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In response to Mr. B. Philip Jonsson,

> That brings up an itchy question: the rights of the religious minorities.
> Even if the majority of Europeans are, on the paper at least, christians, a
> substantial portion of these have their roots in protestant and orthodox
> traditions that don't use Latin.  In Europe many people feel that the
> Vatican has already a bit more worldly and political influence than what
> should be proper, either because they oppose the idea of a religious body
> exercising secular influence, or they feel that these secular interests are
> a threat to the purity of religion.  This is true also on the local scene:
> in Sweden almost everyone supported the breaking of the ties between the
> state and the (lutheran) Church of Sweden, if from different standpoints.
> I admit that the idea of having Latin, Greek and Church Slavic as the three
> official languages of a future more widely united Europe (the present model
> being not much in my taste) appeals to the glossomaniac in me, but my
> political and spiritual instincts rebel against it.

I thought about that.  (Maybe being Catholic myself influenced me to propose
Latin.)  But remember that the Protestant churches broke off from the Catholic
Church only five hundred years ago.  Martin Luther and John Calvin wrote their
doctrines mostly in Latin -- though the Reformation ended up creating a
Christianity based more on Northern European thought as opposed to the Catholic
South.  But besides the point, Latin, along with Greek, was advanced in secular
circles thanks to the Renaissance.  And Latin is still a language of medicine,
jurisprudence, science, and so many other professional fields in the Western
world.  Also, since Vatican II the language of Catholicism has been shifted
from Latin to the vernacular in most ways (of course it still is the language
of the Holy See itself).

True, many religious minorities will be uncomfortable with a Latin revival in
secular circles.  (And around here you have sentiments against any kind of "New
World Order" which some think the Pope and the UN are planning to create.)
Remember, the intent should not to be to replace any national or local
language.  National sovereignty and ethnic rights must be protected.  The
purpose of Latin would be to put two nations who have a different national
language, for example, Great Britain and France, on an equal basis.  (This
would not be an issue between two nations that share a tongue, such as Britain
and Ireland or France and Belgium.)

I also suggest making Latin more flexible in terms of lexicon by allowing
Germanic and other loans.  Now this might make things more complicated having
an extensive and multi-original vocabulary as in English.  That will be
necessary in incorporation of computer terminology (Internetus, E-mailus, Webus
Globalis, etc.), for example.  Fundamentally, however, Latin will remain Latin
as-is.  As the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

>         If a conlang is unthinkable as an EU language (and I think it is,
> alas!) the best bet is probably Italian: it occupies a kind of middle
> ground among Romance languages, being close to French in vocabulary and to
> Spanish and Portuguese in grammar, there are many loanwords between it and
> modern Greek, and its phonetics are simple to acquire for most Europeans,
> and last but not least it has a great cultural presige while it is
> politically more insignificant: few Europeans would like to disown the
> great scholars and scientists of the renaissance, while the Italian
> language is far less burdened with colonialist baggage than the other
> 'great' languages of Europe.  Grantedly it would take some language
> planning to make an auxiliary language of Italian, like jettisoning other
> past tense forms than the analytic perfect -- most colloquial German comes
> out fine without the preterite! -- and in general preferring analytical
> constructions wherever possible.  Personal inflection of the verb is of
> course a nuisance, but one we have to live with even in English, and one
> which is familiar to most Europeans anyway!  It wouldn't matter greatly if
> North Americans choose to learn Italian or Spanish, since these are pretty
> much mutually intelligible in any case.

I might get some hate mail for this, but as fun conlangs are to design, I am
more and more convinced every day that for real-world applications, they cannot
replace a natural language.  Italian isn't bad, but remember that it is a
national language.  There are far more non-Italian speakers than Italian
speakers in the Western world.  If one is to use a national language, English
or Spanish would work better, and I'd prefer Spanish since it's spoken more as
a mother tongue in the countries affected.  About colonialism, almost all of
the countries of the Americas are independent from Spain or England or Portugal
or France.  The ones that aren't, especially Canada, are very autonomous and
are more politically allied with the United States anyway.

> Swahili seems a reasonable candidate for east and central Africa, Hausa for
> saharan and west Africa, no?  In fact the choice seems easier in Africa
> than in Europe!

Africa, unlike Latin America and Asia, has yet to really organize itself as a
unified continent, as it has only recently broken itself from European
colonization.  Right now, French and English predominate all African languages
in sub-Saharan Africa, except in Nigeria, where Hausa has practically taken
hold as the national language; Swahili is most important in Tanzania, Kenya,
and Congo.  It will be exciting to see a major concerted move to unite Africa
politically -- and I believe that there will be in the near future.  Most
likely any universal langugage establishment would be regional, as is the case
with Hausa or Swahili.  (Remember also that Hausa and Swahili, though they come
from two different families: the Chadic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family and
the Bantu group within the Niger-Kordofanian family respectively, are also
alike in that they have borrowed extensively from Arabic and the European
languages.)  I see them as the two most likely candidates -- and yes, the
choice is probably not only easier, but most likely has already been decided.

> No no no.  The first language associated with Buddhism, and one of the two
> that remains associated as a _Buddhist_ language par preferance is Pali --
> a middle Indoaryan language a bit closer to Sanskrit than Italian is to
> Latin.  The other language that carries strong Buddhist associations is
> Tibetan.  The con is that Tibetan, although probably easy to learn for most
> east and SE asians, is burdened by an antiquated and over-complicated
> orthography, just like English is.  This could of course be remedied by
> Latinization... Bhoykay 'nangchoykay ree.  The story wrt Chinese script is
> of course only too well known...

Buddhism is a very diverse religion.  There are so many schools that are
identified with countries and regions, and the languages represented are the
Buddha's own Pali, Tibetan, Burmese, Thai, Chinese (though Confuciamism is more
predominant in China), Khmer, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese of the Zen
school.  Buddhism is only praciced by a few percent of the people in India.  I
seriously doubt that the Buddhist world seeks as much to be unified under one
common tongue as Islam or Christendom, which are religions of evangelization,
or Hinduism, which is a national religion.  Even the nature of Buddhism itself
dictates this: it sees itself not as *the* true religion, but as *a* true
religion.

I'll let the experts work out the Sino-Tibetan issues... all I can say is that
the Tibetans and the Chinese *ain't* gonna give up their writing systems that
easily.  You can't fool with tradition.

Daniel A. Wier
Nacogdoches, Texas USA
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http://lcc.net/~dannyboy
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