Tag Archives: essay

Digitale Typografie für fiktionale Schriftsysteme – ein Rant

  • Dies ist die Übersetzung eines englischsprachigen Beitrags (click for English version), den ich bereits im August 2011 geschrieben habe. Da scheinbar ein größeres Interesse an diesem Beitrag bestand, dachte ich, es wäre eventuell sinnvoll, ihn auch ins Deutsche zu übersetzen.
  • Mittlerweile habe ich auch einen Font mithilfe von Graphite gebastelt.
  • Beachte, dass ich nicht einmal ein halbprofessioneller Schriftdesigner bin. Alles, was du hier liest, ist learning by doing und daher sehr subjektiv. Ich habe mir bisher nicht mehr über Schriftdesign beigebracht, als nötig ist, um meine eigene Schrift umzusetzen.

Eines meiner fortlaufenden, mit dem Sprachenbasteln verbundenen Projekte ist es, das Schriftsystem meiner Kunstsprache auf den Computer zu bringen. Ich versuche seit mehreren Jahren, brauchbare Lösungen zu finden, bin aber immer früher oder später gegen eine Wand gerannt.
Continue reading Digitale Typografie für fiktionale Schriftsysteme – ein Rant

“Das Problem mit dem Sprachenbasteln” – eine Antwort

  • Dies ist die Übersetzung eines englischsprachigen Beitrags (click for English version), den ich bereits im Juni 2011 geschrieben habe. Da scheinbar ein größeres Interesse an diesem Beitrag bestand, dachte ich, es wäre eventuell sinnvoll, ihn auch ins Deutsche zu übersetzen.

Continue reading “Das Problem mit dem Sprachenbasteln” – eine Antwort

Digital Typography for Fictional Writing Systems – A Rant

This article still gets linked a lot even after over 5 years since publishing it. Technology, however, continuously advances, so please be aware that the information below may be outdated.

  • Dieser Beitrag ist jetzt auch auf Deutsch zu lesen, nämlich hier.
  • By now, I’ve made a font that uses Graphite.
  • Keep in mind that I’m not even a semi-professional font designer. All you read here is my subjective experience in learning by doing. I haven’t yet explored font-making beyond what I needed for my own stuff.

One of my ongoing language-construction related pet projects is to bring my constructed language’s writing system to the computer. I have been trying to come up with workable solutions to do this for a number of years, but always hit brick walls sooner or later. Continue reading Digital Typography for Fictional Writing Systems – A Rant

“The Problem with Conlanging” – A Response

[Dieser Beitrag ist jetzt auch auf Deutsch zu lesen, nämlich hier. — 20.08.2011]

Fellow conlanger Vecfaranti wrote a thought-provoking posting on the ZBB some weeks ago. Unfortunately I’ve only managed to read it now, and I would like to share it with you, and also answer with my own thoughts and experiences. Please be so kind not to necromance the thread, if the current date is months past May 24, 2011. What I am doing here is quoting passages from Vecfaranti’s forum posting and comment on them below. So, without further ado —

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 […] people.

Ayeri, too, is a language that is supposed to somehow be linked to an imaginary world not much unlike ours. Nonetheless, I can say that it’s also become kind of a personal language to me, so it also contains words for things that may or may not exist in this world my language’s speakers are supposed to live in, such as television, internet, or car. The necessity for this has arisen from writing the one or the other journal entry in the language, as well as doing Translation Challenges at the ZBB that I did not bother to somehow adapt culturally. Whenever I can, I try to either metaphorically extend the meaning of already existing words1 (natural languages also seem to do this a lot!), or I calque these words,2 and as a last resort borrow them. However, this borrowing mostly happens from the language I mainly work in: English. Even “in-universe” borrowing is a problem, because, as Vecfaranti observes, conlangs require context, and I don’t have much.3 Ayeri is the third language I am working on technically, but I’ve completely given up on the “Nameless Language” and Daléian, both of which I created in my first half year of language tinkering back in 2002. Also, I must say, that my interest in languages as such is bigger than in the people who speak them. Cultural Studies, history and sociology simply are not my primary interest. Trying to create a believable, naturalistically complex culture around my conlang and doing that on top of trying to create (an) artificial language(s) in depth seems quite “taxing” indeed to me, and frankly I have no idea where to start, hence my reluctance to come up with at least some kind of setting.

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? Which brings me to the other problem. No one likes reading grammars. […] And most people don’t have in depth knowledge to critique aspects of grammar besides phonology and maybe rudimentary morphology. […] Which is why most threads about in depth grammars do not get many responses around here.

My work on Ayeri is kind of a purpose to itself, though it also helps exploring Linguistics as a discipline, thus helping me to learn more about things as I go. Personally, I must admit that it’s no joy for me to sit down and read grammars – whether “nat” or “con” – cover to cover. Exploring bits and pieces here and there is more interesting, though it takes me conscious effort and concentration to sit down and read linguistic papers, and I don’t feel like doing that all the time. Also, I naturally have knowledge holes in areas I didn’t do any reading in for my own conlang, since I’ve never learnt Linguistics formally. In my experience, posting things on small issues you come across and want to hear others’ opinions about is far more successful in terms of response than just posting a link to your grammar, and say “Discuss.” For the same reason I’ve started this blog, more or less: I can write short articles about things, which helps working out details, and I can utter my thoughts so that people maybe can look into my reasoning and the way in which I create grammar, or decide on how to proceed. If they’re interested. However, all bite-sized, if possible.4

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.

Working tirelessly? Well yes, creating a whole world on your own must be very tiresome and takes ages if you want to arrive at a high level of depth. People say they admire my work, however be aware that I guess it could only achieve a certain level of quality because I’ve been working on this for about 8 years. Which goals beyond “conlanging (and conworlding)” should I pursue, though? I guess one I’ve already mentioned above: self-education, and releasing the little scholar in oneself to satisfy one’s curiosity.

Once I make a conlang, relatively in depth, I’m not easily willing to just discard it and not put it to use.

What Vecfaranti writes above I can affirm. And it’s also why I’m stubbornly clinging to Ayeri, although others have suggested to start a new thing, e.g. to make a parallel language or several less in-depth parallel languages to borrow words from. Maybe if I come round to make up a diachronic history of my conlang I will derive some sister-languages. But so far I have been very reluctant to try even that. It’s definitely a goal of mine, though, even if another 10 years have to pass (and should I still be interested in this kind of thing then).

  • Vecfaranti. “The Problem with Conlanging.” Zompist BBoard. 8 May 2011. Mark Rosenfelder, 2002. Web. 4 Jun. 2011.
  1. E.g. bukoya ‘library’ → ‘web server’
  2. E.g. narakahu ‘telephone’ ← nara- ‘speak’ + kahu ‘far’ (cf. German legalese Fernsprecher ‘far-speaker’)
  3. I drew a map some years ago, but not much has come of that. Also, the level of technology of my con-people varies a lot.
  4. This and the last couple of posts on Ayeri grammar have become quite lengthy, however…

Wait – isn’t it me who made that?

An internet friend of mine notified me today that a recording (of the “Babel Text”) and a picture (of the text of Conlang Relay 15) from this website was reposted on Youtube without any indication of source. And it’s been sitting there for about half a year already. Of course, I could have gone mad and reported it as a copyright violation immediately, since according to the terms of use of this site, all contents are copyrighted by me as far as not indicated otherwise, and reposting content you did not create yourself without consent is also against Youtube’s terms of trade. However, I find it silly to slap a watermark on anything I put up here. After all, I’m not making any money from this, it’s just a thing I do as a hobby. Still, I put work into things, and I’m grateful if people acknowledge this by stating who made it.

As far as content on the internet goes, I believe it’s an illusion to keep 100% control of how and by whom your content is used, since – as I see it – it is in the nature of the internet for content to get reposted elsewhere, even without your expressed consent, sooner or later. Viral campaigns essentially build on this behavior, as far as I know. This is by no means meant to be an invitation to ripping me off, however! My reply to said video:

Hi, I’m the creator of Ayeri and I was just notified by a friend you put this up here. While it’s nice to see that people like my stuff and while it’s clear to me that things one puts online are likely to end up elsewhere sooner or later, you could’ve easily dropped me a line, or at lease given credit. I’m not gonna have this removed, but please at least state your source.

I’m usually not against people using my things as long as they ask. I mean, if content you made gets reposted – that is, shared – by others, so that people who follow them are made aware of your work’s existence, that’s certainly nice, in and of itself. Everyone likes recommendations, and a large part of the internet builds on recommendations these days. And judging from other videos posted by the user, this is also what happened in my case: reposting what you appreciate or find interesting. However, what I’m allergic against is not giving credit. I don’t care too much about sharing the media I publish on Ayeri, however, I think it should still be a generally accepted habit to state the original source if you repost content for the purpose of sharing it with others. It’s egotist not to do so, and not very “Web 2.0” either in my opinion, as recommendations usually include giving the original source so that other people can find more interesting things there.

A positive surprise when reading the comments to the video was, however, that some people actually recognized this as Ayeri, that is, they did not mistake it as the poster’s creation. I’m curious how this will turn out.