A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by elemtilas » Sat 11 Aug 2018, 02:43

Pabappa wrote:
Fri 10 Aug 2018, 18:59
I just looked up the Gnoli triangle. I like that it offers degrees. But I don't make auxlangs, and I have only a few engelang traits, so all of my conlangs fit in the corner. Also the Gnoli triangle offers no distinction between a priori vs a posteriori , perhaps because it isn't a matter of several degrees ?
I don't think it's designed to distinguish between priori and posteriori. Just like it's not designed to distinguish between Slavic and Sinitic or proto-lang and daughter-lang. As I recall, the primary driver was the observation that invented languages tend to be one of three basic types that became the high level descriptors. After all, "a posteriori" invented languages can be art-, enge- or aux-langs!

For what it worths, all mine are artlangs as well, pure green, with almost no admixture towards the other vertices. Other folks deal expressly in engelangs while still others mix art and aux. If I ever decided to make an auxlang, it would most definitely be in the yellow band, being a healthy combination of art- and aux-.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by elemtilas » Sat 11 Aug 2018, 02:49

Reyzadren wrote:
Fri 10 Aug 2018, 22:54
With regards to taxonomy, none of the proposed classification schemes in this thread is able to categorise griuskant appropriately. The simplest suggestion for this imo, is to just label it as a conworld language, or even just use the fictional language box.
Well, isn't that half the fun of taxonomy, trying to shove the round peg into the triangular hole!

What do you feel make griuskant unclassifiable? If it doesn't fit the triangular model, do you think a fourth (or nth) point might could be added to the model?

I don't know enough about griuskant or the processes that gave it form to say, but from I've seen and from your above description, "artlang" seems like a good starting point.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by eldin raigmore » Sat 11 Aug 2018, 04:53

I have enjoyed and been edified by the responses since and/or to my last post.
I like Aszev’s diagram.
But I also am persuaded by the various responders who say the Gnoli triangle is already good enough.

=====================

Less seriously: I propose the following taxonomy:
  1. Mixed, miscellaneous, and other
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by elemtilas » Sat 11 Aug 2018, 13:06

eldin raigmore wrote:
Sat 11 Aug 2018, 04:53
Less seriously: I propose the following taxonomy:
  1. Mixed, miscellaneous, and other
Now, thát''s a good one! Simple to remember & covers all eventualities!

:mrgreen:
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by Salmoneus » Sat 11 Aug 2018, 21:33

I don't think that threefold division works that well, because 'engelang' is so radically under-defined, "'auxlang' operates on a different dimension (the dimension of practical use, which is unrelated to the features of the language - for any type of language, someone's suggested using it as an auxlang) and "artlang" basically just means "not either of the other two".


I think it would be more helpful to recognise two different levels of categorisation. On the one hand, you have what we might call a taxonomic classification, designed to be able to categorise all possible things; on the other, you have what we might call a generic classification, designed to highlight the most notable trends. For instance, saying whether something's a symphony or a symphonic poem is a generic classification - these terms highlight two common but distinct forms of music. But there are a lot of things that are neither, and quite a few things about which it's hard to say which of the two it might be. Whereas saying that something is chamber music or orchestral music is taxonomic - it describes almost everything without much dispute.

To give a linguistic analogy: a generic classification is like a sprachbund: it points out a cluster of like things, but doesn't pretend to include everything, and will often be non-exclusive. Whereas a family is a taxonomic classification: everything belongs to some or other family.

------

What the 'Gnoli triangle' is getting at is that there are certain vaguely recognisable genres of conlanging currently in vogue. The three most common genres, or 'schools' or 'traditions' are naturalism, idealism, and internationalism. But trying to classify conlangs taxonomically on this basis is like dividing music into "concertos", "classical Chinese court music" and "things played on the radio"...

Naturalism aims to create a viridical language that, as much as possible, could pass for 'real' - it emphasises probability (improbable features are permitted, and often encouraged, but only against a background of 'normality'), and the technique of diachronic derivation (in the naturalistic school, even a priori languages are expected to look as though they could have derived normally, and generally at least some level of diachronic depth is encouraged), as well as the idea of the language as something embedded in a cultural and socioeconomic context (questions like 'where is it spoken?', and 'who speaks it?' are common); specific generic tropes like the "linguistic report" (a description written as though by a linguistic researcher exploring a real language) aren't necessary but aren't uncommon, and in general the whole project tends to be shrouded in make-believe. Naturalism is the dominant genre of conlanging in the CBB, ZBB and many other online hobbyist venues, though it's historically novel.

Idealism aims to create a language closely inspired by concepts of the ideal language analysis movement. Design aims typically involve the reduction of ambiguities in vocabulary and in syntax, and the intentional avoidance of inessential tropes of real human languages. Methods are expected to be informed by at least some understanding of logic, mathematics and/or computer science. The aesthetic is generally brutalist. There is little concept of the language ever being spoken, and there is generally no supportive fiction; the language is presented in a purely objective fashion.

Internationalism is a school that aims to create a language that is proper to the human race as a whole, stripped of its cultural specificities. Internationalism evolved out of the auxlang movement, but in reality most internationalist conlangs are not created with any real intent at practical adoption. They emphasise universalism - common techniques involve pluralistic borrowing (often formalised and probabilistic) and levelling out (removing 'difficult' features that are less universal, or even trying to create vocabulary items that represent the 'common denominator' of two or more languages). There is often, though not always, a broader ideological element, with the language privileging universalist and egalitarian behaviours and disfavouring others. If there is any academic influence, it's from fields like sociology and statistics (rather than historical linguistics (naturalism) or logic (idealism)).



------------

Taxonomically, you can create classifications based on any question you want. Here's two suggestions...

First, a taxonomy that tries to capture the trends represented by the above genres. For this, I'd begin with a binary distinction: mimetic, vs speculative. A mimetic language is one that attempts to mimic some real language or group of languages (including the group of 'all real languages). Mimetic languages, at least at first glance, attempt to look like real languages.

But not all mimetic languages are naturalistic. There's a tendency to see all non-naturalistic mimetic languages as just "bad naturalistic languages", but the intent is often different. Bogolangs fall into this category, for example - they're not naturalistically plausible, but they are in their own way designed to look superficially real. Similarly, Tolkien's languages. They're not part of the naturalistic school, quite explicitly - the Eldar were not bound by human linguistic laws, and, particularly early in their proposed diachronics, things happen in them for no reason other than that the loremasters felt something seemed cool. Sindarin is also perhaps too coarsely inspired by Welsh to be really naturalistic. But these are mimetic languages. And then there's Klingon - informed by linguistics, sure, and superficially plausible, but too driven by extra-linguistic stylistic considerations and too filled with jokes to be a respectable example of pure Naturalism.

So, I'd divide mimetic languages - if I really wanted a taxonomy - into two types: those that prioritise directly mimicing human languages ("viridical"), and those that, while attempting to look superficially realistic, are driven more by the desire to create a specific impression on the observer or by other extra-linguistic considerations (a well-crafted joke languages, for instance) - these we might call 'stylised'. Quenya and Klingon are stylised mimetic languages. So are most bogolangs (though some, where the emphasis is less on a clear aesthetic and more on linguistic realism, are non-Naturalist viridical languages).

[Naturalist languages are all viridical. However, not all viridical languages adhere to the specific generic interests of Naturalism, like diachronic justifications, fictive speakers, or 'probability'. Esperanto is a famous example of a (mostly) viridical but non-Naturalist language. So are most Internationalist languages]

Meanwhile, speculative languages are those that do NOT attempt to mimic real human language even superficially, but instead have some other organising principle, which generally can be expressed as a what-if speculation. They're hard to subcategorise because they're so vast in scope. Idealist languages are speculative ('what if a language were perfectly 'logical'?'). So are languages to optimise comunication with computers ('what if a full language were like a computer language?'). So are languages for aliens, if they're treated as truly alien. So are pure jokelangs. So are most languages with a strong ideological element - Toki Pona, for instance, while having some Internationalist trappings, is probably better described as speculative than as viridical.


-------

An alternative taxonomy: how about asking "who is this to be spoken by?"

If the answer is "real people", we're dealing with a practical language. Practical languages can be divided into futurist languages (languages the creator believes ought to be spoken by particular people in the relatively remote future) and reformist languages (languages the creator believes ought to be spoken by a group of people in the relatively near future). Futurist languages can be divided into task-oriented languages (primarily languages for computers or for computer-human interface) and general futurist languages (intended for a whole society in a particular condition, rather than for a specific task in the future).
Reformist languages are probably most usefully divided into universal and particular reformist languages - for everyone, or just for a particular group. Universal languages include Internationalist languages, but also many Idealist languages. More generally we could divide them into languages that should be spoken tomorrow by everyone because they're better - perfectionist languages (Idealists, but also, for example, radically egalitarian languages) - and languages where the proposed 'reform' is driven by other motivations (like the desire for a single world language) and the language is not inherently better as a language structurally, but for some other reason would be a good language to adopt - ease of use, neutrality, etc - which we might call pragmatic languages.
Particular languages, meanwhile, have some motivation specific to a particular group. We could divide these into unifying languages (which are to be spoken by a group that doesn't currently have a common language) and distinguishing languages (to be spoken by all or some of the speakers of a particular current language). Unifying languages include things like lingua francas, jargons and creoles (caused by combining elements explicitly), and panethnic reconstructions (where related languages are in some way reduced to a proposed new common form akin to all but biased toward none). Distinguishing languages include things like egalitarian reforms, purification movements (stripping out 'foreign' influences), resurrections of dead languages, and secret languages (adopted to create a new in- and out-group).

If the answer, though, is "fictional people", we're dealing with a fictional language. The next question is probably 'are they human (or human-like)'? So we have human-like and non-human-like languages. Human(-like) languages can then be divided into languages for groups that don't exist, but relatively easily could have done (alt-history languages), languages for people who could theoretically have existed on some version of Earth (and may have done!) but there's so little known that they could have spoken anything (a Neanderthal language, or an Atlantean language), and languages intended for people who live in another world or on another planet.

And the third answer is "no-one", in which case we're dealing with a theoretical language.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by Reyzadren » Sat 11 Aug 2018, 22:48

elemtilas wrote:
Sat 11 Aug 2018, 02:49
Reyzadren wrote:
Fri 10 Aug 2018, 22:54
With regards to taxonomy, none of the proposed classification schemes in this thread is able to categorise griuskant appropriately. The simplest suggestion for this imo, is to just label it as a conworld language, or even just use the fictional language box.
Well, isn't that half the fun of taxonomy, trying to shove the round peg into the triangular hole!

What do you feel make griuskant unclassifiable? If it doesn't fit the triangular model, do you think a fourth (or nth) point might could be added to the model?

I don't know enough about griuskant or the processes that gave it form to say, but from I've seen and from your above description, "artlang" seems like a good starting point.
It's not so much that it is unclassifiable, it's more about the classifications here having inter-contradicting definitions, as well as not including the "Other"/Hufflepuff/protist category. Same with the Gnoli triangle, each axis does not form a direct continuum.

Also, I have never declared my conlang to be such, so I don't know why you insist on artlang. Reviewing the definitions from this thread and beyond:
Trailsend: Informed by naturalism and/or aesthetics
Ear of the Sphinx: - artlang (average to high complexity, various features)
Frathwiki: devised to create aesthetic pleasure or humorous effect
Carolandray: Artlang is short for art-language (or, if you prefer, art language, without the hyphen), i.e. language which has been constructed as a work of art in itself. Such a language is not concerned with "base considerations of the 'practical', the easiest for the 'modern mind', or for the million.
* It is not designed to be natural, or unnatural, as these facets were never a goal. It is what it is.
* It has low complexity.
* Absolutely not for humour, and it is more functional than aesthetic.
* Well, as far as I know and use it, it is most definitely practical and easy. In fact, it is stresstested just so it works with enough precision and imprecision that is desired.

Hence, it is shown that griuskant does not adhere to any of those criteria.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by elemtilas » Sun 12 Aug 2018, 05:34

Reyzadren wrote:
Sat 11 Aug 2018, 22:48
elemtilas wrote:
Sat 11 Aug 2018, 02:49
I don't know enough about griuskant or the processes that gave it form to say, but from I've seen and from your above description, "artlang" seems like a good starting point.
It's not so much that it is unclassifiable, it's more about the classifications here having inter-contradicting definitions, as well as not including the "Other"/Hufflepuff/protist category. Same with the Gnoli triangle, each axis does not form a direct continuum.
I don't think it's supposed to.
Also, I have never declared my conlang to be such, so I don't know why you insist on artlang.
I don't insist. As I said, based on the information at hand, it's a good starting point.
Reviewing the definitions from this thread and beyond:
Trailsend: Informed by naturalism and/or aesthetics
Ear of the Sphinx: - artlang (average to high complexity, various features)
Frathwiki: devised to create aesthetic pleasure or humorous effect
Carolandray: Artlang is short for art-language (or, if you prefer, art language, without the hyphen), i.e. language which has been constructed as a work of art in itself. Such a language is not concerned with "base considerations of the 'practical', the easiest for the 'modern mind', or for the million.
* It is not designed to be natural, or unnatural, as these facets were never a goal. It is what it is.
* It has low complexity.
* Absolutely not for humour, and it is more functional than aesthetic.
* Well, as far as I know and use it, it is most definitely practical and easy. In fact, it is stresstested just so it works with enough precision and imprecision that is desired.

Hence, it is shown that griuskant does not adhere to any of those criteria.
Clearly not an auxlang: gr. is not intended to be an auxiliary language.
Clearly not an engelang: gr. is in intended to explore some discrete facet of Language or to test a hypothesis

That leaves artlang.

"Artlang" does not presuppose either naturalistic or unnaturalistic or humour or even "not being concerned with base considerations". Those are different individuals' perspectives. They are not dictionary definitions. An artlang can be naturalistic. Or unnaturalistic. Or neither one way nor the other. An artlang can be terribly byzantine or transparently uncomplex. An artlang can be functional or humorous or practical or impractical or precise or imprecise all at the glossopoet's discretion.

It seems to me that, if anything, gr. is intended to conform to your own unique and idiosyncratic sense of the aesthetic; from what you hint at, it seems, perhaps, to be closer to a heartlang. In many regards actually, I find your description of griuskant to run parallel to, though not entirely identical to, that of Queranarran. I haven't "stress tested" it (whatever that might mean for griuskant's context), but apart from aesthetic matters, the descriptions could be cross transferred: I am ambivalent towards its un/naturalism; I don't find it terribly complex: like any language, (I dare say griuskant incl.) it contains complexities without being complex; definitely not intended for humorous effect; it's a language, so it's functional, though its intended purpose is not to be "functional within the primary world"; it can be, at the speaker's desire, either precise or imprecise, and is often curiously both precisely imprecise at the same time. It is definitely a heartlang. And all in all, it is what it is!

Also keep in mind that the Gnoli Triangle is not three lines with three points that comprise three continua. The Triangle is a (currently) two dimensional space where an invented language can be placed anywhere within the boundaries. That's why, as I tick off how you describe griuskant (and how I describe Queranarran), neither come close to the blue-white-yellow zones and are as far away from the indigo-purple-red zones as can be.

Still, I don't "insist". I can only base my understanding upon what you give me as description!
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by WeepingElf » Sun 12 Aug 2018, 14:36

There is some confusion about the meanings of the terms a priori, a posteriori and naturalistic because most of us use them differently than the interlinguists (scholars studying auxlangs).

The terms a priori and a posteriori were defined in a 1903 book on IALs by two French scholars, Couturat and Leau (I haven't read that book, though, and can only report on what I have read about it on the CONLANG list and elsewhere). An a posteriori IAL is one made up of words taken from existing languages, such as Latin or Romance languages; this is used quite "correctly" in our quarters.

An a priori language, in contrast, is not just any language with freely made-up words (as we use the term); it is one built from "first principles', i.e. the concepts are broken up into elementary concepts, and the words built to reflect this composition. So if a "bird" is defined as an "animal with feathers", the word for "bird" contains a part meaning "animal" and one meaning "feather". Examples of such a priori languages are the 17th century "philosophical" languages by people like Dalgarno or Wilkins, In the modern conlanger community, this is more or less what we call "oligosynthetic" (a term coined by Benjamin Lee Whorf in reference to some indigenous American natlangs which he - wrongly - assumed to show such a structure). There doesn't seem to be a well-defined term for conlangs like Klingon or Quenya in interlinguists' parlance; they probably classify those as "mixed" or "other".

Now, naturalistic. We understand this as meaning "resembling a natlang", and being orthogonal to the a priori/a posteriori distinction. Quenya is a naturalistic a priori language; Brithenig is a naturalistic a posteriori language. Interlinguists use it differently, however. To them a naturalistic language is an IAL that does not only take roots from donor languages, as Esperanto does, but fully-formed words, admitting irregularities in the word formation. An example of such a naturalistic IAL is IALA Interlingua. Under this definition, a language cannot be both a priori and naturalistic at the same time - a naturalistic IAL is always a posteriori.

That does not mean, though, that we use these words "wrongly" - words always mean what they are used for, and we simply use them differently. It is a different (though related) field of study, kind of like how historical linguistics and language origin studies use protolanguage to mean different things.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by Salmoneus » Sun 12 Aug 2018, 16:16

...sure, and the point is?

Or rather: you say we are "confused", but I don't see any confusion here. Sure, other people talking about other things in other places may use words differently. Sure. Some of them speak Chinese, too.

For what it's worth, a priori actually dates from the beginning of the 17th century, and a posteriori was coined by Kant. But this is unlikely to confuse anybody. Indeed, the confusion appears to originate with your 'interlinguists', who, like many inattentive philosophy students, confused the priori/posteriori distinction in Kant with the analytic/synthetic distinction. In Kant, analytic truth is truth that derives inherently from the meaning of the constituent parts, while synthetic truth is truth that derives from facts about the world. Replace 'truth' with 'meaning of vocabulary' and 'the world' with 'natural languages' and you come close to the definitions you give. But of course, this distinction is orthogonal to the priori/posteriori distinction - witness the whole of the 19th century and its interest in exploring the concept of the synthetic a priori.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by Reyzadren » Sun 12 Aug 2018, 22:24

elemtilas wrote:
Sun 12 Aug 2018, 05:34
Clearly not an auxlang: gr. is not intended to be an auxiliary language.
Clearly not an engelang: gr. is in intended to explore some discrete facet of Language or to test a hypothesis

That leaves artlang.

"Artlang" does not presuppose either naturalistic or unnaturalistic or humour or even "not being concerned with base considerations". Those are different individuals' perspectives. They are not dictionary definitions. An artlang can be naturalistic. Or unnaturalistic. Or neither one way nor the other. An artlang can be terribly byzantine or transparently uncomplex. An artlang can be functional or humorous or practical or impractical or precise or imprecise all at the glossopoet's discretion.

It seems to me that, if anything, gr. is intended to conform to your own unique and idiosyncratic sense of the aesthetic; from what you hint at, it seems, perhaps, to be closer to a heartlang. In many regards actually, I find your description of griuskant to run parallel to, though not entirely identical to, that of Queranarran. I haven't "stress tested" it (whatever that might mean for griuskant's context), but apart from aesthetic matters, the descriptions could be cross transferred: I am ambivalent towards its un/naturalism; I don't find it terribly complex: like any language, (I dare say griuskant incl.) it contains complexities without being complex; definitely not intended for humorous effect; it's a language, so it's functional, though its intended purpose is not to be "functional within the primary world"; it can be, at the speaker's desire, either precise or imprecise, and is often curiously both precisely imprecise at the same time. It is definitely a heartlang. And all in all, it is what it is!

Also keep in mind that the Gnoli Triangle is not three lines with three points that comprise three continua. The Triangle is a (currently) two dimensional space where an invented language can be placed anywhere within the boundaries. That's why, as I tick off how you describe griuskant (and how I describe Queranarran), neither come close to the blue-white-yellow zones and are as far away from the indigo-purple-red zones as can be.

Still, I don't "insist". I can only base my understanding upon what you give me as description!
You decided that if something isn't an auxlang or engelang, it gets sorted into the artlang category. The Gnoli triangle doesn't do that by default. You walked into this problem by assuming that there are only 3 outcomes, and placed it using your own methodology. You can interpret it however you like, but the official word from me is that it is not an artlang. And as you said, it could very well be a heartlang, except that here, heartlangs are suddenly associated as a subset of artlangs, which is a stretch imo.

On the Gnoli triangle (if it was used), griuskant shares more properties amongst those in the blue-red zone tbh. Also, you had already insisted on that term long before this reply, check your own census thread.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by elemtilas » Mon 13 Aug 2018, 02:56

Reyzadren wrote:
Sun 12 Aug 2018, 22:24
You can interpret it however you like, but the official word from me is that it is not an artlang.
That's fine.
And as you said, it could very well be a heartlang, except that here, heartlangs are suddenly associated as a subset of artlangs, which is a stretch imo.
Indeed not! A heartlang can be an artlang, of course. It can be an auxlang. It can be an engelang. Or any of scores of other kinds of invented languages. I'm not under the impression that a particular invented language must fit one and only one category. This is why, out of all the schemes I have seen over the years, the Gnoli Triangle has stood the test of time. Is it perfect? No. Is its power of description better than the tree type of scheme (akin to the one Aszev posted years ago)? I think so, as it allows for much more nuanced placement.
On the Gnoli triangle (if it was used), griuskant shares more properties amongst those in the blue-red zone tbh.
Fair enough. Enge-auxlang, then. Issue fixed in the Census as well. Unless you want me to list it as "heartlang"! Don't be so coy!
Also, you had already insisted on that term long before this reply, check your own census thread.
I don't insist. I can only use the information you choose to give me, be it vague or precise. "Griuskant is a conlang for a fictional world." and "Conworld language". Those are the data points I have to work with. Fictional worlds are generally more of a creative & artistic endeavour. You're more than welcome to just come out and say what it is, given any commonly understood terminology, and I'll more than happily change my mind (again) and edit the entry (again)!

Seriously, it's your language and I want to ensure that Census entries are as correct as possible. I didn't make that Census for me, you know. I made that as a resource for the community, and it doesn't do any of us any good if the information on it is erroneous. And it really doesn't me any good if the information is erroneous because the language inventor is being less than forthcoming. Because now I look like I'm putting words in your mouth, when that is not the case. Just be straight with me.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by Curlyjimsam » Tue 14 Aug 2018, 19:59

My languages are nearly all naturalistic fictional in Aszev's terms. I'm not sure they cleanly fit on either side of the earthly/alien divide, though - most adhere to terrestrial universals in general, but I will happily ignore these from time to time. Only a few have very obvious alien characteristics, though. A small number are derived a posteriori.

I'd also make a divide in my own work between languages for stories and others. The first lot are created specifically for use in novels and so forth; they tend to be less detailed. Most of my conlanging activity goes toward languages for my main conworld, which was not originally devised with stories in mind. Though even here things are a bit blurry, as I have dabbled in stories set in my conworld a few times over the years, and am currently working on a fairly major novel project set there.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by lsd » Fri 17 Aug 2018, 21:43

As a conlanger I prefer to use a taxonomy from construction kinds...
- a priori languages (built from non linguistic first principles)
- a posteriori languages ( built from natlangs)
- ex nihilo languages (built from scratch)

rather than a taxonomy from purposes...
- experimental conlangs (for knowledge goal)
- auxlangs (for communication goal)
- artlangs (for esthetic goal)

to use them one at a time avoids to mix and to give redundant types

for instance, the prototype of a priori conlangs is a metalanguage for science, the one for a posteriori conlangs is a simplification or a rationalization of language for international communication and the one for ex nihilo conlangs is a modelang using linguistics for produce moke up of fake natural language for entertainment...
(Even if universal languages of XVII are a priori languages for communication purpose, or Nadsat is an a posteriori languages designed in movies for esthetic purpose, or Kotava is ex nihilo language for IAL purpose...)
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by Pabappa » Sat 25 Aug 2018, 15:37

The first poster of this thread now has a banner ad for hugedomains.com as an avatar. I don't remember it being that way before. Did something happen? He's long gone so I doubt I'd be able to contact him.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by WeepingElf » Sat 25 Aug 2018, 15:51

lsd wrote:
Fri 17 Aug 2018, 21:43
As a conlanger I prefer to use a taxonomy from construction kinds...
- a priori languages (built from non linguistic first principles)
- a posteriori languages ( built from natlangs)
- ex nihilo languages (built from scratch)
This is a good idea, thanks! Finally, a name for the nameless category between a priori and a posteriori. Some time ago when this matter was discussed at the CONLANG list, however, I suggested dropping the terms "a priori" and "a posteriori" altogether in favour of "original" vs, "derived", as these two terms are hard to remember and often mistaken for each other. I have more than once seen things like "This conlang is a priori, based on Latin" - people sometimes say "a priori" and mean "a posteriori" (the reverse does not seem to happen often, though).
rather than a taxonomy from purposes...
- experimental conlangs (for knowledge goal)
- auxlangs (for communication goal)
- artlangs (for esthetic goal)

to use them one at a time avoids to mix and to give redundant types
Fair.
for instance, the prototype of a priori conlangs is a metalanguage for science, the one for a posteriori conlangs is a simplification or a rationalization of language for international communication and the one for ex nihilo conlangs is a modelang using linguistics for produce moke up of fake natural language for entertainment...
(Even if universal languages of XVII are a priori languages for communication purpose, or Nadsat is an a posteriori languages designed in movies for esthetic purpose, or Kotava is ex nihilo language for IAL purpose...)
The two classifications - by etymology and by purpose - are of course logically independent from each other, even if not all combinations are equally common.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by cedh » Mon 27 Aug 2018, 05:01

Salmoneus wrote:
Sat 11 Aug 2018, 21:33
I think it would be more helpful to recognise two different levels of categorisation. On the one hand, you have what we might call a taxonomic classification, designed to be able to categorise all possible things; on the other, you have what we might call a generic classification, designed to highlight the most notable trends. [...] To give a linguistic analogy: a generic classification is like a sprachbund: it points out a cluster of like things, but doesn't pretend to include everything, and will often be non-exclusive. Whereas a family is a taxonomic classification: everything belongs to some or other family.
I agree with basically everything in this excellent post. Thank you, Sal!

Full quotation:
Spoiler:
Salmoneus wrote:
Sat 11 Aug 2018, 21:33
I don't think that threefold division works that well, because 'engelang' is so radically under-defined, "'auxlang' operates on a different dimension (the dimension of practical use, which is unrelated to the features of the language - for any type of language, someone's suggested using it as an auxlang) and "artlang" basically just means "not either of the other two".


I think it would be more helpful to recognise two different levels of categorisation. On the one hand, you have what we might call a taxonomic classification, designed to be able to categorise all possible things; on the other, you have what we might call a generic classification, designed to highlight the most notable trends. For instance, saying whether something's a symphony or a symphonic poem is a generic classification - these terms highlight two common but distinct forms of music. But there are a lot of things that are neither, and quite a few things about which it's hard to say which of the two it might be. Whereas saying that something is chamber music or orchestral music is taxonomic - it describes almost everything without much dispute.

To give a linguistic analogy: a generic classification is like a sprachbund: it points out a cluster of like things, but doesn't pretend to include everything, and will often be non-exclusive. Whereas a family is a taxonomic classification: everything belongs to some or other family.

------

What the 'Gnoli triangle' is getting at is that there are certain vaguely recognisable genres of conlanging currently in vogue. The three most common genres, or 'schools' or 'traditions' are naturalism, idealism, and internationalism. But trying to classify conlangs taxonomically on this basis is like dividing music into "concertos", "classical Chinese court music" and "things played on the radio"...

Naturalism aims to create a viridical language that, as much as possible, could pass for 'real' - it emphasises probability (improbable features are permitted, and often encouraged, but only against a background of 'normality'), and the technique of diachronic derivation (in the naturalistic school, even a priori languages are expected to look as though they could have derived normally, and generally at least some level of diachronic depth is encouraged), as well as the idea of the language as something embedded in a cultural and socioeconomic context (questions like 'where is it spoken?', and 'who speaks it?' are common); specific generic tropes like the "linguistic report" (a description written as though by a linguistic researcher exploring a real language) aren't necessary but aren't uncommon, and in general the whole project tends to be shrouded in make-believe. Naturalism is the dominant genre of conlanging in the CBB, ZBB and many other online hobbyist venues, though it's historically novel.

Idealism aims to create a language closely inspired by concepts of the ideal language analysis movement. Design aims typically involve the reduction of ambiguities in vocabulary and in syntax, and the intentional avoidance of inessential tropes of real human languages. Methods are expected to be informed by at least some understanding of logic, mathematics and/or computer science. The aesthetic is generally brutalist. There is little concept of the language ever being spoken, and there is generally no supportive fiction; the language is presented in a purely objective fashion.

Internationalism is a school that aims to create a language that is proper to the human race as a whole, stripped of its cultural specificities. Internationalism evolved out of the auxlang movement, but in reality most internationalist conlangs are not created with any real intent at practical adoption. They emphasise universalism - common techniques involve pluralistic borrowing (often formalised and probabilistic) and levelling out (removing 'difficult' features that are less universal, or even trying to create vocabulary items that represent the 'common denominator' of two or more languages). There is often, though not always, a broader ideological element, with the language privileging universalist and egalitarian behaviours and disfavouring others. If there is any academic influence, it's from fields like sociology and statistics (rather than historical linguistics (naturalism) or logic (idealism)).



------------

Taxonomically, you can create classifications based on any question you want. Here's two suggestions...

First, a taxonomy that tries to capture the trends represented by the above genres. For this, I'd begin with a binary distinction: mimetic, vs speculative. A mimetic language is one that attempts to mimic some real language or group of languages (including the group of 'all real languages). Mimetic languages, at least at first glance, attempt to look like real languages.

But not all mimetic languages are naturalistic. There's a tendency to see all non-naturalistic mimetic languages as just "bad naturalistic languages", but the intent is often different. Bogolangs fall into this category, for example - they're not naturalistically plausible, but they are in their own way designed to look superficially real. Similarly, Tolkien's languages. They're not part of the naturalistic school, quite explicitly - the Eldar were not bound by human linguistic laws, and, particularly early in their proposed diachronics, things happen in them for no reason other than that the loremasters felt something seemed cool. Sindarin is also perhaps too coarsely inspired by Welsh to be really naturalistic. But these are mimetic languages. And then there's Klingon - informed by linguistics, sure, and superficially plausible, but too driven by extra-linguistic stylistic considerations and too filled with jokes to be a respectable example of pure Naturalism.

So, I'd divide mimetic languages - if I really wanted a taxonomy - into two types: those that prioritise directly mimicing human languages ("viridical"), and those that, while attempting to look superficially realistic, are driven more by the desire to create a specific impression on the observer or by other extra-linguistic considerations (a well-crafted joke languages, for instance) - these we might call 'stylised'. Quenya and Klingon are stylised mimetic languages. So are most bogolangs (though some, where the emphasis is less on a clear aesthetic and more on linguistic realism, are non-Naturalist viridical languages).

[Naturalist languages are all viridical. However, not all viridical languages adhere to the specific generic interests of Naturalism, like diachronic justifications, fictive speakers, or 'probability'. Esperanto is a famous example of a (mostly) viridical but non-Naturalist language. So are most Internationalist languages]

Meanwhile, speculative languages are those that do NOT attempt to mimic real human language even superficially, but instead have some other organising principle, which generally can be expressed as a what-if speculation. They're hard to subcategorise because they're so vast in scope. Idealist languages are speculative ('what if a language were perfectly 'logical'?'). So are languages to optimise comunication with computers ('what if a full language were like a computer language?'). So are languages for aliens, if they're treated as truly alien. So are pure jokelangs. So are most languages with a strong ideological element - Toki Pona, for instance, while having some Internationalist trappings, is probably better described as speculative than as viridical.


-------

An alternative taxonomy: how about asking "who is this to be spoken by?"

If the answer is "real people", we're dealing with a practical language. Practical languages can be divided into futurist languages (languages the creator believes ought to be spoken by particular people in the relatively remote future) and reformist languages (languages the creator believes ought to be spoken by a group of people in the relatively near future). Futurist languages can be divided into task-oriented languages (primarily languages for computers or for computer-human interface) and general futurist languages (intended for a whole society in a particular condition, rather than for a specific task in the future).
Reformist languages are probably most usefully divided into universal and particular reformist languages - for everyone, or just for a particular group. Universal languages include Internationalist languages, but also many Idealist languages. More generally we could divide them into languages that should be spoken tomorrow by everyone because they're better - perfectionist languages (Idealists, but also, for example, radically egalitarian languages) - and languages where the proposed 'reform' is driven by other motivations (like the desire for a single world language) and the language is not inherently better as a language structurally, but for some other reason would be a good language to adopt - ease of use, neutrality, etc - which we might call pragmatic languages.
Particular languages, meanwhile, have some motivation specific to a particular group. We could divide these into unifying languages (which are to be spoken by a group that doesn't currently have a common language) and distinguishing languages (to be spoken by all or some of the speakers of a particular current language). Unifying languages include things like lingua francas, jargons and creoles (caused by combining elements explicitly), and panethnic reconstructions (where related languages are in some way reduced to a proposed new common form akin to all but biased toward none). Distinguishing languages include things like egalitarian reforms, purification movements (stripping out 'foreign' influences), resurrections of dead languages, and secret languages (adopted to create a new in- and out-group).

If the answer, though, is "fictional people", we're dealing with a fictional language. The next question is probably 'are they human (or human-like)'? So we have human-like and non-human-like languages. Human(-like) languages can then be divided into languages for groups that don't exist, but relatively easily could have done (alt-history languages), languages for people who could theoretically have existed on some version of Earth (and may have done!) but there's so little known that they could have spoken anything (a Neanderthal language, or an Atlantean language), and languages intended for people who live in another world or on another planet.

And the third answer is "no-one", in which case we're dealing with a theoretical language.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by Khemehekis » Mon 27 Aug 2018, 05:15

Reyzadren wrote:
Sun 12 Aug 2018, 22:24
You decided that if something isn't an auxlang or engelang, it gets sorted into the artlang category. The Gnoli triangle doesn't do that by default. You walked into this problem by assuming that there are only 3 outcomes, and placed it using your own methodology. You can interpret it however you like, but the official word from me is that it is not an artlang. And as you said, it could very well be a heartlang, except that here, heartlangs are suddenly associated as a subset of artlangs, which is a stretch imo.

On the Gnoli triangle (if it was used), griuskant shares more properties amongst those in the blue-red zone tbh. Also, you had already insisted on that term long before this reply, check your own census thread.
How about the Wikibooks definition of artlang?

https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Conlang/T ... _languages
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by Reyzadren » Mon 27 Aug 2018, 22:26

Khemehekis wrote:
Mon 27 Aug 2018, 05:15
Reyzadren wrote:
Sun 12 Aug 2018, 22:24
You decided that if something isn't an auxlang or engelang, it gets sorted into the artlang category. The Gnoli triangle doesn't do that by default. You walked into this problem by assuming that there are only 3 outcomes, and placed it using your own methodology. You can interpret it however you like, but the official word from me is that it is not an artlang. And as you said, it could very well be a heartlang, except that here, heartlangs are suddenly associated as a subset of artlangs, which is a stretch imo.

On the Gnoli triangle (if it was used), griuskant shares more properties amongst those in the blue-red zone tbh. Also, you had already insisted on that term long before this reply, check your own census thread.
How about the Wikibooks definition of artlang?

https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Conlang/T ... _languages
That looks like a more inclusive description, but it still has the same problem as most schemes shown previously: There would still be contradictory definitions against additional classifications. For example, it is possible for a hypothetical conlang to be a personal language, yet is neither for fiction, fun, experimentation or historical studies.

I maintain my stand on my conlang griuskant being tagged as a fictional language (per its definition), or even a personal language, but I see no reason why it ought to be remotely grouped into artlangs.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by elemtilas » Mon 27 Aug 2018, 23:23

Reyzadren wrote:
Mon 27 Aug 2018, 22:26
Khemehekis wrote:
Mon 27 Aug 2018, 05:15
Reyzadren wrote:
Sun 12 Aug 2018, 22:24
You decided that if something isn't an auxlang or engelang, it gets sorted into the artlang category. The Gnoli triangle doesn't do that by default. You walked into this problem by assuming that there are only 3 outcomes, and placed it using your own methodology. You can interpret it however you like, but the official word from me is that it is not an artlang. And as you said, it could very well be a heartlang, except that here, heartlangs are suddenly associated as a subset of artlangs, which is a stretch imo.

On the Gnoli triangle (if it was used), griuskant shares more properties amongst those in the blue-red zone tbh. Also, you had already insisted on that term long before this reply, check your own census thread.
How about the Wikibooks definition of artlang?

https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Conlang/T ... _languages
That looks like a more inclusive description, but it still has the same problem as most schemes shown previously: There would still be contradictory definitions against additional classifications. For example, it is possible for a hypothetical conlang to be a personal language, yet is neither for fiction, fun, experimentation or historical studies.

I maintain my stand on my conlang griuskant being tagged as a fictional language (per its definition), or even a personal language, but I see no reason why it ought to be remotely grouped into artlangs.
Whew! It's like pulling particularly tenacious teeth, but thank you Reyzadren for the definitive statement! It's much appreciated, because it's always better to have the word of the language inventor than to try and sort a language into a potentially wrong category.
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Re: A Taxonomy of Conlanging (help me out)

Post by lsd » Tue 28 Aug 2018, 12:16

personal language is not enough precise as a goal (most of conlangs remain personal...)...
The question in this kind of taxonomy is why do you conlang...
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