Should Conlang Creators be Superstars?

I was researching how many wikipedia articles exist for both a conlang creator and the conlang. (see end of article for list) It is uncommon for a conlang to become notable. It is uncommon for people to become notable. Lots of aspiring conlang creators think that merely creating a conlang makes them notable, even if the conlang isn’t notable yet.

In practice, people get articles when they have a significant public presence, such as being a successful author, a professor, comedian, being involved with a blockbuster movie, commercially successful game.

Sylvia Sotomayor and Andrew Smith’s conlangs are good examples of what a conlang designer can hopeful. The world notices your craftsmanship, but not necessarily you.

Now inside a conlang community, the creator still can get a lot of attention– but that attention is really contingent on good language governance. Problematic creators can be dispose, replaced and sidelined by the community, as happened in with Loglan/Lojban.

List of what conlang creators have both a language page and page about them:
Ithkuil – John Quijada (language only)
Brithenig – Andrew Smith (language only)
Kēlen – created by Sylvia Sotomayor (language only)
Ro – Rev. Edward Powell Foster (language only)
Slovianski – Design by committee, not clear if creators have pages (seems not)
Verdurian_language – Mark Rosenfelder (language only)
Loglan- James Cooke Brown (both)- Professor
Bliss Symbols -Charles_K._Bliss (both)- Famous life story
Láadan – Suzette_Haden_Elgin (both), creator is professor, sci-fi author
Teonaht – Sally Caves (both), Creator is also sci-fi author
Tsolyáni – M. A. R. Barker, creator of commercial RPG game
Lingua Franca Nova – Dr. C. George Boeree – Both, creator is professor
Novial – Prof Otto Jespersen (both) – Creator was Norwegian comedian
Occidental- Edgar de Wahl (both)
Na’vi – Paul_Frommer (both) -movie language
Sindarin – J. R. R. Tolkien. (both)- creator is fantasy author, + movie language
Klingon – Marc Okrand- (both) movie language

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One Response to Should Conlang Creators be Superstars?

  1. Actually, there is an article about me in the Polish Wikipedia. I don’t know if that counts. :)

    I think it can be said that the creator of a notable product is kind of “notable by proxy”. But does that mean a separate Wikipedia article is warranted? Not necessarily, in my opinion. For that, I’d say two additional things are needed:

    - the person in question should not be notable for just that one thing, because in that case his/her bio might as well be added as an annex to the article about his product (if we suppose the product is more important than the person behind it, that is);

    - there should be enough info about the person in question in independent, reliable sources to create a decent article about him/her.

    Now I’m sure there won’t be many conlangers in the world who would fulfill both criteria. And neither should they. Speaking for myself, I am more than happy that my name is mentioned in several articles about my conlangs, Wenedyk and Slovianski (I am indeed not the only person who works on Slovianski, but I am pretty much the “brain” behind it, and also the person who wrote the grammar and maintains the dictionary and the website). But does that make my person interesting? I doubt it very much! The reason there is an article about me in the Polish Wikipedia edition is probably that my name is mentioned and linked to in several articles, but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel this whole thing is slightly over the top. I am proud of what my languages have achieved, but that still doesn’t make me more important than my neighbour. And if after 50 years my name is forgotten but my languages are still being talked about sometimes, well, I’ll be more than happy.

    On the other hand, I don’t think it would be a bad idea if articles about conlangs also contained two or three lines about the author: where he’s from, when he was born, what he does/did for a living, etc.

    I should perhaps point out that even though there is no article about Mark Rosenfelder, there is an article about his website, Zompist.com.

    Jan van Steenbergen