The Problem with Conlanging

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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Ashroot »

Where do you live?

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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by tezcatlip0ca »

Trailsend wrote:
Shrdlu wrote:
ekobor wrote:
Vardelm wrote:
Ashroot wrote:Have you ever looked around you and noticed how hopelessly mediocre people can be?

All the time.

Yep.

Every day.

Nope.

Me too.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

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Here, I am the mediocre one.

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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Jipí »

For what it's worth I've posted my own thoughts on Vec's essaything in my conlang blahg

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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Gojera »

Ja. I got interested in this mostly as an aspect of writing. Mostly through poetry, because I was curious what affect writing rhyme in a phonemic English orthography would be like. So I learned Quikscript, which got me into conscripting, which got me into conlanging.

Learning to do this was really difficult, since I had to really delve into the nuts and bolts of the phonemes of my own language and idiolect: It was transformative in my appreciation of my language and writing. But I do think that conlanging, while great fun, can be a distraction.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Jashan »

*casts 'resurrection'...fortunately, the thread was still slightly warm*


vecfaranti wrote:Conlangs require context. Some conlangs are created for the modern world, although those are becoming less and less frequent. Most conlangs made by ZBB members are artlangs meant for conpeople. But for a lot of us, creating the language is much more fun than creating the the people. That requires so much more thought and starts overtaxing your brain. Conworlding is very overwhelming. Especially when it isn't clear what the end-goal of the exercise is. Are you going to make a book using it? Are you going to make a movie? A game of some sorts? Or are you just making it for the sake of making it and presenting it on a website in encyclopedic format?


Agreed. I've actually struggled with conlanging for quite some time -- years now, actually. I tend to be a productive person. I like having a goal. Conlanging is, as you say, rather goalless (or with a very ill-defined goal at best). It can't be "to complete" the conlang, because I don't think any language can ever be complete (unless you set artificial restrictions such as 'complete' == 'has 10,000 words and can be used to translate most children's books'). And for me the main draw back is that I can put in hundreds of hours of careful and loving labor and then.... what, exactly? Show it off to the world? No one cares. You can't frame a conlang and hang it on your wall. You can't lend it to your friends on your iPod and they listen to it and say "omg cool!" (well, they might, but not in a way beyond 'wow that sounds like Russian! I didn't know you knew Russian!') Unless someone else learns to speak it (which as we all know, is HIGHLY unlikely), all your effort into crafting a beautiful, expressive language... means nothing. It will be forever silent.

To try to counter this, and since I write fantasy, I tend to build my conlangs into my writing. For instance, Etora (now defunct) features as the magickal language in my fanfic novel Crumbling Down. Each and every magical incantation actually is a fully grammatical and meaningful sentence. But 99% of readers don't know that. They don't even think about it. They assume I made up some gibberish and off I went.

But truly making a novel to *showcase* the language, is much harder I think. I guess that's what Tolkein did with Elvish. And perhaps I'll try that some day, but it's quite a ways down my 'to-do' list after a few other major projects. And will I have a language that means that much to me, to complete that? It's so hard to maintain the motivation to continue developing it, even something you love, when you realize that most likely, you are the only person who will ever appreciate it.

No one likes reading grammars.

There. I said it. I mean, I love reading grammars. I love reading about natural languages. And well made conlangs can be a joy. But most of what we post here is nowhere near that stage.


True, again -- but you need a grammar to understand any artifacts that are made. The language games (things like the Conlang Relay) are fun, but I think a large part of the "problem" with conlangs (and I'm just as guilty of this as any other), is that we're all focused on our own babies and tend to ignore the others. We all dream of someone, someday, learning our languages -- but we don't do the same ourselves to other's conlangs. There are, of course, multiple reasons for that:

1) Lack of a speaker base to begin with. If you can only talk with one person, why learn that language instead of something where you can talk to 10 people, 100, people, or 10,000 people?

2) Lack of completeness of the language. No one wants to learn a language where they can only discuss one lexical domain (say, basic hunter-gatherer culture or, on the high end, only interstellar politics), without being able to discuss what they had for breakfast, what they saw on TV, or the fact that they're thinking of buying that new CD from whats-his-name. But again -- a language is never complete, so... it's a catch 22

3) Personal bias. We love our conlangs -- why would we make them otherwise? And we, on some level, think they're "better" (more beautiful, more concise, better structured, more interesting, whatever) than the others.

So I wonder, is there a way to solve these problems? For context, we must work and work and work tirelessly. And the process usually ends up being private. This board is good for quick questions and socialising, but deep questions require outside research. For presentation, we must either have a lot of work already done, in order to get away with the website approach or we must set a goal for ourselves that goes beyond conlanging (and conworlding) for conlanging's (or conworlding's) sake.


I've thought about this, and have some ideas, but nothing concrete. For all that people seem to hate him, I think that Saizi (sp?)'s development of the LCS and LCCs has been a great publicity move if nothing else, and might inspire people in that, "Look -- you can DO something with this". But something a bit less serious might be in store.

I've thought, for instance, of MUDs or online "worlds" where people can develop their conlangs in various settings -- but it seems to have already been done. I guess for me the main barrier in that would be dedication. People (myself included) get all excited on a project, work at it for 6 months intensely, and then drop it. If you drop something that's part of a larger realm or world, then that creates a problem -- and even more of a problem when it happens to 3 or 4 or 5 people out of the ten who are active and contributing.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by vec »

Saizai's great. I've met him a couple of times; he's a little intense, but his heart is in the right place, definitely. And although the LCS is, likewise, slightly too intense for me, they've opened up some great avenues for conlanging. David Peterson, for example, got the Dothraki creation gig for Game of Thrones through his work with them.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Jetboy »

For me, I do have something of a "goal" for my conlang– get it to the point where I can teach it to my friends and we can talk in it. Obviously that's not all I want from the language– I enjoy the process, too, but that's what I'm currently working towards. And actually, come to think of it, my conlang is actually probably a bit farther developed than what knowledge of Spanish my 8 years of elementary school have given me, at least in terms of grammar– definitely inferior in vocab.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Torco »

Jetboy wrote:For me, I do have something of a "goal" for my conlang– get it to the point where I can teach it to my friends and we can talk in it. Obviously that's not all I want from the language– I enjoy the process, too, but that's what I'm currently working towards. And actually, come to think of it, my conlang is actually probably a bit farther developed than what knowledge of Spanish my 8 years of elementary school have given me, at least in terms of grammar– definitely inferior in vocab.


If I know anything about lang learning in elementary school, whatever that exactly means, that's not a huge accomplishment... just saying =)

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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

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Shrdlu wrote:I did a test once, an impulsive one. I won't do it again. On my familys old computer I opened up notepad and wrote something random that resembled a phrase, then I left it. My mother was the first to see it, and I havn't seen her behavining like she did then before or after. She became suspisous and began asking me questions after questions, but never waiting for an answer. She didn't even reflect over what she did at that point and it was like an automatic mechanism.
I said that it was just something random that I found on the net and that it was worthless, then I closed it and after that episode I keep my conlangs to myself or post them here.

Rofl. Tell us more.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Jipí »

OMG the boy speaks in tongues *suspicious*


...


Wait, isn't Shrdlu Swedish? I mean, if that'd happened in America nobody would blink an eye, but in Europe you can expect people to be familiar with the concept of """Foreign Languages""". Even if that language is man-made.

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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Jetboy »

Torco wrote:If I know anything about lang learning in elementary school, whatever that exactly means, that's not a huge accomplishment... just saying =)

Oh, no, it's definitely not much of an accomplishment, I know that, and my vocabulary in my language is woefully small. But yeah, elementary school taught me almost nothing– five years at one school and I didn't know the difference between <el> & <la>.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Shrdlu »

I dunno but it might have been because that we used an dial-up back then(this was in the 90s) and she wanted to know on what page I found the text. Atleast I think it was so because I didn't care and just tried to survive the onslaught of questions at that point and find an excuse to run away. This must have been 12 years ago.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

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Was she afraid of viruses?
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Mundi.Tristissimis »

I'd like to take a moment and address this thread, although I know it's pretty much dead. The questions of whether a hobby is worth it, if it doesn't make money or at least gain recognition and a blurb in a history book is an important questions, especially with conlangs and conworlds, which hardly ever receive any attention, outside of even the most learned of "nerds".

For me, the idea of a conlanguage is tied up with a conpeople, conculture, and a conworld. I'm majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Linguistics and Spanish, and so needless to say I'm interested in the philosophy of language. To create a language without speakers is like painting without a canvas, or performing music without a musical instrument. Even more so, I really think that a "legitimate" conlang needs a conpeople, conculture, conmythology, and ultimately, a conworld.

When I first got bitten by the conlang bug, when I was 13, after reading LotR for the first time (yep, a bit cliche I'd imagine) my first efforts at a language was hardly even an English cipher, and now fast-forward 10 years. My interest in conlanging, and ultimately in conworlding has truly spurred my academic career and mental development. I was not satisfied with my results, and that drove me to learn and to research, and before I knew it I had gone from an average pudgy non-athletic bookish teen and became immersed in philosophy, linguistics, history, music, and literature, among many other things. I'm hardly a polymath, more of a "jack of all trades, master of none" type. But while I have never finished a conworld, more often than not scrapping the entire project in disgust and starting anew, I have learned from each endeavor, and I have learned even more in general. In a way, conworlding (broadly speaking) is more useful than college, as far as actual learning goes.

Sure, a lot of people want to end up with "something", at the end. A book, a body of literature that everybody loves (and with faithfully recreated movies of it), a role-playing game, whatever. Those things may happen, at which point, everyone else is now free to botch your words, revise your histories, and steal scores of your original ideas and use them for their own projects (D & D, Tolkien is rolling in his grave). At that point your work is the property of the community, at least intellectually or culturally. It will then exist beyond your own life, and so will you, in a sense. Or, you may never finish a project in your lifetime. But it doesn't matter. It made you happy, or in the very least it entertained and engrossed you.

Is that such a bad thing if it doesn't make millions of dollars? Or if no one ever learns your languages or reads your conencyclopedias? Maybe, maybe not. It's all up to you.

All I know is that sometimes when I am writing, or researching, or creating, I feel a 'something', a 'something' that is just beyond my grasp of explanation. It's not inspiration--it almost seems to be the object or source of inspiration. Like I can almost reach out and grasp it, and have in my possession what my mind has been searching for. I can read a story, or of an aspect of a culture, or a word in a foreign language, and a feeling almost like deja vu comes over me. Like what I'm searching for is SO CLOSE, that I can almost be reading about it right now, in these very real books, and yet so far away. In a way, it feels as though I am reading about my own 'true' culture, the one I ought to belong to, whether it exists or not, that I have almost been subconsciously creating for myself, and then in a strange way, I am confronted by it, and yet it is still not real.

I am using a great many words to describe something that is such a profoundly subjectively personal of an experience as to almost make words meaningless. All I can say is that all of my efforts at conworlding and at researching in this present world are all worth it when I experience this sensation of truly connecting to what I'm searching for. It adds a profound sense of mystery and wonder to the mundane world that I live in now, where our search for truth and knowledge has driven all mystery into hiding, whether for good or ill, to the point that genuine mystery or ultimate inexplicability are disguised in trite platitudes or playing dead coyly under the boot of reductionism.

If my conlangs and conworlds never are 'completed', are never read, observed or appreciated by another, or never make a dime, I will count it all as gain. My work has been instrumental in where I am now, and in helping me to grow and understand where I am now, in this modern world. In the truest sense or the word, my conlanging and conworlding attempts have been Art.

And I now know how the True Artist feels, regardless of where his or her paintings are hung.

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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

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Mundi.Tristissimis wrote:All I know is that sometimes when I am writing, or researching, or creating, I feel a 'something', a 'something' that is just beyond my grasp of explanation. It's not inspiration--it almost seems to be the object or source of inspiration. Like I can almost reach out and grasp it, and have in my possession what my mind has been searching for. I can read a story, or of an aspect of a culture, or a word in a foreign language, and a feeling almost like deja vu comes over me. Like what I'm searching for is SO CLOSE, that I can almost be reading about it right now, in these very real books, and yet so far away. In a way, it feels as though I am reading about my own 'true' culture, the one I ought to belong to, whether it exists or not, that I have almost been subconsciously creating for myself, and then in a strange way, I am confronted by it, and yet it is still not real.

I am using a great many words to describe something that is such a profoundly subjectively personal of an experience as to almost make words meaningless. All I can say is that all of my efforts at conworlding and at researching in this present world are all worth it when I experience this sensation of truly connecting to what I'm searching for. It adds a profound sense of mystery and wonder to the mundane world that I live in now, where our search for truth and knowledge has driven all mystery into hiding, whether for good or ill, to the point that genuine mystery or ultimate inexplicability are disguised in trite platitudes or playing dead coyly under the boot of reductionism.

It sounds like you're talking about Sehnsucht. It's the motivation for my conlanging too, and is also the basis for my own idiosyncratic religion-ish thing, and also my conpeople's religion. It's certainly an intensely profound experience. I don't like talking about it publicly since it's extremely, extremely personal for me, but you're very welcome to PM me about it if you'd like.

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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by WeepingElf »

Risla wrote:It sounds like you're talking about Sehnsucht. It's the motivation for my conlanging too, and is also the basis for my own idiosyncratic religion-ish thing, and also my conpeople's religion. It's certainly an intensely profound experience. I don't like talking about it publicly since it's extremely, extremely personal for me, but you're very welcome to PM me about it if you'd like.


I think I know what you are talking about, more or less. It is similar with my Old Albic project (which does not only involve a language, but a culture, religion and all that) - it is my yearning for a culture based on the values I believe in. The whole project reflects my personal views on the human condition and the meaning of life; however, while it is personal, it is not private: I can freely talk about that culture, at least with some people (there are of course many people who'd say "Stop daydreaming and get a life", and it is no point talking to them about the Commonwealth of the Elves).
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by The Count »

WeepingElf wrote:there are of course many people who'd say "Stop daydreaming and get a life", and it is no point talking to them about the Commonwealth of the Elves).


I just got home from a business meeting with a representative from a newly started company who is specializing in teambuilding for children (with a lot of fantasy & theatre involved). This person likes my Xhaimeran language and culture and wants to use Xhaimeran names and folk stories. Enter the paycheck....
It's in times like these I flash a smile or two directed at the stupidity and shortsightedness of all the people I've heard time and time again wondering (and frowning upon) how the hell I could go around wasting time...
...making up languages that doesn't exist.
...making up cultures that doesn't exist.
...making music you can't dance to.
...writing stories that no one will read.

Now my made-up language is featured on CD's (for example Lodge Doom: Ne Nashran Inannaa http://itunes.apple.com/se/album/visions-of-dunkelheit/id444626394) and on art (http://www.skullartistry.com/poetry-3345450).
Now my made-up culture will be featured in team building and interactive theatre.
Now my music you can't dance to has been released on 9 albums.
Next year my stories that no one would read will make me a published author.

Ergo: Keep nurturing every odd interest you have. Do it thoroughly and people will pay you for these things they're too normal to do themselves.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Qwynegold »

Mundi.Tristissimis wrote:It made you happy, or in the very least it entertained and engrossed you.

Unfortunately my conlanging often does not make me happy or entertain me. Most of the time it's hard tedious work. :(

The Count wrote:Ergo: Keep nurturing every odd interest you have. Do it thoroughly and people will pay you for these things they're too normal to do themselves.

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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

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The Count wrote:
WeepingElf wrote:there are of course many people who'd say "Stop daydreaming and get a life", and it is no point talking to them about the Commonwealth of the Elves).


I just got home from a business meeting with a representative from a newly started company who is specializing in teambuilding for children (with a lot of fantasy & theatre involved). This person likes my Xhaimeran language and culture and wants to use Xhaimeran names and folk stories. Enter the paycheck....
It's in times like these I flash a smile or two directed at the stupidity and shortsightedness of all the people I've heard time and time again wondering (and frowning upon) how the hell I could go around wasting time...
...making up languages that doesn't exist.
...making up cultures that doesn't exist.
...making music you can't dance to.
...writing stories that no one will read.

Now my made-up language is featured on CD's (for example Lodge Doom: Ne Nashran Inannaa http://itunes.apple.com/se/album/visions-of-dunkelheit/id444626394) and on art (http://www.skullartistry.com/poetry-3345450).
Now my made-up culture will be featured in team building and interactive theatre.
Now my music you can't dance to has been released on 9 albums.
Next year my stories that no one would read will make me a published author.

Ergo: Keep nurturing every odd interest you have. Do it thoroughly and people will pay you for these things they're too normal to do themselves.


Not everyone will be as lucky as you. Even today, when self-publishing and self-promotion are easily accessible, it can be hard to make good money off creative pursuits. Particularly for those who want to live on that kind of work.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by The Count »

Ollock wrote:Not everyone will be as lucky as you. Even today, when self-publishing and self-promotion are easily accessible, it can be hard to make good money off creative pursuits. Particularly for those who want to live on that kind of work.


I din't mean for it to come off as: "Look how badass I am". Rather as a reminder of, that a lot of these weird stuff some of us here go about to create is basically honing our tools. Conlanging not only makes one understand languages better, it requires us to think outside the box. And that is, to say the least, quite useable in a lot of areas. So those who tell a conlanger to "stop daydreaming and get a life" ought to stuff their mouths with insulation. And we better do the same with our ears.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

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The Count wrote:
Ollock wrote:Not everyone will be as lucky as you. Even today, when self-publishing and self-promotion are easily accessible, it can be hard to make good money off creative pursuits. Particularly for those who want to live on that kind of work.


I din't mean for it to come off as: "Look how badass I am". Rather as a reminder of, that a lot of these weird stuff some of us here go about to create is basically honing our tools. Conlanging not only makes one understand languages better, it requires us to think outside the box. And that is, to say the least, quite useable in a lot of areas. So those who tell a conlanger to "stop daydreaming and get a life" ought to stuff their mouths with insulation. And we better do the same with our ears.


ok

I agree.

So long as people have some realistic plans in addition to playing at conlanging, but that should go without saying.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by The Count »

Ollock wrote:
The Count wrote:
Ollock wrote:Not everyone will be as lucky as you. Even today, when self-publishing and self-promotion are easily accessible, it can be hard to make good money off creative pursuits. Particularly for those who want to live on that kind of work.


I din't mean for it to come off as: "Look how badass I am". Rather as a reminder of, that a lot of these weird stuff some of us here go about to create is basically honing our tools. Conlanging not only makes one understand languages better, it requires us to think outside the box. And that is, to say the least, quite useable in a lot of areas. So those who tell a conlanger to "stop daydreaming and get a life" ought to stuff their mouths with insulation. And we better do the same with our ears.


ok

I agree.

So long as people have some realistic plans in addition to playing at conlanging, but that should go without saying.


Just as much as I guess people have backup plans should their bodybuilding or car styling prove not to generate income.
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Mundi.Tristissimis »

Risla wrote:
Mundi.Tristissimis wrote:All I know is that sometimes when I am writing, or researching, or creating, I feel a 'something', a 'something' that is just beyond my grasp of explanation. It's not inspiration--it almost seems to be the object or source of inspiration. Like I can almost reach out and grasp it, and have in my possession what my mind has been searching for. I can read a story, or of an aspect of a culture, or a word in a foreign language, and a feeling almost like deja vu comes over me. Like what I'm searching for is SO CLOSE, that I can almost be reading about it right now, in these very real books, and yet so far away. In a way, it feels as though I am reading about my own 'true' culture, the one I ought to belong to, whether it exists or not, that I have almost been subconsciously creating for myself, and then in a strange way, I am confronted by it, and yet it is still not real.

I am using a great many words to describe something that is such a profoundly subjectively personal of an experience as to almost make words meaningless. All I can say is that all of my efforts at conworlding and at researching in this present world are all worth it when I experience this sensation of truly connecting to what I'm searching for. It adds a profound sense of mystery and wonder to the mundane world that I live in now, where our search for truth and knowledge has driven all mystery into hiding, whether for good or ill, to the point that genuine mystery or ultimate inexplicability are disguised in trite platitudes or playing dead coyly under the boot of reductionism.

It sounds like you're talking about Sehnsucht. It's the motivation for my conlanging too, and is also the basis for my own idiosyncratic religion-ish thing, and also my conpeople's religion. It's certainly an intensely profound experience. I don't like talking about it publicly since it's extremely, extremely personal for me, but you're very welcome to PM me about it if you'd like.


Yeah-- that does sound like my experience. I don't just get it with conlanging though, I also get it when thinking about my past, or after reading a really good book. But it's definitely strongest and most keen during the moments I wrote about above.

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Risla
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Re: The Problem with Conlanging

Post by Risla »

Mundi.Tristissimis wrote:
Risla wrote:
Mundi.Tristissimis wrote:All I know is that sometimes when I am writing, or researching, or creating, I feel a 'something', a 'something' that is just beyond my grasp of explanation. It's not inspiration--it almost seems to be the object or source of inspiration. Like I can almost reach out and grasp it, and have in my possession what my mind has been searching for. I can read a story, or of an aspect of a culture, or a word in a foreign language, and a feeling almost like deja vu comes over me. Like what I'm searching for is SO CLOSE, that I can almost be reading about it right now, in these very real books, and yet so far away. In a way, it feels as though I am reading about my own 'true' culture, the one I ought to belong to, whether it exists or not, that I have almost been subconsciously creating for myself, and then in a strange way, I am confronted by it, and yet it is still not real.

I am using a great many words to describe something that is such a profoundly subjectively personal of an experience as to almost make words meaningless. All I can say is that all of my efforts at conworlding and at researching in this present world are all worth it when I experience this sensation of truly connecting to what I'm searching for. It adds a profound sense of mystery and wonder to the mundane world that I live in now, where our search for truth and knowledge has driven all mystery into hiding, whether for good or ill, to the point that genuine mystery or ultimate inexplicability are disguised in trite platitudes or playing dead coyly under the boot of reductionism.

It sounds like you're talking about Sehnsucht. It's the motivation for my conlanging too, and is also the basis for my own idiosyncratic religion-ish thing, and also my conpeople's religion. It's certainly an intensely profound experience. I don't like talking about it publicly since it's extremely, extremely personal for me, but you're very welcome to PM me about it if you'd like.


Yeah-- that does sound like my experience. I don't just get it with conlanging though, I also get it when thinking about my past, or after reading a really good book. But it's definitely strongest and most keen during the moments I wrote about above.

Yeah, there are numerous things that trigger it for me. It's certainly not exclusive to conlanging. :P

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