Writing a Fieldwork Dissertation—Kai Tak Suvarnabhumi SpecGram Vol CLIX, No 1 Contents The Prudent Fieldworker’s Guide to Preparation and Packing—Part II—Professor Athanasious Schadenpoodle

Doing Fieldwork on Constructed Languages

By Curtis U. Lehder

As all linguists know, there are only about 6,000 languages left in the world today, and that number is shrinking rapidly. Constructed (or created or invented or planned) languages, on the other hand, number more than 128 trillion, according to conservative estimates, and more and more flower into existence each and every day.1 Though up to now, formal linguists (or, at least, respectable formal linguists2) have largely ignored the works of language creators, it seems inevitable that at some point in time during the late 21st or early 22nd century, there will remain only one natural language (Lithuanian), while constructed languages will number, quite literally, in the decillions.

Given that eventuality, as well as the need for linguists to remain gainfully employed, I wish to provide today’s linguists with tips for doing fieldwork on constructed languages. Treat these as a set of guidelines, not commandments, as constructed languages (or constlangos, as I believe they’re called by language creators themselves) are notoriously fickle creatures, appearing in this state one day, and another the next.

Guidelines for Constlangolian Fieldwork

In the coming centuries, constructed languages will be the bread and butter of linguistics. By following these simple guidelines (modified, of course, by your own understanding of fieldwork and common sense), you’ll be able to accurately and profitably conduct fieldwork on any of the innumerable constructed languages that exist in the world todayand will exist in the future. If you want my advice, I recommend you leave off studying natural languages right away and get a jump on the rest of your colleagues, because, let me assure you, the future is closer than it has ever been before, and you’re not getting any younger.


1 The same study (Ballsworthy, 2006) estimates that one out of every three persons who uses a cell phone after eleven p.m. local time on a Wednesday will have invented a new language within the past nine hours.

2 Cf. Steinenblatzerin’s 1993 paper “Yuh Huh!: A response to those ignorant jerkwads who say Esperanto is not the world’s best language because they’re jerks! (And wads.)”.

3 Graduate students, those dreadful curs, are famous for “anonymously” informing language creators of the existence of a given article about one or more of their languages, simply so those spiteful little chimps, upon publication, can write a new article about the most recent version of the language, rendering the first article (whose form they likely copied, where possible) obsolete.

4 For more, see Jensen-Jenson and Jennsen’s revealing 2007 study “Humans Eat: A longterm study of the ingestional proclivities of homo sapiens”.

5 Which, of course, is why they make such bad linguists.

Writing a Fieldwork Dissertation—Kai Tak Suvarnabhumi
The Prudent Fieldworker’s Guide to Preparation and Packing—Part II—Professor Athanasious Schadenpoodle
SpecGram Vol CLIX, No 1 Contents