30 Day Conlang Month Starts Tomorrow

Follow the #30DayConlang hashtag on twitter.

This obviously is inspired by NaNoWriMo, which is the “write-a-50,000-word-novel-in-November” event. This is not to be confused with LoCoWriMo, which is “write a novel in your already complete conlang”. LoCoWriMo, for me, is putting the cart in front of the horse because I haven’t a reasonably complete conlang, and if I did, it will take me many months to learn to use it.

Last year, Gary Shannon wrote a conlang in 30 days. I also tried, and made more progress than usual. Also, last year the 30 Day Conlang, for me, was in November. I think it makes sense to do this in October because the most common reason to create a conlang nowadays is not for international communication (that project is done), but to support a fictional novel. Even when people don’t follow through with the novel, they still often write the conlang as if it were for a novel and are generally following a Tolkien design agenda. So I imagine some people will want to follow this up with a NaNoWriMo novel that uses the conlang they just wrote.

From NaNoWriMo, we learn that to create something cool and sort of large, we should give ourselves a feasible but tight deadline and to not worry about quality. Instead, worry about getting it done. Because if we worry too much about quality, we get bogged down in our creative project and don’t finish. Ever. That said, once people do finish their rushed, slipshod work, they often look back and say, “Gee, that really isn’t that bad” and they fix it up. Or it is a train wreck and it goes into the trash. Either way, you’re better off than if you’d skipped the exercise entirely.

The best thing I got out of last years 30DayConlang was a lot of thought about methodology, machine assisted conlanging and rapid second language acquisition. I wrote a manifesto (a sort of set of design guidelines), I machine generated vocabulary, I sat down one evening with MS-Access and filled in meanings, and failed to finish my morphology and syntax and so no corpus text was created.

Gary Shannon “spoke (his language) into existence”, by babbling and assigning meaning and syntax to the babbling that came out. (See the Brown Conlang mailing list for Nov 2010)

I’m sure more methodologies exist, but unlike a novel, it’s not so much “just sit in front of the computer and pound the keyboard.” any one of the language creation tasks could burn up 30*24 hours– dictionary making is especially laborious if you let it take you over. So you have to explicitly slice up your time and spread it across the various tasks of conlang making– lexicon building, grammar building, grammar testing, language learning (creating flashcards, creating test questions, etc)

It takes 500 hours to learn a language (that may actually be the statistic for becoming an expert at any subject), so I figure if I finish a conlang this year, I could learn it over the upcoming year and then participate in LoCoWriMo.

Start October 1st, End one minute before November 1st.
Ignore your inner critic and editor, just write it!
Publish your results November 1st.
You have to define “done”, in the sense of what a “complete conlang is”, and it should be easily measurable, to keep with the NaNoWriMo sense of done. For example 2000 words or lexemes, 100 syntax rules, 75 bound morphemes and 1000 words of corpus or example sentence text. Unlike NaNoWriMo, there isn’t a simple metric like the 50000 word novel metric.
Optional. If you wrote a conlang to support a novel, write that novel in November!
Optional. If you wrote a conlang for use, go forth and build a community.

30DayConlang Discussions
Fraith Wiki

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