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

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Friday, March 24, 2006, 23:15

On Fri, 24 Mar 2006 17:41:41 -0500, Jim Henry wrote:

> 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.
Yes. Of course, much of a language's expressive power lies in its vocabulary, but some complexity of grammar is required to write legal documents, scientific treatises or poetry. However, I think some simplification over natural languages is possible without losing too much expressive power. At any rate, we can do away with irregular verbs, as well as with person marking on verbs, to mention just two points.
> 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 see the biggest problem with Toki Pona in its closed vocabulary of only 115 words (or whatever the number is), which requires the usage of clumsy circumlocutions for many common concepts, not to mention more specialized concepts.
> >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.
Yes. Most of the euroclone IAL proposals are linguistically bland and do not appeal to my taste. Perhaps the most elegant of them is Novial. Of course, many linguistic features I have found to give "spice" to artlangs would be of questionable legitimacy in an auxlang. But I don't think that the Euroclones are the be-all, end-all of auxlanging.
> > 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.
Yes. Esperanto, despite all its shortcomings it may have (too many phonemes, an entirely unnecessary accusative case, etc.), isn't all that badly designed at all, and certainly passed its usability test. What it initially missed in vocabulary was added later, and it is now capable of handling any facet of human communication, and still easier to learn than most natural languages. Yet, there are points where further improvement is possible.
> 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.
Yes. And as you mention the technical vocabulary: there are so many internationalisms there that it seems justified to include them into an auxlang. But on the other hand, most of these are more or less limited to European languages, actually, while languages such as Arabic or Chinese use their own coinages.
> 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.
Yes. These languages are at least interesting experiments from which auxlangers can learn a lot, and worthwhile auxlang candidates in themselves.
> 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.
I've found it best to channel my own conlanging energies into naturalist artlangs representing the languages of fictional ethnicities :) Frankly, my interest in auxlang design is very limited. There are already so many auxlang proposals that I see little point in throwing myself into the melee as well, and the politics involved puts me off. Especially given the fact that English is about to win out anyway :)
> 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.
I agree. Greetings, Jörg.