I’ve been curious about how language works for a very long time. This curiosity has lead me down many fascinating rabbit holes, but for a long time I have either been cribbing off of other people’s work or studying natural languages that don’t have a cohesive plan or core to them. Constructed Languages (or conlangs as I will probably be calling them from here on out) are a simpler model of this. You might be familiar with Klingon from the Star Trek series, the various forms of Elvish as described by J. R. R. Tolkien or Dothraki from Game of Thrones. This series will show an example of how one of those kinds of languages are created.
This post will be the first in a series (with articles to be listed below) and is following the prompt made here.
The language I am going to create will be called L’ewa (⁄l.ʔɛ.wa⁄, also romanized lewa for filesystems). This word is identical in English and in L’ewa. It means “is a language”. The name came to me in a shower a while ago and I’m not entirely sure where it came from.
This language is being designed as a personal language to help me keep a diary (more on that later) and to act as a testbed for writing a computational knowledge engine, much like IBM’s Watson. I do not expect anyone else to use this language. I may pull this language into fiction (if that ever gets off the ground) or into other projects as it makes sense.
Some of the high level things I want to try in this language are ways to make me think differently. I’m following the weak form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis by this logic. I want to see what would happen if I give myself a tool that I can use to help myself think in different ways. Other features I plan to include are:
When I was younger, I used to keep a diary/journal file on my computers off and on. I was detailed about what I was feeling and what I was considering and going through. This all ended abruptly after my parents were snooping through my computer in middle school and discovered that I was questioning fundamental aspects of myself like my gender. I have never really felt comfortable keeping a diary file since then. I have made a few attempts at this (including by using a dedicated diary machine, air-gapped TempleOS machines and the like), but they all feel too vulnerable and open for anyone to read them.
This is my logic for using a language that I create for myself. If people really want to go through and take the time to learn the ins and outs of a tool I created for myself to archive my personal thoughts, they probably deserve to be able to read them. Otherwise, this would allow me to write my diary from pretty much anywhere, even in plain sight out in public. People can’t shoulder-surf and read what they literally cannot understand.
I plan to continue going through this series as the prompts come out and will put my responses on my blog along with explanations, analysis and sample code (where relevant). I will probably also reformat these posts (and relevant dictionary files) to an eBook and later into a reference grammar book.
Like I said though, this project is for myself. I do not expect this language to change the world for anyone but me. Let’s see where this rabbit hole goes.
This article was posted on 2020 M5 5. Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.
Tags: #conlang #lewa