Print

Print


Todd Moody wrote,      Tue, 12 Dec 2006 16:06:03 -0500

> As you see, *I'm* saying it.  That is, my answer to the question "Why should
> a multinational corporation take an interest in a conIAL at all?" is that
> they might see how it could make between offices in many different countries
> more efficient.  I don't see any other reason why they would take an
> interest.

You don’t see any other reason why they should take an interest? Why, I’d have thought it 
glaringly obvious that having to print information in 20 languages is extremely inefficient and 
expensive, when one language would do. And then there is the huge potential saving in 
advertising/marketing/translation.

However, I do take your point that a Level 1 “pidgin” IAL would have limitations when it came to 
other purposes, such as the sharing of business strategies and technical information within 
corporations. However, such problems can be exaggerated. A great deal of information and 
knowledge can be conveyed by even the simplest type of pidgin with the aid of circumlocution. 
And in any case the existing mother tongues will continue for a long time to  come, so people can 
always use them. There is also the possibility to which I’ve often referred: a Level 2 “creolising” IAL 
- perhaps not that dissimilar to Esperanto - might be developed and used unofficially as it were 
“beta tested”.


> To take another example that I've mentioned in the past, if there is any
> single entity that has an established need for an IAL, it's the Roman
> Catholic church, with diocesan offices all over the planet.  Although the RC
> church nods to Esperanto by means of its weekly broadcast, it doesn't use it
> for internal communications.  Instead, it uses English, Italian, Spanish,
> and even some Latin.  I know plenty of priests, who tell me that
> international memos often switch from one language to another within the
> same document.  Although "official" documents such as encyclicals are
> published in Latin, its use in internal communications has greatly
> diminished.

Yes, I remember you mentioning that before. Very interesting. I dare say the Roman Catholic 
Church will be communicating in a language something like Esperanto eventually - but so will 
everyone else!


>> As for instruction manuals - my answer to Jacques Dehee referred to those
>> aimed at the general public, who do not really need to know how a thing works
>> - only which buttons to press. You are presumably referring to "internal" 
>> instuction manuals as used by mechanical engineers and qualified technicians.

> No, I was thinking of manuals for consumers, which often need to be
> precise.  I was thinking of the instructions that came with my recently
> purchased wireless router, for example, which contained multi-step
> instructions with forking conditionals, etc.  "If it says X, then change it
> to Y and proceed to step 3, otherwise proceed directly to step 4"--that sort
> of thing. Troubleshooting guides often have a lot of this sort of language.

Sorry, you might modestly downplay your abilities but they would still consign you to the qualified 
technician category, relatively speaking.  I was really referring to mass-market consumer products 
requiring minimal intelligence to construct or operate, whose instructions might therefore be 
expressed in very simple language suitable for a “global pidgin” IAL.

Practically anything one might buy in a chain-store (such as WalMart in the US) would probably fall 
into this category. I’m thinking of a frozen pizza I bought recently which had cooking instructions 
on the box in many different European languages. If the instructions were in one simple IAL they 
could dispense with the outer packaging, as they often do with frozen pizzas.    


> I guess I just don't accept the premise that the stages of creole
> development and, for that matter, cognitive development, have much to do
> with the propagation of a conIAL.  Here's my analogy:  Rivers exist.  They
> are formed by complex processes of erosion and weather patterns.  They can
> be useful for transportation, since boats can navigate them.  I may decide
> that an artificial river, i.e., a canal, would be *very* useful.  To build
> one, I should indeed learn what I can about rivers, such as that they don't
> flow uphill; narrow channels flow more rapidly; etc.  But there is no reason
> for me to suppose that the best way to build a canal is to try to emulate
> the processes that produce rivers.  Neither is there any reason for me to
> believe that while a canal would be *very* useful, a small rivulet--which I
> could later widen into a canal--would be *somewhat* useful, to start with.

I don’t accept the analogy because there is an absolute difference between an unnavigable river 
and a canal. The latter is always dependent on the former (if the river were navigable the canal 
would not be required) but only the canal can be used by normal water-traffic.

On the other hand, the difference between cognitive/linguistic stages is qualitative but not 
absolute. They can all be used to convey knowledge but the later stages, as languages, are more 
efficient and concise.

Thus, you'd be correct in arguing that a small rivulet isn't "somewhat useful" with regard to sailing 
barges or passenger craft - but it certainly doesn't follow that even a mere contact language isn't 
"somewhat useful" for "transporting" knowledge. 


> The existing social order *uses* language to perpetuate itself, which is
> precisely why it's so difficult to interest the powerful in schemes that
> diminish their power.  conIAL's aim to create a level linguistic playing
> field.  Who wants that?  Not those whose position in the field is already
> advantageous.

On the contrary, the fact that the growing IAL movement is accompanying on-going global 
federation and integration is likely to augment the prestige of those who promote it, since their 
audience is increasing correspondingly.


Antony Alexander      http://langx.org