May 6th, 2006

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From the April 23, 2006 conlanging conference ...

1. Press release from organizer Sai Emrys

May 5, 2006 - UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

The results are in, and the First Language Creation Conference was a great success. You may ask, here, what is the LCC? For that matter, what is language creation?

Language creation - or "conlanging" (short for "constructed language"), is the art, science, and hobby of creating new languages. People do it for a wide variety of reasons -- everything from fleshing out a fictional work, aiming towards world peace and mutual communication, trying to create an ideal language, testing linguistic theories, having a secret language to use in their diary or share with a close friend or sibling, testing out the boundaries of what language can do, or simply as good fun!

While conlanging has been a famously closeted hobby for centuries now, it is beginning to emerge into the mainstream. There are several hundred conlangers who talk together online on various mailing lists and bulletin boards, hundreds or thousands more who don't know that they're not the only ones in the world who do this, and many thousands of languages that have been created since the first was made in 1150 A.D.

The First Language Creation Conference, held April 23, 2006 on the UC Berkeley campus, was the very first serious conference ever to be held on the subject, drawing conlangers from all over the United States, and with hundreds more watching both nationally and internationally, through the recorded videos available online. It was also the largest gathering of conlangers to have ever been held - three times larger than the next largest known.

Conlanging has been increasingly featured in the media and popular culture. It has been featured prominently in interviews on NPR with linguists Mark Okrand (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=3925273 ) and Sarah Higley (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1126975 ), popular movies such as Lord of the Rings and the Star Trek series, music from artists such as Sigur Ros and many books -- not all of which acknowledge the extent to which the author may have fleshed out their created languages.

Next year's conference is already being planned, and is expected to be yet bigger and to draw more people, this time internationally.

For more info, videos, audio interviews, reviews, photos, supplements, and other material, please visit http://conlangs.berkeley.edu

Fiat lingua.


2. Typical comments, from the conference feedback

"Some great speakers and great attendees! I was amazed to see people coming from across the country and listen to professors speak on the topic. I left feeling enthused and enlightened about my conlanging, and eager to think about and explore a few new directions. If I was organizing the next conference... I would get two rooms
or have one room for two days, and in one room or on one day I would have speakers explore or go over the basics of creating a language, perhaps even collaboratively creating a rudimentary language in the process, a step at a time, each talk covering a different step in the process. I think this would help a lot of beginning conlangers, and also give experienced conlangers opportunities to share their wisdom."

"Great food, great venue, great speakers. Excellent to be there for the start of this new tradition."


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Note
If you have any trouble accessing the videos, a link that works even on my elderly browser is http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=language+creation+conference .
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Recipe: Frugal Cheesecake...

Most cheesecake recipes cost so much to make that they're horrifying; this one (based on a Keebler recipe, tweaked a tad) is an exception. It will serve six decently, and it doesn't cost an outrageous amount to make.


FRUGAL CHEESECAKE

Ingredients

One 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1 store-bought graham cracker pie crust
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 TBSP lemon juice (the bottled kind is fine)
1/4 TSP vanilla
Dash of salt
Dash of nutmeg (or more than a dash, if you're fond of nutmeg)
2 beaten eggs

And for the topping:

1 cup (one 8-ounce tub) sour cream
2 TBSP sugar
1/4 TSP vanilla


Directions

1. Put the cream cheese and the sugar in a bowl and cream the two together well -- that is, beat them with a wooden spoon until they're smooth and blended.

2. Beat in the lemon juice, vanilla, nutmeg and salt.

3. Break two eggs in a small bowl and whip them well with a fork; then beat them into the batter.

4. Set the pie crust on a baking sheet. (Don't throw away the plastic top cover; you'll need it later.) Pour the batter into the pie crust and bake it at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean when you test it for doneness. Take the cheesecake out of the oven, but leave the oven turned on.

5. Put the topping ingredients in a small bowl and beat them together till they're smooth. Spread the topping carefully over the top of the cheesecake with a metal spatula or a table knife; then put the cheesecake back in the oven to bake for ten more minutes.

6. Cool the cheesecake on a metal rack for one hour; then put the plastic cover back over it and refrigerate for at least three hours.

7. When you serve the cheesecake, be prepared for children (and some adults) to say, "Eeeewww.... what are all those funny little black specks?" To which you respond: "They're nutmeg."


Note: This will be even more frugal if you make your own crust -- which is alleged to be only a matter of (a) mixing a cup of graham cracker crumbs, a TBSP or two of sugar (according to your taste), and 3 TBSP of butter, (b) pressing the mix into a pie pan until you've covered the bottom and sides, and (c) baking the crust for 10 minutes at 325 degrees before you fill it. I am no good at this at all, even when I cheat and double the amount of the ingredients; I rely on the commercial crusts.