LCC2 – Sylvia Sotomayor – Verblessness in Kēlen


Everyone knows Sylvia makes kickass brownies and cupcakes (and cakes).
Or, let me rephrase that: Everyone now knows that Sylvia makes kickass brownies and cupcakes. Because I just told you.

And it’s true. I’ve had them. I’ve had them all.


That aside, this is Sylvia’s LCC2 talk on Kēlen.
For those who have heard of Kēlen but don’t know much about it, this is a good place to start. (Well, that and the Kēlen website.)

This is our second Kēlen-related podcast. You can find the first (an interview with Sylvia) here. Listening to both of those, I think, we’ll give you a good background on Kēlen.

But for even more, there have been two interesting Kēlen developments recently. The first is the launch of the Kēlen Word of the Day Blog. The title pretty much tells you the story: Go there, and you’ll find a blog that will introduce you to one new word of Kēlen every single day (plus some lovely pictures of Sylvia’s cats). I can’t remember exactly who came up with the idea for a word of the day site, but I’d like to think it was me, and that I suggested it to Sylvia (see this way I can angle for more brownies). It has since spawned a number of other word of the day blogs (one for Kamakawi, one for Rejistanian, and several other sites that aren’t necessarily word of the day blogs, but are conlang-specific blogs [for more, check out the Conlang Blog Aggregator]), and the result has been nice (I’ve certainly enjoyed reading the various blogs that have resulted).

The other thing is an interview Sylvia did for the Australian ABC radio series Lingua Franca. In it Sylvia discusses Kēlen as well as conlangs in general. To listen to the interview, you can go to the Lingua Franca website here.


As a conlanger, listening to this talk is fun, because it gets me thinking.
One wonders how one might get by without verbs, but in listening to how Sylvia solves a lot of the problems one faces when creating a verbless language, ideas abound. After spending some time over the past few years with Sylvia and Kēlen, I can now think of tons of ways to get things done without verbs. If one were to sit down and plan this out, then, the question is not how to create a verbless language, but what type of verbless language would one create. I think Kēlen has proved that it’s possible: It’s now on us to see what kind of variety can exist in the category of verbless languages.

Any takers?

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 conference@conlang.org.

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