Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why Care About Constructed Languages?

To those of you interested in the psycholinguistics field, constructed languages might seem like some sort of a dark art. The people who make them generally are a little different, there are few of them (good ones at least), and most people don’t talk about them very much. Even, the world famous J.R.R. Tolkien called them a “secret vice;” however, constructed languages can be so much more than that.

The act of constructing a language gives insight into all languages in general and, most importantly, your own mind. It makes you think about language in a whole new light. It does this, because it not only forces you to examine the logic behind your own language but examine the possible logics of other languages. Also, it highlights the biases that your native language has bestowed upon you—something that any linguistic scientist must be aware of. Language creation isn’t just for personal benefit, though.

Many constructed languages are created to see how linguistic concepts affect people. Probably the most fundamental example would be Loglan. This logical language was created to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (the idea that language shapes our reality). This hypothesis is the underlying assumption of many of the concepts in the psycholinguistic field.

Now that it is clear why language creation is important to psycholinguistics, the next step is to explore the process of artificial language creation.

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