So, this is a thing, I guess.
How did it happen? And what on earth did I think?
Yesterday, I got an email from the professors inviting me to suggest (and then give) a lecture for this Kolloquium. They wrote to all students who are currently writing or have just finished writing their final thesis, no matter whether it was for a BA, an MA, or a PhD. And as I finished my BA thesis about my own conlang Kviglivok about a month and a half ago, I was one of the recipients. I responded, offering a lecture about the phonetic part of my thesis, namely “What does an invented language sound like?”
I don’t know how many conlangers had the opportunity to talk about their own language in front of a university class full of students of linguistics. I know Tolkien did, which means I kind of have very big shoes to fill, so to say.
I’m nervous. I have a full 90 minutes to fill with my lecture and a discussion about it. Can I get some encouragement in the comments, please?
My latest additions will be four books about some major languages of various regions of the world, compiled by Bernard Comrie and published in 1990.
I ordered them from a reseller of used books since the new versions are pretty expensive. There’s also a compilation available which seems to contain all the languages described in these four books, which is less expensive (and also available from resellers), but also over 1,000 pages long. So if you’re thinking you might want to take it with you for reading on the bus, I’d highly recommend getting the four-book collection ^^
I realised that I left you pretty much hanging when it comes to my decision about my bachelor’s thesis. So here’s confirmation: I will write about my first conlang, with a part about the historical background of artificial languages and famous conlangs and auxlangs.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to keep you updated on my conlanging progress much here since I’d run the risk of getting help I can’t properly reference in my paper, so my professor and I decided that I should rather not blog about it while writing my paper. I will publish it afterwards, though, as soon as it’s been graded.
Both the professors I asked about mentoring me (there are two mentors/examiners for a bachelor’s thesis here in Germany who will both grade it in the end) are excited about my project, and I feel I couldn’t ask for better mentors: one of them is the head of our department of phonetics/phonology, and the other one teaches language variation, and has written a grammar of a rather unknown language as her PhD project (plus, she knows a lot about a ton of languages, and not just European languages).
Already got some valuable advice regarding my conlang from both of them, as well as some literature recommendations.
Anyway, for anyone interested in this topic, I can highly recommend the following books as starting points:
- Okrent, Arika (2010): In the Land of Invented Languages. New York: Spiegel & Grau Trade Paperbacks.
- Peterson, David J. (2015): The Art of Language Invention. New York: Penguin Books.
- Rosenfelder, Mark (2010): The Language Construction Kit. Chicago: Yonagu Books.
Warning, though: You might find yourself in too deep to get back out again once this topic has sneaked its way into your mind and heart 😉
So a few tiny hours ago I was made aware of the fact that language creation is actually something people do (think Tolkien’s languages Sindarin and Quenya, or Star Trek’s Klingon, or Game of Throne’s Dothraki, to name a few famous examples), and not just a few linguistic nuts, but a whole lot of people–often for nothing else but fun! It’s called conlanging (from constructed languages), and there’s even a society dedicated to it in the USA: the Language Creation Society. Go check them out!
So…I just bought some books about language construction from Amazon, and am very curious to read them (not that there are any other books waiting to be read…), and I’m already starting to form some ideas in my brain. So I guess I’ll create yet another category on this blog and see where my brain leads me. Will I actually create a whole new language? Who knows? Maybe. And hey, why the heck not? Tolkien was a historical linguist, I’m studying German and historical linguistics…
Can you create a new language as your bachelor’s thesis? I mean, I already have a topic, but…creating my own language would apply more of what I’ve learned at university so far. Plus, we have a professor who admitted she admires Tolkien and wants to learn his languages one day. So I guess I’d even know which professor to approach about it. And the other project…who says I can’t do that as well? Just without handing it in anywhere?
Can you all say “crazy”? Yes? Yep, see, that’s me in a nutshell. Ah well…what can I say? I love languages.