Print

Print


[Anyone who wades through the following exchange will be rewarded by the
revelation of my "discovery". --kc]
 
Chris Burd skribis:
 
> Then Ken wrote:
>
> I personally don't like the idea of pushing all these micro-IALs.  If a
> Romance-IAL, a Slavic-IAL, an Arabic-IAL, a Putonghua-IAL, etc., etc., =
were
> in widespread use, I'd view that as only a small step toward an actual =
IAL.
> Proponents of such a situation would have exerted a lot of effort for a=
n
> interim "solution" which is only marginally better than the status quo.=
  And
> what would we do at that hypothetical point?  Rather than proceeding to=
 the
> next (also slow) step of merging these micro-IALs into a true IAL, we m=
ight
> just force everyone to use our Romance-IAL, with its Romance quirks and
> irregularities.  (Similar to the linguistic hegemony of English today.)=
  Or
> at that point we might try a rationalization and simplification of the
> foremost regional-IAL.  But the same problems might crop up that caused=
 Basic
> English to founder.
>
> -----
>
> I don't criticise the logic of this, but I disagree with what I
> see as an underlying assumption. That is, the assumption of
> technocracy, the belief that some force, some authority is
> going to plan this thing for us. I think that most of us
> Auxlangers consciously reject that expectation, but it's hard
> to get out of the habit of thinking as though it were so. We
> are not an elite group of language-planning technocrats. Nobody
> is; nobody ever will be.
 
Chris, I don't follow your thoughts here.  I have frequently indicated my=
 opinion
that having any planlingvo attain truly widespread use would be a _good_ =
thing,
but have also at times expressed pessimism concerning the probability of =
this
happening -- by any means.  I certainly do not believe the underlying
assumption(s) you give above, that "some authority is going to plan this =
thing
for us" or that we are "an elite group of language-planning technocrats".=
  Half
in jest I (and others) have mused on various far-out scenarios which migh=
t result
in an IAL coming into common use, but most of the time I expect (1) that =
new
planlingvoj will continue to be invented yearly, (2) that 99.5% of them w=
ill only
be used by the author (if that), and (3) that one or more of the more vis=
ible
planlingvoj will continue slowly gain proponents.  I have no other way to=
 predict
the future but to look at past progress.
 
> Any successful IAL project (or any
> language-reform project) has to have more or less the
> character of water running downhill. Activists can maybe
> dig a drainage ditch or two, but that's all.
 
I hear you, brother!
 
> So from that point of view, I don't see anyone setting up
> regional IALs - but where the opportunity exists, regional
> bridge languages have and will grow up.
 
Sure.  But this process has had millenia to operate, and I'm slightly
dissatisfied with the results.
 
> That process can
> be assisted by planning, IAL-style. The process of forming
> a world interlingua currently centres on English. There
> may be countercurrents that Interlingua or Esperanto can
> take advantage of.
 
I don't know quite what you mean, but it sounds promising.
 
> I don't see anyone setting up a world IAL either. If the
> idea of using scientific/international vocabulary with a simplified
> Romance grammar attracts significant uses, then one or more
> communities may grow up around something like Interlingua.
 
Yes, indeed.  I view that as a drawing card.
 
> If these uses draw in people from non-Western linguistic
> background, then the language will quickly shed any
> parochialisms (yet those same parochialisms may have been
> useful assets at an earlier stage).
 
I hope so.  It still feels wrong to me, but the argument has merit.
 
> Planning might facilitate
> this process, but no planning can halt it or command it.
>
> If Interlingua, say, became globalised, it would quickly
> shed its parochialisms (even if though those parochialisms
> may be a valuable asset *today*).
 
Yes, that seems to me a good way to look at it.  Modifying your earlier a=
nalogy
of water running downhill, we might hope that Interlingua (for example) m=
ight,
like a ball rolling downhill on a course of least (or less) resistance, g=
ain
sufficient momentum to overcome the later hurdles.  (I had to use a ball =
rather
than water, since water would merely form a lake and not use its momentum=
 to rise
above the obstacles!)
 
I'm less than excited about such a vision as you present here, Chris.  A =
large
part of learning Esperanto was, for me, the sense of many people from var=
ious
backgrounds taking a step toward each other, with no-one required to bear=
 the
burden of accomodating another, using someone else's language.  And it ma=
kes
sense to me to concentrate on simplifications which benefit all, rather t=
han
some, of the prospective learners.  I don't rule out the possibility that
Esperanto has surpassed other candidates because of a greater sense of fa=
irness
and its occasional use of non-European (or even invented) constructs, whe=
n
greater simplicity is thereby achieved.  This may perhaps be related to
Zamenhof's idea of homaranismo, since for him an IAL was only a means to =
better
mutual understanding of people separated by culture.  He may have optimis=
tically
exaggerated the advantages of our understanding one another -- wars are s=
till
fought among speakers of the same language --  but his ideas still strike=
 a
resounding chord for me.
 
In short, you may be right, you may have outlined the right road for us, =
the
pragmatic approach that will lead to a worldwide IAL, but I have no heart=
 to
actively campaign for it.
 
> In theory World English
> should be heavily koinised by now, but that process is held
> in cheque by the existence and status of 300 million native
> speakers. An IAL - no one's language - isn't going to
> have that problem.
 
Yes, this is a good point.  I see and respect your vision.
 
> So there's no point fussing too much
> about the details (he says, recklessly consigning
> 90% of Auxlang postings - including his own - to irrelevancy).
 
Ha ha!  Well, life would be pretty dull if we couldn't laugh at ourselves
occasionally, nonne?
 
 
Well, I've come to the end of my reply to Chris' interesting post, and du=
ring my
attempt to answer a realization has hit deeply home for me.  Please forgi=
ve me if
this sounds too egotistical, but I have seen enough of Chris' vision for =
the
future of Interlingua that I finally (!) understand and applaud it.
 
There have always been many mutually exclusive viewpoints and opinions he=
re, and
I have always argued for what seemed to me to be right (or the most logic=
al, or
the most practical, etc., etc.), here agreeing, there disagreeing, with t=
he
different posts.  At times the "discussions" have been so rabidly flaming=
 that
I've doubted someone's good faith.  Often the impression has been given (=
and I'm
as guilty of this as anyone) that a dissenting opinion must be incorrect =
-- must
be based on some fallacious argument, or invalid data.  I trust that I've=
 always
tried to "see the other fellow's point of view", but that's not easy for =
us
mortals.  One person says that if we'd all rallied around X instead of fr=
ittering
away our energies (on Y, for instance) we'd have a world-wide IAL by now.
Another says if we'd only abandoned that loser X and jumped on the bandwa=
gon with
Y we'd have a world-wide IAL by now!  It's amuzing, but also rather sad. =
 Many of
us have bewailed the occasional and recurring polemics on this forum, and=
 I even
uns*bbed for awhile, but came back for the same reason I came to start wi=
th, to
learn more about various IALs and their diverse strengths.
 
The point I'm gradually sidling up to is that my time on auxlang has chan=
ged my
attitude:  I came to learn, to convince others of the validity of my conc=
lusions
or to be convinced by them of the correctness of theirs.  (Both have happ=
ened at
times, despite the proverbs regarding the futility of argument.)  As thos=
e who
have wasted any time perusing my "Esperanto unue!" website
<http://www.southern.edu/~caviness/Eo_unue/> can testify, I have felt the=
 need to
collect the various arguments for and against various planlingvoj, think =
about
them, and decide whether I believed them or not.  I don't know how else t=
o react
to the wildly different claims and counterclaims (not to mention accusati=
ons)
that fly about so freely here.  In every case after considering the avail=
able
data and lines of argument I've either been convinced by a particular arg=
ument,
or have become convinced to my own satisfaction that it was invalid.
 
But here we have something new:  Chris has laid out an apologetic argumen=
t for
Interlingua that I can understand, respect, and applaud.  (This happened
gradually, in the course of many posts, of course, not merely in this pos=
t.  It's
not his fault that I just now got it.)  Likewise I have always enjoyed Kj=
ell's
informative posts, although I disagreed with some of his conclusions.  We=
ll,
guess what?  We've seen a (usually) calm, always thoughtful, valid argume=
nt for
naturalistic planlingvoj.  I find no fault in it.  I no longer have a mor=
al
argument against naturalistic planlingvoj.  Chris has pulled the rug out =
from
under me with his well-considered comments quoted above.  And with this
realization comes another:  I really _did_ view naturalistic, exception-h=
eavy,
planned languages as intrinsically _inferior_ to their more schematic, lo=
gical,
cousins.  But Chris makes a good argument -- my first impulse was to see =
it as
the end justifying the means, but on second thought I see his point.  He =
and
others among us are truly convinced that the initial inertia against chan=
ge can't
be overcome by a schematic planglingvo, but do believe that it can be by =
a
naturalistic one, and that a naturalistic planlingvo can be improved upon=
 in the
future.  As stated, that removes my qualms about naturalistic IALs, altho=
ugh I
still support Esperanto as "the best hope for the IAL movement" for reaso=
ns amply
discussed in past posts and in my webpages.  In fact, only time will tell=
 which
(if any) of the presented possibilities will come to pass.
 
And this brings me to a final realization:  I have no interest in arguing=
 for one
(hopefully!) self-consistent view of planned languages against another
(apparently) equally self-consistent view.  For a long time I've been too=
 busy
for the arguments, and have "striven valiantly" to stay out of them, only=
 to be
sucked back in by some inflammatory comment which I "just had to correct"=
.  Well,
I've lost interest in disagreeing with unsubstantiated claims and vitriol=
ic
comments.  And at least for me, the serious argument is over:  valid apol=
ogetics
can be constructed for both the schematic and naturalistic schools.  Unle=
ss
someone says something new, it's all beating a dead horse.  (But the comp=
arison
between constructed languages and natural pidgins continues to interest m=
e and
has not been dealt with much recently here.)
 
I'm not uns*bscribing, since I enjoy this topic, but I'm going into nearl=
y-lurk
mode.  (In order to enforce this on myself I may have to limit myself to =
reading
the list once per week, by threads and deleting freely.)  For me there re=
mains
one question:  what about new folks who join the list and read this or th=
at
unchallenged but IMO incorrect statement?!  (This was a major considerati=
on which
drove me to put material on the web, rather than rehashing old lines of t=
hought
on the list.)  Here, too, I've changed my views slightly:  I'm no-one's m=
other,
anyone actually interested in the topic will have to study and will soon =
read a
variety of opinions, and judge them, even without my help.  ;-)
 
I've always resented my tendancy to argue on this list, since it has appa=
rently
seldom done much good and has definitely used up a great deal of my time,=
 time
better spent elsewise.  I've told myself and others to argue less and do =
more
that's constructive, but I haven't taken my own good advice too well:  al=
though
I've always maintained activities which I view as constructive for the IA=
L
movement -- informal publicity and mention of Esperanto in conversations,
participation in local clubs, work as a tutor for the online Free Esperan=
to
Course (for English-speakers) and as coordinator for its sister course fo=
r
French-speakers, oh, and I've got an Esperanto bumper sticker, too  ;-)  =
-- I
could have done more good if I'd wasted less time arguing.  (*)
 
So I'm not actually leaving, but I'm reprioritizing.  It's more fun for m=
e to
learn planlingvoj than to argue about them, anyway, so thanks to all who =
post
material here or URLs to IAL material online.  You're why I must remain h=
ere, at
least as a lurker.  And I'd like to particularly thank Bob Petry for the
currently in-progress Occidental/Auli-Prim course!  We're having a lot of=
 fun,
and learning a lot.
 
Amike salutas vin ^ciujn
 
Ken
 
[* Or is my perception wrong here?  It seems to me that generally when so=
meone
has sent me a note, on- or off-list, either congratulating or chastising =
me for
my comments, it has been because they already agreed or disagreed, not be=
cause I
presented something new.  If that's not an argument for me to hush, I don=
't know
one when I hear one.]
 
--
 
To get paid for your web-surfing time, click here:
 
          <http://www.southern.edu/~caviness/EarnNSurf.html>
 
  *-----------------------------------------------------------------*
  | Ken CAVINESS           Physics at Southern Adventist University |
  | [log in to unmask]             ESPERANTO =3D Lingvo internacia |
  | http://southern.edu/~caviness/     E-o/English/Fran=E7ais/Deutsch |
  *-----------------------------------------------------------------*