Friday, February 20, 2009

endangered natural languages. relationship to aux-langs.

"Unesco director-general Koichiro Matsuura said: "The death of a language leads to the disappearance of many forms of intangible cultural heritage, especially the invaluable heritage of traditions and oral expressions of the community that spoke it - from poems and legends to proverbs and jokes."

The Manx language was thought to have died out in the mid-19th century but there are now believed to be about 600 active speakers.

... There are thought to be just 300 fluent speakers of Cornish left in the world and Jenefer Lowe, development manager of the Cornish Language Partnership, says reports of its extinction are premature."


D: I can just imagine telethon 'adopt-a-language' drives.

What is the relationship of auxlangs to natlangs?

Every new religion, every new ideology begins as marginal.

The plead for tolerance and wanting everyone to 'play nice in the sandbox together'.

Once in charge, often they'll engage in bloody pogroms against the old guard.

The Romans and Christianity come to mind.

Monotheism. The One True Way.

... A world language.... no room for others?

With languages, there are 4 tiers in this analogy.

1) learned in adulthood, second language

2) learned in childhood, second

3) learned in childhood, co-taught with first natural language

4) first language.

International linguistic hegemonies draw on beliefs and attitudes to linguistic hierarchies and interlock with the allocation of more resources to the dominant language.

The imaginative project in the inter-war period to devise a restricted form of English as an "international auxiliary language", BASIC English (BASIC = British American Scientific International Commercial), was promoted in the hope that lesser languages would be eliminated:

***"What the world needs is about 1000 more dead languages — and one more alive" ***

(Ogden, 1934, cited in Bailey, 1991, 210). Here "international understanding" was seen as unidirectional, with other languages to be abandoned in favour of the dominant language, English, this having been made more accessible through simplification.

Linguistic imperialism has invariably presupposed the superiority of the dominant language, in both the colonial and postcolonial worlds (Mühlhäusler 1996; Phillipson 1992). The British and Americans created a substantial academic infrastructure to serve the promotion of English worldwide.

D: note this is the opinion about a con-nat-lang (controlled natural language).

I hear the Germans were preparing a simplified German for the masses, to facilitate the 3rd Reich.

D: aux-langs have an advantage that nat-langs lack in the same degree.

They can be sufficiently simple to learn that there is plenty of time for a second childhood language. Some nat-langs possess such qualities in varying degrees.

I refer back to my first blog entry.

Finns are literate c. 2 years before English kids, with Russians in turn years behind English.

It matters a lot what qualities a language, spoken and written, possesses! The key is simplicity (to a degree), regularity, phoneticity. Turkish affixes are not simple, but they are simple in the sense of lacking irregulars and exceptions. In short, there are not many rules to learn. Compare to English with the THOUSANDS of rules that would be needed to encompass its quirks.

Conlangs are an attempt to minimize these aspects of natlangs. Naturalistic auxlangs, I suppose, resemble reformed con-langs quite closely.

  1. Plurals are formed with a trailing "S". The normal exceptions of standard English also apply, notably "ES" and "IES".
  2. There are four derivatives for the 300 nouns: -"ER" and -"ING", and two adjectives, -"ING" and -"ED".
  3. Adverbs use -"LY" from qualifiers.
  4. Degree is expressed with "MORE" and "MOST". Be prepared to find -"ER" and -"EST" in common usage.
  5. Negative adjectives are formed with "UN"-
  6. Questions are formed by inversion and by "DO".
  7. Operators and pronouns conjugate in full.
  8. Compound words may be combined from two nouns (milkman) or a noun and a directive (sundown).
  9. Measurement, numerals, currency, calendar, and international terms are in English form.
  10. Technical expressions required and customary for the immediate task are included in the locally used form.

D: English verbs seem unnecessarily complex.

Lang X aims to be the first childhood language of the world.




2726 AD



D: Finnish gives insight into how a dominant world language could play well with others.
Being easy enough to learn, picking up Swedish in childhood is common. Once Swedish is learned, its similarities to English allow that to be a third language, either in childhood or adulthood. The key is a conlang or auxlang sufficiently regular that the only complexity is for nuance of meaning, not mere quirkiness. A sufficiently reformed conlang would be be virtually indistinguishable from a naturalistic auxlang.

D: next I'll try to apply Ygyde's Long form to Decimese to allow for use of easily lip-read visemes from Deafese.



The Future

What makes a nation is a common language and experience. What will make men international will be a common language. The earth is getting smaller through the discoveries of Science, and Media is now putting Babel into the houses of all. One great step forward would be news every hour in a common language. Five minutes would be enough to give everyone the feeling that this little earth was pulling itself together. That language would quickly become a part of everyday experience. It would be possible for media to be produced in any country for every country.


1 comment:

Brian Barker said...

On the occasion of International Mother Language Day on 21st February, you may be interested in the contribution, made by the World Esperanto Association, to UNESCO's campaign for the protection of endangered languages.

The following declaration was made in favour of Esperanto, by UNESCO at its Paris HQ in December 2008.

The commitment to the campaign to save endangered languages was made, by the World Esperanto Association at the United Nations' Geneva HQ in September. or