August 2015


I think I have a book written. If you’ve followed this blog carefully, you’ll probably say, “Heh, I bet it’s about League of Legends.” No, my fine friend, it’s about China.

Handy reference map

The book is still tentatively titled China for Conlangers, mostly because “conworlders” is more unweildly. You don’t have to do conworlding at all to read it, of course.  It’s a short but comprehensive intro to both China and Chinese:

  • A history of China from ancient times
  • Sections on medicine, architecture, cooking, technology, architecture, and clothing
  • An overview of Chinese poetry, philosophy, and literature
  • Grammatical sketches of Mandarin and Old Chinese
  • How the writing system works
  • A chapter on how to create fantasy or sf civilizations based on or influenced by China

For conlangers and conworlders, China is an amazing but forbidding resource.  It’s a ticket out of the Standard Medieval Kingdom, and away from standard conlang tropes too.  And for Westerners in general, to say nothing of Western gnolls, I think we ought to know more about what is, historically and perhaps in the future, the dominant civilization on our planet.

It’s required a lot of research, and it would be pleasant to spend another couple of years on that. However, that might not improve the book that much.

I think I’m at the point where I need readers.  If you’re interested, write to me. The language section is not quite as baked as the rest of it, so I won’t send that out unless you really want to see it.  If you know a lot about China already, do tell me; readers who can correct mistakes or suggest additional info are valuable. But so are readers who know very little about the subject, as they are the best judges of whether the book teaches them anything.

Edit: I have a bunch of readers now.  Thanks to all who responded!  I may need more readers for the second draft; watch this blog!

(I also have a book in progress on Quechua, but that won’t be ready till some time next year.)

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Over at Mefi, there’s a nice post on Faye Wong, showcasing a number of videos, some with English subtitles.  The poster was nice enough to mention my page, because of the Mefi connection and, probably, because most of the other Faye sites of that vintage have link-rotted away.

faye-chex

I took the opportunity to update it to Unicode, add more pics, and translate a couple more songs.

I wanted to see how different it would be in this modern world of today.  Answer: very.  What I did back in 1996 was to write out the Chinese text by hand, look it up word by word, puzzle out a translation, and then show it to a Chinese co-worker for help. Today I started by using an IME to enter the text right into the document– for the second new song I realized I could just Google the Chinese lyrics.  In any case I used Google Translate to get a rough draft, then looked up individual words as Google is usually comically wrong with Chinese.  I actually do know the basics of Mandarin grammar now, though I’m still pretty terrible at it.

I found my old folder of Faye stuff, one of many folders full of Information On Stuff that I accumulated back in the pre-Internet era.  (My Dad was the same, I discover.  Once, going through his desk, I found a file on my website: he had printed out some of my pages.  Probably it felt more real when it was down on paper.  Of course, given the scourge of link rot, maybe he had the right idea.)