Print

Print


On Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 2:29 PM, James Chandler <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> It's of course nonsense to say that they're all still
> in the test tube. Esperanto doesn't need testing, and neither do Ido or
> Interlingua, for that matter. They have all been amply demonstrated to
> be fully functional languages.
> Todd

I strongly disagree with this statement.  What about the Eternaj Komencantoj for example?  And what about obvious defects like the letter h^ ?  Whenever it is mentioned the response is that, well, don't worry about it because it doesn't appear in many words, and it is (somehow) being replaced by k anyway (but what about the potential homophones?).

It is far from clear to me that any of these languages is actually learnable by the general public.  I would say the testing phase has hardly even begun.

The Eternaj Komencantoj have nothing whatever to do with whether or not Esperanto and Ido are fully functional. Calling them fully functional means nothing more, and nothing less, than that they are learnable and usable, in the same ways that the natural languages are learnable and usable.

Yes, there are people who never manage to get past the beginner stage in Esperanto, French, Spanish, and any other language you care to mention. This is undoubtedly more a comment about these people than it is about the languages. The greatest obstacla to learning a new language, by far, is the tendency to see everything that one does in one's native language as natural and inevitable. There are people who never "get" the point that "I am eating" in English need not, and should not, be translated as "Mi estas manĝanta" in Esperanto, "Je suis mangeant" in French, and so on. There are people who never get that English "have" as an auxiliary verb should be be translated as "havas" in Esperanto, and on and on and on. Many of these people are, though no fault of their own, just stuck in the idea that every language must be essentially a relex of their native language.  Are these people the "general public"? I don't even know what that means. I do know, with certainty, that there are people who speak excellent Esperanto from all walks of life. I don't know from personal knowledge whether that's true of Ido, but I have no reason to doubt it.

So yes, the testing phase is long over. The languages work. That they have what some might consider defects is also completely irrelevant to the fact that they are fully functional. For purposes of this message, I'll define "defect" as "a property that James Chandler would never put in an auxlang." English has loads of defects. English is fully functional. English is learned by the general public.

If you believe that Esperanto has fewer speakers than it should have because of its linguistic defects, then you should a fortiori believe that Ido has even more defects. Ido has had over a century to make its case to the world, but has fared even worse than Esperanto. Esperanto's level of success may be as dismal as you say, but one thing we have learned with certainty is that Ido's is far more dismal. Despite all that, both languages are fully functional.

As Don Harlow used to argue, and as I believe too, there is simply no good reason to believe that Esperanto's failure to achieve its own ambitions is due to its linguistic shortcomings. The world doesn't want ConIALs. Tempting as it is to believe that the world doesn't want them because it doesn't really understand them, I very much suspect it's the other way around. The world doesn't understand them because it doesn't want them, and will therefore settle for any idiotic, distorted, account of them, the better to dismiss them. I believe this because, really, the case for a ConIAL isn't really that subtle or difficult to follow. That case has been made, over and over and over. The functionality of Esperanto has been demonstrated to anyone who cares to look, for decades and decades. I believe the same is true of Ido. But nobody really does want to look, and nobody cares about the arguments.

Todd