In praise of the relex and how to make a better one

Anyhow, I read this article on how to create a language in one day and really it is about machine generated relexes. And that isn’t a bad thing, it has a legitimate purpose.

From reading the article it seems there is a continuum of encodings of existing languages from merely using a different font to generating gibberish that uses a natural language as the seed.

1) new font — it not only isn’t a conlang, it isn’t even a relex.

2) new pronunciation, but still recognizable, like pig latin, or Elmer Fudd talk. These are easy to produce and easy for anyone to understand.

3) words swapped out one for one with unrecognizable ones — This is a true relex

3a) words are swapped out with others and the sound is carefully chosen to sound nice– maybe for the conlang that truly cares not for anything past phonetics

3b) words are adjusted to be an length appropriate for their frequency– common words short, rare words are long

4) dictionary and grammar too scanty and ill defined, so the conlanger writes more or less the way he would in English, with a handful of exceptions inspired by the conlang’s description. Probably can be created almost effortlessly, but is probably unintelligible to an English speaker

4a) a conlang with a lot of calques, loans and otherwise doesn’t fall far from the creators mother tongue. Maybe well documented.

5) condialect– a dictionary and grammar that are carefully assembled and has a strong resemblance to a language on purpose. Probably can be understood efforlessly, but can’t be produced easily. (I understand people in British movies, but I can’t imitate them and I certainly wouldn’t know when to use their slang)

Since the goal of a relex is to rapidly create fake language text without the fake language looking suspicious, it seems there should be a word generator/lorem ipsum generator strategy that creates an endless steams of text with sentence about the right length, words about the right size and possibly with the right feel when read aloud.

Notice that for all forms of Relexes, there is no particular level of skill required of the consumer. When it is nonsense, it it is just pleasant sounding nonsense. When it is meaningful, it is easy to produce or understand (although sometimes not both). If the audience is children, or people who you know aren’t going to invest the 2000-3000 hours to gain fluency in a natural-like language or if you’re just trying to illustrate the possibilities of a phonetic inventory, then a relex can be the right thing to do.

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