Sunday, March 13, 2011

Espo, Ranto, Counter-Ranto. My rant.

D: this is a refutation of Ranto.

The main point is as follows:

"he misses Esperanto's main feature : the fact that the language consists of invariable morphemes that combine freely."

D: The argument is that Ranto is a merely theoretical debate about grammar, and is not by somebody competent to speak the language.

Well, I have memorized the entire c. 850 word Vortlistoy from a teach-yourself book by Creswell published in 1992. I'll be teaching conversational Espo this summer in K-W. I just acquired a laser printer, magnetic sheets, and adhesive paper to make Magnetic Poetry of a sort to teach Espo. This approach should emphasize the main strength of Espo, as noted by Claude.

He already noted the main good point of Espo. Now the rest...
the process behind selecting bound morphemes to serve as word root.

The root is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family (root is then called base word), which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents. Content words in nearly all languages contain, and may consist only of, root morphemes. However,sometimes the term "root" is also used to describe the word minus its inflectional endings, but with its lexical endings in place. For example, chatters has the inflectional root or lemma chatter, but the lexical root chat. Inflectional roots are often called stems, and a root in the stricter sense may be thought of as a monomorphemic stem.

My rebuttal about Espo is this - if Esperanto grows from the root, the problem is that the root is rotten. The foundation is unsound. The statue has feet of clay.
And the whole edifice tumbles down, based on this flaw.

Initially, Espo claimed to only need c. 1000 bound-morphemes for a decent vocabulary. These days, I think the total is closer to 10,000. This, IMHO, is due to a sloppy and short-sighted approach to selecting word roots.
The # of times I was bewildered by lexical entries is considerable.
I understand that part of this is my bias as an English speaker. Part of it.

I will cite a meandering list from that book's vortlistoy.

- meet - renkonti (transitive) BUT konveni (intransitive)
- papero - an example of complete ambiguity of whether -er- in an infix of pap-o.
- mang'o (' for diacritic- another fail. I'll use underline in my lessons) - could the word for meal not be somehow related to nutraj'o for food?
- an attraction to idiomatic, awkward words and expressions.
-unexpected sounds shifts. state is sh-tato.
- excessive syllables. university is universitato
- several - plural - pluray - is still plural?
- sitacio - situation / place overlaps with loco - spot place
- necesasas - is necessary, but then with need besono- need? this was a perfect
chance to reduce the need to memorize vocabulary. fail.
- plenkreskulo- all grown up overlaps with adolto. yet more synonyms.
- retpilko is netball. futbalo is football. but ball is globo and foot is piedo. wtf?
- tute ne - not at all. the latinate word order means one is not sure if that following ne applies to whatever follows, or precedes it.
- why have flui- flow and likvaj'o - for liquid too? just nounify flui.
- ekipaj'o - equipment. a perfect example of unclear root/prefix/suffix boundaries.
- it could as easily be ek-ip- aj' -o. but isn't. no idea how to know which.
- overly vague, lacking nuance. fabriko- a factory. a made-noun. of course... not.
- centrifuga (spin), rondo (ring, circle), c'irkau' - massively redundant.
- also with ball et al- ripe for a clever vocabulary system
- rajdi vs raiti- only a voiced/voiceless minimal pair to tell them apart. french n
english will err opposite ways on this one.
-leg'o -law. a number of related words to this and medical could have benefit from
compounding. e.g. kaso.
- a totally random approach to transitive/intransitive in the root verb.
- alparoli- to address. did we need this, given the ways to say say? diras.
- on a related note, did we need 3 words for whisper, speak and shout?
- too short. imagine is imagi. could be image as easily. ditto instruo.
- embedding 'just about to' - j'us - would have made for verb brevity. the anglo
modal/auxiliary verb system was ripe for this. ditto daurig'i- continue
- eraro - not er-ar-o. but no way to tell.
- moorhen - in what word does this rate a 'top 850' core lexical item?
- c'efgvidanto, and at least 2 other words for leader including maejstro and one so vague i could not find it in the vocab list
- on a related note, profesio was ripe for that. there are at least 3 ways to say skilled unrelated to one another
- on that note, there are 3 words that overlap with the concept of serious including serioza and grava and solena
- hearty translates to cordial. of course.
- fremda - foreign - is redundant with exsterlando - abroad.
- funkcii- heckuva tongue-twister in a common word
- exemplaro - copy and multobligi to duplicate. um... same thing!!!
- kirurgo - surgeon - unrelated to obvious root word operacio- operation.
- bileto- ticket. there is no bilo. this is not -et- infix. no way to know...
- gross distortions of sounds based on slavish adherence to spelling (sometimes),
like jug'i - to judge.
- potenco - power BUT malpove - helplessly
- more redundant ways to say various biological/person than can be believed.
- balo- recall from football? nope it means DANCE.
- senerare - faultlessly- redundant with perfecte.
- meal, feast, banquet.... overkill.
- unrelated words for drinking glass - glaso - and okulvitroy - eyeglasses. why?
- talenta for talented but for skillful, another word

So I do find the Ranto criticism - and the retort - off the mark.
There are other, far more serious problems to dwell upon.

I will take the 300 most common or useful English words, and translate them for my basic vocabulary. It will not include macrame or moorhens.
It will not include massive numbers of synonyms.

Ultimately a few minor twists could have went far in salvaging the Espo design.
- a clear indication of infixes, either via reserved phonemes or letter sequences.
E.g. The root could be necessarily containing a CC or VV sequence. E.g. CCVVC- Thus any CV- prefix or -VC infix prior to the -V suffix would clearly be such.

I am glad to teach Espo as a historical oddity, in much the same way a few die-hards maintain operational Model T Ford antique cars.
But in terms of being a practical world language, well let's just say I appreciate certain unnamed national leaders and their reactions to the speakers of Espo...

Successful? With 10,000 fluent speakers in a century, that is 100 per year. The # is NOT increasing. It is on life support. Time is not on its side.

So at 100 speakers per year, a new language can claim to be matching its success.
Reaching 10,000 fluent speakers in 10 years would be a magnitude shift improvement.
Then the same argument Espo uses (and English uses better) for its adoption would be turned against it.
Not that I expect many Espo fans to budge.

1 comment:

dino snider said...
D - bwahaha!