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Why there has not been any work like Arxidia until now

Translated from the original Japanese on 2021-10-01.

Arxidia is the first work to be a priori in language, culture, and climate together. Tolkien created something resembling one, but he could not create something rivaling Arxidia in quantity and quality because he lived in an era without PCs.

When going into making a work depicting an alternate world more realistic, one comes to the idea of wanting to make the culture and climate a priori as well. Because this idea itself is not difficult, the idea of Arxidia was probably present in the 19th and 20th centuries. In practice, however, such a work could not be created, but why?

1. There was no demand

Although artistic languages become used as languages for novels, the most important thing for a novel is the story. The language is merely a spice; thus, it does not garner much effort. The reader wants to read the story; they do not care much about the spice. As a result, there was no demand for the language part.

In the case of Arka, the policy of perfecting the language was preserved because the author did not think of it as something to sell. In addition, it received a lot of collaboration from users. Even having users in the double-digits is enough demand for the author.

2. Conlanging is not a category of linguistics

Making an a priori language requires knowledge of linguistics because it means to create a language from zero. Although a passable language could be made without such knowledge, it would likely be linguistically unnaturalistic. Even though it might be in a fictional world, such a dubious language, even though it is usable, will hurt its realism.

Given such a meaning, an a priori conlang is something suited for a linguist. Nonetheless, a linguist would fundamentally not create a conlang because linguistics does not deal with conlangs.

3. The treatment of humanities is subpar

Because the 20th century was an era of science, the treatment of the humanities when it comes to the university or employment has worsened year by year. The number of people studying linguistics has naturally dwindled, and so has the number of people specializing in it.

If creating an a priori language requires linguistic knowledge, then the small number of people majoring in linguistics itself is a problem to begin with. Moreover, such people are unlikely to have an interest in conlanging as mentioned in (2). (The creator of Arka is a linguistics major, and Tolkien also studied linguistics. Both are rare. Zamenhof was an opthamologist and an outsider to linguistics.)

4. Personal computers did not exist

Without personal computers, work cannot improve. Even Arka was documented on paper until 2001, but as the lexicon grew, answering the question “do I already have a word for this?” took several hours. Furthermore, things would often be overlooked, resulting in two words being created with the same meaning. This was a truly laborious task. In addition, everything would be over in an instant if the notebooks became wet, and making duplicates for safety would add up even more time.

With a PC, searching becomes instant, as does copying and sharing. Since 90% of the work in conlanging is on the dictionary, what could be done in the pre-PC era was limited. The same follows for creating a paper encylopedia. An individual could never do such a thing.

Incidentally, the number of medium-sized English dictionaries have exploded in variety over the last 10 years, and this increase has been due to none other than the advent of the PC. Because the default has become for editors to work using computers, the publication cycle has massively accelerated. The same can be said for other publications.

5. The Internet did not exist

Thanks to the Internet, sharing content became easy, and thanks to Google and Wikipedia, coining technical terms has become easy. The following looks into this in more detail.

Before the spread of the Internet, publication was about the only way to share a language with the public. Since doing so was expensive for its lack of effectiveness, the creator of a language would be troubled. In reality, even Zamenhof was perplexed by this problem. Today, the Internet makes this a simple task.

In addition, getting the responses of users to updating information was time-consuming. In Zamenhof’s day, this would be done by exchanging letters, which easily took a week. Now one can send a message to users on the other side of the world and get a response on the same day.

Incidentally, the creator, in addition to creating a world from zero, must plan out all things in it in detail. Even a conworld would have chemistry and mathematics, geography and astronomy, as well as cuisine. Because words must be coined for every field, every field must be explored in detail (within reason).

For instance, suppose we want to coin a word for formic acid. On Earth, it is named formic acid because it was discovered from ants, but our conworld must have had a different history from Earth, and we cannot mindlessly name it after ants. We must name it by thinking of how it was discovered there. This type of thinking makes a priori languages take many times longer to create than a posteriori languages.

Before the Internet, we would rely on a technical reference or on an encylopedia, but even arriving at what we want to know would be time-consuming without full-text search on paper. In addition, technical references are expensive and it takes a long time to be able to read them. And even after we come up with how chemistry arose there, we would have to do the same with physics, or with cuisine, or with mineralogy, and so on. There is not enough spare time to explore chemistry in full detail, and money does not grow on trees either. For these reasons, we could not even create words from scratch. Indeed, Tolkien could not do it, either.

However, we now have Google. If we search up “formic acid ants”, we can find the etymology of formic acid right away. According to Wikipedia, “the first person to describe the isolation of this substance (by the distillation of large numbers of ants) was the English naturalist John Ray, in 1671.” With full-text search, we can search without missing anything.

Furthermore, by looking at other articles, we can discover that formic acid is found in bees as well. We can think “then what if in my world, it was discovered from bees and named ‘bee acid’?” and name formic acid, finally arriving at an a priori word for it.

In the case of Arka, the creator actually verified this historically before coining the word. In these circumstances, we also take climate into account. In other words, we consider whether bees not only existed in Arbazard but also whether they were common there. Without such thinking, only the language is a priori, and the culture and climate end up not being so.

According to the dictionary, the etymology of impiasl (formic acid) is explained as follows:

In the Ordin era, there was no way to produce large amounts of sucrose chemically, and one of the principal sweeteners was honey. For that reason, beekeepers were more familiar than in the Leiyu era. Ryuu discovered that the poison of honeybees was formic acid and named it impiasl.

In order to name formic acid, we used many items such as the background of the Ordin era, the scientific capability of that time, the gastronomic culture (in particular the sweetener used), the profession of a beekeeper, and the person who discovered formic acid.

Once we look at it this way, we can understand how a work like Arxidia has not existed until the 21st century. In short, not only was it too troublesome, but it also required vast knowledge and robust curiosity. Furthermore, without the personal computer and the Internet, there was no way to create such a work in the 20th century. These two inventions made the final form of art possible. Had I been born 100 years ago, I think I absolutely would not have been able to make Arka.

Then will we not see works like Arxidia take stage in the future? While I took many years because of the suffering I underwent to acquire the know-how, I think that it can now be done in less time. At any rate, it will be because of the precedent of Arxidia.