Sometime after the internet boom started, auxlang promoters finally had access to the means to send unsolicited messages to people who care about languages but don’t care about the auxlang project and auxlang advocacy became the new body odor, odious personal habit and you just wish they would stay away. Some but not all general interest conlang forums/sites explicitly ban auxlang advocacy as it often led to flame wars.
I posit that there is a new sort of odious habit forming, solipsist conlanging.*
The gist of it is that someone creates a language (or claim they have), usually based on the Elvish sort. They go to forums and mailings lists ostensibly to discuss fake languages and instead spend time shouting down non-Elvish-like languages, engaging in design discussions only to keep saying, “well I create this language for no one but myself, your input is wrong but what I do is right”. It’s just a conversational trap so that at the end of it, the solipsist conlanger can feel smug and smart about himself, oddly, one of the motivations of the auxlang promoter– the desire to feel big and important.
Bummer Points about Solipsist Conlanging:
It’s uncreative. Copying the habits of Tolkien is just as restrictive as copying the habits of Zamenhoff. Elvish and Esperanto have already been created and are done, and if you do feel the urge to make an another Elvish, you don’t have to hide it in the appendixes (or do what Zamenhof did, promote it for global (!) use– be creative and do something different.
It’s duplicitous. On one hand you want people to somehow interact with your language, but should anyone try and it cheeses you off, you say your language isn’t for anyone’s consumption but your own or it’s not supposed to be consumed that way.
It unduely pessimistic about getting fans, users or what ever you want to call them. Yeah, if you tell the world to get-off-your-lawn and pick fights on mailing lists and forums, of course you have no fans. If you don’t even try, of course you have no fans. If you don’t actually listen to the audience and write art solely for yourself, no surprise the customers find it unpalatable. Take your lexicalized grammar (aka naturalistic irregularities) and keep them– lexicalized grammar is the first thing people drop/fail to use when they learn a new language.
It precludes testing your language with real human communication. Just because the auxlang promoter wants the world and is deluded to think he’ll get it, it doesn’t mean that getting a single person to read your conlang’s supporting docs or memorize enough words to use it is delusion.
People copy this behavior, much like auxlang promotion led to more auxlang promotion as people decided they liked the message (the idea of a new language with a glorified creator sitting at the top, but thought they should be the messenger instead.)
Bundled with a paid contract, solipsist conlanging will help make sure there isn’t a 2nd contract. Okrand and Frommer sparked communities– had they not, had people just said, “oh isn’t that a pretty reference grammar” directors would have said, “Gee, no one gave a fart about making a real language, everyone experience it as pleasant sounding gibberish, next time I’ll just get something from the sound effects department”
Good points about Solipsism
You can win arguments with it. Because in your imaginary world, what ever you want to be true is. Now why you have to discuss, let alone argue, any of this with me is beyond me. If in your imaginary, solipsistic world Mandoa is an ugly language, keep it to yourself.
How to avoid it and them
Understand that people create languages for various goals. Relative to someone’s goals, Mandoa is a fine language. If you apply your solipsist values to Mandoa, you aren’t fighting for truth an beauty, you are just farting and feeling proud about it instead of noticing you’ve committed a social faux pas. For a real solipsist, this isn’t a problem, they just reimagine their reality until they feel good about themselves again.
Understand that there is more than just Lojban, Elvish and Esperanto in the world. Create a language, be open to other people participating, don’t be an auxlang advocate on one hand and don’t rush to the extreme other end and become a ill mannered solipsist on the other.
Don’t focus on the artifacts of language in language creation. If you enjoy creating fake dictionaries and reference grammars, maybe you can move on to creating fake refrigerator manuals, too. If a language really is just a dictionary and grammar, where are the con-refrigerationists, with forums and mailing lists of people artisticly creating fridges that exist only on paper? (and woe to those who try to make one of these fridges, they are only for the creator’s amusement!) A language is a tool of communication, it doesn’t really exist unless you try to communicate and that means interacting with people and all the complications that entails. Real people want to use the language for surprising ends– are you flexible enough to cope with that? Real people tend to like things to be easier than harder, expressive over less expressive. Real people, (unless you specifically track down such a subculture) don’t give a flying fart about naturalism.
I am not a solipsist. You exist and are independent from me. As a language consumer, your precious artlang that only you can use is as interesting as a refrigerator manual, have fun, follow your joy, leave me out, I never asked to participate in the first place. So I think I’m pretty sure, the artlang game is not one I want to play, certainly not with living solipsist conlangers, I look forward to crossing their path as much as you look forward to meeting the auxlang promoter with a brochure on the street.