Conlang relay

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Conlang Relay, a.k.a. Conlingual Telephone, is a translation game involving conlangs. It is similar to Chinese whispers (aka Telephone), where a message is whispered from person to person, often in the process being changed beyond recognition. Instead of by whispers, in a relay the text is passed by translation: it is translated from the conlang it is received in, into one's own conlang, and then passed to the next person to be translated. The resulting text is generally much changed; a tendency noticed in early relays was for the original texts to mutate into creation myths.

A typical conlang relay takes around a month or two to run, excluding the initial planning phase and delays in publishing the final results (which are unfortunately common). On the relay mailing list one or two relays are run per year.

Current relays

  • There are currently no Conlang relays running or being planned.

Known previous relays are listed in the navigation box below. See also the unfinished relays.


One person, the relay master, organizes the relay — typically on the relay mailing list and/or here.

Gather the players

To sign up for an upcoming relay, please read the “Participating” section on the relay page. If there are no specific instructions for signing up, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the “Participants” section on the relay page
  2. Edit the section (click the link next to the header)
  3. Sorted ASCIIbetically, add your name or alias to the list, along with a link to your user page
  4. Add your conlang, optionally with a link to its grammar or other description
    • If you don't know what language you will use, you can enter ''unknown'' for now
  5. If you are signing up for multiple entries, add {{sub|(2)}} (or {{sub|(3)}}, and so on) to your name on the extra entries. You cannot have multiple slots in a single ring, so these entries will only make it if there are, e.g. at least 4 rings for an entry marked {{sub|(4)}}
  6. Collaborations are allowed, but the previous step still applies (please mark each name separately)
  7. After submitting your edit, please subscribe to the relay mailing list unless the relay page specifies that this is not needed

Scheduleless relays

To sign up for an ongoing scheduleless relay, contact the relay master at the specified email address or other communication method, and include the name of your language. Please note that you can only do this when the relay master has announced receiving the torch from the last participant, but has not announced sending it to the next participant. The order is “first come: first serve” — if you do not receive the torch this time, try again when the relay master receives it again.

Set up the pieces

When enough participants have signed up, they publish a schedule: there may be one or more rings, each with a list of participants in the order of when they will take their turns. Each participant is listed with the language they will be using. Someone who knows* multiple conlangs may participate in multiple rings.

*Participants are also usually permitted to use any conlangs, no matter if they are their own creations (Klingon, Sindarin, Volapük and Toki Pona have been used in past relays). However, each conlang may only be used once per relay, with the exception of the wrapping conlang which is often used by the relay master as the last language in each ring.

Play the game

The relay master then writes a text in their conlang, along with the necessary grammar notes and vocabulary for the text to be understandable. The relay master then sends one copy of these documents (the torches) to the first participant in each ring. Now, this participant has a deadline (usually 48 hours) to decipher the torch, translate it into their language, write up the necessary grammar notes and vocabulary, and send their torch to the next participant (and to a backup mailbox in case someone goes missing during the relay). The next participant should move the torch indicator (boldface) to indicate that they have received the torch. This continues until the torch has been passed along the entire ring; the last participant passes the torch back to the relay master, who then translates it into the wrapping conlang (which is often the same as the starting conlang).

Game over

After the relay is over, all torches are published in all languages they were translated to during the relay, including an English translation of each version of the text. You can see the full list of relays and participants here.


Some rings, or even entire relays, vary these rules, and are sometimes called “specialist” rings/relays. The following variations have been used:

  • Conscript (c): Conlangs are written in their native scripts, usually with no romanization.
  • Inverse (i): Each participant receives a text in their own conlang, and translates it into the conlang of the next participant. No grammar notes or vocabulary are added.
  • Poetry (p): The participants are expected to translate the text into a poem in their own conlang. There have been variations, such as the Song Ring of the LCC10 Relay which encouraged (but did not require) the poems to be set to music.
  • Conculture (u): Only conlangs with an associated conculture may be used. Each participant must translate the text into something that would be intelligible and relevant to their native speakers, paraphrasing or rewriting as necessary.
  • LCC (LCC): The results are presented live at the next LCC.
  • Natlang (n): Only natlangs may be used. As with inverse relays/rings, no grammar notes or vocabulary are added. Instead, the schedule is prepared so that everyone receives the torch in a language they are familiar with.
  • Romlang (r): Only romlangs may be used. Instead of a vocabulary list, notes on the etymology of each stem are given.
  • Exolang (x): Only exolangs may be used. (any additional restrictions?)
  • Scheduleless (s): Each participant has as long as they want for translating the text. The torches of these rings are usually published immediately after passing them, and the next participant is sometimes determined “first come—first serve”.

The letters are used on the list of relays and participants — i2 is the second inverse relay, while 19c is Conlang Relay 19's conscript ring. Please note, however, that this notation has been used inconsistently in the past: for example, Conlang Relay 12 and Ring B of the LCC4 Relay were both scheduleless relays.


The first relay was inspired by Irina Rempt's Ilaini poem Hanleni Halsen, or "The Starlings' Song". In the summer of 1999, Remot sent the poem to Sally Caves, who in turn translated it into Teonaht. Inspired by the game of Telephone, a whole bunch of people joined in, translating the previous conlanger's translation into their respective conlangs. This relay included such classic conlangs as Rokbeigalmki, Watakassí, Kerno, Brithenig, and Chleweyish.

External links

Conlang relay
Conlang relays: 1234567891011121314151617181919½202122232425
Forum relays: Conlingual Telephone (ZBB) • Conlanger's broken translation game 12 (Unilang) • Polish Conlang Relay (PFJ) • CBB Conlang Relay2345678910111213141516Audio 1 (CBB)
Other relays: First Planetpii relayInverse Relay 12Conculture Relay 1LCC2LCC3LCC4LCC5LCC6LCC7LCC8dLCCLCC10Tumblr Conlang Relay 1234
What is a relay?list of relays and participantsedit the TOC aboveedit this template

This article is part of a series on Conlanging Culture.

Conlanging culture: Conlang flag * Conlang terminology * Language Creation Conference * Smiley Award
Conlanging organizations: Language Creation Society
Conlanging forums and online communities: CBB * Conlang-L FAQ * List of communities * PFJ * Zompist Bulletin Board
Conlanging websites:
Conlanging games: Conlang relay * Comentary Conlanging * Glossotechnia * #Lexember
Misc: Software tools for conlanging * My First Conlang * St Hildegard's day * *