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Do Linguists Dream of Electric Sheep?

GU, SPL, Joe Trotta

joe trotta

on 27 March 2013

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Transcript of Do Linguists Dream of Electric Sheep?

? Tolkien considered languages inseparable from the mythology associated with them, and he consequently took a dim view of auxiliary languages: in 1930 a congress of Esperantists were told as much by him, in his lecture A Secret Vice, "Your language construction will breed a mythology", but by 1956 he had concluded that "Volapük, Esperanto, Ido, Novial, &c, &c, are dead, far deader than ancient unused languages, because their authors never invented any Esperanto legends". (Letter 180, 1955) The invention of languages is the foundation. The 'stories' were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows. […] It [LotR] is to me, anyway, largely an essay in 'linguistic aesthetic', as I sometimes say to people who ask me 'what is it all about?' (Letter 205, ca.1955) ConLangs basic mechanics Láadan uses a so-called evidence particle Láadan: Suzette Haden Elgin attended the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) basic mechanics Bíi -- Indicates a declarative sentence (usually optional)
Báa -- Indicates a question
Bó -- Indicates a command; very rare, except to small children
Bóo -- Indicates a request; this is the usual imperative/"command" form
Bé -- Indicates a promise
Bée -- Indicates a warning The evidence particle – this occurs at the end of statements and indicates the trustworthiness of the statement. They are:

wa -- Known to speaker because perceived by speaker, externally or internally
wi -- Known to speaker because self-evident
we -- Perceived by speaker in a dream
wáa -- Assumed true by speaker because speaker trusts source
waá -- Assumed false by speaker because speaker distrusts source;

wo -- Imagined or invented by speaker, hypothetical
wóo --Used to indicate that the speaker states a total lack of knowledge as to Láadan: basic mechanics Final Fun vs. Useful Láadan How do ConLangs affect the reader’s perception of the text?
Unintentional reflections of societal issues? How are they constructed?
What do SF ConLangs tell us about ’real’ language? What is a ConLang? (Invented? Planned? Imaginary? Artificial?...) Reconstructed Proto-Languages: Indo-European, Anatolian
Reconstructed Modern Languages: Modern Hebrew ? ? Questions Conlang workload: CONLANG
DEVELOPMENT Never used, no examples, only explained Fully developed with Grammar, Lexis, Phonology Ornamental Main, central theme – hypogram? ‘ABOUTNESS’ Text is written primarily in ConLang – High Demand on Reader Reader never needs to ‘learn’ any part of ConLang CONLANG DEPENDENCE The functions of fictional languages:
- to help create the fictional world
- to construct meaning and identity in the text (identity in terms of personal, group, national, etc)
(cf. Barnes & van Heerden 2006) REPRESENTAMEN: the ‘sign vehicle’ (could be a combination of phonemes (/p3:rs/), a combination of letters (‘Peirce’), a picture, etc. Peirce & INTERPRETANT: NOT an interpreter but rather the sense made of the sign OBJECT; what the sign stands for; the referent (the denotation) the SF/RL JRR Tolkien Suzette Haden Elgin Peirce: Some issues/ 3 dimensions ? No language is justly studied merely as an aid to other purposes. It will in fact better serve other purposes, philological or historical, when it is studied for love, for itself.
(Tolkein -- ‘English and Welsh’ lecture, University of Oxford, October 1955) (Monkeys, Dolphins, Elves & Klingons) Human vs. Non-human Sociolinguistic aspects (Prestige & Symbolic Capital) (Native speakers, baby Klingons Semiosis Unlimited Semiosis interface Nadsat, Newspeak, & complicated Esperanto) Selected Láadan: Láadan: "...women need to realize that SF is the only genre of literature in which it's possible for a writer to explore the question of what this world would be like if you could get rid of [X], where [X] is filled in with any of the multitude of real world facts that constrain and oppress women. Women need to treasure and support science fiction." She has a Ph.D. in linguistics, and was the first UCSD student to ever write two dissertations (on English and Navajo). background Láadan is a verb-subject-object (VSO) language. Verbs and adjectives are interchangeable. There are no articles, and the object is marked by the -th or -eth suffix. The plural number is shown only by the me- prefix to the verb (wo- is used in some versions of the language). Láadan uses a speech act particle The particle 'ra' following a verb makes it negative. Nobody believes me when I say that my long book is an attempt to create a world in which a form of language agreeable to my personal aesthetic might seem real. But it is true. (Letter 205, February 1958). Klingon: proverbs/sayings Hab SoSlI´ Quch – ‘Your mother has a smooth forehead.’

Quv Hulth HoHbogh tlhIngan ´ach qabDaj ´angebe´bogh – ‘
The Klingon who kills without showing his face has no honor.’

Dubotchugh yIpummoH – ‘If it is in your way, knock it down.’

bIjatlh ´e´yImev yImev yItlhutlh – ‘Stop talking and drink.’

bortaS nIvqu´ ´oH bortaS´e – ‘Revenge is the best revenge.’ Quenya Thank you for your Attention! perspectives The speech-act particle – this occurs at the beginning of the sentence and marks it as either a statement (bíi), a question (báa), a command (bó), etc; in connected speech or writing, this particle is often omitted. They are: qatlho, Hantanyel áala, Benjamin Lee Whorf Marc Okrand Paul Frommer George Orwell Anthony Burgess Chomsky’s UG & Universalist Principles if evil intent by the source is also assumed, the form is "waálh" the validity of the matter (Klingon) (Láadan) (Quenya) (Rigellian) see: http://www.laadanlanguage.org * Samuels, David. (2005) ‘Alien Tongues.’ in Battaglia,
D. (ed) E.T. Culture. Anthropology in Outer Spaces ( not presented in any rigorously acadmic way - feel free to contact me if you need help finding these: joe.trotta@eng.gu.se) * Russ, Joanna. (1985) “Another Addict Raves About K/S” in Clark, V & Storey, B.
(eds.) Nome 9. * Hockett, Charles. (1957) "How to Learn Martian" in
Greenberg, Martin (ed) Coming Attractions. * Armitt, Lucie. (1991) "Your Word Is My Command: the Structures of Language and
Power in Women's Science Fiction." in Armitt (Andrews), Lucie (ed.) Where No Man Has
Gone Before: Women and Science Fiction, * Rosenfelder, Mark. (2010) The Language Contruction Kit. * Adams, Michael (ed). (2001) From Elvish to Klingon:
Exploring Invented Languages. * Barnes, Myra Edwards. (1975) Linguistics
and Languages in Science Fiction-Fantasy. * Delaney, Samuel. (1977) The Jewel Hinged Jaw. * Meyers, Walter E. (1980) Aliens and Linguists. * Okrent, Arika (2009) In the Land of Invented Languages. * Rabkin, Eric S. (1979) “Metalinguistics
and Science Fiction.” Selected References Auxiliary: Esperanto, Loglan, Volapük Simplfied: Globish, Basic English Thought Experiment: Brithenig, Wenedyk Engineered: Kēlen, Ithkuil some Preliminaries Artistic human & non-human ConLangs: A Clockwork Orange – A. Burgess (1961)
1984 – George Orwell (1948)
Riddley Walker - Russel Hoban (1980)
The Book of Dave - Will Self (2006) Babel-17 - Samuel R. Delany (1966)
Star Trek (mostly relevant after 1984)
Avatar (Film) (2009) Gulf (Novella) - Robert A. Heinlein (1949)
The ‘Native Tongue Series’ – S. H. Elgin (3 Vol, 1984–1993)
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien (3 Vol, 1954–55)
The Call of Cthulu – HP Lovecraft (1929) The Embedding - Ian Watson (1973)
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson (1992) Future English Alien ConLang Other ConLang Linguistic Theory Why are conlangs created and what part do they play in the story?
Do they reflect societal issues?
What linguistic theories are used and how are they implemented? In 1924, Whorf wrote a science fiction novella called 'The Ruler of the Universe' - the ideas in which he would develop into the Whorf hypothesis. (see, for example, Meyers 1980, 160) I can has cheezburger? ConLang as 'hypogram'? (paragram?) biorigging, terre/s, terretech, trid, shiftparents, floak/er/ing, miab, autom, immer, sopor, augmen, exot, trunc, curio... ... biopolis, citynaut, fanwing, giftwing, Turingware, datspace, manchmal, megahours, voidcraft, hai ... It’s me who’s monomaniacal, here: it’s unfair to insinuate that all Hosts cared about was Language, but I can’t fail to do so. This is a true story I’m telling, but I am telling it, and that entails certain things. So: the Hosts cared about everything, but Language most of all. Your attentionfullness Thankfullness shown (Ariekene Language) Saussure & the sign Saussure’s model of a Sign
(Chandler, 1994) (Xeno)linguistic How does the ConLang in question affect/ alter/disturb/challenge the ‘reading’ process? How does the ConLang in question contribute to an understanding of the characters? Of the text itself? (this is often a sociolinguistic question) Cf. defamilarization (Shklovsky), obtuse meaning (Barthes), 'free play' or floating signification (Levi-Strauss/Derrida). Effects remarks Sheep? Joe Trotta A Look at Constructed Languages in Speculative Fiction SPL/English of University Do Linguists Dream of Electric Gothenburg Láadan, Klingon, Na’vi, Quenya Arkieki Language "if you are a writer who happens to be a human, I think it's definitionally beyond your ken to describe something truly inhuman, psychologically, something alien." “the Ariekei . . . hear the soul in each voice. That’s how the meaning lives there. . . . And it has to be there, the meaning... has to be true to be Language” Michel Riffaterre Saussure Sapir-Whorf
Theory (not covered in today's talk) We speak Rigellian, but through an amazing conincendence it sounds exactly like English... ASL, Bliss Symbols Visual Languages: (Embassytown, Miéville, 2012) SIGN
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