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Re: OT: Auxlangs (was Re: "Esperanto V.2")

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Friday, March 24, 2006, 22:41
On 3/24/06, Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...> wrote:

> On Fri, 24 Mar 2006 09:31:24 +0000, Chris Bates wrote:
> > Now, I'm not a major fan of how Lojban does that, but at least they > > don't take the attitude that the only attribute an auxlang needs is to > > be easy to learn... it seems to me that you only learn an auxlang once, > > but if it's successful you have to use it for years and years. So what > > you want is not as simple as possible, but a powerful expressive > > language well suited to expressing intricate nuances of the business and > > political world especially.
Or, a language that has a good trade-off or balance between power of expression and ease of learning. Too many features intended for powerful expressiveness might make a language too hard to have any advantage in ease of learning over existing natlangs. Or too much stripping down of expressive power in quest of ease of learning will make it difficult to use for many purposes. In the best case you have something like Toki Pona, which is fun enough to attract some dozens of learners and speakers even though it's not powerful enough for general use as an IAL. (It's surprisingly powerful for a language as small as it is, though.)
>I'd like to see auxlangs with interesting > > new ideas and features, instead of all the bare bones clones of European > > languages that everyone else seems to favour. > > I concur with you that an IAL must have the full expressive power of a > natlang. A language that can only express such simple concepts as > "How much is the fish?" is useless as an IAL. What is needed is a > language that can handle *all* registers of human communication, i. e. > a language in which legal documents and scientific treatises can be written; > and if it can also handle fiction and poetry, only the better (well, if you > can write legal and scientific texts in it, you'll most likely be able to > write fiction and poetry in it as well).
The second conlang to become popular and gain a fair number of actual speakers, Esperanto, started out capable of poetry and everyday conversation about non-technical subjects; its technical vocabulary was refined and developed later. The fourth such conlang to gain a significant number of speakers, Interlingua, was designed for scientific use from the beginning and I think it started out with a large technical vocabulary; poetic/literary use came later there. I think the most successful of the recent small IAL launches began, not when Larry Sulky published Elomi (now Ilomi), but when Gary Shannon decided it looked neat and started writing poems and translating parables into it.
> But I think you *can* have the full expressive power of a natlang together > with a simple, easy-to-use grammar.
Certainly there are several examples to prove that, for given values of "simple" and "easy to use" (Esperanto and Ido, for instance, and probably others). How much simpler and easier you can get without losing expressive power is an interesting question that's still being explored by the non-euroclone designers like Rex May, Larry Sulky et alia. I've found it best to channel my own conlanging energies into a deliberately baroque personal language (gzb) while occasionally helping Rex and Larry out with feedback on their auxlangs. It looks like Tceqli and Ilomi are in a fair way to be examples of full expressiveness combined with greater simplicity/ease than previous fully-expressive conlangs, but it's probably too early to be sure. -- Jim Henry