My name is Jan van Steenbergen, and this is my web corner. Since you have reached here, you are likely to have an interest in one or more of the things I am writing about. Either that, or you are interested in my person for whatever reason, or you are just surfing around and stumbled upon this page by sheer accident. In any case, let me tell you what these pages are about.
Except for being a husband, father, son, translator and former software engineer, I am also a language creator - or a conlanger, if you prefer - and most of these pages are about my own languages and about constructed languages in general. Apart from that, I've done a multitude of other things as well: writing about Poland and Eastern Europe in general, playing with alternate history, writing music... Over the years I have produced hundreds of pages, and this thing called “Home Page” is supposed to be the “One page To Rule Them All, One Page To Find Them”. I hope you'll enjoy your visit!
Also known as “conlanging”. This is a particular hobby of mine, and if you ask me, an art as good as any, although most people are rather unfamiliar with the phenomenon (with the possible exception of Esperanto, Tolkien's languages and Klingon). To learn more, try David Peterson's Conlang Manifesto and Jesse Bangs' Artlang Rant. The art of language construction has always fascinated me. Especially since the Internet made its appearance, hundreds of constructed languages have been discovered or rediscovered, and thousands of new ones have been created. There are many different types of conlangs. With their number growing exponentially, there is also a deeper need to group them into subcategories. I have drafted a classification proposal in my article Classificatie van Kunsttalen (in Dutch).
Myself, I am the proud father of a few conlangs as well, four of which are pretty well documented on the net. Let me point out that they have been developed for their own sake only; it is not my intention to promote their actual usage (well, with one exception).
Wenedyk (2002) demonstrates what Polish would have looked like if it had been a Romance language. It is essentially the result of applying the changes that made Polish develop from Common Slavic, on Vulgar Latin.
Slovianski (2006) is simultaneously the only collaborative project I've worked on and my only attempt at an international auxiliary language: the language is based on what the Slavic languages have in common with each other, and intended to be readily understandable by all speakers of a Slavic language.
Vozgian (1996; redone in 2003) is a North Slavic language that underwent some significant Uralic influence. Of course, North Slavic languages do not really exist in our world, but the idea has inspired several conlangers, including myself.
Hattic (1996) is a member of a fictional branch of the Indo-European language family, spoken in an unidentified republic somewhere in North Russia.
Poilschi (2005) is not a conlang, but an alternative, typically Romance orthography for the Polish language (and, mutatis mutandis, for Wenedyk), based on what Polish has in common, phonologically speaking, with the Romance languages. Yes, much of my conlanging efforts are in one way or another related to Polish. Just for fun, I also developed a Cyrillic orthography for the Polish language (2008).
Brithenig is a language that is unfortunately not mine: it was created by Andrew Smith from New Zealand, and because Andrew's own site has been down for quite a while and probably will remain so for quite another while, it is my pleasure to host a mirror, so this this beautiful language can still be admired.
Much as I would like to give a comprehensive list of links to all constructed languages that I like, I won't do it here. Instead, let me warmly recommend you to pay a visit to Jeffrey Henning's Conlang Profiles at Langmaker.com, as far as I know the most extensive and complete resource on language creation ever compiled. It has been offline for over a year now, but we keep hoping for its return.
In the meantime, however, here's my own complilation of constructed language links: http://kunsttalen.startkabel.nl.
One more thing: to see a lot of conlangs in action, be sure to take a look at Conlang Translation Relay no. 10/R, which I had the pleasure of organising.
A constructed universe which I share the honour of participating in. In fact, it is not a constructed universe, but our own universe with an alternate history. Originally designed by Andrew Smith as a universe in which Wales and surroundings speak a Romance language, Brithenig, it has developed into the common effort of over thirty participants, each of whom has his own personal style of (re)writing history, (re)drawing maps and the like. This alternate history is not extremely different from ours, but contains a lot of “what ifs”, including a number of constructed languages.
My own responsibility within Ill Bethisad is Eastern Europe (under the link you will find links to individual countries and maps, mostly).
Of course, not all Eastern Europe is “mine”. My primary playing ground is the Republic of the Two Crowns, IB's contemporary equivalent of Poland-Lithuania. Follow the link for history, politics, maps, news items, etc.
Less elaborated but still mostly my work is Ill Bethisad's Russia. The crux of the story is that not the Bolsheviks but the Whites won the Civil War, which resulted in a fascistoid dictatorship called the “SNOR regime”.
In the same series, you will also find a page about Ukraine.
Music & Arts
Language creation is not my only artistic activity. I have written a number musical compositions as well, mostly for chamber ensembles and choir. You can see a list of my works here.
My father Hans van Steenbergen, who died in 1999 in a car crash, was quite prolific as a composer too. This space is reserved for a link to a page I will make in the future, dedicated to his work.
My father also had a sister, Molly Mackenzie. This site is dedicated to her work as a painter, and it's an honour to me to host it for her.
Then, here is the site of my beloved Ania. Hosted on my webspace and mostly dedicated to her writings. Heartily recommended to anyone who knows Polish.
Pictures, mostly. The reason they are here is not that I hope to sell them via the Internet, but that putting them online is a hell of a lot easier than attaching them to individual e-mails (which, with our slow dial-up connection, is no fun at all). First of all, there here are some pictures of my lovely daughter Suzanne, made in October 2003, January 2004, and December 2004. My son Daniël was born in June 2005. And finally, here are some pictures from October/November 2005.
If you can think of a reason to get in touch with me, then don't hesitate to do so by dropping me an e-mail. If you happen to be using the Polish internet communicator Gadu-Gadu, you can reach me there, too: GG: 8594886. At last, you can also call me or drop me a note via Skype.
Jan van Steenbergen (in full: Johannes Hendrik van Steenbergen) is my real name. I belong to the lucky ones who have a preposition in their name - that is, if you like prepositions, of course. Unlike in German, it is an integral part of my surname and has nothing to do with nobility at all. Therefore, I don't like it when people address me as "Mr. Steenbergen", because that's not what I am. Steenbergen is a town in Noord-Brabant (never been there yet, unfortunately), and the name "Van Steenbergen" suggests that one of my ancestors must have hailed from that place. Although the town is large enough for my average countryman to have at least heard of it, I have encountered many misspellings of my name, both in the Netherlands and abroad. Mostly things like Steenberg, Steenberging, Steenberger, sometimes also worse, like Jan van Stenburgen. Not long ago someone even boldly turned it into Van September!
However, not every alternative spelling of my name is necessarily a mistake. According to the Latvian edition of Wikipedia, my name is Jans van Steenbergens, because that's what the Latvian language does. For the same reason, I'd probably be Janas van Steenbergenas (perhaps even Jonas) in Lithuania. And then we have the various transliterations from Cyrillic and other scripts. In Russian, I've seen my name transcribed as Ян ван Стейнберген, Ян ван Стеенберген, Ян ван Штейнберген and Ян ван Штеенберген. The Serbian newspaper Večernje Novosti wrote my name as Јан ван Стенберген, which in the Latin edition became Jan van Stenbergen (I asked if this was a mistake, but they assured me it wasn't). In Bulgarian it was turned into Ян ван Стинберген, which would transliterate back as Jan van Stinbergen, and I'm sure that is not correct.
Although the surname Van Steenbergen is neither particularly common nor particularly rare, my brother Frederik, my three children and I are the only surviving Van Steenbergens of our family, at least as far as I can trace back, which is about five generations. Any bloodties to other people carrying the same name are of course not impossible, but they are very thin at best.
I have never made a secret of my true identity on the Internet, but for login names, e-mail addresses and the like I usually refer to myself as IJzeren Jan, which translates as "Iron Jan". During my years as a student, instead of studying I used to play a lot of computer games (simple ones of course, because it's the late 1980s and the early 1990s we're talking about here), and whenever I made it into the highscores, I wrote either "IJzeren Jan" or "Kriegsherr Jan". And that's more or less how I became IJzeren Jan, even though I am a rather mild and quiet person in reality. Oddly, it took years before I found out that "IJzeren Jan" was also the nickname of Jan Pzn. Coen, a colonialist hardliner from the 17th century, who also happens to be a symbol of my native town Hoorn, a.k.a. "de Coenstad".
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