Category Archives: Toki Pona

NaNoWriMo and conlanging

NaNoWriMo is upon us and I have to admit that I am one of the participants (at 5k words atm and writing in English). But I have thought about conlanging in respect to it. What kind of conlang would be best to win the NaNoWriMo with? Here are some ideas of mine:
1) It needs to have a well-developped grammar
2) It needs to have well-developped pragmatics, you do not want to think about how citizens of your conculture greet themselves, whether and how they use names, this kind of things
3) It needs to have a sufficient amount of root words. This does not mean that it needs to have a dictionary of 23k words like Kankonian supposedly* has, it means that there need to be sufficient ways to say what you want to say in your conlang either by words of by constructions.

And now fo some nice-to-have stuff:
1) It needs to be entered with a normal QWERTZ/Y keyboard, or whatever you use. Point is: no one wants to constantly remember which key is which character or to learn the 10-finger system for your conscript, or to enter diacritic characters from a character table.
2) It needs to be verbose. Well, yes, 50k words need to be written somehow.
3) It needs to use distinct words instead of affixes.
4) It needs not to compound but instead form terms.

This leads to a scary thought: Toki Pona is a language, which I tend to bash, but it might be the best language for the NaNoWriMo.

* I have no reason to doubt Khemehekis’ words but sheer incredulity. However, if the inventor reads this posting and takes offense, please provide evidence. Not because I am a paranoid and untrusting person, but because this seems to be an extraordinary claim, requiring extraordinary evidence.


Conlangs and usability

Conlangs are not normally looked at in terms of usability, however, it needs to be considered when deciding how to reach the goals of a language. There are different stages of usability and their lack. On the lowest level are languages like Rikchik which cannot be used by humans at all. The ones, which are designed for alien mouths. Then, there are the languages, where the mouth can pronounce the sounds, but the brain protests very much if you want to learn it as L2. Ithkuil/Ilaksh belongs here. As does Fith. And as does the nounless language quuxlang, which I developped. A step further towards ease is a language which uses really odd grammatical structures or phonological features. Here, for the first time, the L1 of the wannabe-speaker is relevant. A speaker of German will struggle with anything tonal. And at least one speaker of British English was unable to hear a difference between /h/ and /x/ in rejistanian words. Also languages with natlang-grade amounts of exceptions fit here since they require a lot of rote memorization. Then there are the simplified languages, Esperanto, Ido, Volapük, Rejistanian (which is a fictional auxlang)…

And then there are languages, which try to fall into this category but overdo it so much that they are actually quite challenging. Like Toki Pona. Yes, it has only 100ish words, but it needs to know so any terms which have to be memorized that it actually cannot be considered easy anymore.