Language Clinic Testers Needed

I’m going to need two (only two) wannabe language builders for the Create A Language Clinic book.

I think what I’ve written is clear and concise and easy to understand, and that anyone with a very basic knowledge of English will be able to use my instructions to create a working language. That’s what I think.

I may be wrong.

Therefore, I am looking for two writers who have never created a language before. The genre in which you write and your status as published or unpublished are not at issue. You can be an LARPG gamer, gamemaster, or game designer, an sf writer, a fantasy writer, a romance writer, a lit writer … it does not matter to me. What does matter is that you identify yourself as a writer, you want to learn how to create a language, and you agree to go through the whole book from start to finish and develop one complete language, from basic names all the way through to written systems.

And that you then report back to me with the results of your experiment. I’ll need to know:

  1. Which parts worked perfectly for you
  2. Places where you got lost
  3. Instructions that were clear, and those that were not
  4. Parts that you thought were fun (and why)
  5. Parts that you thought were boring (and why)
  6. Things that surprised you
  7. Things that you would have liked to find out, but didn’t
  8. Your overall impression

What you’ll get for completing all this:

A free copy of the print version of the finished book.
An acknowledgment in the book.
Possibly a cover quote.
My gratitude.

I’ll need a pretty quick turn-around. My estimate for the complete time it will take you to create an entire language, grammar, and written language using my system is five hours, not including reading the instructions. You might do it quicker than that. (I do.) You could take much longer if you developed a huge vocabulary, but I’m only asking for you to develop enough that you are satisfied you could use your language.

If you’re interested, tell me why here. I’ll pick two writers from a semi-random drawing—semi-random in that I’ll eliminate anyone who is clearly unqualified to do this before doing the drawing. Poor spelling and grammar will be my causes for elimination.

I’ll leave the entries open until the day I finish the manuscript, so the date this closes is uncertain. Entering sooner rather than later would be a good idea, if you’re interested.

Thanks very much for considering helping me out with this.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

29 comments… add one
  • sketchinartist Jun 8, 2006 @ 13:23

    I volunteer! I’m a college student on summer break and I haven’t found a job yet. A quick turnaround should not be a problem. I’m a two-time NaNoWriMo winner, secretary of my college writing critique group, and I’m currently making slow progress on a more serious fantasy story.

    I hadn’t thought my story would require a language, but I did something stupid. I wrote myself into a corner with the worldbuilding. Very suddenly I found that I need two languages and I’ve never even made one before. I have a solid background in English, several years of Spanish, and a wee bit of Chinese and Japanese.

    I’d love to try out your book–I plan on getting it regardless of whether I’m picked.

  • Stacy Jun 7, 2006 @ 13:22

    Hi Holly,

    Well im sorry, but i have decided to ask to be taken off the list of names for the drawing. I would still like to help, but im worried i might disapoint in some way and that really not the first impression i would like to make with some one such as yourself. So i would like to be pulled. Maybe someday in the future i can perticipate in something like this with more confidence. Still i send you losts of luck! =)

  • jtjavins Jun 7, 2006 @ 12:31

    Hi Holly,

    I’d love to help you out with your clinic. I’m a fantasy writer, and I have several years of experience as an editor. I’ve tried to come up with a few useful words to toss into my books before, but I’ve never actually tried to create a language. Any words that I’ve come up with have never felt “right,” and I’d love to try out your approach to see how it works for me. Thanks for the chance!

  • Muneraven Jun 6, 2006 @ 15:46

    I’ll give it a go. I’m just plotting out a new project now. I’ve never tried to make a language for a book so it would be a new experience for me.

    I’m interested because it’s an aspect of fantasy writing I haven’t tried, I’m right about at a good spot to do something like this for the project I am working on now, and I’m curious about your more detailed instruction clinics.

  • Stacy Jun 6, 2006 @ 9:50

    I would love to help test your techniques. I enjoy writing fantasy/adventure. I am currently developing a world for a story and I believe that giving the people their own language would give them more depth then I could have dreamed. I have never created a language before and would have no previous prejudices or ‘bad habits’ on the subject. I believe that would be helpful as many of your future readers will likely be new to the concept as well. I am a stay at home wife and could take up this task at the drop of a hat. Thank you for your consideration. I can’t wait to hear the results!

  • nicolane Jun 6, 2006 @ 2:47

    Hi Holly,

    I would love to test this for you.

    I’ll probably need 24 hours – as we are in differnet parts of the world (I am in London, England). I hope that will not be a problem.

    I have never given serious consideration to creating a language before. Whilst I have thought it would be nice, I have no idea how to go about it and I have always assumed that the learning curve would be too steep.

    As for my language skills, well, I speak English English. american English has been known to confuse me on occasion. I can just about order a kilogram of apples in French, but that is the limit.

    I hope that someone totally clueless would be of use to you.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Nicola

  • klharrds Jun 6, 2006 @ 2:25

    I’d like to put my name into the hat for the draw. I am a SF and fantasy writer mainly, though since your website introduced me to Lynn Viehl and new romance work, I’ve been having a go with my own paranormal suspense. As for languages, I tend to work by cobbling together snippets from other languages like Gaelic and Latin along with a few sounds I like to come up with names and concept words so I’d love to have a preview on how to construct a whole system from scratch. It sounds very exciting.

  • cherylp Jun 5, 2006 @ 20:41

    Hi, Holly.

    I’d like to do this. I took some linguistics in college, and I minored in Spanish.

    In the past, I’ve also read Dr. Suzette Haden Elgin’s newsletters, where she gave tips on language building, especially her own created language, La’aden.

    I think I could bring a balanced perspective to the task.

    Oh, and I write. *grin* I have been one of your Breakout novel participants in the past, and I’ve placed some shorts with online mags, and a print mag called “Prism Quarterly.”

  • writingnerd Jun 5, 2006 @ 19:44

    I bought Create a Character Clinic, and it helped me a ton, so I would love to return the favor by helping you with this. I won’t try to impress you, since it’s a random drawing, but I will say that your book probably won’t have many problems once I’m done with it (Not that it would anyway. Hey, I said I wouldn’t try to impress you; kissing up, I never mentioned.)

  • shawna Jun 5, 2006 @ 19:39

    Me too! From the bits you’ve posted, I want my hands on it ASAP. If there’s half a snowball’s chance I could get it sooner…

    I’m in the middle of planning my first (large) fantasy project. I’d really like to create a language (or possibly two) to go with it, but the idea of just sort of tossing it in makes me cringe.

    I’ve looked around on some of the con-lang sites, but it always looks like too big a commitment. (Not to mention, confusing.) Five hours… or even twice that, sounds a lot more reasonable then what I’ve been imagining- and avoiding. (Procratinate? Me? Guilty.)

    If the clinic is half as entertaining as the snippets, procrastination would be the last thing on my mind.

    Oh, almost forgot. I’m a native English-speaker with some basic Spanish skills and a smattering of mostly-forgotten French.

  • aidanm Jun 5, 2006 @ 17:46

    I too would also love to test your clinic for you! As an aspiring linguist, I find the idea of building a language to be very intriguing.

  • Megan Jun 5, 2006 @ 17:38

    This sounds quite interesting. I’d like to throw my hat into the ring. I write in a few genres, and generally skew toward fantasy. I haven’t yet created a language, but I’ll need to do so for the W that will eventually be IP.

  • kaplooeymom Jun 5, 2006 @ 16:44

    Five hours, I can commit to. If I get picked. My current conlang method is usually switching phonemes of audibly intriguing words, then grouping like words together, and then most likely randomly assigning meaning. I’m looking forward to learning a more organized, rational way.

  • Kaitiana Jun 5, 2006 @ 15:20

    Holly: I would also enjoy helping you out with this. I write fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance and would love to create my own language for one (or more) of my WIPs. Thanks so much for the opportunity, even if you don’t choose me. =)

  • firelight Jun 5, 2006 @ 14:59

    Hi Holly, I’d love to give this a try. I write fantasy novels. I’ve tried developing a language for my WIP before, but it didn’t work because I wasn’t sure how to do it right.

  • miladyinsanity Jun 5, 2006 @ 14:35

    I would love to test-drive the Clinic for you, Holly!

    I’m about to begin building the language for my current WIP, but I know I keep procrastinating it because I’m not sure how to go about it.

    I’m in the same position as Nandini: summer holidays will start Saturday.

  • beckyb Jun 5, 2006 @ 14:11

    I’ve been looking foward to this since you first posted the ideas for clinics on your blog:) As it so happens, I have a WIP poised for beginning the actual *writing* as soon as I have a working knowledge of the next-universe-over’s language. Plus, I need *something* to do when I finish my finals and hour early…heh, my whole class will think I’m insane. Since I’ve never commented before I’ll just say I love your blog, and great job with the blood-pressure-lowering diet. I’m getting ready to start a more rigid lifestyle as well, since I have high blood pressure from both sides, as well as a bunch of lovely medical histories that could span volumes. My main goal is to avoid developing diabetes.

    Thanks,

    Becky

  • PJ Jun 5, 2006 @ 13:41

    Holly: I need a language for the new characters in Book 2 of my story. Plus I think working on the language would give me some more insight into the developing culture of the people. As for turn-around, that’s no problem. I’ve been putting this off (fear of the unknown and not really sure where to start) – so this is just the thing I need!

    ~PJ~ (tossing her name into the hat – written in BIG BOLD LETTERS ^_^ )

  • shay Jun 5, 2006 @ 13:40

    i’ve started building my own language but it’s not as good as it could be so it’d be cool if i could be picked but with so many replies it’ll be cool if i’m not 🙂

  • Palomino Jun 5, 2006 @ 12:39

    Ooh. This sounds like just what I’ve been dreaming of—I love words and putting them together in various fun and fascinating ways (plus the fact that for my next fantasy project I need to create two full languages and at least the basics of several more). I’ve come up with alphabets and basic name-pronunciation rules before, but no actual languages. I’d love to give it a try . . . and for this, even finals can be ignored.

  • Nandini Jun 5, 2006 @ 12:26

    I’d like to join the ME-ME-PLEASE-PICK-ME crowd. 😀

    English is technically my “second language”, but it’s the one I speak most fluently, and it’s what I think in. I’m a huge language enthusiast, though, so in addition to the three Indian (Sanskrit-based) languages I speak “natively”, I’ve picked up Mandarin from living in Singapore, and a bit of Russian from friends since coming to the US. I think I’m about ready to make one up by now. (I’ve never done it before, the very thought of creating a whole language is just too daunting.)

    I’m a student, and it’s summer… quick turnaround guaranteed. 🙂 In any case, thanks for the opportunity.

    Subliminal Message: Pick me pick me pick me pick me pick me pick me.

  • Rowan Jun 5, 2006 @ 12:19

    This sounds absolutely fascinating. I would love to be a test subj..er..trial language builder. This would help me address some issues about language for my current fantasy WIP, and would also be interesting from my perspective as an RPG gamemaster with a penchant for elves.

    You can check out my blog at http://www.rowanwilson.blogspot.com as well. I’m trying to document my journey towards being published.

  • teribella Jun 5, 2006 @ 11:53

    I would love to do this! I am just at that development point in my story that I really need an alternate language, in order to get my character names solidified, and work in more of the plot! What a great opportunity! (And 5 hours? Really? I had it in my head it would take a week or so! What a bonus!!)

    Thanks for the chance!

  • lohengrin Jun 5, 2006 @ 11:41

    I would *love* to do this! But I must disclaim that perhaps I am not entirely your stated target of “anyone with a very basic knowledge of English,” as I am fluent in both English and French, as well as passing familiar with Japanese and Russian. In other words, my grasp of language structures goes beyond English alone. I am familiar already with cases (Russian), gendered conjugation (Russian, French), formalised levels of politeness (Japanese) and a number of other concepts quite foreign to English.

    However, by the same token, I love languages, and creating them is only another step away from learning them! I am a writer (naturally, or why would I be here, reading your blog?) as well, and already have a use for at least three conlangs.

    Thank you for this offer, even if I don’t get to be one of the lucky few!

  • Adam101 Jun 5, 2006 @ 11:30

    Im also interested in this, I am a young part time writer and have written several short stories and Novel starts and I am constantly looking for names and devices. Creating a language could be the next step up.

    I am also looking to create my own RP site after building and administrating 2 very active Harry Potter Sites and participating in many others:

    http://s11.invisionfree.com/Lumos_Maxima/index.php?act=idx
    http://s14.invisionfree.com/WW_Revolution

    After the sucesses of these I want to get involved with a custom RP and get some content down, making a language will be a vital step in building the game and making incantations and dialects etc…

    I have much free time to comment on the book and make a language, proof of my reviewing could be found here:

    http://www.youngwriterssociety.com

    with over 2000 members, pity the owner couldnt afford to continue.

    Please keep moi, one of your Talyn and writing…writing supporters.

  • Jackie Jun 5, 2006 @ 11:22

    I can do it pretty much anytime after this weekend… I’m neck-deep in pre-con-prep at the moment. I’m not published, but definitely a writer (SF & Romance). I haven’t written any languages, but I’m actively involved in Suzette Haden Elgin’s Láadan, so it would be highly entertaining to write my own language after playing around with hers so much. 🙂

  • heather Jun 5, 2006 @ 11:13

    I was excited to see you start this workshop and I would be thrilled to help you out with it. I have started to create my own languages several times, but was never sure where to start. I could definitely apply what I learn from your workshop to my current WIP.

  • Cuyler Jun 5, 2006 @ 11:01

    I’ll do it. I have been waiting forever for this clinic as I think it will help me greatly in developing a language for a Fantasy WIP.

    I have tried to create languages before but was never satisfied. I have an Idea for what I want in a Language clinic and think I will be able to identify the strong points and weak points in your clinic.

    Have a good day! 🙂

  • arainsb123 Jun 5, 2006 @ 10:35

    I would love to do this! I think that developing a language (or two, or three) would add a lot of depth to my current Work-in-Progress, in that it would give me greater insight into the way people in my culture think. Plus, it seems like great fun.

    I love words. Combining them to create meaning or fun sounds or poetry is pure pleasure for me, and to create words of my own and a language in which to use them would be a delight.

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