>    Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 15:41:27 -0800
>    From: "Donald J. HARLOW" <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: The most important auxlang task
> Andrew Nowicki skribis je 2006.02.20 2.29 ptm...
> > 
> > PS. Borrowing words from natural languages has
> > negligible impact on the effort of learning the
> > auxlang vocabulary because:
> > 1. No natural language is spoken by more than
> >    20% of the global population.
> > 2. It is not clear which language the particular
> >    word was borrowed from. For example, in Polish
> >    language the word "pies" means dog, the word
> >    "but" means shoe, "kit" means putty and
> >    "lot" means flight.
> I'd love to agree with you on this, but for some languages of the 
> "naturalistic" school this isn't much of a problem. It would 
> be a really 
> unusual student of Interlingua, for instance, who would not be aware 
> that the language contained words taken primarily from a set 
> of four or 
> five relatively compatible Romance languages, not from Polish 
> or Chinese 
> or Zulu. Consequently, on encountering a new word the student 
> would be 
> well aware that it was considerably more likely to come from Iberian 
> (Spanish or Portuguese) than from Polish.

The words of Interlingua are therefore highly recognizable to a large
group although it is true that the scales are tipped heavily almost
entirely in favor of those with Latin-Romance backgrounds.

In a language with a greater mix of influences, I would expect many
students to recognize less vocabulary, but a greater number of students
will find some vocabulary which they already know so that the scales are
more balanced.

> > 3. To make sure that you do not offend anyone,
> >    you have to borrow the same number of words
> >    from each natural language. This means that
> >    the probability that an auxlang word is
> >    familiar to a person learning the auxlang
> >    is a small fraction of one percent.
> > 
> Once again I will emphasize that the vast majority of people in the 
> world don't really care about such things. If you somehow manipulate 
> your vocabulary to avoid offending the tiny minority of 
> people who _do_ 
> worry about them ... well, never mind, you're probably going 
> to offend 
> at least as many people in some other way. (For instance, if 
> you include 
> the familiar/singular of "you" you're going to offend one group of 
> people; and if you omit it, you're going to offend some other 
> group of 
> people; and odds on, each of these two groups is going to be 
> larger than 
> the group of people who will be offended by a "non-neutral" 
> vocabulary.)

This is true.  There are many tradeoffs to consider when designing an
auxlang.  However some features can be added or omitted with little or
no undesireable side effects.