June 19, 2020

In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent The Unfolding of Language by Guy Deutscher Babel No More by Michael Erard Talking Hands by Margalit. In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Build A Perfect Language eBook: Arika Okrent: : Kindle Store. In the Land of Invented Languages: A Celebration of Linguistic Creativity, Madness, and Genius. Front Cover. Arika Okrent. Spiegel & Grau Trade Paperbacks.

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In the Land of Invented Languages: Its original subtitle changed to Adventures in Inventsd Creativity, Madness, and Genius in the paperback editionwacky artwork, and endorsement reviews make it clear that ILIL is intended to provide a cheeky look at a quirky subject, and in that respect, at least, it fully delivers.

In the Land of Invented Languages

Written in the first-person, ILIL offers a combination of anecdotes, research, and assessments, loosely arranged and presented as a single line of inquiry. Through twenty-six chapters, ILIL considers the phenomenon of deliberate language creation, especially the creation of languages intended to improve upon natural ones.


okremt The appendices to ILIL list some five hundred such languages and their designers, as well as a small number of sample passages and resources. For the most part, however, ILIL is dedicated to exploring only six of them, and the emphasis of its treatment is on the humorously tragic.

In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent

The choice seems calculated, as the innermost chapters reveal she is actually more studied and proficient in Esperanto. ILIL ends with Okrent realizing she has a kind of sympathy for conlangers, but it sounds apologetic, and more than a little extorted by the expertise she witnesses at a language creation conference in Though the casual attitude of ILIL provides much insurance against serious criticism, there are still areas where the book may be considered flawed. The result is something more cannibalistic than informative, especially with its constant emphasis on the social awkwardness of the people involved.

Just when ILIL is poised to establish a truly interesting context for its analyses, such as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in Chapter 18, it reverts to cheekā€”as if, so to speak, to save face. The author would have found a better denominator in Revived Cornish, whose movement is replete with the sort of schismatic infighting ILIL most enjoys.


There is also the Enochian language, reportedly revealed by an angel to John Dee and Edward Kelley in and used for occult purposes since. ILIL does not mention them. The inventedness of natural languages is also overlooked consider standardization, neologism, and terminology, as well as the influences of poetic usage and translation.

Though ILIL claims that artistic including fictional-world conlangs represent the final phase of the invented language movement, its treatment is a mere postscript to the rest of the book, and includes no theoretical content.

No attention is given to the massive and longstanding scholarly tradition separating interest in the languages of Middle-earth lanx the Star Trek fandom that upholds Klingon, nor does ILIL touch upon any of the reasons why conlangs have become an indispensable feature of secondary worlds.

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