Thursday, January 8, 2009

How linguistics can help you!

As a lead-in to my language design workshop, I'm going to do a little sequence of "How ____ can help you!" pieces concerning various areas of linguistics. These aren't intended to be technical, or even introductory discussions of linguistics itself. I'm going to try to make them short, practical pieces which relate linguistics topics to the use of created languages in science fiction and fantasy. Certainly they will be useful for people who are digging into creating an entire language that penetrates an SF/F world. I hope they can also be helpful for those who are using minimal-penetration languages in SF/F - languages that consist mostly of names for people and places.

Here are some of the upcoming topics:

Articulatory phonetics, a.k.a. how to match sounds to an alien physiology
(I've discussed this a bit before, but I'll try to take it a bit further)

Morphology, a.k.a. how words are broken into smaller pieces of meaning

Syntax, a.k.a. how sentences are put together

Semantics, a.k.a. how meanings are structured

Pragmatics, a.k.a. how language implies more than it "means"; how people define insincerity vs. politeness

Sociolinguistics, a.k.a. how people use language for social purposes including drawing distinctions between social groups

FYI I seem to be having internet problems again, this time intermittent ones that make me go argh! but don't keep me off for entire days. I think this neighborhood must be cursed by the internet gods or something. Anyway, I'll try to address the problem and hope it doesn't get any worse.

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