Ryan Palfreyman

Concerning me...

Hi! I'm Ryan, and to be honest I'm rather surprised that you're reading this. Can it be that there's actually someone interested in the creator of Lacerta, rather than just the world itself? I'm quite flattered really. Well, since you do seem to want to know about me, I'll try and tell you all there is to know.

I was born on the 13th of October 1992 in Augsburg, a city in Bavaria (southern Germany). My mother is German, and originally comes from Munich, while my father is from Bath (Somerset, England). When I was three, our family moved to Freising, a town some 25 miles north of Munich. That's where my sister was born in 1996. I went to the local kindergarten and then the local primary school, before moving on to the Dom-Gymnasium, one of Freising's three grammar schools. From the start, my favourite subjects were Latin and history, though that never necessarily meant that I was any good at either. So when I reached the "Oberstufe" (the final two years of school) and I had to choose my A-level subjects, I picked both of those two, along with Maths, German, and English. I finished school quite successfully in the end, in 2011, and then started my degree studying Linguistics at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich. And that's what I've been doing to this day.

Until the age of about twelve, I was incredibly interested in animals. It started off with birds, but then quite quickly moved on to dinosaurs. I would spend hours every day poring over books, carefully memorising all the data on each dinosaur, such as size, weight, location, and time period. Once I started secondary school, my interests shifted to rather more recent history: my excellent Latin teacher really knew how to get his pupils interested in the ancient world, and suddenly the books I was studying were no longer about long-extinct reptiles, but about the ancient Romans and Greeks. I still remember how proud I was when I knew the names of all the roman emperors by heart. However, while the object of my fascination had changed, my way of studying it remained the same: I thought in lists and diagrammes, in tables and fact-files. You can't believe my delight when I discovered the miracle machine that is Microsoft Excel. From then on, any facts I could get my hands on weren't complete without a good pie-chart. To this day that is one of the things I enjoy doing most: taking information and distilling it into a good, easy to understand, visually pleasing format. This was a knack that came in handy countless times at school, when I had to do presentations in class, for examlpe. I also found that it made it far easier to understand maths, though I never really warmed to the subject.

Let me see... is there anything else to say about me? Well, politically I'd call myself a social liberal. That is, I believe in the advantages of a market economy, but also think that a relatively strong state is needed in order to look after people who are down on their luck. I'm a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and I'm active in the party's youth organisation. I'm also a christian (roman catholic, to be precise); I try to go to church every Sunday, which makes me quite unusual among my friends. And I've been vegetarian all my life, along with the rest of my family.

The Story of Lacerta

My first conworld started to take shape before I can remember. When I was very young my father would tell me stories about a kangaroo called Billy, who had adventures in a world which my father based on Greek mythology, though of course I didn't know that at the time. Before long I named the place "Ryanland" and began drawing maps of it and designing flags for all the neighbouring nations on the planet (which I had nemed "Torn" by then). I created my first conlang at the age of ten, after about two months of learning Latin. At the time I basically thought every language had to have the same grammar as Latin, so my conlang had six cases, three genders, and the verbs only existed in 3rd person, since that was all I had learned at the time and it hadn't occurred to me that it might be quite useful to be able to talk about oneself in addition to others. As I learned more about languages my conlangs slowly became slightly more sophisticated. I heard about Esperanto and loved the idea of making things as simple as possible, until I started doing Ancient Greek at school, which was far more complicated than I could ever have imagined at the time, yet still possessed a certain charm which I was eager to imitate.

So gradually my world grew and grew, until one day I decided that what I really wanted to do was to take all the information I had gathered so far and somehow put it all together in a format where it could easily be admired by others. At first I considered writing a sort of encyclopaedia, and I actually got as far as writing the first couple of pages, but then I suddenly thought of a far better idea: a website! I had started using the internet only very recently, so I didn't really know anything about designing a website, but I went ahead with my project nonetheless. As I was browsing through the internet one day, looking for inspiration, I suddenly came across a site that completely and permanently changed my way of thinking about my hobby: This was Zompist's "Virtual Verduria", along with its forum, the ZBB. Up until that point, I had always thought that I was pretty much the only person in the world with this weird hobby of "world building", as I called it at the time. I had always been extremely shy and self-conscious about it and rarely told anyone outside my family about it. Then, from one moment to the next, I realised that there was a whole community of these weirdos out there and any one of them would happily give me advice. The next revelation was the "Language Construction Kit", available on the same website, which turned my picture of languages on its head.

There was one problem: After seeing the wonderful worlds that all these other people had created, my own attempt at "conworlding" (my new favourite word) suddenly seemed incredibly meagre and stunted. Remember that huge parts of my world were really not much more than children's stories. I considered "updating" it, taking out all the childish, unrealistic bits, but I had grown up with this world, and found that I couldn't bear get rid of any of it, naive and uneducated though it might be. Finally I decided that the only sensible course of action was to start anew and create a completely new world, from scratch. That was the world that eventually became Lacerta.