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On 9/23/14, Jens Wilkinson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> On 2014/09/23, at 21:16, Stephen Rice <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>> I once traded story critiques with another writer. In one of my
>> stories, a character uses a phrase in Indonesian. This produced no
>> comment. In another story, phrases in Esperanto show up. This did
>> provoke a comment, namely that the Esperanto was "gibberish."
>
> Kind of a simple question, but is it possible it happened because there was
> only one Indonesian phrase? But several in Esperanto? Sometimes you let
> something slip through when it only happens once.

The Indonesian was prominent, though, and introduced a minor plot
point. The Esperanto involved a plot point as well, but its function
was more like that of Elvish languages in _The Lord of the Rings_,
though not as common. And I always translated it: it was not a case
where it impeded understanding. In fact, I didn't bother translating
the Indonesian, so it would have been gibberish, while the Esperanto
was translated. In a way that may have been part of the problem:
knowing what the phrase meant made the fact it was otherwise
unguessable more obvious. Also, checking the text, I remembered that
she did not in fact read the whole story with the Esperanto, so that
one part was presumably all she encountered.

Anyway, intelligibility was the expressed problem, and it also has
been in other cases: this is not an isolated episode. Basically,
Esperanto, or any "universal language," should be immediately
intelligible; it is not; therefore it doesn't work at all, and
probably other such schemes don't work either.

For example, if you look at the sci-fi series _Red Dwarf_, Esperanto
appears in signage, but when it is mentioned in the script proper, the
point is that it is apparently difficult to learn, which is why it's a
means of keeping the rabble who don't know it from interfering with
the elite who do. Now, in the stories about the Stainless Steel Rat,
Esperanto is positively portrayed, but unfortunately the style of
samples is rather primitive. And I have seen Esperanto portrayed in
sci-fi as universally intelligible on the one hand and hard to
understand on the other. So I do stand by the idea of a general
prejudice against auxlangs,

Steve