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James Chandler skribis:

> Ken rote:
>
> >How about it, James?  You assume Esperantists put the interests of
> >Esperanto ahead of the idea of an IAL, but it appears to me that
> >you routinely put your anti-Esperanto prejudices ahead of your
> >support for the IAL ideal
>
> In answer to your question, i would certainly lend my full backing to any
> conference which could choose Esperanto among a number of systems of planned
> language.  I would be very surprised if any such gathering could ever
> recommend that Esp be used it is current form, and if it did that would
> leave me in a difficult position, given my conviction that Esp is not good
> enough to be adopted without quite major reform.  I suppose i would have to
> go along with the outcome, with a view to getting reforms to the language
> before it were 'rolled out'.  Somehow, i imagine this view might command
> considerable support from any intelligent group of people.


Thank you, James, for taking my question seriously.  Although it is completely
hypothetical, it helps us focus on a very important point.  I frequently read
messages in this and other forums which are quite antagonistic to one or
another planned IALs, but for supporters (*) of the IAL concept the details of
the particular choice of IAL should be _secondary_ to IAL ideal.

(* Of course, there are also supporters/users of particular planned languages
who have learned one primarily for reasons other than the IAL ideal, such as
amusement value, mental challenge, curiosity, some specific use, a friend's
influence/example, etc.  And that's perfectly alright, but such people aren't
really supporters of the IAL concept -- although they may later come to be.)

I can certainly understand your (hypothetically) difficult position above.  I
suppose it is a little easier for me to make an analogous hypothetical
decision, namely, that I would support a planned language other than Esperanto
in comparable circumstances.

You see, I have had to think about this before:  I have read many messages
(particularly on auxlang) which accuse Esperantists of being unwilling to
support the IAL concept in general, but for me the IAL ideal is _precisely_
why I learned Esperanto, or at least by far the major factor.  Thus each such
claim has caught my attention: partly because it just seems untrue to me, but
also because it attacks the very basis of my own interest in planned
languages, and may even seem to me to be an attack on myself and folks like
me.

James, recently you mentioned our former co-forumist, Bruce R. Gilson.  I'm
sure that what made his messages so offensive to me personally was the
undercurrent idea that you can't believe Esperantists.  It's just plain
difficult to have a rational discussion with someone who assumes (and lets you
know the assumption) that you will lie, trick, befuddle and confuse with no
compunction _because_ you're an Esperantist.  My own expectation has always
been that there will be some fools and some sages, some logical thinkers and
some con artists in just about any crowd.  It offends me enormously when
someone attributes uncomplimentary characteristics to Group X, whether or not
I happen to be a member of that group.  But it certainly was particularly
un-fun to feel that I was the object of BRG's overt anti-Esperantist bigotry.

Now occasionally, although not nearly as often, your messages have seemed to
verge in this same direction.  Since you are convinced that Esperanto is "not
good enough", it certainly must be hard not to believe that all Esperantists
would come to the same decision if they were honest.  I have tried to explain
that I support Esperanto because I honestly don't have any hope that any other
planned language might come into widespread international use.  There really
are things I like better about, for instance, Interlingua (and some things I
don't like as well, too).  But the bottom line is that I will support
whichever planlingvo appears to me to have the best chance, and no matter
which numbers one accepts, Esperanto has a huge lead.  In your
Gedankenexperiment that lead might not matter:  if the U.N. and all member
countries mandated Ido instruction (for instance), in no time at all there
would be more Idists than all other IALists combined, and in a short time more
than second-language speakers of English.  That's why I can unequivocally
state that I'd support any simple-to-learn planlingvo under those or similar
circumstances.

I suppose that the difference between us then lies in our tolerance level for
perceived "errors" in a planlingvo.  I have now studied 8 planned languages
(at least superficially, 4 quite extensively), and I would take any of 'em.
They are all orders of magnitude more logical and easier to describe (and
presumably to learn) than the "wild" languages I've studied (primarily German,
French, Russian and Greek).

I also have a fairly low tolerance level for tweaking a planned language.  For
some reason, beginners immediately start proposing changes (and no, that's not
only beginning _Esperantists_) -- perhaps the knowledge that the language was
"invented" makes it easier to envision modifications.  But a too-rapidly
changing IAL entirely defeats the purpose (international/intercultural
communication) and discourages newcomers from even trying to learn it.  I
certainly wasn't as interested in learning revised Volapük as the version
which attracted so much attention in its heyday.  (But I should mention that
the Vpk course linked from my homepage is revised Volapük, although there are
materials for both available at my site.)

Finally, let me return to your message for a couple more comments:

> I would be very surprised if any such gathering could ever
> recommend that Esp be used it is current form,

That would depend on the _reasons_ for the recommendation, wouldn't it?  Some
here have mentioned the difficulty in finding teachers (or tutors) for
whatever IAL might hypothetically be "imposed".  I can conceive of some voting
for Esperanto because of the already in-place resources for learning
Esperanto.  Of course, some will argue that the numbers are insignificant in
all cases, we'd have a problem no matter what.  Anyway, I would be very
surprised if our hypothetical conference could all agree that a particular IAL
was best:  people's preferred reforms simply don't go in the same direction,
so the decision would very likely be made for _other_ reasons, maybe the
numbers, maybe initial impressions, maybe someone's upset stomach.  ;-)

> and if it did that would
> leave me in a difficult position, given my conviction that Esp is not good
> enough to be adopted without quite major reform.  I suppose i would have to
> go along with the outcome, with a view to getting reforms to the language
> before it were 'rolled out'.  Somehow, i imagine this view might command
> considerable support from any intelligent group of people.

I guess this again highlights the difficulties in such a situation.  Suppose
that some people accepted Esperanto because of what it is and can offer now
"as is", whereas others for the reforms they hope to introduce.  Could this
not result in tensions that abort the whole project?  Well, I guess it would
still be better (IMO) than the status quo.

Since we're all being honest ;-) I should mention that if any _actual_
conference decreed that Language X (not Esperanto) would be The IAL, I would
find _myself_ in a difficult situation.  An actual conference might not have
the clout to ensure worldwide use of its candidate, and might only succeed in
(further) splitting up the supporters of the IAL ideal.  In my view, that is
the real tragedy of the events surrounding the inception of Ido:  if a couple
of major governments had begun requiring Ido in elementary schools, we'd all
be using it long since, no matter who thought it was "better" or "worse" than
Esperanto.  I did not have this cause for hesitancy in the hypothetical
situation you outlined, because we were assuming "real power" to carry through
on the decision.  In a real world case there might be several outcomes, not
all beneficent for the IAL movment:

(1) Basically nothing happens, the selected language is ignored, and
detractors of the IAL ideal have more grist for their mill,

(2) Some particular IAL is selected, but its opponents so vociferously oppose
it that the IAL movement is damaged,

(3) Some IAL is chosen, but afterwards we're left with a split house,

(4) Some particular IAL is selected, and it ends up afterwards with a clear
majority compared to other candidates,

(5) Some particular IAL is selected, and it ends up in world-wide use
afterwards, ...

Outcome (5) would be my favorite, no matter what language chosen, but I guess
(3) or (4) wouldn't be as bad as (1) or (2).  Trouble is, situation (4) is
really no better than Esperanto's current lead over other planlingvoj, and (3)
would be a little worse.  As I read Zamenhof's comments going into the whole
Ido crisis, it seems to me that he may have had similar fears.

Ok, gotta get back to the real world.

Amike,

Ken