a conlang is born!

At long last, I’ve completed the first working specifications for my first conlang – constructed language. It’s my first step into a big, big world.

Why invent a language? To quote myself from the specs' introduction:

The reasons for indulging what Tolkien famously called his “secret vice” are hardly unique; to explore the mechanics of language and, quite simply, to have fun. My discovery of conlangs – constructed languages – began when I first took a stab at learning Spanish. As a language related to French, Spanish bears essentially the same grammar and verb conjugations – that is, the same fragrantly irrational grammar and verb conjugations. This led me to Esperanto, the famous “interlang” (international language) created by Dr Ludwig L Zamenhof in 1887, but not to finding a language that makes as much sense as I’d like. Esperanto did, however, lead the way to the wonderful world of conlangs, which comprises everything from well-known conlangs like Klingon to not-so-well-known languages developed by private individuals for their own amusement.

And so comes my first attempt at creating a conlong: Asesulu, which originally began life under the name Amu’ipalo’i. To give you a brief taste, here’s a snippet from Genesis 11 1:9, the infamous Babel text:

11:1 The entire earth had one language with uniform words.
11:2 When [the people] migrated from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar, and they settled there.

11:1 Eto’uku a’ovofe’ele a’otama’oki o’ate u lajaja’uku o’avumu’ele.
11:2 Avena pesonukula o’atusi’oki o’ate de e’asa, ube a’oliki’oki ele Sinar ele vili’uku. Ube o’aliki’oki.

Literal Translation:
11:1 The whole earth possessed a homogenous language.
11:2 When the people migrated from the east, they found in Shimar a valley. They settled.

Beyond the cerebral fun to be had in creating a language (I categorically refuse to use the word geeky), I am planning to put Asesulu to use as a fictional language, namely, as the language for a series of stories, ultimately forming a novel, set in an artistic utopia called the County of Imagination where crimes are investigated by the Department of Forensic Poetry. I have two stories written; before I go on, though, I’m going to edit the existing stories to include Asesulu.

If you want to read more, you’ll find the specs here. And for more on conlangs, check out langmaker.com, a site chock-full of conlanging goodness.


minor pet peeve about deconstruction

Every so often, I'll hear someone use the word "deconstruction" in a sentence. While it doesn't make me cringe per se, it does tend to be a mild irritant if only because there's more to the word than being synonymous with analysis. (Literally, to de-construct, to take apart in order to understand it better, thus to analyze.) The word is simply used in too cavalier a fashion, methinks.

In his Letter to a Japanese Friend, Derrida put it starkly: "
All sentences of the type 'deconstruction is X' or 'deconstruction is not X' a priori miss the point, which is to say that they are at least false." If this is a bit cryptic, the entry on Derrida at Wikipedia isn't necessarily more helpful, in that it mentions, in response to the popularity of deconstruction in literary studies, "Derrida's claims that deconstruction is an 'event' within a text, not a method of reading it."

But perhaps there is some clarity to be found in Derrida's lecture "Signature, Event, Context," (click here for the original French) in which he said:

Deconstruction cannot limit itself or proceed immediately to a neutralization: it must, by means of a double gesture, a double science, a double writing, practice an overturning of the classical opposition and a general displacement of the system. It is only on this condition that deconstruction will provide itself the means with which to intervene in the field of oppositions that it criticizes, which is also a field of nondiscursive forces. Each concept, moreover, belongs to a systematic chain, and itself constitutes a system of predicates. There is no metaphysical concept in and of itself. There is a work - metaphysical or not - on conceptual systems. Deconstruction does not consist in passing from one concept to another, but in overturning and displacing a conceptual order, as well as the nonconceptual order with which the conceptual order is articulated.

The question, then, is how this displacement occurs as an event within a text, while keeping in mind the"someone" that "performs" (or rather inhabits, that is, witnesses) the event of deconstruction. To offer an answer; more reading.