Now Under New Management!—Announcement from Panini Press SpecGram Vol CLVII, No 4 Contents Crossword—Keith Slater

Conlangers Anonymous

Consider the following woeful tale:

Last weekend, I was sitting in my kitchen, idly doodling a series of small circles, and I suddenly imagined the loops running together, like words, and the next thing I know I’ve blacked out. When I come to 14 hours later, there’s a 600+ character syllabary scrawled on nearly a ream of paper strewn across the table. It’s 90% systematic, but every thirteenth character has an irregular shape, and there are unpredictable ligatures for the most common bigrams, trigrams, and quintgrams (but not for quadgrams, for complex reasons related to the religion of the speakers)... oh, Zamenhof forgive me... the ligatures! Under the pile of papers documenting the basic orthography is a sketch of a family of languages that use the orthography. One uses facial expressions to convey tense and aspect, which are written with unpronounceable diacritics. Another is a written-only language that expresses topicalization through ink color. The third is a non-linear a priori logical language that is meant to be written by four-or-more dimensional beings, using a three-dimensional matrix to express logical necessity, Bayesian conditional probabilities, and n-way branching decision trees for algorithmic optimization of task prioritization in an atemporal alternate universe. The three disparate languages are clearly related, thoughnot just on the basis of the shared neography, but also based on other common features, such as:

My 7-year-old daughter came into the room about then, saw the papers on the table, and began crying. “Daddy,” she said, “you promised me you weren’t going to create any more languages! Why did you lie to me?”

Can you help me?

Unfortunately, this is but one of the hundreds of letters like this that we receive every week. But there is hope! (At least for those who don’t write to us in their conlang. Those poor bastards may be just too far gone, alas.)

Conlangers Anonymous was founded in 1694, by Francis Lodwick, in the last year of his life. Originally called “The Society for the Redemption of Creators of Philosophical Languages”, the organization was formed when Lodwick realized that creating a priori “philosophical languages” had all but ruined his life. Within a few months of making that realization, he turned his life around, and was able to die a happy, healed man who spoke in and thought of only those languages nature had created.

The program was so successful, and had been so for so long, that Bill Wilson copied the basic framework in the 1930s, with the substitution of Christian trappings, to create Alcoholics Anonymous. The original religious impetus behind the SRCPL was worship of Gheldrudda, Queen of the Lexicon. It was performing the rites of Gheldrudda that originally showed Lodwick the error of his ways; he realized he could never create a broad enough lexicon to supplant any natural language.

In modern times, nothing specific to the worship of Gheldrudda, or any other deity, remains in the practices and programs of Conlangers Anonymous. Rather, we help conlangers see the agonizing human costand professional costof their obsession. The hours spent constructing a language could be better spent in real human interaction with friends, family, and your World of Warcraft guild. The effort poured into creating fake language data for fun could be expended on falsifying data for papers in refereed journals, leading to tenure.

Come to one of our meetings. We understand you, and we can help.


“I used to spend hundreds of hours a year conlanging, creating complicated languages no one could understand, and which even I couldn’t speak. I refocused my efforts on creating fake data for a real language no one else has ever studied and now I’ve gone from part-time adjunct faculty to tenure-track. I even have dental!”

—TJP, New Hampshire

“My children cried themselves to sleep almost every night because I was spending all my ‘family’ time working on ‘just one more’ constructed language. Conlangers Anonymous helped me break the cycle of dependency, and now my children love me again!”

—KWS, China

“When I think of the hours, days, weeks, and months I wasted on those pointless linguistic flights of fancy, I now recoil in horror. Now I only engage in linguistic flights of fancy that have a point: I am a highly paid writer for a satirical linguistics journal.”

—TJ, Washington, DC

“What are you people talking about? Conlanging is awesome!”

—DJP, California

Now Under New Management!—Announcement from Panini Press
Crossword—Keith Slater
SpecGram Vol CLVII, No 4 Contents