Julia Rios interviews Rose Lemberg at Strange Horizons:
RL: I’ve been constructing languages on and off since I was six! Unlike many conlangers, I am not really interested in generating a large body of finely detailed work on every aspect of lexicon, phonology, morphology, and syntax. I am most interested in cognitive categories, which is to say a relatively limited set of concepts central to our cognition and pervasive in human experience. Examples are possession, gender, space, time, motion. Languages encode these categories in incredibly diverse ways. Russian, for example, is very rich in motion verbs. There are multiple prefixed verbs recording tiny details of motion trajectory (e.g. pereprygnul, “overjumped”; podnyrnul, “underdove”). English verbal inventory is rich in verbs denoting manner of motion, so for “jump” people can hop, skip, leap, bounce, bound, spring, hurdle, vault, and quite possibly caper, while in Hebrew they can only likfots (jump) and lekapets (hop). When I work on a constructed language, I want to know interesting things about how it expresses cognitive categories, and how this correlates with culture. I was fairly inclined to do this early on, even though I had no idea why I was doing this.
I strongly suspect that one of the things that’s silently dividing the SF field internally, as well as dividing SF from YA, is the degree to which different audiences’ reading protocols skew towards privileging aesthetics and emotion vs. intellect and pattern-matching. (I don’t feel like this maps precisely or even closely to the Fantasy/SF split at this point, though people keep on trying to make the conversation about that, which I feel does a damn good job of obscuring what’s actually in play.)