Thursday, September 22, 2011

Daily Chinese

I've just made a post to reddit about making an anki deck for the daily posts by a certain reddit user that were particularily helpful.

Hey guys,

IF you can remember a few months back we had a pretty neat thing going on where colorless_green_idea would post daily chengyus or grammars.
Well that was pretty cool, and it seems to have died down, so I've put them all into an anki deck. I did it pretty bare bones where each chengyu or grammar was it's own slide. Then, towards the end, I realized I probably should've made the example sentences and vocabulary bits their own slides as well. However, before doing all that, I'll ask you guys what you think. So, do you think that all those things should be split up or left as is?

I'm going to fumble around and try to get it uploaded somewhere too, but I think for the meantime I'd just like to know if anyone is interested in this.

Well, I uploaded it to my own personal site. I don't think that will be a problem with this subreddit though!   

anki deck

 I'll probably end up changing it because as it stands the cards are a little too large for most people's taste.

I've also uploaded it to anki. If you search for "Chinese Chengyu and Grammar" it should come up.

Toki Pona Additions?

So, I want to just put here real quick a cool thing I found on the toki pona forums. It's a way to increase the usability of the language without adding anything, which is something that I think should happen.

This is the page with the interesting chart made by the user szilard. I'm sure everyone can find something wrong with it, but I think it'd be useful to use. It's not as clear as janMato's invensions, but he seems to have a gift of making clear expressions. Well, here's the chart (I'm hotlinking it now, so if that's a problem just send me a message).

jan-ante then suggested an interesting way to use them practically for taste:

pilin uta walo - salty taste (salt)
pilin uta jelo - sour taste (lemon)
pilin uta loje - spicy taste (pepper)
pilin uta laso - mint taste (should be green, but...)
pilin uta pimeja - bitter taste

Thursday, September 8, 2011


So, in the past few months, I dove into the world of constructed languages, or conlangs. I had no experience with them before really, and didn't know what to expect. The only conlang I had only heard about before was Esperanto, so instead of taking that obvious route, I went for a more obscure conlang: toki pona.

Now, after having spent some time being as fluent as is needed for this minimalist language, there are some strange encounters and feeling I had on the community as a whole. I'll preface this all by saying that a lot of the people involved in conlang are incredibly smart people who deserve the utmost respect. I will however try to be honest about my rather blind swim through the pond of a conlang.

My first reactions were that there is nothing to do. So, in searching for a place to have random conversations in this new language, I found a few hubs, and reads a few years worth of backlogs. Most of the time, no one seems to agree on much. There is also a godlike reverence for the creator of a conlang, which caught me off guard. That is to say, I care as much about Zamenhof as I do Shakespeare, which is to say, not at all (in all truth). It reminds me very much of the incredibly nerdy arguments I've read on reddit about Star Wars canon. Which brings me to another point, I think by the nature of what a conlang is, it attracts many nerdy people. Nerds are not known for their sociability, and I believe this point comes through very strongly in the world of conlangs. At least on a surface level.

Now, I will go back and say that there are plenty of nice people in these communities, and I understand why some of the things are the way they are, but as an outsider, it was bizarre. I also don't think this kind of thing is limited to nerds or nerdy people either. The other thing I began to think about was just another inherent quality of Conlangs. That being that there are usually no native speakers.

Why is this important?

Well, from my experience in learning natural languages, there's a lot of competition between second language learners and a lot of trying to outdue your fellow classmates. With no native spekars to hang out with, you're left to always interact with the competitive classmates.

With toki pona, this is all especially magnified, because it's not really finished. So, everyone is arguing over standards to complete the language. That and the small size of the community of course.

However, not to be putting everything so negatively, I want to say that the other important thing to remember is that it's a hobby. I'm guilty of taking this hobby too seriously, and when that happens you get let down and pushed around by something that feels like should be different. The issue is, however, that it's more like a code than a language then. I think, for the uninitiated, it's difficult to fit in how a conlang should be used, and where the community stands on things.

There are other people smarter than I am figuring these things out though. I just wanted to provide a kind of window into my breif experience in the conlang world.