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AUXLANG  August 2005, Week 2

AUXLANG August 2005, Week 2

Subject:

Why learn an IAL? (was "Nam" es latino classic)

From:

Thomas Alexander <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

International Auxiliary Languages <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 10 Aug 2005 04:21:19 -0700

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text/plain

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Estimata Don Gasper,

> Dear Thomas the friendly transvestite,

Hopefully anybody who reads this is following our
name game closely enough to know that this is a
humorous way to call me a wolf in sheep's clothing.

> If he wanted to avoid using words in square
> brackets the novice Interlinguan would also
> have the option of using "subinde"

But that wasn't what I said.  I said that there is
no way to determine from the IED alone whether a word
will be acceptable to the Interlinguans.  Avoiding
square bracket words would not be a successful
strategy.  One example of how this would not be is
saepe/sovente.  Another example is nimis/tro/troppo.
Nimis is not listed with square brackets or marked in
any other special way in the IED, yet it was not
produced by the general methodology of the dictionary
and has neither the support of the rule of three nor
of current usage.

I don't know the story of "subinde", but I have always
thought that it meant something different, as you
pointed out.  Back to my original point, however, I
have a sneaking suspicion that it is also one of the
Latin words which was accepted into Interlingua in
1941 or so without support of the rule of three and
yet left unmarked in the dictionary.

> What's wrong with having a few synonyms?

In general, nothing.  The problem, however, is that
some synonyms are more likely than others to draw out
the wrath of the Good Usage Police.  Witness your own
reaction to James's note - a fairly mild one, all
things considered.  He asked whether he'd written good
Interlingua and your answer was not "yes, you chose
words which I understand and which are found in the
IED" but rather "Latin particles like 'nam' and 'tunc'
exist in the dictionary, but are not widely used in
practice."  (And note that 'nam' is fairly widely used
on INTERLNG and listed without special marking in the
IED.

Continuing his reply in a new note, Don wrote:
> I don't really think this is a case of hypocrisy
> (note spelling).

Thanks.  I have long been a bad speller.  I suppose I
need to learn them as a pair: hypocrITE/hypocrISY.
Although I might say "hi-pa-cruh-see", I don't say
"hippo-crate".  Lately, I've been finding that I can
fall back on Interlingua to spell my native English
correctly - which is ironic, since a few years ago
some American Interlinguans were claiming that some
of the sticky points of Interlingua are already known
to me because of English spelling. I ended up learning
it by brute force and repetition, although there are
still times where I think I could write better
Interlingua and Esperanto if I were a better speller.

I don't generally spell-check my messages to Auxlang,
but I do keep a file open with spell-checker in it.
If I'm not sure how to spell a word, I check it.  I
guess I'm starting to get over confident.  :-)

Okay, so instead of hypocrisy, I can call it "not
doing unto others as you would have them do unto you."

On second thought.  That sure sounds like hypocrisy
to me - especially since this is rarely ever *seen*
as a violation of the golden rule, but is simply
accepted as the "right" way to act.

> The fact that if you speak some kind of English you
> will be more or less understood "a prime vista" by
> millions of people for whom it is a second language
> does not mean that one has to abandon any notion of
> standards.

You've left a huge detail out of the mix.  Nobody
(underscore NOBODY) is promoting Manglish, Singlish,
or Brooklynese as a language which should be learned
primarily to talk to people who don't speak Manglish,
Singlish, or Brooklynese.  If the *primary* purpose
of Interlingua is to communicate with people who have
not learned the standards specific to Interlingua,
then it is fair to call these standards into question,
especially when it can be demonstrated that different
standards can accomplish the same goal.  (Europanto,
as recently discussed on INTERLNG, is a good example.
My own approach of learning the Romance languages as
one big language is another.)

If, on the other hand, we start to see Interlingua as
something which can be studied and learned, then it
does make sense to learn some standards.  By their
nature, however, many standards will be arbitrary.
The way Interlingua is promoted causes a problem here
too.  Interlingua is promoted as "scientific" and
totally objective, which leads many people to suppose
that they can do better than what has already been
done.  Thus, "standards" in Interlingua are often
hard to find.

Of course, this leads us back to the first hypocrisy.
If we accept that Interlingua is an end unto itself,
this negates the line of reasoning taken by Martijn
Dekker and others who say that they won't learn
Esperanto because they don't see a value in the end
of speaking to a small group of Esperanto speakers.
Given that the group of Interlingua speakers is even
smaller, there has got to be even less value in
talking to them.  I would argue that the value of this
end is reduced out of proportion to the reduction in
size. Interlingua gatherings are described as having
all the geekiness (good or bad) which Esperanto
gatherings have, and my experience is that both
communities have a number of "weenies" in them - but
in the Esperanto world, I find that I can manage to
avoid them for the most part.  Not so for Interlingua.

The obvious rebuttal to the above is to say that it
does not need to be "either or".  One can learn
Interlingua "the right way" with the goal of talking
to Interlinguans (many of whom are friendly and may
even have a sense of humor), and then, as a free
benefit, the student has also learned much linguistic
material which can be used with the uninitiated with
different levels of success - becoming more successful
the more one learns to adapt Interlingua to be more
like the languages known to the person you want to
talk with.  This combined advantage, as the argument
would go, tips the scales in Interlngua's direction
and justifies the effort necessary in learning it
"the right way."

My answer to that is that the same thing can be said
for Esperanto.  The advantage with Esperanto, however,
is that you can do so much more with Esperantists than
with Interlinguans.  The world Interlingua convention
looks like a lot of fun, but would be best compared
with any of the small, regional Esperanto gatherings
which happen several times a year in a city near you.
Then, as a free benefit, the student has learned much
linguistic material which can be used with the
uninitiated with some success, but even more if one
were to make a small effort in learning how to modify
one's Esperanto to be more like the languages known to
the person you want to talk to.  This can be done.  I
have seen it done.  I have done it myself.  This is,
in fact, how I write Interlingua!  Kjell also
described that he did something similar before he
even knew what Interlingua was.

Kjell has responded that Interlingua is "better" for
this purpose than Esperanto is, but my argument is
that once you accept that it is a good thing to have
some "initiated" people to talk to, then  we start
getting to the point where the advantages of
Interlingua are not so clear.

Amike salutas,
Thomas/Tomaso ALEXANDER.
www.NightinGael.Net
---Anything below this line is not from Thomas ---


		
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Start your day with Yahoo! - make it your home page 
http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs 
 

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