Monday, 14 February 2011

R Srikant and his Conlang Lin

Lin! The creator of this Chinese sounding auxlang is R Srikant, another conlanger from India. According to his website, he was working at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in 2001. The website hasn't been updated for a decade so I don't know where he's now but even this little information is enough to dispel my earlier belief that Nikhil Sinha is the only conlanger in this country.

Lin was never designed to become an IAL. Instead, the creator defines his language as a "spatially compact lang" which means the language aims to convey thoughts by taking as less space as possible.

The 71 letter orthography of Lin is based on the Roman alphabet. There are no accented letters and no special letters in the sense of natural languages. 

The author of language has been able to design the orthography by giving different phonetic values to lower case and upper case letters. Also, the numbers from zero to nine and these eight signs - +, =, \, |, :, *, ^ and % - are treated as separate letters in Lin and thus have their own phonetic values. The creator didn't even spare the empty space between two letters; even it is pronounced in some cases. 

Lin looks more like a computer algorithm then a real 'language.' At first, I thought Lin is like Lojban but I proved to be wrong. There are some fundamental differences between the two languages and the most important, I think, is: Lojban is designed to be as precise as possible but because Lin's sole aim is to achieve brevity, ambiguity has crept into the language. 

A word in Lin has, on an average, at least half a dozen meanings. The correct meaning is inferred from the context. To cite an example, the word 'a' in Lin can mean anything of these: good, beautiful, deep, God, love, beginning and help grant. In some cases, a word possesses as many as ten different meanings.

A grammar of Lin can be found on this webpage on the website of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. Now let's have a look at three sample sentences from the grammar and see how much less of a space they occupy:

_u f+1_ 
Whom do you fear?

px v u
A bird sees you.

i N px)f+u
I know the bird that fears you.

Wow! It is economical but I doubt if I'll ever be able to learn it. I couldn't find any literature, the vocabulary is still small and I believe an average learner would require more grammatical explanations than are currently available on the website mentioned above.