It is quite strange what reactions I get as a conlanger. Either people tell me that there are enough auxlangs already or they just do not understand the point in conlangin at all. There has been a lot written about conlanging, so let me give my 0·02 Kitivalha on this topic:
- Mind your own business! Strong words, but unfortunately they are often justified. It seems to me that most people do not understand conlanging because it is nothing they would do. Well, duh! People do a lot of things for fun even though they are ultimately futile. Take hiking? Why go elsewhere and walk around nature just to return where you started? Well, because of the experience, not because of the end point. Or why getting drunk as a skunk on a Friday night? All you get from that is a hangover. Well, because of the experience. So, maybe, it is possible to understand conlanging like this. Yes, the conlang will never become an auxlang and a world language, but creating it is pleasant to the creator (even though it seems tedious to you)
- Something beautiful will come your way! Have you ever drawn for fun, or sung just for the sake of it? Have you ever felt something when reading poetry (other than boredom)? Do you maybe even play an instrument? Then you might understand that there is beauty and that creating beauty is a pleasant activity. For languages, this is a bit harder to see but it is definitely there. Words have sounds which can be beautiful. Tolkien presents ‘cellar door’ as an example of a word which just sounds beautiful. I would like to present an example from the time when I was very young and occasionally played with a girl of my age and it turned out, that we both disliked our names and really liked the sound of the names of the other one, considered it beautiful. Conlanging has lots to do with creating things which are aesthetically pleasing to the conlanger. And beauty (when it harms no one) is never a bad thing.
- People just want to play with words. Conlanging gives a better perspective on language itself. Not only on vague theoretical issues, but on immediate grammatical or meaning-related questions. Language is important in this civilization. I think that having a better insight in how it works in general and in the specific case of your L1 (native language) or L2 (2nd language) is advantageous.
- Sharing is caring! Personal conlangs exist in a strange area between keeping and sharing a secret. I think personal conlangs like rejistanian can exist to convey a very personal outlook onto life, the universe and all the rest (even in a conculture since this also is a place of your choosing). It can not only help you consider why something should be in the way your conlang forms it but also give new insights in how others perceive the language. Kélen and Kamakawi have been very insightful to me in this respect. Many people like to read books from interesting perspectives, like that of a child or a sheep. What is wrong with getting a different view of a world from a language.
- You can manufacture a miracle! Conlanging gives a sense of reward and archievement. Creating a good grammar and a keeping it natural/consistent/simple/expressive/unambiguous/whatever your goals are is a hard task. It is like a puzzle with thousands of pieces where you never saw the original picture. Figuring out how to put it together in a way which fits right is hard, but a very rewarding activity. And once this set of rules stands and basic vocabulary was created, the real fun begins in that you can see how texts become something alien, and often beautiful in the constructed language. Other people build things just for the sense of archievement, why is it so bad to build languages
- Somewhere only we know. Conlanging is one of the many forms of escaping a bland reality. Especially with conculturing, you really create another world in your mind. This is IMHO a very good thing. Many people show allegiance in one form or another to the worlds from media. This (and the success of fictional media in general) shows me that there is an acceptance for these worlds if they come from someone else. However creating them yourself is still frowned upon unless you are a creator of media. Why is that? Is it really so bad to define yourself not by what media you consume (“I am a Star Trek fan”) but by what you create (“I am a conlanger”)?
- Not all conlangs will be the next Esperanto. Well, duh! You do also probably play some form of sports despite never being the best in it. You might do other activities purely recreationally. Not everyone who paints hopes that his pictures will one day be in the Museum of Modern Art. Not everyone who makes music hopes to be the next Mick Jagger. However, the project is still important to them. With apologies to Ally McBeal, we can say: “What makes your conlang so much more important than all the other ones?” – “It is mine.” And that is fully okay. Creating a personal language is a task worth doing if you enjoy these sort of things. I have already mentioned reasons to do it. In the long run nothing we do matters, but from our perspective, it matters to us. Martin Luther is attributed to say that he would plant an apple tree if he knew that the world would end tomorrow. Me? I would probably create some more vocabulary for rejistanian.
Sorry for the length, but this is the n+xth time I heard an uninformed comment about conlanging.
Now, some more comments on the idea behind rejistanian:
- Rejistanian was supposed to be simple. But not to the point where a simple term has to be constructed via difficult paraphrasing.
- Rejistanian was supposed to be exact but not to the point where it forces you to overspecify or where it is too tedious to construct a simple sentence.
- Rejistanian was supposed to sound less traditionally euphonic but instead follow a personal idea of beauty which might sound harsh and unappealing to others
- Rejistanian is associated with the constructed nation Rejistania in the game NationStates, a tropical 2nd world nation.
- Rejistanian was supposed to be usable in the modern world. No Tolkienesque fantasy for me. I want to talk about version control systems, mice, the internet, autobahns and Large Hadron Colliders if I want to. And the fact that Rejistania is a developping nation also means that the attitude towards these things is far less negative than here.
- Rejistanian was supposed to have auxlang character in-universe. This is related to the goal of simplicity. Rejistanian can be learned by reading through half of the grammar file and looking at how I create sentences as someone told me. It is not necessarily naturalistic during this though.
- Rejistanian was supposed to have vocabulary and idioms which do not just relex German or English but reach the meaning as Rejistanis would say it. Which can mean intransparent constructions instead of transparent ones (‘xana for “to cut into”) but also and rather often the other way around (‘xatsa for “to moon” is derived from the word for “arse”, ‘xetsukovomin for “to elect” is literally “choose-government”, “marriage” is antal’het vasina, ie: celebration of love).
- Rejistanian is suitable for a number of inside jokes no-one is supposed to get. 😉