At 03:36 +0100 00/05/06, Charles George Haberl wrote: > I'd very much like your help on a small matter. Would anyone be > willing to summarize the recent history of the IAL movement, in a > nutshell? I certainly wouldn't mind if you should choose to focus > on your particular IAL or the tradition to which it belongs; in fact, > I would even enjoy seeing this short blurb in the language you promote. > Please send your short summary to the list. I will print the > responses out and submit them at our forthcoming workshop (yes, it > is actually going to happen, on Wednesday in fact). FAS in your email address is Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and if you're a professor or even a teaching fellow I'm very happy to see some interest within the Harvard faculty on the subject of auxlangs. There was virtually none when I was there last - at least none that I was aware of. Norman Shapiro was an Esperantist, but I think he was just a teaching fellow. I believe Julia Pere was affiliated with the university for a certain period, but only on a visiting basis. I made a stab at getting Esperanto accepted as a language whereby undergraduates could fulfill the language requirement, in response to which then-dean Henry Rosovsky sent the question to a history professor whose name I forget, who refused the proposal, asserting that the idea of the language requirement was to provide students with access to at least one foreign culture, and that since Esperanto had no culture it thus didn't qualify. I replied that Esperanto did indeed have a culture and that even if it didn't it still certainly provided access to any number of foreign cultures, but I didn't hear anything further from the FAS. Don Harlow and other Esperantists will certainly disagree with me, but my own impression of... well, before starting to dump on Esperanto let me dump on the IAL movement generally, if an IAL movement may even be said to exist. Recent history - what history? Interlingua, which I suppose may be considered the least unsuccessful of the naturalistic IALs, was published fifty years ago, used for a while in extremely few and limited contexts, and then petered out to the handful of individual supporters it currently possesses. I attended their international meeting in Holland a couple of years ago, so I have some personal experience of these people and their language and philosophy. Interlingua makes very little sense to me, since if one is going to imitate natural languages, retaining irregular spellings in order to be faithful to them etc., then I don't see why one shouldn't simply stick with natural languages altogether. Similarly, I suppose Ido is the least unsuccessful of the schematic rivals to Esperanto. Some time ago I read the complete series of its main journal, "Progreso", which steadily shrunk in size and frequency of appearance until reaching its current point. Speaking for myself as an Esperantist, I was offended, when I recently had another look at Ido, by what impressed me as an excessive number of gratuitous changes that had been made in its revision of Esperanto, many, perhaps even most of which seemed dubious and occasionally even silly. Other Esperantists may not have been won over to Ido owing to other reasons, but in any event it remains a fact that Ido failed in its bid to take over from Esperanto and succeed where it had failed. Its situation is essentially the same as Interlingua's: a scattered handful of supporters. Esperanto, on the other hand, has a somewhat significantly larger scattered handful of supporters. There is more than one reason for its relative success (in surviving in a more or less visible way, I mean to say - not in really achieving any of its traditional goals), but in part because you asked for a short summary I won't go into my perception of these reasons. However appropriate fundamental Esperanto may or may not be as an IAL candidate, and however correctly its movement may or may not have acted, it remains a fact that the main Esperanto organization had approximately 8000 individual members in 1913 and has approximately 7000 individual members today. I believe this provides a telling index of the history of the Esperanto movement, which - if one may judge by such a statistic, and I believe one may - shows a proportional dwindling of numbers in contrast to the drastic population increase of the past century. I feel it indicates that something is very obviously wrong, given what seems to me to be the almost self-evident excellence of the IAL ideal, the popularity of which was demonstrated in several Gallup polls cited by Mario Pei. Esperantists generally do not agree with me, however (at least they won't admit to it in public), insisting that everything is more or less hunky-dory and that not only is no change called for, but any discussion of essential change must remain strictly prohibited in Esperanto publications. I find this to be an extremely dubious and even self-defeating attitude on the part of the Esperanto fundamentalists. I can understand their paranoia to a certain extent, since they can see no good coming out of a free discussion, but rather only chaos and a possible weakening of their position. But they still have to do something to place their fundamentalism on a more rational basis than the quasi-religious one on which it currently rests - at least if they seriously want to make any measurable progress in relation to the external world. But they're more concerned with tooting the same old horn than with actually going anywhere. Two things that have helped with this over the last years have been the new philosophy of "Raumism", according to which the traditional IAL goals are naive and the true Esperantic values relate to a self-elected diasporic elite, and various varieties of a peculiar mysticism by which, all appearances to the contrary, Esperanto's time is nonetheless coming and you'll see, one of these days... I'm afraid I don't have a particularly sunny perspective to offer in regard to all this, since among other things I can imagine that one might have an indubitably more appropriate language than Esperanto and nonetheless attain only a limited degree of increased success. But I will repeat the same thing that interlinguist Don Gaspar said a couple of years ago at a conference in Brussels: like him, I'd like to see a satisfactory synthesis of the best of Esperanto and Interlingua, without at least some of the negative aspects of either. Don mentioned in particular a naturalistic -s ending for the plural rather than Esperanto's -j, and at the risk of appearing trivial (at least to Esperantists, though Zamenhof himself repeatedly lamented the -j) I can go along with that quite readily. It then becomes difficult to retain Esperanto's useful accusative case, however, and I've never encountered anything that seemed to solve this problem adequately. In any event, Esperanto's idiosyncratic and phenomenonally inconvenient diacritics absolutely must be eliminated - though again, Don and other Esperantists will surely disagree with me on that. "La komputiloj jam solvis la supersignan problemon", and besides, "La lingvo ne gravas". The particular language doesn't matter at all. As long as it isn't English - and is fundamental Esperanto. Roy McCoy P.S. Mi iom senmedite sendas tion chi al la "Krom-Bja-listo", pro motivoj kiujn ties anoj kredeble sukcesos kompreni. Denove kiel antaue, se iu ne deziras ricevi ion de mi, nur diru kaj mi volonte vishos vian adreson de la listo.