Gasper the Friendly wrote:
> Dear doubting Thomas,

Okay, so maybe now I see why you see this nickname as

> "Mox" means "soon" in Latin.

Yeah, I know.  You see, I find it very difficult to
claim that I don't remember something and then not
to try to go back and verify it.  In spite of the fact
that my sister's family was here from Arizona and that
I was responsible for searing mammal flesh and baking
a cake on a wood fire while trying to keep one
eye on 4 kids under the age of 7 who were descending
on various parts of my home and garden like a swarm of
ants (this doesn't count the baby who isn't quite
equiped for swarming as of yet), at bedtime my
thoughts returned to "[mox]"

My company having returned to my parents' house, my
teeth brushed, I kissed my wife good night (perhaps
just to keep up appearances), went into my study,
opened the IED, and went to bed with a square bracket

Of course, the more burning question (and seeing as
you like to talk about Paul, I would like to be clear
here that the word "burn" in the last phrase is not
a reference to my wife, nor to what Paul wrote in
First Corinthians 7:9) is why in the name of Deo Mesme
is there no word in Interlingua for "square bracket"?
You'd think that something as central to the
discussion of Interlingua would have a name in
Interlingua, but I always see people write about
"parolas in [  ]".  How on earth do you pronounce

Actually, I know what the problem is.  You see,
Interlingua words are so long (c.f. "ofte" and
"frequentemente") and the rules for combining them
are so windy, and let us not forget the need for
circumlocutions when there is no international word...
I guess that the Interlinguans are just too tired to
write something like "parentheses quadrate" (5 extra
strokes compared to "square brackets" for tired hands)
and instead jump at the chance to rest their fingers
by typing "[ ]" instead.

But back to the subject at hand, you wrote:
> Although it occurs in square brackets in the IED I
> have never seen/heard it used in Interlingua, where
> the normal word for this concept is "tosto". But you
> needn't take my word for it.

Of course I needn't.  You should have guessed that
I would have looked it up by now.

... but reading your note this morning got me curious.
I decided to look back to the thread on Interlng where
this word was discussed.  I would have sworn that I
had been using this word in Interlingua, but it does
not seem that way.

In goes back to November 2003.  According to what I
posted on Interlng around that time, that was about
one month after I had discovered that I could write
in Interlingua (or in something which looked a bit
like Interlingua and could pass as a decent attempt).

I don't think I used the word "mox" myself, but Erik
Enfors brought up the word as a way of making fun of
me.  Janne Armann picked up on the joke and wrote
"Nos saepe mox face lo vix" although that didn't
stick out in my memory as much as Erik's jab:

   "Que nos omnes mox comencia usar mox saepe!"

In searching for this thread this morning, however,
I see that "[saepe]" is fairly common on Interlng (and
not just in lists of words 'not to say').  I hadn't
realized this.  I will use it with more confidence
now.  It's interesting for me, however, to look at
what I was writing at this early stage of learning to
write in Interlingua.

Apparently, I was trying to come to terms of why I
was writing Interlingua in the first place and how
these reasons would affect the way I study it and use
it.  It also seems that I had already started to fall
under the influence of Lord Vulaik, although perhaps
not in the way that He-who-must-not-be-named may have
intended.  Lord Vulaik (with the help of He-who-can-
be-named, Martijn Dekker) succeeded in convincing me
that there is no point in considering "usage" (the
way Interlinguans themselves use Interlingua) when
learning and using Interlingua.

In the meanwhile, my attitude has become a bit more
complex on this issue, but that's a tangent I'm not
ready to take at this exact moment. In November 2003
I was trying to come up with some simple guidlines
for myself to define and refine the way I was using
Interlingua without excessive hypocracy or too much
"wasted effort" on my part.  I still have not managed
to put this together, and considering how my attitude
has become more complex, I don't think I ever will.
It's just too complicated now.

The primary guideline, however, was and is that
Interlingua is defined by the IED.  Seen from this
point of view, Lord Vulaik's "corrections" (assuming
they are "scientifically" justified, which I don't)
must necessarily be seen as the creation of a *new*
language, perhaps very similar and more "Scientific"
than Interlingua, but not Interlingua any more.

The obvious problem which follows, however, is that
one must then confront the problem of the many
synonyms in the IED and how to select among them.
"Usage" is one way.  Comparison to the modern
languages and their etymology is another.  Provided
that these two functions serve primarily to *select*
words (from the IED) and not to *create* words, I
think there is an extent to which one can claim that
the result is "still Interlingua", even though it may
look different than other forms.

In 2003, neither of these ways appealed to me.  The
kinds of arguments I was hearing from Lord Vulaik and
Darth Dekker had totally turned me off to "usage" and
I didn't see any practical advantages to Vulaik's
"scientific" approach.  Beyond that, however, was that
both of these approaches were somewhat closed to me
given the level of research involved with either one.
I was aiming for something which worked for me.  (The
primary additional complication today is that I have
seen enough "usage" in the meanwhile, so now I am less
cut off from "usage" - although Martijn's words still
turn me off from seeing this as the primary method of

For example, in 2003, I wrote that the words saepe,
mox, and vix come to mind easily for me (although the
last two were brought up by other people as words
which I probably wouldn't understand.)  At the same
time, I didn't know the words sovente or tosto.  Now
"tosto" comes to mind first and I had forgotten mox
and vix.  The word "sovente" does come to my mind, but
only after "saepe" even today.  I have to ask myself
how much I am letting "usage" influence my own usage -
both consciously and subconsiously.

As a side note, have you noticed that the IED
definitions of TOSTO and [MOX] are not the same?

A problem - then and still now - is that there is *no*
way to determine from the IED alone whether a word
will be aceptable to the Interlinguans.  There are
words in the IED which do not have the suport of three
linguas fontes -- and not all of these are marked in
square brackets.  Some of these seem to be in use
today - nunc, sed, etiam... as well as [saepe],
[tamen], [ibi], and [nec].  A novice Interlinguan
trying to decide whether the word should be "saepe" or
"sovente" has nothing to go on, since both are in
square brackets in the IED.  Trying to decide between
"sed" and "[ma]" would even be misleading since "sed"
is one of the unmarked, yet unsupported Latin words
from 1941, and "[ma]" was included (musical terms from
Italian notwithstanding) as a borrowing from another
artificial language - yet here it's the square bracket
word which is more common.

I suspect that by this point (if you've read this far)
you are jumping up and down in your seat saying "but
if you're going to learn a language, you need to pay
attention to the usage of the people who are actually
using that language, otherwise you can't really say
that you are learning or using that language.  That's
what I would say if someone was making similar
comments about Esperanto.

My counter objection, however, is that the
Interlinguans can't even seem to agree on what the
linguistic community of Interlingua even is, or what
that means to the form which Interlingua will take.

Leaving aside the teachings of Lord Vulaik, even a
more mainstream Interlinguan such as Martijn Dekker
will take the line of reasoning that he should not
learn Esperanto because there is no reason to learn
it "altere que communicar con le existente communitate
de esperantistas".  I believe Kjell has said similar
things.  Martijn goes on to explain that he "non ha
specialmente un interesse" when it comes to talking
to this existing community of Esperanto speakers.  I
don't think he sees the (to me) obvious hypocracy of
then saying that it's worth making an effort to learn
the "right" way of speaking Interlingua.  Speaking
(or writing) Interlingua "correctly" (in contrast to
writing in a way which is understandable to someone
who doesn't speak Interlingua) is useful only in
speaking with Interlinguans - a community with much
fewer resources than the Esperantists have.  If you
are not interested in one, why would you be interested
in the other?  If the goal is to speak with people who
don't speak Interlingua, then one would be much better
served by learning 50 common words from the various
romance language (and some rules for pronouncing them)
and mixing them in with one's "bad Interlingua",
rather than to spend the same effort trying to speak
Interlingua correctly.

And here is another hypocracy.  When I use words
like "saepe" or even "presque" (which is not in the
IED at all), I am certain that I am writing in a way
which can be understood "a prime vista" to any speaker
of Interlingua (or, at the very most, he may need to
look one word up in his dictionary), yet the reaction
is not "hey, I understand this" but rather "this
Salivanto has a strange way of writing."  At the same
time, however, they expect to be able to use their
language with non-Interlinguans without them coming
back and saying that they're talking wrong.

Put another way, the claim that the primary value of
Interlingua is that you can use it "a prime vista"
with the uninitiated is at odds with the claim that
one should strive to learn to speak Interlingua like
the Interlinguans do, yet both these claims are put
forward by Interlinguans -- often by the same person
in the same message.

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

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