Friends of Semantic Compositions

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February 01, 2004



If it weren't for Tolkien's Elvish languages, I would never have learned anything about linguistics. (Well, I still don't actually know anything...) Ú-firo i lamath edhellin!


Well, Sindarin, Esperanto, and Klingon were all invented by people with a bit of a linguistic clue, and to be fair, are not half bad. Not like some.

Semantic Compositions

Points taken. But it's precisely the fact that Tolkien (in particular; I have no idea about the creators of Klingon) was such a good philologist that makes me frustrated over the inability of fictional languages to spur any kind of interest in real-life linguistics.

SC is curious about the mysterious X's hints of more than half bad fictional languages. Leaving Yoda's inconsistent OSV brand of English, what might you have in mind?


Well, all the rest. 'Conlangs' (horrible word), people re-inventing Latin with SOV order, or Latin with syllabic nasals... scraps picked up from the birdtable of Linguistics 0.001, and no real feel for individuality. :)


The inability of fictional languages to spur any kind of interest in linguistics? I'm a college freshman and am taking my second linguistics class. I would never have taken one if Sindarin hadn't gotten me interested.

Because I'm impatient, I went out and read a whole lot, and now it's the worst of both worlds. I get bored in class a lot, but I still don't know anything. Such is often the case when I practice autodidacticism. :(

My friend is a high school senior, and he's also taught himself a lot of linguistics because Sindarin got him interested. He's going to be super bored in college.

Semantic Compositions

Rachel, you'll pardon my saying so, but you strike me as a person of unusually broad intellectual engagements, not to mention a very healthy curiosity about the world. Judging by your blog, it's linguistics and physics for you at the moment. Which SC heartily applauds, having completed most of an EE major before switching to linguistics.

SC went to engineering school with a whole bunch of stereotypical CS and EE geeks. They were all obsessed with the usual sci-fi/fantasy literature. And yet, despite such a large fan base, most of the linguistics classes in a campus of 5,000 people had only 5-6 students -- with the notable exception of a semantics course which counted as a general ed. requirement. It's my impression that the same is true, on a slightly larger scale, at bigger schools. I'm not claiming that it's an exceptionless universal, just that the number of people stimulated to an interest in linguistics is depressingly low given the popularity of the fictional languages that are out there.

language hat

Hey, I was doing physics and math before I got into linguistics. I had no idea there were so many of us.

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