language,

historically “a badge of nationality,” pulverized with everything else: at certain age many fandoms become “entitled to nationhood” by having their own languages of lore, art, daily communication; single-family slangs and dialects, some traceable to before the second atomization, evolve in long-together couples into some of the most intricate and beautiful languages known. The Road is essentially cross-lingual; inventing a language is a mark of adolescence — admittedly your first constructed language is unlikely to spread but, almost as much as your mother tongue, will imprint your creativity and socialization throughout life. Social structures have always been mirrored in linguistic hierarchies — e.g. the lects of the individual, family, village, country; the only systemic novelty is that the levels of this hierarchy are now more dissimilar, often genetically unrelated. ■    Its not just a conspicuous absence of a single world language to displace all others (a popular scare once); language evolution, diversity are without precedent — with natural languages growing, extinct ones resurrected, artificial ones flourishing. Change and proactive education have measurably increased linguistic intelligence; gone is “small talk,” communicating outside your live-in circle is work: knowing dozens of dissimilar languages, even with little overlap, yields a deeper and more mutual understanding than a dumbed-down lingua franca.  ■    Language informs thinking; the millennia-long trend of synthetic languages towards analytism (usually attributed to the melting pots of forcefully homogenized nations) may have reversed: the taste for lexical clustering, colored neologisms, word-level narrativity (where a single word can be scary or hilarious just by its morphology) is served by “new synthetics” and revivals of classic synthetic languages sprawling in communication and art. Itself “the most difficult and the most gratifying art medium,” language is the foundation of worldbuilding, lifemaking, lores, science art; unlike early conlangs (largely linguistic combinatorics), supersynthetic language work symbiotizes with poetry — languages are elaborated from versification systems downwards: accumulate metaphorics, obliquities, untranslatability, accelerate livedness; some, eventually, survive the make-or-break of being the mother tongue of a newborn mind. Multilingualism permeates literature — it takes effort not to develop a language as you write; texts stir, collide, blend natural and constructed langs and lects, render the old-style unilang translation as unnecessary as impossible (you understand what you need, universal understandability is not a goal); classic texts are sometimes recast from one ensemble of languages into another (reorchestration, not transposition) or “upstaged” into the modern langs du jour. Unilingual poetry — like ancient single-instrument music — may sound perfect but “you dont write like that today.” ■    Just like biology, the language garden — ever since the invention of writing — has been more and more consciously tended. Metalinguistic waves in vocabulary, morphology, syntax (many originating in the Librarys boiling pot) cross-pollinate the langscape; at the same time, phonetics is comparatively deemphasized (Minds having little interest in it), and almost gone is the mutation pressure of new generations learning their tongues from scratch: the anchor of culture, longer lifespans, deep sleep retainment make it less of a scratch than ever. Many say that “piling of intentionality” makes communication worse than baroque — fragile, unsustainable, “unworkable except in highly artificial settings” — and that the only way to revitalize your languages is to lose them, to explay so you can relearn from a deeper-than-natural ignorance; in the limit, nonverbal stimulation after a deep linguistic wipeout may hypothetically awaken your “foundational language”: unlearned and underived yet unrandom.

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