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On Sun, 23 Mar 2008 19:32:01 -0500, Dana Nutter wrote:

>I think of these more as *planned*" languages, not just constructed
>or artificial.  Letting a bunch of people just use the language in
>just any way would cause them to become irregular and inconsistent
>just like natural languages, and it's more likely that one powerful
>group of speakers would pull the language in their own direction
>making it something less than neutral.  At that point you've lost
>the benefits that a well-planned language has to offer.  The most
>cited benefits being simplicity and neutrality.   Even a
>well-planned language will evolve into something new over time, but
>it will still offer a solid foundation.

OK, I’ll accept that distinction, since “planning” 
suggests long-term oversight (e.g. via the Academio 
de Esperanto) that might not have been there with a 
“constructed” or “artificial” language launched and 
then left to either sink or swim (almost certainly the 
former). 

Your last sentence "Even a well-planned language will 
evolve into something new over time...." might read
"Even a well-planned language that actually succeeds as 
the global IAL will evolve into something new over time...."!

And yes, I fully accept that the pidgins have severe 
limitations as models for an IAL paradigm on a global 
scale. However, so far as I can see they are the best 
model available, since some of them penetrated 
throughout their societies and became the mother 
tongues of a significant proportion of the population. 
No modern planned IAL including Esperanto has achieved 
anything like that success within its target area.

I think the key to this success was ownership: the 
people felt they owned their own language. It’s hardly 
likely that some pidgins would have developed 
intuitively as first languages otherwise.

Obviously some aspects vital to a global IAL were 
missing from the pidgin-scale paradigm, not least 
a requirement to maintain orthographic and 
grammatical regularity and prevent dialectisation. 
For an unwritten language in a limited geographical 
area such constraints simply weren’t necessary. 
The pidgins demonstrated the hard part: that an IAL 
could be successfully established to the point that 
it took on a life of its own and developed as a 
mother tongue.

Because this - successful implementation - is the 
hard part, I think the promoters of planned/constructed 
languages have been approaching the problem from 
the wrong end. It’s all very well to construct a highly 
efficient and regular grammar and orthography, but 
of no practical use if the masses won’t even accept 
the foundation of words without which this ideal 
superstructure cannot exist.

The LangX JPVP method, as proven by the pidgin 
precedent, therefore concentrates upon establishing 
a global core vocabulary first, and forgets about 
grammar for the time being. Without a vocabulary 
one cannot even take the first step. Simple SVO 
grammar of the pidgin type - the dominant syntax 
in existing languages anyway - would then form 
without difficulty.

A core vocabulary which felt "owned" by its speakers
rather than "foisted upon them" would obviously have
to consist of words from existing languages - and by
the same token the most popular words that hit as
many of the right buttons as possible, e.g. original 
morpheme, cognates in other languages, usage and
antiquity (Zipf's Law), international pronouncibility,
politically correct distribution within the limits of the
initial phonology, and so on.

Maintaining regularity and balance between different 
languages would be fairly straightforward once 
an IAL was established. After much discussion, 
consultation with all interested parties and due 
reflection the IAL committee should simply publish 
dictionaries (and, later on, grammars) and those 
would be the recognised standard.


Antony Alexander       http://langx.org