Kelen, aka Kēlen

20 searches for “Kelen Forum” ended up at my blog. This actually could be as few as one or two people.

In case you are wondering, Sylvia says she’ll take question and the like at her blog. Jim Henry reports there is a Kelen mailing list– probably the only annoying thing about it is the archives are not public & it doesn’t seem to be very active.

(click for larger image, scroll down for my poorly informed review of Kēlen)

My quick review for fan suitability
(I really hope to do a better review someday, I’m still working out a methodology for doing reviews of conlangs that I have no competency in, in the mean while…)

This review could have lots of inaccuracies. Follow up by reading source material. Remember, I’m a fake linguist.

Kēlen has a prestige script. Why does it matter to fans? I don’t know. But my framed picture of toki pona glyphs is the only thing that my family or acquaintances will ever appreciate about toki pona, so prestige scripts are fan friendly. Unless you have to always use them.
Completeness of Lexicon. 1500+ words (or is that roots?)- Probably complete enough enough to use.
The dictionary has example text for each word (very good lexicography feature)
Completeness of Grammar. A complete grammar with interlinear glosses. (complete as in no large sections are blank)
Completeness of corpus. A nontrivial amount of canonical corpus.
Ease of pronunciation. Judging by the “sounds like language X”, the phonology should pose no serious challenges to anyone with experience with English or Spanish.
Conculture. There is a conculture-
I haven’t sorted out my opinions about concultures in conlang descriptions. If you enjoy them, great, there is one here. The lexicon is definitely suited for the aliens– hypothetical fans would need to coin words and phrases for internet, mailing list, etc. The pronoun system does not have any recognizable cultural baggage. I wish I had time to check for more things. There is a alien kinship system, but I still think that kinship systems fall into the category of “superficial culture” – it’s there, but it isn’t obligatory.
License- Bare copyright of source documents. Which means the rules governing fan uses are murky. (What kind of fan usage? Well, creating a wildcat forum for one. Or posting flashcards. Or making a derivative. Or making a lame half-hearted effort of making a derivative)
Fame- The language has gotten it’s wikipedia article, a significant milestone for conlang and that article has also been translated into Italian. Also a long article in Russian.
Stability. Appears to be stable. I think Sylvia has stuck with just one conlang for most of her time spent conlaning. I could be wrong.
Keyboard. You need vowels with bars and about 4 unusual consonants eng, lambda, eth, spanish n-tilde (did I miss one?) You can use the maori keyboard for the bar-vowels. The other letters exist on other national keyboards, but I don’t think there are any with that combo. So you will have to either do the ALT+3 digits or create a custom keyboard.
Flashcards. None and without checking with the author I won’t post any myself.
Governance and Marketing. Kēlen is in the enviable position of this actually mattering. Anyhow, the creator hasn’t been a self-promoter so far, so it’s the wild west and anything could happen. It wasn’t created as an auxlang/lingua franca/forum language** to start with, so what direction it takes really depends on us unruly fans. :-)

**forum language- I like the sound of that phrase. It’s so much less pretentious than “auxlang” and much more descriptive of how fans use conlangs in the age of the internet. They don’t use them to replace English or Latin or the lingua franca of the day, they use them to do creative things with languages on forums.

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One Response to Kelen, aka Kēlen

  1. Jim Henry says:

    There is also a Kelen mailing list, hosted at There was a brief flurry of traffic just after Kelen was chosen by the conlang_learners project, and there hasn’t been much since.