Sunday, September 12, 2004

The art of making language

So. Fucking. Awesome.

I happened upon this site while googling the etymology of a suffix, which is probably one of the dorkiest phrases you have read in a good long while. (For those who are interested, munis means to acquiese or be assenting... giving an interesting insight to the words immunity and community: not assenting and assenting together, respectively).

ANYway. It's a site about building languages and words. This is something I often find myself doing, as do many poets I'm sure, but being the geek that I am I prefer to try and do it using proper etymology - taking a modular approach to words. Not too different from sampling and remixing, really.
So, naturally, I was excited to find this site. I haven't given it a real browse yet, but for what it's worth, here's a bit of the site's intro page:

Some people build model airplanes, some craft model trains and some... well, they invent model languages. Model languages can be everything from a few words of made-up slang to a rigorously developed system of interrelated imaginary tongues. It is not a hobby many people know about, since model languages cannot be flown in the park like a model airplane or displayed in full glory in the basement like a model railroad. Model languages exist on paper or in computer files and may be shared only with a few close friends or may be used to give depth to imaginary worlds read or watched by millions.

Millions of people have created model languages of some small scope. Many children invent their own secret vocabularies to share with friends, while teenagers may develop their own private slang to talk about the opposite sex. If few adults seem to create model languages, it is only because schools teach us that language is a formal structure, not a casual, informal world to be explored. The teaching of rigid dictionary definitions, sentence parsing and grammar dry up our interest in the wellspring of language.

Model languages demystify and demythologize the study of language. For too often, our desire to learn to express ourselves with language, to create new words, has been suppressed in favor of rigid conformance to the norm.


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