"While reading Tolkien's The Silmarillion, I was st..."

Tufts University

Whether you’ve built circuit boards or written slam poetry, created a community event or designed mixed media installations, tell us: what have you designed, invented, engineered, or produced? Or what do you hope to?

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(Tufts University)

While reading Tolkien's The Silmarillion, I was struck by the elegance of the Elvish script he included. Upon further research, I discovered that he had created an entire language – Quenya – to accompany the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The idea that a language could be crafted and cultivated like a piece of art was both illuminating and enticing to me. I had heard of Esperanto previously, but I don’t believe Tolkien was trying to change the world with his creation. His goal was simply to create a language for the pleasure of it, and to enrich his storytelling and worldbuilding.

The revelation that language could be more than just a tool for communication triggered a desire to emulate Tolkien and create a language of my own. My first (unsuccessful) attempt I named ‘Ashaia’. It drew inspiration from the languages I had studied at school, including Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, and Ancient Greek, while conforming to unique phonotactical and grammatical constraints of my own devising. It was a highly enjoyable, rewarding, and time-consuming process that I repeated with several different language projects over my time in high school.

It was creating languages (or ‘conlanging’) that introduced me to linguistics as an academic subject, and the college textbooks I read through my research by linguists such as Ti Alkire that encouraged me to pursue it at university. I have no doubt that I will continue to channel my passion for the subject into future creations during university and beyond.

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