Friday, February 3, 2017

Are constructed languages (Na'vi, etc) really languages? Why or why not? (quora)

1) HGL's F.B. writings : On Constructed Languages · 2) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on Con-Langs · 3) HGL's F.B. writings : Noster Franzeis - üne Lange konstreute per mei! · 4) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Are constructed languages (Na'vi, etc) really languages? Why or why not? (quora)

Are constructed languages (Na'vi, etc) really languages? Why or why not?

Comment on Q
Are made up languages considered languages at all? What are examples of some fairly developed ones?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I speak two langs, Latin and Germanic. In a few dialects.
Written just now
By whom?

Some would not consider Sindarin or Dothraki as languages because they have no native speakers.

Neither has Latin, but it certainly is a language.*

“Are made up languages considered languages at all?”

Depends a bit on what you mean by “made up”.

Supposing, as is probable, Book of Mormon was a human rather than a diabolic fraud, Nephitic would be a made up language in so far as Joseph Smith only pretended to have been translating it from Nephitic, but never had any such original.

OR, he could have prepared a few neat phrases in Nephitic, just in case.

OR, a devil could have really constructed a text in conlang Nephitic and really helped Joseph Smith to make an accurate translation.

(I don’t think Joseph Smith would have had the time to write a full original in Nephitic himself or even a full translation to it : he seems not to have been a talented linguist).

In the first case Nephitic is a fictitious language, in the latter two, to various degrees, a constructed one.

Fictitious languages are NOT languages, constructed ones are.

* I am here sharpening the criteria for native language : some - one I know - learned Latin as first language, but in those cases parents or one parent had learned it as second language. Native language would be more like learning a first language from parents who also learned it as a first language. By now probably someone has Quenya with Neo-Quenya as a bilingual "first language" too. Less probably, as an exclusive one.

Other answers:

Ranjodh Singh Arora
student, fond of languages
Written Sep 4
I must say, according to some linguists, conlangs are not considered languages unless they have multiple native speakers. Klingon or Dothraki are therefore not considered languages. But Esperanto and Ido are.

Alexandre Coutu
B.A. in Linguistics
Written Oct 4, 2013
Upvoted by André Müller

The most famous example of a constructed language is Esperanto, which has a fairly large community of speakers.

The basic definition of language is, in my own words, a system of meaningful units (ie. words carry meaning) that are organized according to a series of rules (ie. grammar); the manipulation of these units within the framework of these rules allows the user to modulate that meaning. This definition is certainly large enough to encompass all man-made languages, oral or signed, and even computer languages.

I suppose, from a layman’s point of view, you could say that if you are looking at a list of words that were given meaning, and a list of minimal rules that imposes limits of how these words are organized, you are looking at a system that can be learned and that two people could use to communicate meaning to each other. That, fundamentally, is what a language is.

George Corley
PhD student in Linguistics, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Written Oct 18, 2013
Upvoted by André Müller and Logan R. Kearsley
Constructed languages, or conlangs, are generally full languages with developed grammar and a lexicon. To what degree a conlang is "complete" varies, but for myself and many in the community there is a certain point where you do consider it a conlang. Now, most conlangs are never spoken, never alive, so to speak, but even many of those are well-crafted and fully usable languages.

Some well known examples of well-developed conlangs include:

Quenya and Sindarin (by J.R.R Tolkien) those familiar "Elvish" languages in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien worked on his Elven languages for his entire life, resulting in many different versions of fully functioning languages, and a large lexicon (I have heard that approximately 3,000 Quenya words have been found).

Esperanto (by L.L. Zamenhof), mentioned above. The original pamphlet was more of a sketch of a language, but the community that grew around it developed it further into a fully usable language that even has a number of native speakers.

Klingon (by Marc Okrand), contracted for the Star Trek franchise. Klingon has some odd vocabulary holes, but it has proven complete enough to produce translations of the Bible and Hamlet.

Dothraki, Valyrian, Irathient, Castithan (by David J. Peterson) all of these were contracted for television (the first two for Game of Thrones, the others for Defiance), and David takes his craft very seriously. He also has developed some sketches (what he calls "language pallettes") for a couple other Defiance languages, and has a number of languages he has developed on his own.

And, of course, there are many, many more that are less well-known. I usually don't self-pimp, but if you want to take a listen to the Conlangery Podcast, we have featured many constructed languages on the show -- and even that only scratches the surface.

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