin


Email from Sai:

George, William, & Mike –


Alex & I were just listening to your podcast #62 while on a road trip,
and you mentioned a couple things we’d like to respond to.

1. You mentioned that you don’t know any conlangs that have logophor;
our gripping language does. (

Gripping is built specifically as a two-person tactile language,
communicated entirely through finger presses made between two speakers
who are holding hands (with opposite hands’ palms facing). Because
Gripping intrinsically has two extrinsincally asymmetric speakers,
there are likewise two well defined pronouns rather than the usual
first/second person – one for the speaker whose thumb is underneath,
and one for the speaker whose thumb is on top (which we call ‘sub’ and
‘dom’ respectively).

These two pronouns are part of a range of five terms (which we call a
‘thumbscale’); they are produced by one speaker’s thumb tapping the
other speaker’s thumb at any of five locations, from wrist to
thumbtip. Thumbscales are extremely frequent in Gripping, and mostly
made to take advantage of the natural feature of the mode. The other
three pronouns in the scale are a neutral third person pronoun, one
for the last bound referent of dom’s, and one for the last bound
referent of sub’s; the last two function somewhat like a deixis
system, for things that are closer to one speaker or another, either
spatially or metaphorically (eg ownership).

For subordinate clauses, we use logophor. Within the clause, ‘dom’ and
‘sub’ refer to the (first mentioned) speaker and their audience
respectively (as if they were the ones speaking), and the dom’s 3rd /
sub’s 3rd pronouns refer to the dom and sub of the matrix clause; the
neutral 3rd pronoun is unchanged (becoming the only general purpose
third person pronoun).

Gripping is of course an engineered language, in which our objective
was to optimize for the medium, rather than any concern for
naturality. Neither of us know of any naturalistic artlangs that use

2. You suggested making a new conlang on the show, mentioning my
conlang presentations as an example. Of course I think this is a great
idea. 😉

As you probably know, I’m actually not an artlanger at all; my own
conlanging interests are pretty strictly in engelanging, mainly in how
the boundaries of language can be stretched or how languages could be
made to better exploit an underused medium. The reason I do artlanging
for my presentations is because I think it’s actually a much better
and more approachable teaching exercise. You get to cover the whole
gamut of linguistics, you have to consider (and therefore know) what
the normal range is and what works well together aesthetically, etc.

It’s also a lot easier to do quickly, since the options are usually
relatively clear, and the considerations are more ones of aesthetics
and consistency. With an engelang (at least for me), I find that my
major difficulties are in just understanding what the possible space
of solutions is, how to drastically reframe a familiar linguistic
feature to better suit a new situation, etc. It’s of course a process
I quite enjoy, but doing it quickly and out loud is rather hard.

I’d be quite interested to see how actual artlangers, like yourselves,
would take on the problem of making a new collaborative artlang live
on air. I’ve always felt a little awkward doing it for my
presentations, since for me it’s kinda like composing poetry in a
language whose grammar I’ve read but which I don’t really have any
practice at speaking – something I can do when needed, but doesn’t
come naturally. I’d love to see native speakers at work, as it were.

For that matter, if anyone feels like trying their own hand at giving
such presentations at conferences, I’m happy to help, and all my
materials are CC by–nc-sa, so feel free to copy my slides; just share
them yourself and give me credit.

3. If you’re interested, we’re both curious as to what you have to say
about UNLWS (see &
Not sure how it’d do with an audio-only medium, though. 😛

I enjoy the show, and hope you keep up the good work.

As for your length, from my own experience I’d suggest you actually
try to keep the length a little bit shorter; your last few podcasts
are pretty reasonable. Don’t cut good content, but if you find that
you’re starting to ramble or repeat yourself, that’s a good place to
cut. Tighter presentation tends to be more interesting and easier for
people to listen to (since everyone has limited time); of course it’s
a balance with requiring more time to edit, and a somewhat less chatty

Just as a comparison, I generally do interviews with a rough outline
in hand of what I want to cover, and I do them for whatever length of
time feels natural; typically this means about 1.5h of interview,
about half of which can get cut without really leaving anything
substantive out.

Fiat lingua,

8 Responses to “Conlangery #65: Tayéin”

  1. Pete Bleackley

    One advantage of an Android phone with a touch screen is you can install a multilingual keyboard app. Because Khangaþyagon uses þ, ð and æ, I have mine set to Icelandic.

    • admin

      Well, iOS has language options, too. But with Android you can install third-party alternatives, which may be better because the iOS handwriting input for Chinese is not great and I have no way to replace it except inside of one specific app.

  2. MBR

    I inadvertently tracked down the “I ate a grape” thing while I was listening to archives. In #40: Dialects and Kunstsprachen, at around 1:00:00, George was reading an example from the featured conlang. The example was fairly complex, and George said that it was a bit too hairy, saying that, “Example number one should be something like ‘I ate a grape.'”

  3. Sascha Baer

    I’m curious what exactly you mean with “hungry grammar”; never encountered the term before (I’ve been listening to episodes here in a rather random order)

    • wm.annis

      I mean that words (and grammar, since I don’t seem them as different phenomena) are not merely polysemous, but they are actively polysemous. If they are in range of useful open semantic territory that isn’t well defended by another construction, they will go claim it.


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