Conlangs to Natlangs: Closing the Gap through Digital (Re)construction

Authors: Menon Swathi Sivakumar,  Dr. Vinod Balakrishnan (NIT Trichy,  India)
Speakers: Menon Swathi Sivakumar
Strand: Cognitive Anthropology and Language
Session Type: General Session


Over the last two decades rapid global transformations have given rise to novel forms of communication symbols, which have become subject to dispute and interpretations with the same rapidity. This paper makes a case for constructed language (conlang) study using anthropology in the digital context. As people increasingly engage in online interactions, anthropologists have turned their attention to understanding how these digital spaces affect social behaviour, identity formation, and cultural practices.

Among the wide range of topics that an anthropological investigation may cover, we focus on the role that a digitized platform could have on (re)constructing language. This inquiry is complemented by inputs from niche construction theory, which present a complex interplay between humans and technology, as both shape and are shaped by the digital environment. To do so, the paper draws from works by Detlev Blanke, Michael Tomasello, and Peter Baofu.

We aim to explore these dynamics to better understand the linguistic aspect, especially the significance of conlangs, in advancing theories about natural languages; and to probe into neural networks using technology that can potentially alter human behaviour and culture.

Keywords: conlangs, natlangs, digital environment, reconstructing language, symbols