28 March 2008

ULD 2.7 update

I have moved the Universal Language Dictionary project from its old URL (hdict.com) to its new home at ULD3.org

As for ULD 2.7, rough drafts of chapters 11, 12 and 13 have been posted.

English becomes Panglish maybe

A wave of newspaper articles, inspired by a New Scientist item, suggests that English will continue to grow in popularity and will mutate into something called Panglish during the next hundred years. It's interesting to see the different spin various publications put on this story:

Hindu News Update Service

Dominion Post (New Zealand)

The Telgraph (UK)

21 March 2008


A couple of years ago I wrote an updated specification of Vorlin grammar. I've been debating whether to publish it or keep it to myself. In the spirit of the Equinox, I've put it online. It's at www.vorlin.org/v2k6/ If you mainly want to see a summary of what changed between 1999 and 2006, click here.

16 March 2008

hitting the wall

It finally happened. Those who crave weirder and weirder languages have finally reached the end of the line, the point where they are "strung out," unable to make anything weird enough to satisfy the craving. Seen on the ZBB:

psygnisfive: Has anyone looked into constructing a language
that's really, REALLY alien? As in, impossible for humans to
use even theoretically.

Etherman: Like one that we can't even conceptualize?

12 March 2008

still working on the magazine

This project is a little more difficult than I imagined. After many years of mainly writing 3-paragraph comments in internet forums, my ability to write an actual article has atrophied. And then there are agonizing questions such as what to name the zine and how to illustrate the cover.

After the layout is done I will have to send the file to the printer, wait for a sample copy to come back to me, proofread it, try to predict how many copies I will need, order them, distribute them, holy cow! Good thing I have some time on my hands.

10 March 2008

syllable generator

Over yonder in the newsgroup alt.language.artificial there's a computer program that will generate a list of all possible syllables, based on a list of permitted initials, vowels, and endings supplied by the user. Three versions (written in BASIC, Ruby and Java) were posted. Very rudimentary but obviously you can modify them as needed. It could easily be transformed into a word generator.

The thread is here.

08 March 2008

book note

I'm not sure how long it will last, but the fantastically inspiring and informative book The World's Major Languages is on sale for $9 at amazon.com

06 March 2008

"conversation with... my environment"

My language is not about designing words or even visual symbols for people to interpret. It is about being in a constant conversation with every aspect of my environment, reacting physically to all parts of my surroundings.

Amanda Baggs, quoted in a New York Times blog entry entitled The Language of Autism.

01 March 2008


The results of this blog's first poll are in. Question: "do you maintain a private diary/journal?" Six responders do so on paper, six do so electronically, and six do not maintain a journal at all.

What's the connection to lang design? Mainly that you can do whatever the hell you want with your journal if there is no chance of anyone else ever reading it. But if you're writing it in plain English (or other natlang) and not keeping it locked in a safe, there is a natural tendency to censor one's self, to omit any reference to your own misdeeds and darkest thoughts. Those who have the most freedom in journalling are those who burn or shred their journals frequently.

Likewise one's freedom in language design is affected by how much thought one gives to the potential audience, if any.

Next poll, how do you feel about the word conlang? To me it has a fairly negative sound, due to the meanings of con: convicted criminals (ex-cons), scam artists (con men), and negative arguments (pros and cons). If I recall correctly this word was hastily coined when John Ross needed a short name (8 characters of less) for the mailing list he was creating back in '91. There's no reason to get attached to such a thing. What aesthetic impression does the word make on you?