So I unleashed a giant can of worms today on Reddit, asking if there were any graduate programs centered around or dabbling in constructed languages. The second response I received was from a user who insisted that constructed languages weren’t real languages (with the inevitable example of…
Linguists who harbor resentment towards conlangs are harboring ignorance. In my opinion, studying a natlang or conlang are equally viable options. However, with conlangs, you run the risk of encountering incomplete or generally flat conlangs which are relexes or which don’t really help model any linguistic data. Some conlangs are consciously intended to suit non-human settings or realities (Quenya, Klingon, Dothraki), some are experiments of the mind. Some ARE detailed (Ithkuil, Siwa) and may yield interesting data. But we must remember that, beyond being nat or conlang, the underlying purpose of linguistics is to provide insight into the human MIND and language is merely a way of doing so indirectly. And how does one do so? With native L1 speakers who have active and diverse e- and i-languages. We need languages that have L1 speakers who can make grammaticality judgments and who can give the language diversity and change. Any language in my opinion is “worth” linguistic inquiry so long as we have native speakers who have acquired mental grammars. Sadly in the case of 99% of conlangs, native speakers never arise and thus the conlang is probably not as good a method of inquiry when we have better options that are widely accessible and tremendously complex.
in łaá siri “hug” is derived as “anti-hurt” so “I am hugging you” is “I am anti-hurting you” and I think that is special
here’s something serendipitous:
we’ve been analyzing gurung more and more and noticing that it does have some lexical tone, like in the minimal pairs <tába> (“to descend”) and <taba> (“to happen”). Verbal morphology, however, is heavily suffixing (like nominal morphology in łaá siri), and tone seems to do tricky things when roots are suffixed. In my opinion, it behaves kind of like pitch-accent, in that becomes restricted to one (or maybe two) syllables and tends to move towards the end of a complex morphological form.
Not a lot of work has been done with the language, but we theorize that only one syllable can carry a tone, and it’s usually the last. So for instance, <tába> (“to descend”) becomes:
(it’s also unclear if prosodic rules govern phrases, since many phrases end in rising or high tone)
BUT GUESS WHO’S CONLANG DOES EXACTLY THIS!!!!
when it comes to idiosyncratic translations, I gotta give it to bing
I think one of the most significant moments you can have as a language learner is when you know the meaning of a word, but you can’t explain it in your native language. Because, as frustrating as it may be, it does confirm that that particular language is carving out its own autonomous little nook of your brain.
Indeed. I know exactly how that feels, and it’s unbelievably frustrating, especially since most people don’t actually believe you when you try to explain that feeling.