|Birth:||December 5, 1969; Lemgo, Germany|
|Favourite other conlangs:||Well-designed naturalistic artlangs, such as|
|More information:||Jörg Rhiemeier's home page|
How I came to be a conworlder and conlanger
I don't recall exactly when the worldbuilding bug bit me, but it must have been about 1980, when I was ten years old, perhaps even earlier. What I remember are numerous sessions with a cousin of mine; we came up with new worlds almost weekly, even if those worlds were just maps with some shadowy ideas about the places shown. Our interest oscillated between fantasy and science fiction at irregular intervals.
1980 also was the year when my elder brother started learning Latin in school, and nosy as I always was, I leafed through his Latin school grammar and was enchanted by the beautiful inflectional paradigms I found therein. What a rich, colourful image compared to the structurally similar but phonetically bleached morphology of my native German! Since then, I always liked conlangs with rich inflectional morphology.
I made many conworlds, and discarded most of them again. In the mid-80s, I came up with an ancient astronauts conworld involving a starfaring civilization on Earth about 12,000 years ago. For this conworld, I made my first conlang (discounting the stillborn auxlang project my brother and I dabbled with a few years earlier) which was named Serindian. I soon found this project to be too cranky and unbelievable, and abandoned it.
At about the same time, I started playing role-playing games, sometimes together with the aforementioned cousin. In 1989, I left my home village near Lemgo and moved to Braunschweig to study computer science. At that time, I wanted to become a computer game designer (an aspiration that I abandoned a few years later). I soon found a role-playing group, and also started working on a new space opera setting involving human beings that had been relocated to various planets by aliens thousands of years ago (similar to the Traveller RPG setting). I also started working on a cyberpunk-inspired near future conworld which would later transmute into the Global Spring project.
In the year 2000, I hit upon a Middle-earth fan fiction story about Elves in the modern world, which caused me to work on a conlang named Nur-ellen, a descendant of Sindarin. This was briefly considered for addition to Ill Bethisad, but the proposal was turned down at the will of both sides. The project later evolved into The Elvenpath. In 2004, I founded the League of Lost Languages as a larger collaborative framework for fictional languages "in the real world" of which the Albic languages form a part.
Current conworld projects
I currently have four conworld projects under construction:
- The Elvenpath traces the history of a lost people, the Elves, from their Bronze Age beginnings to today. It is part of the League of Lost Languages. Part of The Elvenpath are the Albic languages, of which Old Albic is the most developed. Further conlangs related to Albic, the Hesperic languages, exist within the framework of the League of Lost Languages, as does the Romance language Roman Germanech.
- Global Spring is a near-future scenario inspired in part by cyberpunk SF but much lighter in tone, which lays out a pathway of sustainable development of humanity in the 21st century. There are no conlangs involved, only a handful of neologisms, and some conmusic. Also, no Elves.
- Rosæ Crux is a "modern near-EDO fantasy" world based on an alternative history diverging around 500 AD; it is an offshot of The Elvenpath, diverging in King Arthur's time. In Rosæ Crux, magic and other aspects of Tolkienesque fantasy worlds exist in a world with modern technology, politics and culture. The Elves are there, too. This project is currently in an early stage of development.
- The Trellis is a hard-SF space opera setting which portrays the farther future of the Global Spring world. It features (and is named after) a metacivilization consisting of several non-humanoid alien species. This project is currently in a very embryonic stage. No Elves.
What makes a good conlang? It depends on what it is made for. The kind of languages I am most interested in are fictional human languages (my interest in conlanging is basically an outcrop of my interest in conworlding), and a good fictional human language ought to resemble a natlang. This is also my personal taste: to me, naturalistic artlangs are beautiful, the more naturalistic, the better. The best way to build such a language is the diachronic method, which I apply to my own conlangs. Most non-naturalistic conlangs are rather ugly to my taste, though there are a few I find beautiful for some other reason. (I haven't seen a natlang yet that struck me as ugly. Not even languages with lots of uvulars, ejectives and wicked consonant clusters such as Georgian - which actually doesn't sound harsher than, e.g., Russian, and has a fascinating grammar.) To me, among the greatest conlangs ever created are Quenya and Sindarin, while I find Klingon rather unappealing. I especially like it when an author invents an entire family of related languages, with sound changes and all that. This is also what I am trying to do with Albic and the wider Hesperic family.
I have also made the experience that in conlanging, the amateurs often outshine the professionals. Most conlangs made for movies, TV series, games etc. are little more than relexes of English, and the scripts encountered in such media often merely assign alternative glyphs to the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet (and the inscriptions seen are often just plain English). Most of the conlangs and conscripts from the CONLANG community are much better than that, even those designed by people who are not professional linguists. (However, the standard of quality of conlangs in published works has been rising lately.)
I have made a similar observation regarding auxlangers vs. artlangers. Many auxlang proposals I have seen are linguistically naïve, and the intellectual and linguistic brilliance I have found in many of the artlangs done by CONLANG list members is barely even approached. (Of course, auxlang proposals are usually addressed at non-linguists, and many of the 'interesting' linguistic features found in some artlangs would conflict with the auxlang ideal of easy use and learning. On the other hand, there are auxlangs that are linguistically brilliant.) And then, of course, auxlangers are way too serious about their proposals.
It also seems to me that the 'auxlang race' has already been run - and English is the winner. English is part of the educational canon in most Western and many non-Western countries; it is the language of most of the Internet, and the language most people today take recourse to whenever they assume that the person they are talking to is not of the same native language, etc. p. p. I frankly don't see how any artificial IAL will be able to challenge this position in the forseeable future - not even Esperanto.
Another language-related interest of mine is historical linguistics, including long-range relationships (most proposals are in my opinion poorly warranted, but I consider it very likely that Indo-European and Uralic are related to each other and quite likely that the Mitian language families are more distantly related to each other), and the exploration of the lost world of Paleo-European languages.
I am also heavily into music. I am especially fond of progressive rock, and I sing and play keyboards in a progressive rock band named Path of Vision, for which I also write songs (sorry, no recordings yet). I am also a member of a popular music choir - a nice way to meet refreshingly un-nerdy people.
I first got into pencil-and-paper role-playing games in my mid-teens, and played regularly for some time. I have always seen RPGs primarily as a way of experiencing conworlds, and my interest in those games is entirely an outcrop of my interest in fictional worlds. Lately, however, I haven't been playing regularly because I failed to find a group that suited me. My main problem with RPGs as they are usually played is that most adventures and campaigns are combat-centred and non-violent solutions are often overlooked. Nevertheless, my interest in such games has not faded completely; indeed, I plan to develop my conworlds as settings for RPGs (using a self-designed rule system named OURS).
I am not much of an athlete, but I like riding the bicycle, and swimming fully clothed (see the picture above).
You may ask, why 'Weeping Elf'? Well, I have a somewhat Elvish mindset, and the madness of this world quite often makes me weep. That's why. BTW: 'Weeping Elf' is Alba Drananthada (or masculine, Albo Drananthado) in Old Albic.
- Conlang Relay 5 — Germanech
- Skerre → torch
- Conlang Relay 9 — Germanech
- Kamakawi → torch
- Conlang Relay 10 — Old Albic
- Teonaht → torch
- Conlang Relay 10 — Germanech
- Wenedyk → torch
- Conlang Relay 11 — Old Albic
- Kash → torch
- Conlang Relay 13 — Old Albic
- Silindion → torch
- Conlang Relay 14 — Old Albic
- Carrajena → torch
- Conlang Relay 15 — Old Albic
- Khangaþyagon → torch
- Conlang Relay 16 — Old Albic
- Ithkuil → torch
- Conlang Relay 19 — Old Albic
- Nalnuàntir → torch
- Conlang Relay 22 — Old Albic
- Ilaini → torch