17 March 2009

the window of opportunity

Most language inventors start doing it before the age of, let's say, 25. Is this just because there is more free time for daydreaming during the school years? Are young people less likely to be insulted for engaging in creative activity than adults? Or are there physical reasons having to do with brain development?

From the BBC comes news of a study indicating that brain speed, reasoning and visual puzzle-solving ability begin to decline around the age of 27. "Abilities based on accumulated knowledge, such as performance on tests of vocabulary or general information, increased until the age of 60." The article is here.

If that study is confirmed by future research, perhaps good advice for young conlangers would be: Do your grammar and your conculture while you are young, then you can work on gaining fluency and creating literature in your language for the rest of your life.

14 March 2009

book note: In the Land of Invented Languages

Arika Okrent's book will be released soon. The title is In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build A Perfect Language.

A review in Publisher's Weekly describes it thusly: "She surveys “philosophical languages” that order all knowledge into self-evident systems that turn out to be bizarrely idiosyncratic; “symbol languages” of supposedly crystalline pictographs that are actually bafflingly opaque; “basic” languages that throw out all the fancy words and complicated idioms; rigorously logical languages so rule-bound that it's impossible to utter a correct sentence; “international languages,” like Esperanto, that unite different cultures into a single idealistic counterculture; and whimsical “constructed languages” that assert the unique culture and worldview of women, Klingons or chipmunks."

You can read an article Okrent wrote about Esperanto culture several years ago here.