Conlangery 138 medallion

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Jessie Sams comes on the show to talk to us about how she uses conlanging in the classroom. We discuss how these courses can be designed, what fields of linguistics they address well, and the results she saw from the course. Jessie also requested the following message be added to the notes:

I would also like to thank David J. Peterson, who has visited with my conlang students the last three times I’ve offered the course. His visits have been incredibly beneficial for both my students and me. Students don’t often have the chance to speak with the author of their textbook, so it’s an amazing experience.

Top of show Greeting: Nál [nɑːl] by Carl Avlund

Links and Resources:

4 Responses to “Conlangery #138: Jessie Sams and Conlangs in the Classroom”

  1. Andrew J Smith

    Yes, it was Christine Schreyer who had also done some academic conlanging work. If you use mnemonic devices, I suppose you could try “Johann Schleyer made Volapük, but Christine Schreyer made Kryptonian.”

  2. Dirk

    At the end of the episode, you asked for comments from other academics who teach or use conlanging in their courses. I also teach a conlang class at my institution (Brigham Young University). In the linguistics program, students must take a capstone course, whose purpose is to serve as a “culminating experience” in the major. Ideally, the capstone synthesizes multiple areas of the discipline (phonology, morphology, syntax, etc), and there is a significant writing component. Each faculty member who teaches a capstone usually approaches it from the vantage point of their own research. I’ve done that as well (I study the indigenous languages of the North American Great Basin), but my favorite capstone to teach is on conlanging.

    My conlang course is organized under two headings: Constructed Languages and Language Construction. The first is organized typologically using the Gnoli Triangle, which groups constructed languages around three axes: Artlangs, Auxlangs, and Engelangs. We discuss properties of each type and look at representative languages. We also discuss some of the history and the personalities involved, using Arika Okrent’s book In the Land of Invented Languages and Michael Adams’ From Elvish to Klingon. These discussions take place on Mondays and Wednesdays (the course is taught MWF). At the end of each section students write short research reports about specific languages as exemplars of their type and times.

    The second heading, Language Construction, is devoted to the students’ own projects. We go through the different areas of linguistics as a refresher, and talk about how they might make decisions about what to include or exclude from their own projects within each area. These discussions take place on Fridays. The students write sections of a grammatical sketch for their own languages as we finish reviewing each area within linguistics.

    The course final is a poster session. The students prepare a display about some aspect of their language or the culture of its speakers and we all go around and ask each other questions. Students also turn in a final version of their grammar (including a short text).

    I’ve taught the course twice now, and I’m scheduled to teach it again this fall (2019). The students seem to enjoy it. I certainly do!

  3. Carl Avlund

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to be listed as the creator of Nál. Thank you so much for including it!

    • admin

      Of course. The only reason we don’t list conlanger names automatically is that we were once asked to remove that credit from a language.


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