An International Auxlang

wed29mar2006—13w088d24%— 22h12m00s—0utc

Here’s an excellent formist intro to international auxiliary languages WP written by Eward Sapir WP himself (one of the most influential American linguists of the past century) in 1925:

There are many, many highlights to be made. Here’s four

  1. The “difficult and subjective concept” of the richness of a language, the “richness of connotations” (that phrase alone was worth the price of admission). This was precisely what I was getting at in my badly-received post On the Language of this Blog.
  2. “It is true that English is not as complex in its formal structure as is German or Latin, but this does not dispose of the matter. The fact that a beginner in English has not many paradigms to learn gives him a feeling of absence of difficulty, but he soon learns to his cost that this is only a feeling, that in sober fact the very absence of explicit guide-posts to structure leads him into all sorts of quandaries.. ”pink">The simplicity of English in its formal aspect is.. really a pseudo-simplicity or a masked complexity."
  3. His dazzling insight that the problem of finding an adequate international auxiliary language is really the problem of how best to “symbolize thought.” Wow. Just wow.
  4. “A common allegiance to a form of expression that is identified with no single national unit is likely to prove one of the most potent symbols of the freedom of the human spirit that the world has yet known.” ’Nuff said.

* * *

Y’know, just between you and me, when the time is ripe — that is, in around 10 years — I would love to plunge myself in language: I would love to speak (and think in) Esperanto, Japanese, German, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan, Russian, Hebrew, Sweddish, Arab, Hindi… — Oh! Were languages not the harsh mistresses that they are! I’d love to work (and solve!) the problem of automatic machine translation (which, according to Kurzweil, will be the last task left for AI to emulate, the crucial last stepping stone to consciousness). I’d love to read both Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake_. I’d love to construct all sorts of constructed and auxiliary languages. I’d love to write in Esperanto and join la movado. I’d love to become a WiktionaryUn19aag super-freak. I’d love to write language textbooks. I’d love to create a compiler and write programming languages. I’d love (in a most masochistic kind of way) to be a professional translator and translate a novel. I’d love to study some serious linguistics. I’d love to do advanced algebra. I’d love to become a Lisp super-freak or, quite oppositely, think in assembly code. I’d love to understand Goedel’s incompleteness theorem. I’d love to work in the semantic web. I’d love to create software to help one read and absorb written information (we have software to write, word processors, so why don’t we have software to read?).

Oh well, please excuse the future lapse.

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