Back home again

OK, so at the time of writing this I’ve not yet quite made it home, but I’m still sitting on the train, now in the 9th hour of my travel … I am pretty much exhausted and desperately want to be home in my own bed. I’ve almost made it, though, I’ve just left Frankfurt, and now it’s only about an hour to go. The train ride has so far been rather uneventful and smooth – not quite as smooth as on my way to Groningen, but still rather good: If my connecting train in Frankfurt hadn’t been itself 10 minutes late, I would’ve missed it because my train from Cologne to Frankfurt was about 10 minutes late as well.

So how was LCC4 in my impression? First off, I already said it, it’s seemed like an incredibly geeky thing to do. Says Henrik Theiling: “It’s pretty nice having a drink with people who like fricatives!” — Me: “I’ve had a beer with someone who knows about fricatives before.” — He: “Well, but how often do you do that with twenty people?” Indeed. On the first evening, we had a welcome dinner in Groningen’s inner city in a restaurant called De Gulzige Kater, which was very tasty and very saturating. Saturday evening for me also featured hunting for not-too-fast food with Jan and Tam and after having pizza and beer, meeting up with the group (ca. 30 20 25 people) re-assembled again in a very quaintly decorated pub near Martini Tower whose name I’ve forgotten. Conversations about language interests and observations, as well as private life and experiences have been had aplenty, and it was nice to get to know each other a little more personally that way. Anyway, it’s nice to see people you otherwise only communicate with over the internet. Mostly. Nobody was downright scary, and although I hadn’t assumed so, I still had mixed feelings when I stood in front of the restaurant. I, for one, don’t meet a group of 30 20 25 half-strangers for dinner so often, after all.

On Saturday morning, we heard a couple of talks, had a cold buffet for lunch, and in the afternoon heard some more talks and also had a little panel discussion on which trends or tendencies the four of us discussers as well as the audience have noticed over the last couple of years in the conlanging fora of our choice. We came to the conclusion (I think?) that there is much more turnover of people on the ZBB than on Conlang-L, that elitist phases somehow happen on both forums, and that biting the newbies is maybe also due to simply getting frustrated about explaining the same things to new people all over again and again. Sunday morning of course had some more talks. Because I had to catch the train and with that starting my ten-hour train odyssey through Western Europe to go back home at around 1:30 PM, I didn’t have time to also attend the afternoon session (with yet more talks) and the revelation of the LCC4 relay, so I left the conference center at around 1:10 PM, and received a very kind goodbye at that.

I must admit I did not pay close attention to all of the talks, but certainly David prove again that he is a good speaker and also that there’s gone more thought into Dothraki than it seems from the materials online. Lykara did a nice job (and also one semi-relevant to my literature studies) as well, namely on some of the earliest takes on artificial languages in literature – in literary satires of the 18th century. I am also still kind of fascinated with the ZBB’s collaborative conworld, Akana, presented by Jan Strasser and Tam Blaxter, who also did a nice job fitting a complex subject into a half-hour long presentation, in spite of assembling the whole of the talk from bits each one prepared individually only on Saturday evening, as far as I understood. Njenfalgar showed fun ways to make up throwaway languages to borrow names and the one or the other word from (something Ayeri very much lacks, alas!). Christophe also did a brilliant talk on suffixaufnahme/surdéclinaison which (a) showed how awesomely weird Basque is, and (b) left me wondering whether or not Ayeri’s relative pronouns are a case of surdéclinaison if you look at them closely, or whether it’s just multiple bracketing inflection on the rightmost element. Oh well, you can find the slides of most talks online anyway.

So, was it worth skipping class on Friday morning and spending a good part of my monthly budget (as a student) for travel and accomodation in one weekend? I would say yes, probably. And now I’m scared of having to catch up on my homework reading duties for the coming week. That will have to wait until tomorrow, though, fortunately.

Last but not least, here are a few photos I took on Saturday:

PS: If you want to read something nice in German: I read Ruhm. Ein Roman in neun Geschichten by Daniel Kehlmann on the way to Groningen. It’s 200 pages and I read it in about 5 hours. The book is a bundle of witty short stories (Sonya and Philip: I guess you could call that an album as well?) about 9 characters that are strongly interwoven, and I found it a pleasure to read.

  • Transferred photos from my Google account to my own server because of Google+.

4 thoughts on “Back home again

  1. Hi Carsten, I hope you arrived home safely!

    To tell you the truth, I was extremely nervous to meet everyone at the restaurant. Luckily I had met David and Sylvia already, and my husband was with me, but it’s true that meeting 20 half-strangers can be a scary thought 🙂 .

    The bar we went to on Saturday evening is called De Drie Gezusters, basically “The Three Sisters”. It seems every town in the Netherlands seems to have at least one bar called “Three Sisters”. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea 🙂 . It’s very much a “bruin cafe”, i.e. a traditional Dutch pub, which is exactly the type of bars I wanted to show you all 🙂 . More traditionally Dutch than that you won’t find 😉 .

    Anyway, it was great meeting you. Your talk on comparison was really nice and got me to think again about how to mark the standard of comparison in Moten. The jury’s still out on that one 😛 . Also, thanks for your kind words about my presentation.

    In any case, we’ve now met in person and are no strangers any longer, so if you’re ever planning to come spend some time in the Netherlands, don’t hesitate to contact me! You’re welcome to stay at my place and save the costs on hotels 🙂 .


    1. Thanks for the offer, Christophe 😉 The hotel was actually not that expensive for four stars, I guess. Going by train was, though going by car would’ve been even more so. And yes, I’ve made it home safe and sound, though pretty tired.

  2. Hey, when you get a chance, you should check out the video of the relay. Your video got the biggest laugh of the weekend. To prep you, when we got to your turn (I was using Christophe’s computer to present), I thought I’d just play the embedded video file, but it wasn’t loading. So I opened up the file directly, but it wouldn’t play because the computer didn’t have the proper plug in. So we went to the plug in site, but weren’t sure we had the right one. I thought about running it on my machine, but I’d forgotten the cable that allows me to plug my MacBook into a standard VGA cable.

    As I was futzing with my computer, Christophe was able to open the file in, I think, VLC, and so we played it, but there was no sound. We thought the volume was turned down, but it was turned up to full. Christophe tried a couple things to get the volume working, but it just wouldn’t work.

    So ultimately, this is what we did: Christophe and I each queued up the video (he on the presentation laptop, and me on mine), and I brought the mic with me. On the count of three, we each played our video at the same time, and I held my mic up to my computer’s speakers. There was a delay of about a half a second, but it worked: Your video was playing on the big screen, but the audio was coming from my computer through a mic.

    And then you said something to the effect of, “I’m not sure what the technology’s going to be like at the LCC…” 😉

    1. Thanks for the comment, David! I’ve already seen it. Great fun! Also, I wouldn’t have expected my words to be prophetic 😀

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