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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 7:26 am 
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This occurred to me while reading a manual of Pitman's Shorthand. Feel free to point out where I'm talking nonsense; I think I might have at least one worthwhile insight here.

Creating a genuinely original conscript is *hard* (unless you're Serali :-) ), and every conlanger, sooner or later, runs into the same problems: the results either look like Tengwar, or feel like they're really just one or more actual scripts with a few changes. No doubt, like me, you've wondered how to keep all those lowercase Roman/Greek/Cyrillic letters out of your new conscript, especially when you work on "simplifying" it by writing it quickly.

I think this is because, when you take into account these two rather important principles of a script:

1. It should not be too "complicated", i.e. there shouldn't be too many separate strokes in any given grapheme. Obviously, "too many" for an ideographic script is larger than for an alphabetic script.

2. The graphemes should, in general, be as distinct from each other as necessary. This is analogous to the principle of dispersion in the vowel-space.

the restrictions of the medium mean that there are actually not that many graphemes which are both simple and distinctive, so some overlapping with other scripts is more or less guaranteed. Consider, for example, the Cirth, many of which are identical to Germanic runes - not, or course, that this troubled JRRT, but that's not the point. Or the problems with designing a decent ASCII font with in a 5x7 pixel grid.

This implies that creating a conscript in any given medium reduces to selecting a set of properly-dispersed graphemes from the total grapheme space for that medium. In turn, this suggests an intriguing question: since many conscripts are designed for writing with pen and paper, where the basic graphical elements are straight lines, curves, and circles, what is this medium's "total grapheme space"? And is it possible to create a handwritten alphabetic conscript without any actual Roman/Cyrillic/Greek/Hebrew/whatever characters in it?

I'm aware that the distinctiveness principle doesn't rule out the possibility of exploiting ambiguity, as for example in ambigrams which are designed to read the same in several directions, but I don't think this is particulary pertinent.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:50 am 
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I think it would look more unique if you actually trace the evolution from the original pictographs.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:51 am 
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alice wrote:
Creating a genuinely original conscript is *hard* (unless you're Serali)

alice wrote:
the results either look like Tengwar


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:25 pm 
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I think a consistent design can make any conscript look genuine. For example, the letter G doesnt fit in with the rest of the alphabet since it's the only letter that ends on an inward stroke. Q stands out for a similar reason, and possibly R. We're used to those letters because we see them every day but if someone showed me a conscript where three of the letters looked like they had just been hastily derived from adding a stroke to other letters I would notice it right away. An alphabet that looks similar to Roman letters overall but has a consistent theme would actually look more real to me than our own actual alphabet does.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:13 pm 
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alice wrote:
This occurred to me while reading a manual of Pitman's Shorthand. Feel free to point out where I'm talking nonsense; I think I might have at least one worthwhile insight here.

Creating a genuinely original conscript is *hard* (unless you're Serali :-) ),


Possibly not the best of models, given her history. Be that as it may, what exactly is "hard" about it? Sooner or later, if you choose to go with an angular, carved-in-stone runelike writing system, you're going to end up with shapes that look something like Cirith or Futhark or old Turkic runes. An all curvy system will bring you into the land of Burmese.

I think the point of devising a writing system for an invented language isn't so much "can I come up two score letter-shapes that have never been conceived of in the mind of Man ever in history before" but rather "can I come up with a system that will reflect the history and culture(s) of the peoples who spoke the languages where the writing system first came into being and later evolved".

An alphabet doesn't really have to be entirely original or unique for it to be interesting, realistic or eye-candy.

Quote:
and every conlanger, sooner or later, runs into the same problems: the results either look like Tengwar, or feel like they're really just one or more actual scripts with a few changes. No doubt, like me, you've wondered how to keep all those lowercase Roman/Greek/Cyrillic letters out of your new conscript, especially when you work on "simplifying" it by writing it quickly.


I'm not sure why this is even a problem. Clearly, we have very different philosophies on the matter! (And vive la difference!) I've never once wondered how I might be rid of those Phoenicianesque letter-forms from a new alphabet I'm working on!

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I think this is because, when you take into account these two rather important principles of a script:

1. It should not be too "complicated", i.e. there shouldn't be too many separate strokes in any given grapheme. Obviously, "too many" for an ideographic script is larger than for an alphabetic script.

2. The graphemes should, in general, be as distinct from each other as necessary. This is analogous to the principle of dispersion in the vowel-space.


Well, that puts the Roman alphabet out of the running. Plenty of complications from multi-stroke / curvy letters (R, W, S, Q) to too many letter per sound (C, K, Q, I, AYE, IGH, Y, AY, IE, YE) to too few letters per phonology (no distinct letters for o & ô; no letters at all for þ & ð e.g.). Also, lots of identical (though reversed) letters (db, qp, zs, 1l, 2z) and terribly indistinct letters, especially when written somewhat quickly & sloppily (imnuw).

How did thát get by the Censors?

Similar observations can be made of Thai, Hebrew, Georgian, Burmese, Javanese, etc. etc.

I think the question ought more to be: if so many natural writing systems break with these principles, how truly useful are they for a glossopoet to follow?

Image

Lots of strokes, several mirror-image / indistinct letter-forms, several areas of complication. But that never bothered me. It fìts the culture and history of its speakers well.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:58 pm 
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That script is gorgeous! :D

Random aside: We need a better term for the creation of fictional scripts. Conscript is already a word. :p

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 7:44 pm 
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Zaarin wrote:
That script is gorgeous! :D


Thanks!

Quote:
Random aside: We need a better term for the creation of fictional scripts. Conscript is already a word. :p


I never really liked ány of the con- words. I've come back to more regular use of "invented language" rather than conlang; glossopoet & glossopoesy for conlanger & conlang. I've also used geopoesy in place of world-building and conculturing.

I rather fancy "graphopoesy" for the rather ugly "conscripting": the making of writing systems.

Some people have gotten bent out shape over forms in -poesy in the past, preferring in stead those in -poeia. Myeh. Just the regular English derivation from French.

If you like this solution, feel free to take it and run!

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:15 pm 
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elemtilas wrote:
Quote:
Random aside: We need a better term for the creation of fictional scripts. Conscript is already a word. :p

I rather fancy "graphopoesy" for the rather ugly "conscripting": the making of writing systems.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/neography

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:13 pm 
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Same story with conspecies. Conartists a particularly bad term.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:14 pm 
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masako wrote:
elemtilas wrote:
Quote:
Random aside: We need a better term for the creation of fictional scripts. Conscript is already a word. :p

I rather fancy "graphopoesy" for the rather ugly "conscripting": the making of writing systems.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/neography


Sure, I've heard that term too. Don't like it either. But, you know, de gustibus and all that.

It's marginally better than the con- words, but at least for me, doesn't really speak to what I'm doing. To me, a neography, like a neologism, is, well, something intended to be new and intended for public or widespread use. It doesn't convey the deeper aspects of art and craft.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:24 pm 
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elemtilas wrote:
Quote:
Random aside: We need a better term for the creation of fictional scripts. Conscript is already a word. :p


I never really liked ány of the con- words. I've come back to more regular use of "invented language" rather than conlang; glossopoet & glossopoesy for conlanger & conlang. I've also used geopoesy in place of world-building and conculturing.

I rather fancy "graphopoesy" for the rather ugly "conscripting": the making of writing systems.

Some people have gotten bent out shape over forms in -poesy in the past, preferring in stead those in -poeia. Myeh. Just the regular English derivation from French.

If you like this solution, feel free to take it and run!

I use similar terms, though I do lean towards glossopoeia rather than glossopoesy simply because Tolkien preferred the term. For world building I'd lean towards mythopoesy, which sounds a little less prosodic than geopoesy. ;) I have an acquaintance who actually gets quite huffy about any word beginning with "con-," preferring his own term glottopoeia, which he defines as covering both world-building and invented languages. (Obviously, same word as glossopoeia, just Attic rather than Ionian.)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:15 am 
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Zaarin wrote:
Random aside: We need a better term for the creation of fictional scripts. Conscript is already a word. :p

I agree. The "con-" suffix is not only overused and ugly to hear, it also too frequently clashes with other words.
elemtilas wrote:
I rather fancy "graphopoesy"

That is an interesting coining. I might use that in addition to "neography".
Zaarin wrote:
preferring his own term glottopoeia

I like this one too. In exchange, I will trade you "glossatecture", "glossotechnia", and "logodelia".


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:03 am 
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I wrote:
Creating a genuinely original conscript is *hard* (unless you're Serali :-) ),


elemtilas wrote:
what exactly is "hard" about it? Sooner or later, if you choose to go with an angular, carved-in-stone runelike writing system, you're going to end up with shapes that look something like Cirith or Futhark or old Turkic runes. An all curvy system will bring you into the land of Burmese.


That was precisely my point; note my use of the phrase "genuinely original". If you're not worried about originality, none of what I said applies.

elemtilas wrote:
An alphabet doesn't really have to be entirely original or unique for it to be interesting, realistic or eye-candy.


Quite true. Again, however, this was not my point.

I wrote:
and every conlanger, sooner or later, runs into the same problems: (etc)


elemtilas wrote:
I'm not sure why this is even a problem. Clearly, we have very different philosophies on the matter!


Perhaps my "every" is too broad. But I do know I'm not the first person on the ZBB who's been troubled by this particular issue, however nedlessly.

I wrote:
some rubbish


elemtilas wrote:
I think the question ought more to be: if so many natural writing systems break with these principles, how truly useful are they for a glossopoet to follow?


Thank you for blowing my theories completely out of the water :-(

elemtilas wrote:
Lots of strokes, several mirror-image / indistinct letter-forms, several areas of complication. But that never bothered me. It fìts the culture and history of its speakers well.


It's very nice!

As for finding a better term to replace "conscript", would anyone give "scriptie" serious consideration? Oh well, I thought not.



HOWEVER, there may still be something in what I was trying to elucidate. Consider:

- How stable would a hand-written script be which was made up solely of graphemes resembling i m n u v w and variants thereof?
- The Tengwar are sometimes, and not without reason, criticised for being too similar to one another.
- "Lowercase won; it is less dense and has more distinctive letterforms" from here.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:13 pm 
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alice wrote:
1. It should not be too "complicated", i.e. there shouldn't be too many separate strokes in any given grapheme. Obviously, "too many" for an ideographic script is larger than for an alphabetic script.

2. The graphemes should, in general, be as distinct from each other as necessary. This is analogous to the principle of dispersion in the vowel-space.

This can be partially saved by recasting it as an "ideal" - something that should be kept in mind, but not as an absolute rule.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:41 pm 
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alice wrote:
I wrote:
Creating a genuinely original conscript is *hard* (unless you're Serali :-) ),


elemtilas wrote:
what exactly is "hard" about it? Sooner or later, if you choose to go with an angular, carved-in-stone runelike writing system, you're going to end up with shapes that look something like Cirith or Futhark or old Turkic runes. An all curvy system will bring you into the land of Burmese.


That was precisely my point; note my use of the phrase "genuinely original". If you're not worried about originality, none of what I said applies.


I didn't say I wasn't worried about originality! Mm, perhaps we should clarify: what do yóu mean by "genuinely original"? I don't have a problem with writing systems like Deseret or Cherokee that borrow from other alphabets but use the letters in strange and wonderful ways. So perhaps we're just not agreeing on what counts as "original". I see those as rather original productions, even though some letter forms are lifted right out of English or Greek or Runic alphabets.

I guess if all the letter shapes must be completely original and never-before-conceived, then yeah, I can see how that might be difficult (if not impossible).

Even the person you mention ends up with loads of writing systems that look very much like or is reminiscent of either some natural writing system or else one of her own previous ones. I don't think this detracts from the originality --- it just goes to show that there are only so many simple shapes that can be put into play when devising an alphabet!

What you do with those rather limited palettes is where the real originality comes in.

Take the example I showed. There's nothing "original" about it --- I don't think there's a stroke in there in that doesn't exist in some Chinese character. The originality lies in what I did with that palette of strokes: I applied them to the various basic shapes of trees in The World and in the regions where the speakers of this language live (some of which are very similar to trees *here* in the primary world, others are quite different).

Quote:
elemtilas wrote:
I think the question ought more to be: if so many natural writing systems break with these principles, how truly useful are they for a glossopoet to follow?


Thank you for blowing my theories completely out of the water :-(


Sorry! I guess I was put off by what appeared to be absolutes. Anytime someone comes up with an "every conlanger does X" or "creating Y is genuinely", well, I guess I take it as something of a challenge to be overcome.

Quote:
It's very nice! (The Tree Script)


Thanks!

Quote:
As for finding a better term to replace "conscript", would anyone give "scriptie" serious consideration? Oh well, I thought not.


Weeeellll...


Quote:
HOWEVER, there may still be something in what I was trying to elucidate. Consider:

- How stable would a hand-written script be which was made up solely of graphemes resembling i m n u v w and variants thereof?
- The Tengwar are sometimes, and not without reason, criticised for being too similar to one another.
- "Lowercase won; it is less dense and has more distinctive letterforms" from here.


1. I think perhaps fairly stable --- after all, literate folks in Europe did just that for a good many centuries: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/412431278349397053/, though I've seen some rather worse examples, too! I admit to inventing a script of that sort with lots of letters that involve loads of vertical strokes.

2. Yes, I've seen that criticism as well. I wonder though: did these critics understand what "featural script" means? In other words, letters being similar to one another can be a design feature, too!

3. Agree. It's what lets me read English as ideograms --- where "c - a - t" is viewed not as three distinct letters with three (or four) distinct sounds that make up a unique word, but rather where the whole three-character-unit is seen as an icon or symbol which names the thing it's associated with. Kind of like a rebus, except all the little pictures are drawn with letters. Leastways, that's how I
read, and yes it's much easier for me to read lower case text at speed this way than all upper case text.

And as for your original statements, I didn't mean to shove them aside entirely!

Quote:
1. It should not be too "complicated", i.e. there shouldn't be too many separate strokes in any given grapheme. Obviously, "too many" for an ideographic script is larger than for an alphabetic script.

2. The graphemes should, in general, be as distinct from each other as necessary. This is analogous to the principle of dispersion in the vowel-space.


There is nothing invalid about these statements as design principles. Except, perhaps, for the over-generalising tendency in the verbiage (my first thought is always going to be "well, why on earth wòuldn't a graphopoet want to make the most byzantine writing-spelling system she can possibly devise!?"), I think these statements are fine.

Depends on what direction one wants to go with a writing system. Sometimes simple and distinct will exhibit more merit than than mazy and ungothroughsome.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:37 am 
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elemtilas wrote:
(lots of nice stuff)


elemtilas wrote:
it just goes to show that there are only so many simple shapes that can be put into play when devising an alphabet!


This is what I was trying to get at all along. Has anybody ever done any research into the possibilities for any given script type or medium? It might help would-be Seralis, or troubled conscripters.

elemtilas wrote:
2. Yes, I've seen that criticism as well. I wonder though: did these critics understand what "featural script" means? In other words, letters being similar to one another can be a design feature, too!


One such criticism appears in no less a source than the LCK, in fact. Perhaps Zomp himself might like to pitch in with some suitable pronouncements?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:38 pm 
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alice wrote:
elemtilas wrote:
2. Yes, I've seen that criticism as well. I wonder though: did these critics understand what "featural script" means? In other words, letters being similar to one another can be a design feature, too!


One such criticism appears in no less a source than the LCK, in fact. Perhaps Zomp himself might like to pitch in with some suitable pronouncements?


If young Master Zompist has indeed made that criticism, then I can only imagine that he would have had some good reason to!

Mostly I was referring to less informed complaints that "all the letters look alike!". The situation isn't really a whole lot worse than English, and at least the similarities are more regular and systematic.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:31 am 
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shanoxilt wrote:
Zaarin wrote:
Random aside: We need a better term for the creation of fictional scripts. Conscript is already a word. :p

I agree. The "con-" suffix is not only overused and ugly to hear, it also too frequently clashes with other words.


I don't like the con- words generally: conlang especially grates because I don't like the abbreviation of the second element too. But I do quite like conscript, precisely because it's already a word, and therefore there's an additional element of wordplay to it.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:10 pm 
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Curlyjimsam wrote:
shanoxilt wrote:
Zaarin wrote:
Random aside: We need a better term for the creation of fictional scripts. Conscript is already a word. :p

I agree. The "con-" suffix is not only overused and ugly to hear, it also too frequently clashes with other words.


I don't like the con- words generally: conlang especially grates because I don't like the abbreviation of the second element too. But I do quite like conscript, precisely because it's already a word, and therefore there's an additional element of wordplay to it.

So you're okay with conscripting graphemes into your service. :p (On a technical note, I'm literally okay with that: I've used Syriac as the native script for no fewer than three glossopoetic creations, and Armenian for another, and Georgian for a third...I may or may not be fond of the traditional scripts utilized by Oriental Orthodox communities...)

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:25 am 
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I prefer con-. I don't connect cònscript with conscrìpt in my internal lexicon.

Back to one of the original points: conscripting is difficult. The number of conscripts I find aesthetically pleasing are massively outnumbered by the others. My own script, for instance, is very poor. The funny thing is, writing systems have as much ANADEW as grammar systems. For instance, I find it hard to imagine creating a script where the glyph for "a" is particularly complicated, but then I met Malayalam. And don't get me started on trying to write a recognisable Egyptian hieroglyphic "a". But I think I'm more forgiving of natlang scripts. That, or the font makers have had a lot more time to get it right.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:31 am 
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Ryan of Tinellb wrote:
And don't get me started on trying to write a recognisable Egyptian hieroglyphic "a".

Having tried a number of times to write the bird hieroglyphs, it's possible with practice, and making some compromises on the exact form. That is, after all, where cursive comes from.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:59 am 
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I was once doing maths/science, and running out of appropriate roman or greek letters, so started practicing a clip-art elephant. The partial derivative of elephant with respect to time.
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It seems that I'll be picking up a unit on Ancient Egyptian to fill up my degree requirements, so this time next semester, I ought to be somewhat proficient, I guess.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:05 am 
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Ryan of Tinellb wrote:
I was once doing maths/science, and running out of appropriate roman or greek letters, so started practicing a clip-art elephant. The partial derivative of elephant with respect to time.


Hm! Quite a lot of trunk-ation. What units is "elephant" measured in? Loxodons?

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:40 pm 
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I'm not very fond of those "con-" words either, but they are pretty established now - within the conlanging and conworlding scene. Few people, if any, outside the community use them at all. Of course it all started with the name of the CONLANG mailing list, which was nothing else than an abbreviation of "constructed language" that was necessary because the machine it originally ran on had a 7-character limit for mailbox names (or whatever one calls the part before the @ in an e-mail address). I still prefer speaking of "fictional languages", "fictional cultures", etc. Of course, IALs and most engineered languages aren't fictional languages and I don't call them that.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:41 pm 
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WeepingElf wrote:
I'm not very fond of those "con-" words either, but they are pretty established now - within the conlanging and conworlding scene.

This is just a fallacious appeal to the majority. It should have no bearing on one's personal lexicon.

Quote:
I still prefer speaking of "fictional languages", "fictional cultures", etc. Of course, IALs and most engineered languages aren't fictional languages and I don't call them that.

I like "artificial language" (with an emphasis on the art) or "invented language". Sometimes, "model language" is acceptable too.


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