Friday, March 19, 2010

UN interlingua for internet

Interlingua is a language-independent contents representation. The United Nations' Universal Networking Language (UNL) is the only living, general-purpose Interlingua specified by standards, handbooks and governing organizations. UNL was created to break Internet language barriers. The VAI is the UNL support group for the Spanish language.


Nice summary.

At first glance, the UNL seems to be an “interlingua”, a sort of pivot-language to which the source texts are converted before being translated into the target languages. It can, in fact, be used for such a purpose, but its primary objective is to serve as an infrastructure for handling knowledge rather than individual languages.

Indeed, it is important to note that at this point in time it would be foolish to state it possible to represent the “full” meaning of any word, sentence or text for any language. Subtleties of intention and interpretation make the “full meaning”, whatever concept we might have of it, too variable and subjective for any systematic treatment. The UNL avoids the pitfalls of trying to represent the “full meaning” of sentences or texts, targeting instead the “core” or “consensual” meaning that is most often attributed to them.

D: it would be well-suited to a language that has a literal meaning at its core.
Sure, English can be literal.
However, try this experiment.
Avoid using euphemism and idiom for a day. Good luck with that.

My counterpart to that is try to avoid references to the supernatural/mystical for a day.
I just finished Sawyer's sci-fi trilogy on a Neanderthal alternate Earth.
They lack the God-delusion organ in their mind.
So their culture and language is different.
Instead of saying "it works like a charm", they instead say "it works like a well-established scientific principle".
You get the idea.

A second childhood language which is devoid of the nuanced complexity of a natural language, but one which is devoid of irrationality and sentimentality serves a number of functions. (This is also true for adult-second-language students.)
1) it removes anxiety - or prevents anxiety- about learning additional natural languages
2) it emphasizes communication devoid of cultural/contextual requirements for understanding
3) it might allow pared-down thought that does not contain idiom, allegory, or irrational elements

D: I was reading that Canada - Toronto in particular - can expect to be dominated demographically by visible minorities, particularly Asians, by 2030. The G&M had an article on that yesterday.
English has some serious problems for untalented adult second-language learners without a shared European linguistic background. A provocative government policy would be either a creoled sub-English, an Attempto-style controlled-English language, or a non-natural designed auxiliary language to teach them first.
Teaching EFL speakers a limited subset of English is likely as much effort as teaching them an aux-lang from scratch.
There is no particular reason why the UN - the new League of Nations - must be the focus of an introduced aux-lang. A different level of gov't could use it. A province, a city. A nation.
A non-gov't organization. A corporation. A group of multinational corporations.

No comments: