Do you have any thoughts on the translation scene in Goncharov? I haven't seen a lot of people talking about it but it's a pretty pivotal scene and given that what they're doing is not dissimilar to a conlang imo i figured you might have some good insights
I figured someone was going to ask this eventually...
So listen, the whole translation scene in Goncharov is not technically conlang-related. It's actually even more brilliant, but it's hard to explain.
Since the tutor doesn't speak Russian and the nurse only speaks Italian, the aphasiac Soviet spy has to use an impromptu series of hand gestures to indicate that he either does or doesn't understand. I mean, you can glean that from the subtitles, so that's no big revelation.
But this is where it gets weird and...I mean, linguistically controversial, to say the least, but it was the 70s.
As the tutor and the nurse attempt to communicate with him and each other, they begin to winnow down their vocabulary to words that are cognate between Italian and Russian. And through this back and forth, the languages seem like they're blending, but what they're actually doing is reversing the sound changes of Italian and Russian until they both end up, improbably, at Proto-Indo-European. It's like something you'd see in Fantasia, but aural! It's...utterly bizarre.
And, of course the final word that the nurse and the tutor utter simultaneously, the one that brings the spy to tears, is *bʰewdʰ- "awake, aware"—which, I mean, knowing how the rest of the movie goes...yeah. Bombshell. And it's crazy to me that they didn't subtitle it! Like, you pretty much have to be a PIE scholar to get that, and the entire subplot hinges on it! I mean, bold isn't the word for it. Unfathomable. Cannot believe they got away with that...
Rumor has it that Morris Halle consulted on the film, but he's adamantly refused to talk about. (For years, he'd end all his guest lectures with, "Are they any questions about anything other than Goncharov?") He never once confirmed whether or not he was involved (of course, he wasn't credited, but that wouldn't be unusual for the time even if he was involved).
I can see why you'd think it would be a conlang, but the reverse-engineered sound changes were so precise, and the whole thing so by the book, that there really wasn't any actual invention. It was all Indo-European!
edit: So sorry everybody, I thought I was posting this to my personal blog!