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AUXLANG  March 2007, Week 3

AUXLANG March 2007, Week 3

Subject:

Re: Computer model hints at how opinions evolve

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Date:

Fri, 16 Mar 2007 20:47:27 -0400

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li [Wayne S. Rossi] mi tulis la

> --- Matthew Barnett <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> > One thing that we can learn from evolution is that
> > once an organism has filled a niche it is difficult
> > for another organism to displace it, unless the
> > latter is _a_lot_ 'better' in some way. In a similar
> > way, although a language that's _a_lot_ 'better'
> > could displace Esperanto, Esperanto is already so
> > simple and regular that it's difficult to see enough
> > possible improvements which together would put the
> > language far enough ahead, if you see what I mean.
> 
> In an age when more and more communication is done by
> way of computers, whose keyboards *never* have those
> daft hats on them, the supersigned letters are and
> always will be an obstacle.

Never say "never".  Keyboard maps are available in some cases.  I have
one, but it's one I created myself with a downloadable utility from M$.
No, I don't know of anyone manufacturing a keyboard with matching
keycaps, but it is possible to key them in.  Yes, those daft hats are
certainly a huge hassle, but not impossible.


>  And we can throw in the
> very obvious grammatical issues, such as the
> accusative and the adjectival accord, which are pretty
> well covered by most critics of the language, no
> matter how many times Esperanto partisans come out to
> defend them.  To the extent that Esperanto represents
> the conIAL movement, these are liabilities of the
> movement, and they are big, obvious targets.  If the
> Esperanto movement were concerned with the "fina
> venko" it would fix these things instead of offering
> tired excuses.

Eliminating just these few feature (daft hats, marked accusative, A-N
agreement) would stop a lot of the criticisms, and eliminating them
would not have any radical effects on usage.


> But, by and large, I don't think that the large
> majority of the Esperanto movement is really part of
> the IAL movement.  It is a thing in itself.  And this
> was decided in 1907, when Ido was definitively
> rejected even though it fixed all of the crucial
> points.  From then on, Esperantism -- although in some
> ways about the "language problem" -- was primarily
> about Esperanto language and culture.  It has become a
> subculture focused around an international language
> (not *the* international language).  There's nothing
> wrong with that in and of itself, but it's not a good
> perspective for an IAL, which has quite a different
> function.

Unlike language being a reflection of culture, E-o seems to have created
a culture around the language, and like many language police out there
trying to "preserve" natural languages, they too are trying to
"preserve" E-o culture by resisting changes.

No, there's nothing wrong with that, but I agree it tends to be
counterproductive when the language is pulling the double duty of IAL,
and cultural language.  This unfortunately is something that really
can't be avoided though.  There has to be a stage where an IAL is used
for other purposes to gain popularity before it can step up to become an
IAL.  


> The reason I think Esperanto isn't worth supporting is
> simple.  I would expect any reasonable nominating body
> (UN, EU, what have you) for making an "official" IAL
> to demand that Esperanto reform away at least the
> obvious things (daft hats, accusative, adjective
> accord). 

That's tough to predict what a governing body would do should they
decide to pick a constructed language for IAL use.  I see where they may
look at several languages and evaluate them.  As much as we may
criticize E-o's quirks, the existing popularity alone would probably
make a good selling point for the decision makers.


> And at that point, if the Esperantists stick
> to their guns as they have for a hundred years, all
> the advantages of Esperanto over Interlingua (or Ido,
> or Novial, or what have you) disappear immediately. 
> Basically, as far as I'm concerned, the resistance of
> the current Esperanto movement to reform of the
> language (and this resistance has been the bedrock of
> the Esperanto subculture) indicates that it is
> fruitless to expect that the Esperanto movement can be
> reformed into a functional international language
> movement.

Of course, if one of those large government or quasi-government entities
chose E-o (or any other conlang) they could very well create their own
language police too, thus carrying the language in a new direction as
decided by this new authority regardless of tradition.

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