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Unilang: in Practice

From:Oskar Gudlaugsson <hr_oskar@...>
Date:Tuesday, April 17, 2001, 22:58
One of my favorite conlanging genres has always been "the universal
language". I'm mostly just interested in it on the theoretical level. I
would like to account for some of my ideas about auxlang phonology here on
this list, but first I intend to spare a few words on the practical side of
the matter (which is what the AUXLANG-list primarily discusses, in its well-
known turbulent manner):

a) The _unilang_ (I'll use this term as distinct from _auxlang_, which can
refer to any auxiliary language) cannot be made by just one person; no-one
has the linguistic, cultural, and intellectual perspective to complete such
a task in an acceptable manner. The basic ideas might be fleshed out by a
single genius, but the unilang is a construct a par with any major building
or vehicle - you don't expect the architect to actually build the thing! It
would have to involve a chosen community of linguists familiar, in total,
with the general features of most of the world's languages (including the
small ones).

b) The basic goal of the unilang is for any speaker of a human language to
be able to learn with ease a medium which will enable him/her to freely
communicate with any other speaker, and gain access to the massive amount
of data and literature available in the world.

c) It is commonly said that it's not the quality of the proposed unilang
itself, but the manner in which it is "propagated", which will be the
decisive factor in this "battle". Well, I think the truth is that the 20th
century simply wasn't the time for a unilang; I don't think the 21st will
be the time either. We might as well consider the theoretical side of it,
until the time comes (if it does); on that level, I haven't seen any
auxlang that I'd have as our unilang rather than English (which, btw, is
not a unilang) - at least English is natural! Some of them are decidedly
less "international" than English (being way too Romance), which at least
sports a few words from langs outside of Europe. Most of them bear the mark
of old-fashioned and/or amateurish linguistics, I dare say.

With that said, I'll continue my discussion on another thread, _Unilang:
the Phonology_. Hope no-one is finding this provocative (better safe than
sorry; some auxlangers are kind of touchy); I hope, rather, that people
enjoy my speculations :)



Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>