Interview with Doug Ball


David interviews Doug Ball about his conlang Skerre, its history, and his career in linguistics.

.mp3 recording | Dr. Doug Ball’s Faculty Page | Skerre Homepage

Doug is the best (and longest-tenured) conlanging friend I’ve got.
I’ve known him ever since I started conlanging in 2000, and we’ve been corresponding regularly since 2003, when we happened to run into each other at a reception for prospective graduate students at UCSD. It’s rare enough to meet someone who conlangs. But someone who (at the time) was also entering grad. school for linguistics and is interested in music and sports (that latter is the kicker, of course)? Doug and I may be among the select few who would be equally happy and at home discussing applicatives, time signatures, and whether or not Randy Moss is really retired (I say no, by the way [and I also say that beyond Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona’s receiving corps looks to be in pretty sorry shape (just sayin’)]). I think it was only a matter of time before Doug and I bumped into one another.

By the way, you did hear (and read) right.
Doug conceived of Skerre at a summer camp held at what is now Truman State University. At the time of this interview, Doug had just finished his dissertation at Stanford (hiss!), and had just entered the job market. He applied to a number of universities, and it just so happened that he accepted a job in the linguistics department at Truman State University. I’d like to say that this interview helped to contribute to that hiring, but, well…it’s being published right now. But if you believe in time travel

If you haven’t taken a look at it, I recommend going to Doug’s page on Skerre.
Though my information may be more up-to-date than what’s on the website, I maintain that Skerre’s one of the best naturalistic conlangs on the net. The site is detailed (if not completely up-to-date), and for an in-depth look at some of the syntax of Skerre, you can watch Doug’s LCC1 talk. I’ve always thought Skerre deserved a full treatment—and perhaps a print reference grammar. We’ll see what happens with it in the future.

Audio edited by Jeff Burke; music by Gary Shannon.

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