Fun links for Friday and beyond.

For the past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time reading. As much as I love to read, not all of the material in front of me was pleasurable. This is partly my fault. In the writing classes I teach, I assign a lot of homework. I have to. I can’t expect my students to improve their skills if they don’t practice them.

I really don’t let up on them until the bitter end. This means that I don’t really let up on myself, either. I reckon I will have graded 250 rough and final draft essays, and 135 short reaction papers by the time this semester is put to bed. And that is with only 2 classes, one of which is very small this semester (12 students) and the other of which has a bunch of slackers who aren’t handing in all of their work.

But it does all pay off. This last batch of grading that I finished yesterday contained essays that are far better than they were in January. Sure, the students who don’t put as much effort into their writing are still handing in mediocre work, and this makes me quite frustrated. For others who have stuck with me, however, and have read my feedback, written everything I asked, asked questions and paid attention, things are finally starting to fall into their place. And this is the light at the end of my tunnel. This is what I’ve been waiting for all semester long.

But I need breaks even from the good essays, and this often comes in the form of reading things that I want to read just for the hell of it. Here are some of my favorite things I’ve read about language over the past couple of weeks:

What great things have you read lately? Share in the comments!

Your mother has a smooth forehead.

Conlanging. It sounds vaguely naughty. Do you and your wife conlang? Honk if you conlang! It’s really not as salacious as it may sound (to me, at least). To conlang means to create a language. The word is an amalgamation of Constructed Languages and it refers to the process of intentionally (as opposed to accidentally?) inventing a language. It can also refer to the language itself. Esperanto is the most famous of the constructed languages that had the goal of real world use, but it is by no means the only one. The major ones include:

  • Volapük, introduced by Johann Martin Schleyer a year after Ludovic Zamenhof published Esperanto  in 1878;
  • Ido, created by an Esperanto reformist group in 1907;
  • Novial, developed in 1928 by the late, great linguist Otto Jesperson;
  • Interlingua, published by the International Auxiliary Language Association in 1951. Continue reading