Behind the Scenes

Or: What Is This, And What Is It Even For?

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Hello. My name is Carsten and Ayeri is my ongoing fictional language project. While Linguistics wasn’t my major at university, I’ve long been interested in languages and linguistics. When I read J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings way back in 9th grade, I was somehow fascinated by the fictional languages in it, and I started looking for information on those languages a little after I finished reading the books. I soon came across Mark Rosenfelder’s Language Construction Kit and his forum, the ZBB, and gave making up my first language a go. Ayeri is not my first fictional language, though.

Contrary to the fantasy nerd stereotype, I’m not actually that much into epic fantasy literature, and not into RPGs, wearing funny costumes and meeting fellow wearers of funny costumes and such either … I rather prefer the analogy between language creation and building Lego models. It’s a similar creative process for me, just with the bricks and pieces replaced by sounds and syllables. I loved playing with Lego as a child, and it looks like I still enjoy tinkering with things today.

After a few attempts at creating a fictional language myself—which left me unsatisfied because those languages were too close to the two foreign languages I was learning in school at the time, English and French, as well as to my native German—I started working on Ayeri in December 2003, and have so far stuck with that. And while I’m not constantly improving and reworking things, I do some work at least occasionally. A long-term commitment, if you will. For fun, compare something very old from the “Examples” page with something very recent.

In my work on this project, it’s not my aim to create an auxiliary language like Esperanto, neither is it my intention to create a language of the Lojban variety, which tries to be as logical as possible. Nor is it my intention to make a language like Ithkuil, which is engineered to take information density to an extreme. Instead, what I’m concerned about in the work on Ayeri is:

  • Learning more about actual Linguistics as I go, because building an artificial language needs research into natural languages if you want to do it well. I quite enjoy the feedback loop between research and creative work.
  • Using this information from research to artificially create a naturalistic language.
  • Playing and tinkering with personal esthetics regarding language sound and structure.

As potential works of art, too, constructed languages (often abbreviated to ‘conlang’ on the internet) maybe deserve some public exhibition, which is why this page and its predecessors were created—not least because there are more like-minded people out there on the internet, according to this map:

As a side effect of working on the presentation of my work, I’ve learned a little about programming. Also, as most of the groups concerned with language creation on the internet are predominantly English-speaking, discussion there gives me plenty of English practice, so there are even very practical sides to this rather academically-minded (and admittedly nerdy) hobby.