LCC2 – Donald Boozer – Dritok: The Sound of No Voice Speaking

High Quality Video (.mpg)Talk Slides (.ppt)Program (.pdf) – Dritok website and primer (.pdf)

The Drushek speak a language devoid of voicing and employ a gestural component to denote semantic functions and some morphemes. How does one transcribe the hisses, clicks, fricatives, and silent gestures of such a language?

Don Boozer lives in Ohio and is currently the head of the Cleveland Public Library’s Know-It-Now.org, a 24/7 live reference service for students. He has increased the library’s holdings of relevant books in the field of conlanging by purchasing copies of the Klingon translations of Gilgamesh and Shakespeare, Elgin’s dictionary and grammar of Láadan, and Salo’s A Gateway to Sindarin, among others. He has also presented programs on conlangs in literature and films and the basics of language creation, as well as published articles on conlangs including an upcoming one on introducing conlanging to teens. His on-going projects include working on languages for inhabitants of his conworld, Kryslan, which include Umod, Elasin, and Dritok and learning Ancient Egyptian as part of an online study group.


It’s rare that one comes across something wildly different traveling around the online conlanging world.
It’s even rarer to find something wildly different that the conlanger in question can demonstrate live.

Donald Boozer’s presentation on Dritok at LCC2 was an event. If you take a look at the language of the Drushek—specifically, the phonology—it looks like a bunch of gobbledygook. It’s a mess! Look at the way Database Wilson (that’s a nickname for Don I just came up with) transcribes the first line of “The North Wind and the Sun”:

V2&=sx:w.q’t. s’.s’ pr.np’. D5^Q5=V2&=zn.t’.z* P4&^D1>>tf.p*.o.

What is all that noise?!

Well, it turns out it’s Don’s transcription system for Dritok: An entirely voiceless conlang.

“That’s a nice story,” I thought to myself, “but I need to see it to believe it.”

At LCC2 I saw it, and now I’m a believer.

While watching a video is never the same as watching something live, this video is not to be missed. You get to hear Don pronounce a lot of Dritok, and pretty soon you kind of get a feel for it. This also was one of the better question and answer sessions (you even get to hear my disembodied voice towards the end [and you can hear Sai's gigantic laughter throughout (there's no better word for it than "gigantic")]). All in all, it was one of the better presentations I’ve seen at an LCC.

This video is part of the 2nd Language Creation Conference, held at UC Berkeley on July 7-8, 2007, and hosted by Language Creation Society.

We would like to add closed captioning / subtitles to all the videos from LCC2, including this one. If you are willing to help, install Subtitle Workshop, and email your transcribed .sub file to lcs@conlang.org. In return, you’ll get credit and a free copy of the DVD with this video.

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