Justin B Rye [MAIL] 1995–2001


Constructed Language #4892
2001 Release Notes
This being the first significant addition to my pages for a year or so, I rushed it out a bit early; but I think it's had all the major bugs shaken out now, so I'll call this its official release and get on with some maintenance work elsewhere… any further tweaks in this directory will be documented as usual on my changelog page.

First I'd better explain what a conlang (or constructed language) is.  It's obvious, really, as long as you don't imagine I'm talking about anything as mundanely utilitarian as the development of computer languages like Intercal, or language-planning projects like the one that brought Hebrew back from the dead.  Some conlangs are indeed contenders for the role of International Auxiliary Language, or Philosophically Perfect Logical Language; but most are just the fictional languages of fictional societies.  JRR Tolkien, patron saint of conlangers, described it as his Secret Vice… though that was before he came out of the closet and found a way of turning a tidy profit on the hobby.  I await with interest the Peter Jackson big-screen adaptation of Appendix F.

Once that's been explained, the next question is usually why? – and the answer tends to be as an expression of an obscurely specialised creative urge, or as a Gedankenexperiment in linguistic typology, or perhaps once the thumbscrews come out because I had more imaginary than real friends to talk to.  However, I've got an excuse handy: of all the toy languages I've sketched out over the years, this is the only one I've built to order!  A friend offered to pay me a few quid (or was it pints?) if I'd give him a language suitable for use as background colour in a roleplaying campaign he ran; I didn't get any further details, so I just put a week or so's free time into creating something that felt like an adequate compromise avoiding…

  1. Overfamiliarity
    I wanted it to look like a plausible natural language, not a Loglan, but that didn't mean it had to be some thinly disguised version of Latin or Welsh!  The fictional setting wasn't Europe, so my imagined language wasn't mock-European.
  2. Difficulty
    This was a hopeless cause (my client wasn't even a polyglot, let alone a linguist) but I did my best to keep things manageable by making the inflectional system small and regular, avoiding seriously exotic sounds, and cutting corners here and there.
  3. Cultural specificity
    Since I didn't have any idea whether the language needed words for kangaroo or flintlock I tried to reduce it to a lowest common denominator.  I didn't even take the step of naming my brainchild – it just received a tongue-in-cheek serial number.  The contrast with the stereotypical in-depth approach just made it more fun!

I should emphasise that I don't seriously expect people to want to learn the language; it's just here as a curiosity, though I suppose other RPGers might find it a handy source of just-add-water glossolalia.  Nor is it my ideal language – it just happens to be particularly thoroughly documented, and thus easy to HTMLise.  I may continue to reorganise and expand on the documentation, but it went into a feature freeze years ago.

(Postscript: what I should have given him is a simple con-trick language like this!)