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AUXLANG  April 2007, Week 5

AUXLANG April 2007, Week 5

Subject:

Re: Different kinds of zero (was:Why Ido bugs me)

From:

"Donald J. HARLOW" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

International Auxiliary Languages <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 30 Apr 2007 19:10:02 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

Je 07.37 atm 2007.04.29, Jens WILKINSON skribis

>What I could imagine, though, is a process like this.
>If governments realized that they could intervene to
>shape a world IAL, then I could imagine people from
>various foreign ministries getting together and saying
>what they'd like.
>
>So the Chinese delegate might say (probably wouldn't,
>though) that the language should have tones, and
>others would object. And the Chinese delegate might
>say he didn't want difficult consonant clusters, and
>everybody else would presumably say, OK, OK. And there
>would be agreement on five vowels. And some people
>might say they don't want obligatory plurals, which
>others would presumably go along with (after all, I
>think it's easier to argue for what you don't want,
>because it's difficult for your speakers, than for
>what you do want). And some might say they don't want
>obligatory tense marking, etc., etc. And of course,
>non Western Europeans would insist on having a not
>purely European vocabulary, I presume.
>
>So in a sense, what I've tried to do with Neo Patwa is
>to imagine how such a discussion like that would go,
>and try to adopt the ideas that wouldn't have strong
>opposition from some group.
>
>Now, whether this could ever happen, I don't know.

It's been 130 years since Schleyer published Volapuk, and the 
possibility of government intervention in the IAL process has been an 
open secret during any part of that time. In 130 years, no government 
or intergovernmental organization has taken the opportunity of 
initiating such intervention, except under pressure -- and only one 
IAL movement has ever reached the stage where it could apply such 
pressure with any degree of success, or, apparently, at all.

(It was interesting that in a footnote in his "One Language for the 
World", Mario Pei mentioned that of the representatives of UNESCO 
with whom he spoke in the early fifties, three showed some interest 
in Esperanto and four in Interlingua. Yet while UNESCO has, from time 
to time, given lukewarm support to Esperanto, as far as I know 
Interlingua has never been mentioned in its committees or general 
conferences. Simply put, Esperanto has provided petitions, lobbyists, 
and cooperation with UNESCO; Interlingua has never been in a position 
to provide any of these, and so UNESCO as a body has ignored Interlingua. (*)

What counts with governments and intergovernmental bodies is not 
language -- it's pressure. How many IALs and IAL projects are there 
out there that can provide that pressure?)

>But
>like I said in my previous note, I'm somewhat
>skeptical of whether a grassroots effort could really
>succeed.

There is, however, an old saying of which you should take note -- for 
all intents and purposes, "it's the only game in town."

>In a sense, I think that a grassroots
>language becomes owned by some group, like a national
>language, and that impedes the spread. Although
>Esperanto is supposed to be a neutral language, in a
>sense it is "owned" by the Esperantists in the same
>sense that French is owned by the French. And learning
>the language means going along with their conventions.
>I think this is one of the problems that some people
>have with all invented IAL proposals.

As long as you go the "grassroots" route -- which is really the only 
route available to you (**) -- it's a problem you have to face. The 
distinction between the French and the Esperantists, of course, is 
that no matter how long and hard you try, you'll likely never become 
French and so an owner of the French language (some -- a very few! -- 
people can succeed at this, but statistically you're not likely to be 
one of them) whereas just about anybody who is willing to put in a 
bit of effort can become an Esperantist and an owner of the language. 
Almost all speakers of Esperanto took this route, and the exceptions 
("denaskuloj") are no more owners of the language than the adopted 
speakers are.

---

(*) Governmental and intergovernmental functionaries appear to have 
absolutely no intrinsic interest in language _qua_ language; only in 
language as a tool of international dominance games. _No_ IAL falls 
into this latter category.

(**) There's a "mixed" route you could follow -- do grassroots until 
you've managed to convince several young people to learn the 
language, and then turn them into governments so that they can 
support your language from on top. As long as your grassroots 
movement remains small, however, anything they may do at the 
governmental level is liable to be ephemeral.


-- Don HARLOW
http://www.webcom.com/~donh/don/don.html
Opinions (in English): http://www.harlows.org/don/opinions/
Esperanto (in English): http://www.harlows.org/don/esperanto/
Literaturo (Esperante): http://donh.best.vwh.net/Esperanto/Literaturo

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