Conlang-L FAQ

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Where to get Conlang-L

The official archives are at . From there, you can search the archives, get an RSS feed, manage your subscription, etc.

It's also the ONLY place you can go to sign up and post things to the list.

A read-only archive with a nicer user interface is at . [As of April 2009 this archive has ceased mirroring new messages. Henrik Theiling knows about the problem and has said he's planning to fix it but hasn't had time to do so yet.]

Conlang-L is also mirrored as a Yahoo group, but there is no way to have posts to the Yahoo group sent to the actual list. Do not subscribe to the Yahoo group. It has no admin anymore. Go to instead!

A brief history of the list

The list evolved from some informal email conversations among an early group of language enthusiasts. The earliest mail mirror was run by John Ross out of the BU physics department, and was up and running by 29 July 1991. It moved to Denmark on 23 March, 1993.

The original note reads in part:

By agreement with John Ross, the CONLANG mailing list has been moved to, the mail hub of the CS Department of the University of Copenhagen. Send all submissions to CONLANG at diku dot dk. The address at buphy still works, but it is just an alias for the new list.

Lars Mathiesen (U of Copenhagen CS Dept) (Humour NOT marked)

(Note that the submission address in that historical note NO LONGER WORKS.)

Later, growing traffic and changes at the university necessitated a move. In January–February of 1997 the list moved to its current home at Brown University's LISTSERV server. David Durand made the move and actively moderated the list from that point on.

Before the move, threads centered on debates on the relative merits of auxlangs had become common on CONLANG; these were often incendiary and irritated many listmembers. Accordingly, when the new CONLANG list was set up at Brown, a sister list AUXLANG was set up to cater to participants of these threads, and auxlang advocacy was banned from CONLANG. It still is. (Dispassionate discussion of auxlangs is welcome.)

In ??? John Cowan took over actual moderation duties, as "Lord of the Instrumentality". The torch was later passed to Henrik Theiling, and again (in 2014) jointly to Alex Fink and And Rosta.

List behaviour

The CONLANG list rejects attachments.

It also discards the HTML part of MIME-formatted messages: that is, bold or italic text, super- and sub-scripts, tables, and anything else fancier than plain text will not come through. Your mail client may attempt to make informed substitutions for these in messages you send, but for tables especially this is unreliable; it's best to prepare your tables, interlinears, etc. in fixed-width plain text, using spaces or tabs (but not a mix of both) for alignment.

Posting limits

As a traffic-limiting measure, if the list receives more than 99 messages in a given day (in Brown's time zone), all subsequent messages will be automatically held and not delivered until the admin unblocks the list.

Each individual poster is limited to 7 messages per day. Messages beyond the daily limit are simply bounced, not held for the next day. Posters are encouraged to consolidate several shorter replies on a single topic into a single message.

Subject Topic Tags

In the subject line of a post, you can mark the post with one of the following tags. Tags are only recognised if a colon follows immediately: no other decoration (e.g. brackets, an extra space) should be used. Any 'Re:' etc. is irrelevant -- the software skips it.

Good tag syntax:

 CHAT: Is the world really round?

Bad tag syntax:

 [CHAT]: Is the world really round?

These are the official tags the listserv software can be instructed to filter automatically. There are currently five:

  • OT: off-topic stuff
  • CHAT: off-topic stuff of the conversational sort
  • USAGE: natural language usage (all of the YAEPT and similar should use this)
  • THEORY: linguistic theory discussions
  • TRANSL: translation exercises

Only the above tags are official and configured for filtering. However, most advanced mail clients can be set to have extra filters, such as for the following unofficial tags:

  • OFFLIST: not actually seen on-list, this tag is added to make explicitly clear that you are taking a subject offlist (i.e. you're emailing someone directly about it)

The following are explicitly not included in the list of filterable tags:

  • META: threads about CONLANG-L itself
  • TECH: technical issues (e.g. email programs, list-related technical problems, etc)

Finally, there are two meta-tags:

  • [CONLANG]: This should not be actually added when starting a new subject; you can make the listserv prepend it automatically to all email (so that you can set your mail client to filter all list traffic)
  • "was": used to change the subject, or more commonly, to indicate that the subject of a thread changed a while ago and you're no longer pretending it's about the original topic


 JAMA says flat earth leads to flat [@] (was CHAT: Is the world really round?)

Note that tags ARE included after the "was", but "Re:" is NOT, nor is [CONLANG].


List of acronyms specific to the Conlang Mailing List:

  • AFMCL - "As for my conlang.."
    • AFMOCL - "As for my own conlang"
  • ANADEW - "A natlang's already dunnit, except worse"
  • ANADEWism - Something you thought was unique, but ANADEW
  • IML - "in my 'lect" (dialect or idiolect, depending on context)
  • LCC - the Language Creation Conference
  • LCS - the Language Creation Society
  • NCNC - "No cross, no crown". In the context of the list, "don't discuss religion or politics" (not its more general meaning).
  • NLF2DWS or NLWS - Non-linear [fully 2-dimensional] writing system
  • YAEPT (the original acronym) - Yet Another English Pronunciation Thread
    • YADPT ... Dutch Pronunciation ...
    • YAGPT ... German Pronunciation ...
    • YAEGT ... English Grammar ...
    • YAEUT ... English Usage ...
    • general pattern: YA(Language)(Topic)T

Acronyms not on this list might be in general usage: try Google's define: or Acronym Finder.

Other conlang-specific vocabulary

From here and here. See also Conlang terminology.


  • constructed __ (generally a contraction): conlang, conworld, conhistory, conculture, ...


  • a language characterised by ___ (generally a contraction): conlang, artlang, auxlang, ...


  1. A language constructed for the beauty or fun of doing so. [From art(istic) + lang(uage)]
  2. (See conlang) [From art(ificial) + lang(uage)]


  • A language constructed to replace or complement natlangs to facilitate cross-linguistic communication. [From aux(iliary) + lang(uage)]

concultural [From con(structed) + cultur(e) + al]

  • Adjective form of "conculture".

conculture [From con(structed) + culture]

  • A fictional culture created as a backdrop to a conlang. See also "conworld".

conlang [From con(structed) + lang(uage)]

  1. n. A constructed language
  2. v. To construct a language

CONLANG (all caps), conlang-l, Conlang-L, or CONLANG-L

  • A very active conlang mailing list hosted by, and currently operated by Henrik Theiling

conworld [From con(structed) + world]

  • A fictional world created to host a conlang or conculture. See also "conculture".

engelang /ˈendʒlæŋ/ [From eng(ineered) + lang(uage)]

  • A conlang that is designed to certain criteria, such that it is objectively testable whether the criteria are met or not. This is different from claiming that the criteria themselves are 'objective'. For example, the Lojban/Loglan roots are designed to be maximally recognisable to the speakers of the (numerically) largest languages in the world in proportion to the number of speakers. It is not a matter of taste whether this criterion is met; it is something that can be tested. (by John Cowan) [From eng(ineered) + lang(uage)]

etabnannery /raːmnænəɹi/ (rare)

  • The state of appearing entirely unpredictable, but, upon closer analysis, failing at even being that. [From Etá̄bnann(i), a conlang by Tristan McLeay, which was supposed to have an unpredictable orthography, but ended up just having a confusing one. Damn people trying to make patterns everywhere. At least it's a bugger to typeset!... errm... back to the derivation + -ery]

maggelity /məˈgɛlɪti/ (rare) [From Maggel, a conlang by Christophe Grandsire which has a rarely predictable orthography]

  1. The state of being entirely unpredictable. (Tristan McLeay)
  2. The state of being regularly unpredictable, such as to horribly confuse anyone unfamiliar with the language, lulling them into a full sense of security before pointing out, cartoon-character-style, that the ground no longer exists where they're standing. (Tristan McLeay and H. S. Teoh)

Maggel's Paradox (rare)

  • Your radical ideas have already occurred to others. (Muke Tever)

natlang [From nat(ural) + lang(uage)]

  1. A natural language, i.e., one that naturally developed in the world, as opposed to a conlang.

ObConlang (or ObCL)

  • Just before something about conlanging in an otherwise off-topic post.
  • From ob(ligatory) + conlang (i.e., an obligatory on-topic comment about conlangs just so that the post isn't completely off-topic).

translation relay

  • A game similar to Telephone or Chinese Whispers, wherein the participants translate a passage one at a time, in serial, into their own languages - and then marvel at how far from the original the translations have gotten.

CXS (Conlang X-SAMPA)

CXS is a version of X-SAMPA for use on the CONLANG mailing list. X-SAMPA is a way to write the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) using normal plain-ASCII text that everyone can read.

Related lists

The Auxlang list, mentioned above, is dedicated to international auxiliary languages. Its archives and subscription interface are at .

The list [email protected] is dedicated to the planning and conducting of conlang relays, q.v.


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 * *