I was saddened yesterday to read of the death of David Bell. He was not widely known. When I was reading the Constructed Languages list in the 1990s he was one of the senior members on the list. Sadly he slipped off the list some years ago without being noticed that he had gone, as far as I know. I had stopped reading it regularly about the same time. His website stopped being updated and then disappeared. Dedalvs had discovered that he had died a couple of years ago and this was the first notification that anyone in the Conlang community had of it. He was a family man with grandchildren. I hope he did not die alone and without comfort. I do not expect so.

As I appreciate it the goal of Conlanging is to create a language complete as possible in information about its grammar and lexicon. It is an esoteric form of modelling the universe. As an artform it is appreciated by its own practitioners. Very few others can get excited about the beauty and elegant of a verb conjunction. If language can be emerge naturally then the rules can be used to create new models of beauty and imagination; and maybe even communication. It’s very geeky and I would consider it an artform.

In such an online community David Bell was exceptional because his life’s work was creating a language originally inspired by the works of Tolkien. They created a new life in his own sub-creation. This is remarkable in itself because he was African-American. I would argue that this is unusual in itself. He was unashamably an African-American first on a list that was dominated by European-descended language creators like myself, in short whities. He had also travelled and lived in Kenya and could speak confidently about Swahili. There are other people of colour in the Conlang community. I feel that there are fewer that can represent a group of people like he could. Sadly, as we say at the death of such a person in New Zealand, a great totara has fallen. There is a big gap in the conlang community to be filled there. The imaginary language he worked on will remain incomplete, at least to us for now, unless more data can be archived from the family.

David Bell, mi alasharia la shantih, shantih, shantih.

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