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    It seems to have been claimed, more or less, in this forum that
adherents of the (constructed) international auxiliary language idea
should promote not just this or that conIAL but the IAL ideal in
general, on the theory that a rising tide lifts all boats.  However, I
have come speculatively to the notion that this generalized promotion
of an ideal will not accomplish much.
 
    Suppose that I am a stereotypical monoglot anglophone American with
little or no awareness of or appreciation for "the language problem."
Now you come to me and promote the IAL deal.
 
    "Great," I reply, "I am convinced.  Now teach me your fabulous
auxiliary language."
    "Well," you respond, "I am not in the business of teaching you
any IAL; I am just trying to convince you of the ideal."
    "OK, I am convinced.  But what am I supposed to do with this
lofty ideal in the abstract?  I want to do something about it.  I
want to learn your IAL.  Teach me, so I can use it."
    "But I am only dealing with an ideal.."
    "Ideals are wonderful things, but unless they have some concrete
manifestations they remain in cloud castles.  I want to learn your
language."
    "Well, you see, there are all these IALs out there.  I am not
advocating any particular one of them."
 
We go back and forth like this, you espousing a cloudy ideal and I,
being convinced on theoretical grounds, wanting to do something specific
about it.  If sooner or later you do not evidence willingness to teach
me some specific language, I am likely to conclude that you are an
impractical dreamer (or that IALists in general are cranks) and go my
way, muttering under my breath about addle-pated idealists.
 
    I tend to hold that the time comes, when taking the ideal to the
public, that an IAList must advocate some specific language -- Suma,
Glosa, Ro, Interlingua, Oz, Ido, Esperanto, Occidental, XYZ, whatever
-- if she or he is to be taken seriously.
 
    To be sure, the interlanguage battles we often see may, to the
extent that they become public, brand IALists in general as cranks.
(Perhaps we are, after all.)  Haggles about "perfection" or "an
asymptotic approach to perfection" are useless.  We will never have
complete agreement, simply because one person's necessary feature will
be another's fatal flaw.
 
    At best we, individually, must hold our nose and pick one, warts
and all, and go with it, advocating it, whether it meets our personal
standards or not.  In the end, if any (con)IAL is ever widely adopted,
it will probably not be on linguistic grounds, the result of a coterie
of linguists (or amateur pseudo-linguists) sitting in a smoke-filled
back room dreaming up some allegedly "perfect" language.
 
    It is because I retracted a decision one time made and do not
presently advocate a single language that I am not a -public- advocate
of the IAL ideal.  Hence I restrict myself to online fora where the
debates are fun, even if they don't accomplish much.
 
--
Paul                                  <[log in to unmask]>
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Paul O. Bartlett, P.O. Box 857, Vienna, VA 22183-0857, USA
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