Conlang SE

After campaigning once or twice for a conlang SE, there finally is one! And they are not getting enough questions. Writing a good question is turning out to be harder than I thought. Let’s take a few questions that I personally have.

How do I write a machine generated conlang? The hypothetical answer would have to be huge! Off the top of muy head, one would need to cope with phonetic fonts, randomly generating words, filling up a dictionary, writing a formal grammar, writing a formal grammar that works both for machines and natural languages, possibly writing a parser- which is HARD, using corpus management and concordance tools to examine texts. If these texts are machine generated, now you need a “lorum ipsum” generator, which is harder to write than a word generator. It would take a book to explain it. And it would take a few more books to explain Regex, NLP libraries and just basic programming.

How should my next (hypothetical) language, Droid, express “performativity“? First off, it is a question I got, but the answer isn’t going to be in someone else’s head. How should a sculptor carve this statue’s nose? Who knows! It is artistic prerogative. I suppose objectively, one could list every method that any language marks any grammatical thing. But even that wouldn’t be a good answer because language tend to have few strategies that use over and over. Once you have a language with a syntax based mostly on word endings (like latin), the answer for expressing any grammatical marker is probably yet another suffix.

How do I say, “today is a good day to die” in Klingon/Na’vi/toki pona/Esperanto? This question calls for someone who has invested the 500 to 2000 hours of effort into learning Klingon. Those people tend to clump together on some specific forum or mailing list. Why they choose one platform over another, I don’t know. The toki pona community has stampeded from yahoo mailing list to livejournal, to a phpBB forum, to Facebook. For the most part, people don’t care about the platform as much as they care where the community’s self appointed grammarian is. Both toki pona and Klingon have examples of self appointed grammarians, y’all know who you are! [And this isn't bad, without the self appointed grammarians acting as essentially pro bono tutors, the community would die]

What the language specific questions call for is a single community/single platform. We’ll have to see if Conlang SE’s tagging rises to the occasion.

One new thing on Conlang SE is that now when I ask a toki pona question, folk there want it to be glossed so that people who’ve never studied toki pona have a hope of following the Q & A discussions.

Try it out!
Go try it out. It is in the wild west phase where the community hasn’t finished deciding what is a good sort of question, so expect more than usual number of close votes and people wanting to quibble on if this or that is on topic rather than answering your question. Also there are at least one or two people there who think their job is to find people wrong on the internet and set them straight rather than down-voting an answer, or ignoring a question whose premise bothers them.

That said, the SE format in other domains has created excellent questions and answers with the minimum of flame war and fluff that goes with, say, a phpBB or mailing list.

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