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Meet the Halifax man who invents new languages, and puts ice cream in his coffee

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Meet the Halifax man who invents new languages, and puts ice cream in his coffee

Linguists on the whole think about language evolution, no longer language invention. However no longer every language mysteriously sparks and evolves over thousands of years. Jamin Johnson, a man living in Halifax, has nimbly invented over nine languages.

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Conlanger Jamin Johnson has invented over nine languages. (Submitted by Jamin Johnson)

After we think of new “made-up” languages, Esperanto comes to mind. It used to be invented by a Polish ogle physician in the gradual 19th century. J.R.R. Tolkien created a pair of languages for the Lord of the Rings sequence. And over the remaining 25 years, Jamin Johnson, a man living in Halifax, has nimbly invented over nine languages.

“Quite rather a lot of times folks acceptable construct one language and it’s their main everything, and all the tips they possess secure routed into that language,” Johnson acknowledged. “Which I’d take care of to possess, nevertheless plenty of the tips I in actuality possess are acceptable too disparate to suit into one class.”

Johnson, who grew up in upstate New York and moved to Canada in 2019 when his accomplice used to be employed at Dalhousie University, creates a few of his languages as a freelancer for novelists, board game creators and theatre corporations. For instance, he is currently developing a language called Brooding with the Riddlesbrood Theatre Company in Burlington, N.J.

When he lived in the United States, he’d most ceaselessly support rehearsals to support the cast with their pronunciation. The youthful childhood, he acknowledged, were in particular fluent.

The be aware for barbarian in Maltcégj actually translates to ‘folks who don’t establish ice cream in their coffee’– Jamin Johnson

“They’d buy it up acceptable away and, you understand, they’d squawk it perfectly,” he acknowledged. 

One in all Johnson’s private languages, Valthungian, has an imagined 2000-year history. Another linguistically performs with the opinion of threes: it contains three tenses, three vowels, three stop consonants and three parts. Then there’s Maltcégj, a language 20 years in the making, which started off as “nearly a shaggy dog tale” for Johnson. His puns, quips and shoutouts on the whole find their dwelling here.

“The be aware for barbarian in Maltcégj actually translates to ‘folks who don’t establish ice cream in their coffee,'” Johnson explained. “Because one day I by probability fully had ice cream and no milk, and it used to be sizable! And I opinion, why would not all americans finish that?”

Johnson’s kitchen items, labelled using languages he’s invented. (Submitted by Jamin Johnson)

Johnson also likes cooking with his languages. He labels his pantry items in Valthungian and Northeadish (the two languages he considers most kitchen-prepared), and writes down recipes using the scripts he’s devised. Continually, he’ll think about the cuisine loved by the imaginary speakers of his constructed languages. The signature cuisine of Northeadish, he acknowledged, is a “reveal combination of cucumber and blueberry, which sounds kind of horrifying nevertheless it’s in actuality in actuality staunch if it’s done acceptable.”

Conlangers (that is, folks who construct constructed languages) continuously determine the tradition, history and mythology of their languages. This is most ceaselessly known as “world-building.” Johnson acknowledged most of his world-building is pretty tongue-in-cheek — he’s more involving about inventing his languages.

However for some conlangers, world-building is one contrivance of imagining radically assorted human societies. What if Africans and Europeans had by no contrivance met? What if slavery did not exist? What poems about COVID-19 shall be remembered in the year 2070? For some conlangers, these questions are acceptable as significant as thinking about verb constructions and syntax.

Johnson feels a terminate-knit sense of neighborhood with conlangers from in all places the world. When he lived in Philadelphia, he frail to host a “conlang salon” for conlangers in the situation. However these days, he principally stays in contact through online forums, Fb groups and Zoom meetings.

Johnson’s recipe for hummus, written in his Valthungian constructed language. Johnson also invented the writing system frail to document this recipe. (Submitted by Jamin Johnson)

“There’s also kind of a shaggy dog tale within the conlang neighborhood,” Johnson acknowledged, “which is principally a shaggy dog tale, nevertheless the shaggy dog tale is in actuality that every body conlangers are left-handed happy pagans from Lithuania who establish on glasses. Which I will vow acceptable now, that is no longer staunch on tale of I’m no longer Lithuanian.”

Johnson has lengthy been intrigued by the inquire of why so many conlangers title as LGBTQ+. Though minute information exists on the topic, an online poll of 587 conlangers from 2015 reveals that on the subject of 60 per cent of respondents title as either happy, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual or asexual, while 18 per cent title as either transgender, non-binary or agender. 

It’s a broad formulation to mask anything you presumably can write down from folks you do not desire reading what you are saying.– William Annis, Wisconsin-based conlanger

What could perhaps well join queerness and language invention? During the pandemic, Johnson hosted a Zoom call with a few conlanging chums to talk about about this. William Annis, a conlanger who lives in Wisconsin, pointed out how conlangs can characteristic as code.

“I’m happy. I’ve been conlanging since the 1980s,” Annis acknowledged. “It’s a broad formulation to mask anything you presumably can write down from folks you do not desire reading what you are saying.”

In truth, there are lengthy traditions of using code in ordinary history. Except the 1960s, many happy men in the U.K. frail a kind of secret slang called Polari. In the gradual 19th century, American cowboys, miners and train conductors started signaling their sexuality using coloration-coded hankies. And Anne Lister — a 19th-century lesbian now depicted on the BBC screech Gentleman Jack — wrote about her take care of affairs using her possess secret code called Crypthand.

Crypthand, a play written by Lily Falk, delves into 19th century diarist Anne Lister’s boarding faculty days where she developed a secret code to document her relationship together with her first take care of, Eliza. (Maia Gilmour)

Lily Falk, a Halifax theatre artist, created a play about Anne Lister’s early years by the identical title. Though Anne Lister’s code could perhaps well no longer technically qualify as a conlang (Lister wrote in a combination of English and code), her diaries unruffled provoke questions on queerness and language.

“Queerness has continually been linked to codes, I think,” acknowledged Falk. “And unruffled to a certain extent, even the know-how that is coming up now, the childhood — so many folks are able to live in such an begin, superior contrivance, nevertheless there’s unruffled in some ways, I think, coded language and clothes that journey together with ordinary identification.”

Some LGBTQ+ conlangers should always choose ideas of gender from language. Jessie Sams, a linguistics professor at Stephen F. Austin Teach University in Nacogdoches, Texas, acknowledged this is a growing point of interest for students in her conlanging route.

“I’ve seen loads more students desirous about that or wanting to take a look at out to figure that out, getting broader views, and so it’s all acceptable very interesting, I think, how we can spend conlanging to higher understand what is that it’s in all probability you’ll imagine even in our world,” acknowledged Sams.

Whereas conlanging is also one contrivance of reimagining previous and future worlds, Johnson would not think language invention is basically tied to activism. In the slay, he views conlanging as art — though it’s going to also be a onerous medium to fancy — and sees its ability for expressing all kinds of intentions and probabilities. 

“The world would not need any new languages,” Johnson acknowledged. “Now we possess purchased hundreds.

“We would secure by acceptable fine if all americans spoke acceptable one single boring passe language, nevertheless you furthermore could can lose plenty of the richness and nuance that is show hide in all languages, in assorted combinations and concentrations. So conlangs usually are not wanted … nevertheless they’re another portion of art work.”

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Meet the Halifax man who invents new languages, and puts ice cream in his coffee