Thoughts for 2019 – Linguistics and Content Creation
Language itself is constantly moving. It has no single pusher, but it is driven by the masses. 2018 was the year where we saw not just English speakers, but many language’s speakers rally with one another to push for changes. A total upheaval, focused on the deconstruction of patriarchal, deeply engendered, and racial word-bias. A change led not only in the United States, but all over the globe. This is the language change that will be the new foundation of how we construct the world around us when communicating.
What does this mean for the future of content creators?!
The 2019 Golden Globes were some of the most diverse to date, these are the stories that are being lifted and brought to the light. So, for all those that are working towards creating new stories, worlds, and lives, keep this in mind. The audiences everywhere have spoken, and it is time to be aware of where we are all headed. I recently rewatched the movie Valerian, a story that for me was powerful and expansive. A story that when I first read it really made me think, “Now, they’ve got something!” It was a futuristic Sci-Fi that really pushed the boundaries of what would it mean for humans to live with other species. When the movie came out in 2017, I applauded it for how well it captured the need to get out of our human-centric minds when we create stories of far off galaxies. However, something had changed for me as I watched it this time. At the beginning of 2019, the movie had me so jaded at the lack of language progression that it was hard to stomach watching it. The sheer lack of it to see how language influence takes control of how we operate ourselves. It centers around the Pearls an androgenic species who throughout the entirety of the film were placed in a language sphere that was parochial and all too gendered based on their appearance. I was a bit torn, how could a movie that stretched the imagination be so behind in its language. This was a moment for me as a linguist and a creator. As a creator, the need to push my own boundaries when it comes to word choice and make sure that it lives in the language sphere that is present today. Even more so, for those creators that are looking to the futuristic worlds, this burden is that much more intense. If we are to succeed in continuing to tell stories that are relevant and honest, we must gain insight and help from those that are at the epicenter of documenting languages evolution. There will come a time where every major production company will need to have a staffed linguist or linguaphile to ensure that they are embracing the common changes that are happening. For those that don’t, there is bound to be lasting effects on these companies because the masses that are consuming all media are NOT afraid of putting those on blast that isn't current.
Cool, so what does this mean for me as a Conlanger, Linguist, or Linguaphile?!
There is an important role that we as language lovers must play in this language revolution. We must take a moment to self-reflect on how we are operating our own daily lives, storytelling, and language learning. For the linguists out there, I say this with love. Y’all need to chill out. I find it fascinating that in a realm of highly intelligent language scientists that instead of helping one another there is constantly the need to “one-up” each other. This at its root is patriarchal! We should know as linguists were this type of criticism stems from. The future of English is in prescriptivism and all the charts and all the scientific studies in the world won’t be able to keep up with this change. As those with strong, formal backgrounds in language studies, we need to be the flagship holders to make sure that these changes are represented in all media forms.
To the conlangers out there, keep inventing! But make darn sure that your inventions are keeping pace with how language is evolving. When we are offered jobs for conlangs, don’t be afraid to challenge the person who is writing the check! The people that are hiring you aren’t the language expert, you are! Do not be afraid to push back a little to challenge the creators if need be.
Moving into 2019 and beyond, to sum it all up, simply said, it is time. It is time to demand more from those that are put in charge of creating the media that we are consuming. It is time that we are cognizant of the language that we are putting into the content that is being created. If this isn’t a task that you are up to that’s okay! There are plenty of people who you can look to in assisting you. And for those that are doing the assisting; the linguists, conlangers and/or language enthusiasts just be aware. Be aware that the content that is largely being embraced is aware of the change that is happening with language.