I have been reading about some existing conlangs recently and I am annoyed by things related to them. One thing which bugs me is that most of them generally are very sexist. aUI is probably the worst offender in this respect since it makes women ‘not active’ with its construction. But other languages which appear innocent at the beginning also are offenders. For example Ilaksh. It is of course the 2nd derivation of the root which means woman and the 1st which means man. This angers me. Apparently, grammatically, women are an afterthought, not as important as the men. This is not a radical feminist thought, IMHO. It annoyed me in my primary school days already that when we hat to conjugate verbs, the 3rd person singular was ‘er/sie/es’ (he/she/it) and I confused my class teacher by, when having to conjugate a verb, always used ‘sie/er/es’ (she/he/it). Not because I thought women were more important, but just to show that it was perfectly acceptable this way. Also, job ads in real life often have the ‘neutral’ male form and then in brackets ‘m/w’ to indicate that both genders can apply. This is supposedly neutral. IMHO it still shows a preference though by using a specific order. For quite a time, this was just something which bugged me for no good reason. Today, however, I read that the order of the surname in the alphabet can (slightly) influence the success of persons in real life (in ’59 seconds’ by Richard Wiseman). Females are in a certain respect ‘last’ the same way the Zuse’s are alphabetically. Now I wonder if we could reverse the gender gap by mentioning males last.
Rejistanian solved these issues in the language and the conculture in a very gender neutral way: It has not only gender-neutral pronouns which are normally used, but the names are also assigned before birth so there are no flowery female names and strong male names. This was in-universe to make sure that the child would not have a bad fate in the afterlife if she or he died during birth. It led to some interesting implications of the name in the rejistanian religion and society.
Outside of rejistanian… no idea… I am hiligting a problem, not mentioning a solution. I guess the easiest thing would be to make sure that rejistanian becomes the world language :þ And if I ever have to construct an ad for a job, I will use the female form of the job title and ‘(w/m)’. It might do nothing but confuse people but that in itself is a good thing. 😉
Something else which strikes me as odd is that conlangers seem to spend a disproportionate time on phonology but very seldomly speak their languages*. I made no formal surveys here, but it seems to be a very prominent topic in the lists and on IRC. I understand the interest in foreign sounds, however I do wonder what the point of an intricate and highly complex phonology is when it is not spoken. I probably spent too little time on it and thus have a rather ‘German’ phonology, I admit that. However, even this is rather hard to speak at the beginning. You need to get into the right mental state. You need to be aware of the stress and the infection. It is not as easy as it appears. It did become easier with every soundbyte I recorded though. So, maybe stop reading this blogpost and read a paragraph in your language out loud. I am sure it will be happy about the attention. 😉
*or if they do, it just seldomly finds the way online which gives me a false impression. Also possible.
In other news, I started working on a universal bending exolang. While it has no official name, I call it quuxlang. Quuxlang is spoken by human-like creatures, at least concerning the shape of their body. Their brain/mind probably works differently. Otherwise, they would not speak such a language. Let me summarize the weirdness:
* no nouns
* no personal pronouns
* no adjectives
So how does quuxlang work? It has relations of 2 or more objects/persons/etc and specifiers, which, well, specify the kind of relation it is. There are also particles which link the specified relation or give the rough equivalent to tenses. There are also pro-relations which are the equivalent to pronouns in other languages. Let me explain this via an example.
uku bantiNala NIa i xugulunYmY fuu i ikI xuhimunuksa fuu ela sijuntabURe ruI
ela sisipa kae i uku sihiHikatA li.
uku bantiNala NIa: uku is a tense which means that the relation existed, but the parts it consist of still exist, ba- is a prefix which indicates that this is a relevant disagreement for the story. It is kinda as if a special infection would be required in a book if hero and villain are used in the same clause. ntiNala means ‘a relation between human and dragon’ and NIa specifies it as a movement of an actor to a place.
i xugulunYmY fuu: i is the simultaneous ‘and’. The previous specified relation left it open who went where so this is now explained: ‘dragon and cave’ ‘actor sleeps at location’. The tense is not mentioned since it does not differ. The prefix xu- explains that the antagonist is described here.
i ikI xuhimunuksa fuu: As further specificatio it is added that the dragon sleeps near its eggs (‘dragon and eggs’ ‘actor sleeps at’). The tense ikI indicates that the relation no longer exists but existed.
ela sijuntabURe ruI: ela is the sequential ‘and’, though here, a ‘then’ would be a better translation. The prefix si- indicates that the protagonist is mentioned. The relation is ‘man and egg(s)’ and the specifier ‘man takes object’. Thus, the man takes the egg or eggs.
ela sisipa kae: si- is again the protagonist suffix and sipa is a pro-relation referring to the last mentioned relation, ie: the man and the unspecified number of eggs. The specifier now is ‘actor carries object’.
i uku sihiHikatA li: and simultaneously, with both parts of the relation still existing even though the relation does no longer, ‘the man and the village’ ‘actor returns to place’.
So the text is about a human who stole the egg or eggs of a sleeping dragon and brought them home into his village.
Is this confusing? I hope so. I got the idea for this language when I read a thread where someone wanted to create a weird language. Let me preempt a few objections you have:
* you cannot describe things!!! I can compare things to each other. That suffices, hopefully. While I cannot say that I have brown hair, I can say ‘currently person to higher up speaks and simultaneously hair to person belongs and simultaneously hair and ground have the same color’. The first specified relation would explain who is the person here, that this person is indeed me.
*A relation is just a unified subject and object!!! Well, there is no rhyme or reason to the way the relations are composed, there is no rule for this, so why impose a pattern?
*Not every verb is transitive!!! In Quuxlang? Sorry, but here every specifier is transitive. Which for example means that I could not say that the dragon was asleep, I had to say where it slept.
And now for the word of the day: it is nahsua which means south or ‘south of’. Nahsua’het is ‘the south’ as in ‘a specific area to the south of us or generally associated with the south’. This word strays from the current topic, but I have eventually managed to scan some handwritten rejistanian text and uploaded it, so I wanted to use the first word of the text. This also means that the example sentence today is written, not spoken. It is the first one of the file: Nahsua’het mi’oejelu. The south is beautiful.