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Case 8: Meet the Conlangers, center | by donaldboozer
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Case 8: Meet the Conlangers, center

(Top)Meet the Conlangers: The World-wide Community of Language Creators


8.A. Text: Introductory paragraph

Conlanging transcends national boundaries and enjoys a global community of enthusiasts. A “census” of the Zompist Bulletin Board reveals members from the USA, Finland, France, New Zealand, Germany, UK, Hungary, Scandinavia, and South America. Conlanging is also multigenerational with ages of language creators and enthusiasts ranging from teens to senior citizens. Take a look at the attendees of the Language Creation Conference in this exhibit case. So, without further ado, may we introduce...


(Top left) David J. Peterson

Conlanger Extraordinaire


One of the most active conlangers on the web is David J. Peterson. He wrote the "Conlanger's Manifesto," was one of the speakers at both Language Creation Conferences so far (2006 and 2007), has been a vocal member of the CONLANG listserv for well over five years, has one of the finest web sites ( on the Internet devoted to conlanging (and his other various pursuits), and was President of the Society of Linguistics Undergraduates (SLUG) at UC Berkeley. In addition to creating languages like Kamakawi, Zhyler, Wasabi, Megdevi, and many others, David also created SLIPA (Sign Language International Phonetic Alphabet), a detailed system for representing all possible gestures in any signed language which can also be used to create a constructed sign language. Currently, David is also a member of the Board of Directors, as well as Treasurer and Secretary of the Language Creation Society ( and is a contributor to The Speculative Grammarian (, an online journal of linguistics humor.


David is a University of California (UC), Berkeley, alumnus (where he majored in English and linguistics); his Master's degree in Linguistics is from UC San Diego. David is currently adjunct professor of English at Fullerton College in California: the "Writing Guide" section of his web site is humorous as well as highly informative. He was also engaged last year to a fellow UCSD graduate, Erin McPherson. In his 2-man band, Number 6, David plays guitar, bass, and ukulele, and he sings. David is a devoted Mac user when it comes to computers: "I very use a Mac (try to make sense of that one, Chomsky!)."


Several Babel Texts translated by David are included throughout this exhibit, as well as the "Conlanger's Manifesto," (Exhibit Case #2) and his review of Describing Morphosyntax (Exhibit Case #3).


The Babel Text in Kamakawi (transliteration)

1.Ka peka i ape kalaka oi oalala poi.

2.Kau imawawakaiu upea a ie ku neva'a i ava ae peka Tinala pe, ku hepale ae pe.

3.Ku hekala i ika ti, "He'ea, he lama ue i timitiú u kava i uamo." Kae timitiú i leya ka iele i i'iele poupea.

4.Ku hekala poiu ti, "He paki ue i paleumi oi penute i ue a kopu ono o penute iu kawi, au atau ue, heoku u kawakawa'u heva e ave o peka."

5.Ka kau Takepolilao ele mata ie paleumi oie penute kau paki mali tiemi i.

6.Ke hekala poiu ti, "He! Ape peka, a ape kalaka i upea uila, au hepaka upea i iko. Oku li'u eleumi au takepo'u upea i hoa liwi'u upea a.

7.Ima! He kau ei e mimile ie kalaka o upea pe, aupe kala upea ioku ika.

8.Ke kawakawa Takepolilao i upeape heva e ave o peka, kau pu'uke upea ie paleumi.

9.Ape tomi'u amo ti "Imimile", ale mimile Takepolilao ie kalaka o inotu uila pe, e kawakawa i upeape heva e ave o peka.

Translated by David J. Peterson



(Top right) Mark Rosenfelder

"The Zompist"


Mark Rosenfelder, a.k.a. “The Zompist” or “The Zomp”, has been creating languages and worlds since he was in grade school. One of The Zomp’s major gifts to the conlanging community is his Language Construction Kit (, often the first stop for beginning conlangers. The Kit provides a step-by-step approach to creating one’s own language compiled from resources gathered by Mark while attempting to learn linguistics on his own. Topics as diverse as what sounds to use in a conlang to how to construct language families and dialects are covered. The Zompist Bulletin Board, one of the Internet’s main forums for conlangers and con-worlders, is yet another of Mark’s contributions and is available at


Mark’s monumental online work, Virtual Verduria (, began as a Dungeons & Dragons setting in his college days. It is the result of over twenty years of tinkering with concepts as diverse as language, history, chemistry, biology, and mythology. Virtual Verduria provides myriad details of Mark’s fantasy world of Almea, from the creation of its planetary system to the evolution of its indigenous inhabitants, and includes comprehensive maps, native stories, and myths of the various nations. There are a dozen individual languages or language families with grammars, vocabulary, and text samples. Mark has succinctly explained how he does all this by saying, “I have no kids and I don’t watch TV.”


Although The Zomp’s day job may be as a programmer, he has assured himself a spot in the Pantheon of Conlangers with his selfless activities in support of the art.


(Photo courtesy of Mark Rosenfelder)


(Bottom left) The Official Conlang Flag

The idea of a “conlang flag” was proposed by David J. Peterson on the CONLANG listserv in a message on Aug. 29, 2004. The next day, Adrian Morgan responded by saying: “Right, it's time to take this seriously,” and a rough sketch was submitted. Discussion on the topic was brisk, over twenty designs and revisions were submitted, and the results were announced on September 23, 2004. The basic layout was suggested by Leland Paul, but the winning flag’s final design was created by Christian Thalmann. Paul’s posting provides some of the symbolism: “Against a purple sky, signifying creativity, an orange sun rises, orange signifying energy, imagination, and communication. It sheds its light over a dark, not-yet-seen world. Silhouetted against the sun is the Tower of Babel, proclaiming the noble nature of the linguistic diversity.” The Tower of Babel also brings to mind the ubiquitous Babel Text often used as a translation exercise. The Conlang Flag has been displayed prominently at the Language Creation Conferences and can be seen on numerous conlangers’ web pages.


(Bottom Middle) Andrew Smith

Creator of Brithenig

New Zealand

Born in Invercargill, New Zealand, in 1965, Andrew currently lives in Dunedin, New Zealand. He is an Archives Assistant for the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand Archives. His native language is English, and, although he speaks several languages, Andrew admits that none are to "conversational level." Brithenig is the result of Andrew's attempt to create an alternative Romance language akin to French and Spanish: namely what would have happened to Latin if it had become established in the Celtic areas of Britain and evolved accordingly. "The earliest known record of Brithenig dates back to 1997," Andrew states. "It was inspired earlier by a reference to a Celtic-influenced romance language I discovered in a book on Celtic languages in 1990, my last year of study at the University of Otago. It would take me another four years before I returned to Dunedin to re-read the reference and create the language. The rest is history. Ill Bethisad is legacy." Ill Bethisad is the imaginary country where Bethisad is spoken. The extensive site dedicated to the imaginary nation and language can be found at With maps, history, grammars, and more, Andrew's site rivals that of Mark Rosenfelder's Virtual Verduria.


Andrew continues: "As well as Brithenig I keep a journal in a conlang based on Old English. In recent years I have started on an eclectic language based on my collection of Teach Yourself Language books. I have about 40 of them. They are getting harder to find."


"Apart from creating languages I have created imaginary worlds, attempted writing, been involved in Mediaeval Re-enactment, work out at the gym for cardio, and practise religion. I have never travelled outside my country. I collect books, CDs, RSS-feeds, and occasionally hats."


(Photo courtesy of Andrew Smith. Quotes taken from an email to Don Boozer.)


The Babel Text in Brithenig

1.Hures il munn inter hav yn linghedig e yn cant commyn.

2.Sig il pobol summoden di'l est, ysses ligavan yn luin in Sennar e lâs'ysteblivan.

3.Ysses digevan il yn a'l altr, "Gwenitz, gwans a fager brics e cogher les interevent." Ysses ysavan brics in log di bedr, e arill per chelcin.

4.Afos ysses digevan, "Gwenitz, gwans a eddifigar per nos yn giwdad, cun yn tyr che tang a'ls cels, sig nos fagians yn novn per nos e no scians ysparied pas syss la fag di la der inter."

5.Mais il Tiern gweniv a vas a widder la giwdad e'l tyr che'l pobol eddifig.

6.Il Tiern digev, "Ec'h, altresi yn pobol che barol il linghedig medissiv, ysses yst han gyvnidiad a fager. Hures ys lâ no haverai negarad ren a les che ysses provassen a fager.

7.Gwenitz, gwans a vas a ystyrddir sew linghedig di les sig ysses no c'hompruinnessen ren di'l yn a'l altr."

8.Sig il Tiern yspariav di lâ syss tud la der, e ysses calvavan a eddifigar la giwdad.

9.Ho es perc'he sa afell Babel -- perc'he lâ il Tiern ystyrddiv il linghedig di'l munn inter. Di lâ il Tiern les yspariav syss la fag di la der inter.

Translated by Andrew Smith



(Bottom right) Dr. Sarah L. Higley

a.k.a. Sally Caves

Academic Conlanger

New York

Earning her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Sarah L. Higley is currently Associate Professor of English at the University of Rochester and a teacher of medieval languages and literature. She is also known by her alias, Sally Caves, which is the name you'll see on her website ( outlining her conlang Teonaht. According to her site, Sally began documenting her language creation in 1962 at the age of nine. Dr. Higley goes on to say that in "the Fall of 2000, she co-taught an independent study with linguistics Professor Jeffrey Runner, wherein then freshman (and linguistics major) Douglas Ball was allowed to develop grammar and text for his invented language Skerre." Sally was a presenter at the first Language Creation Conference, has been interviewed by her local NPR radio station about conlanging, wrote an article entitled "Audience, Uglossia, and CONLANG" for M/C Journal (available online at, and, in December 2007, published the definitive study of St. Hildegard of Bingen and her Lingua Ignota entitled Hildegard of Bingen's Unknown Language: An Edition, Translation, and Discussion. (For more information on St. Hildegard, see Exhibit Case #4). Dr. Higley is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Language Creation Society (


The Babel Text in Teonaht

1.Send tand potom takrem tefye uõnim kalalya, uõnim mongwyf.

2.Send seawim il plevvysta elai renek, he twe esteratwe armmandy; rilua-il twe nrinarem celil hea Hsinnarid, send eldwav hovar endõ.

3.Send euab ouarje eldwa jane: "Mantets! Nittaopra uents, uo ad õ potemaht flehhtyzmats." Send nittaopra eldwav uen to mimmivua uo nerik to cicya.

4.Send eldwav ebra: "Mantets! Tesa-ilz lirifel-jo hadhhamats ta mehuen aid kempa ar Erahenahil, send rõ tyr aittearmats, ta vera listsõ hyny il takrem ro ssosyarem.

5.Send Le Hrel elo hsommante sa lõ kerem il tesa liriffel-jo hadhhama-uarrel ihhain le plevvysta.

6.Send Le Hrel elo ebra, "Keyts, il plevvysta somad, uo uõnim kalalya twavhha; aibba estwa mippa: to vokraikarem, send vawem dihhai twav kare deytwav dal ai sebrarem esai lis.

7."Hsobmmantets; send twe kalalya vilvviglats ta vera pre-twav twe mongav rin euab ouarjo."

8.Le Hrel ad hyny il takrem elo toaaiba sossya, send il tesa eldwa beg hadha.

9.Evvaiba Bavel li'aittear ilid lirifel, uanner Le Hrel il uõm kalalya ilid potom takrem elo vilvvigla, send il plevvystan eldwa hovvandy sossyab.

Translation by Sally Caves



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Taken on May 9, 2008