--- On Thu, 11/6/08, Jens Wilkinson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Fri, Nov 7, 2008 at 5:57 AM, steve rice
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > > (For me personally, the most shocking political
> statement I
> > > ever saw in this
> > > group was Rex's declaration that he supports
> the English
> > > Only movement in
> > > the USA. How can a supporter of constructed IALs
> also
> > > harbor such a
> > > political view?)
> >
> > Actually, as it's properly understood, the English
> Only movement is not at
> > all antithetical to auxlanging; rather, it's an
> obvious corollary of it.
> I'm willing to buy that it's not antithetical, but
> saying that it's an
> "obvious corollary" is going a bit too far. I
> don't think that supporting an
> IAL necessarily has anything to do with whether one
> supports "English only,"
> i.e. both could be rational positions within it. Having a
> multilingual
> country like India and then having a further language like
> Eo for
> international communication seems perfectly rational to me.
> Doesn't it to
> you? Now, you could argue that having more than one
> language is economically
> wasteful. So if you're the type of person who is always
> working for
> efficiency, then the Indian model would seem wasteful.

English-Only is based in America, not India, Cameroon, or Oz. So the question is not what would be a sound language policy in India, which already has several official languages; it is what would be a sound language policy in the US, which currently has no official language.

> But actually, like Rick I am somewhat baffled by Rex's
> position, because to
> me it seems to betray an inherent opposition to
> multiculturalism (I don't
> think it's hidden), and to me the project of IALism has
> more to do with
> support for multiculturalism or dialogue based on equality
> than it does
> simple efficiency. 

Actually, from its earliest days "IALism" has had to do avoiding linguistic confusion. At the international level, that involves adopting an international language; at the national level, it involves adopting a national language. Once the common language exists, it's possible to use it (English in the US, Eo or whatever else globally) to have all those clever dialogs.

Actually, I'm disappointed that no one has yet brought up the obvious (though false) contradiction in my position: after all, I say that "one language for the world" doesn't work; how can I possibly say one language for the US would work? I just flipped a coin, and it said to go ahead and explain the matter.

It's annoyingly obvious, and I hope that's why no one bothered mentioning it. But the answer is simply that while there is a common language (English) in the US, there is no such language in the world as a whole. So English-Only involves merely recognizing an existing fact and avoiding dilution of a useful unity. Adopting a single global auxiliary would involve imposing it on people.

I think this is probably something that
> separates
> supporters of so-called "worldlangs" from those
> who support a principally
> Western language. And what's strange is that Rex
> sometimes falls into the
> first category. But it's probably more complicated than
> that. I should let
> Rex speak for himself, if he's still around on this
> list.
I wish he would. The problem that I have with worldlangs is in part the problem I have with multiculturalism as a movement: both trivialize the very thing they seek to enshrine. If you've noticed how multiculturalism is taught in schools, it generally amounts to reducing various cultures (and thus Culture itself) to soundbites. It used to be that we expected a kid to take twelve years to soak up the essentials of his own culture; now we act as though any culture may be addressed in a few days or a week. It's the educational equivalent of those boorish "See twelve countries in seven days" tours: you only get a brief glimpse of important items, not enough time to truly appreciate any of them.

And worldlangs seem to do the same thing: taking a word here and there "represents" an entire language and culture! Don't you see how offensive that is? Even something like Interlingua is mildly insulting, boiling down "Roman" (in the Godean sense) culture as it does, but it is far more respectful of its sources than any worldlang. Dave McLeod attempted to make roughly this point a while back--more than once, in fact, as I recall. To pull a form out of its linguistic and cultural context is about as respectful as an alien abduction.

Does that mean auxlangs are a fraud? Not really. Interlingua tries to preserve the general context of the forms it uses; Eo simply picks something similar to an existing form for purely mnemonic reasons. Both lack the multicultural pretensions of worldlangs: Ia because it focuses on one language/culture group, Eo because it regards the forms chosen as merely useful labels--an attitude I believe Rex and Dana employ in Ceqli and Sasxsek respectively. Because they don't make the grandiose claim, they at least aren't hypocritical in not achieving it.