Fascinating Factoids

So I know I’ve been doing a lot of bullshit reblogging recently, but I’m on vacation, so give me a break!  Anyway, here are some excerpts from an amazing New Yorker article about a man named John Quijada, who came up with his own language named Ithkuil, which attracted attention from linguists, fellow “conlangers,” and freaks the world over.

1. “The first entirely artificial language of which any records survives, Lingua Ignota, was created by the twelfth-century German nun and mystic Hildegard von Bingen, who is better known for having composed what may be the earliest surviving morality play.  She seems to have used Lingua Ignota for some form of mystical communion.  All that remains of her language is a short passage and a dictionary of a thousand and twelve words listed in hierarchical order, from the most important (Aigonz, God) to the least (Cauiz, cricket.)”

2. “By the nineteenth century, the dream of constructing a philosophical language capable of expressing universal truths had given way to the equally ambitious desire to unite the world through a single, easy-to-learn, politically neutral, auxiliary language.  Solresol, the creation of a French musician named Jean-Francois Sudre, was among the first of these universal languages to gain popular attention.  It had only seven syllables: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, and Si.  Words could be sung, or performed on a violin.  Or, since the language could also be translated into the seven colors of the rainbow, sentences could be woven into a textile as a stream of colors.”

3. “And yet, by some estimates, Esperanto still has more speakers than six thousand of the languages spoken around the world today, including approximately a thousand native speakers (among them George Soros) who learned it as their first language.”**

4. “… David Peterson, the president of the Language Creation Society and the inventor of Dothraki, the language spoken by a race of pseudo-Mongol nomadic warriors in the HBO series Game of Thrones.  (Dothraki is now heard by more people each week than Yiddish, Navajo, Inuit, Basque and Welsh combined.)”

5. “Laadan, a feminist language developed in the early nineteen-eighties, includes words like radiidin, defined as a ‘non-holiday, a time allegedly a holiday but actually so much a burden because of work and preparations that it is a dreaded occasion; especially when there are too many guests and none of them help.'”

6. “Kalmykia [where Quijada was asked to deliver a lecture] is notable for two things: for being the only majority-Buddhist state west of the Ural Mountains, and for having an eccentric former President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, an oligarch-turned-politician, spend millions of dollars of his own fortune turning a dusty, forgotten corner of the Russian steppe into the chess capital of the world.  Ilyumzhinov claims to have been abducted from his Moscow apartment in 1997, by extraterrestrials, who gave him a tour of the galaxy and taught him that chess came from outer space.”

7. “One of the conferees, a graduate of the University of Effective Development named Gennadiy Overchenko, explained that he had used psychonetics [a philosophy that sounds suspiciously like Dianetics, followers of which became devotees of Quijada] to develop skills in a variety of disciplines where he previously had no expertise, from chess to cooking to gouache painting.  He later told me that, after half an hour of meditations, he was able to sight-read Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ despite being a novice pianist.  ‘In the past two years, I have never fallen (including on ice), and have not dropped or broken anything,’ he continued.”

Searching now for: the “self-published… definitive, four-hundred-and-thirty-nine-page description of [Ithkuil]” by Quijada.




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