|From:||Leo Caesius <leo_caesius@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, September 26, 2000, 23:20|
After having consulted a few bibliographies and run a few searches on
HOLLIS, I have accumulated a significant chunk of Western scholarship on
Balaibalan. Nevertheless I will not have access to the full lexicon of the
language without going to Paris and consulting the Bibliothèque Nationale,
wherein lies the only known copy of the so-called "Dictionary of
For starters, I discovered that the name is actually pronounced
Which breaks down into:
bâl, language (with a long a)
a, "of" (equivalent to the Persian ezafe)
i "the" (the definite article)
bal "to revive, give life, create"
an (a particle to mark participles)
hence, "the language of the Reviver," in Arabic, lisan al-muhyi.
With the material that I have collected on Balaibalan, I have a basic
understanding of grammar and word-formation, but an abysmal acquaintance
with the vocabulary. Fortunately for us, the name of the language itself
gives us most of the necessary ingredients for rendering czHANg's sentence
"Invent a language!"
Which breaks down into
y "the" (form of the definite article found before vowels)
a "may" (used to imply a compulsion)
bal "revive, give life, create" (loses vowel after hamza of compulsion)
am (particle used to create verbal nouns and infinitives)
ra "to" (particle used to indicate possession or cause)
I modeled this phrase on the exhortation "Praise God!" (al-hamdu
li-lati) which is a stock phrase found at the beginning of Islamic texts
(aka the "al-hamdulilah"). In Balaibalan, this same exhortation is given as
y-asnam ra-y-An, literally "may the praising be to God."
So, a painfully literal rendering of the phrase above would be "may the
creating be to a language." Admittedly, this is a long way from "Invent a
language!" but it is all that I have to work with at the moment. If
Balaibalan's syntax is equivalent to that of Arabic (and de Sacy and Bausani
assure me that it is) the above sentence should be a perfectly admissable
I'd like to conclude my submission with a few words from Alessandro
Bausani, Baha'i, Esperantist, Orientalist [his CV includes numerous works on
every culture from Ethiopia to Indonesia], and all around good guy:
"The inventor of Bal-a i-Balan was no doubt ... a mystic pir who boldly
defended the idea that the pure artist (we must not forget that bal-a
i-Balan was also used for poetry) imitating the Absolute Artist, can and
must freely invent even his linguistic means i.e. language itself.
We have thus seen that this strange artificial language, to construct
which treasures of ingenuity were expended, far from being a useless tool of
a morbid mind, can tell something of interest even to us modern men... in
this form of art the invention of an artificial language to veil the
moon-faced bride of Meaning, is nothing more than a logical, if extreme,
consequence of the thought that Art is the skilful magical connection of two
planes of reality.
[The Balaibalanists] understood, prehaps more fully than some moderns,
that real revolution means the interior revolution against the psychological
chains linking our minds with the traditional rocky and unsurpassable
patterns of the morphology of the given natural languages; aided in this by
the typically Muslim feeling of the non-indispensability of Nature and its
laws, they initiated an experiment which in my opinion has a far richer
meaning than it may seem at first sight."
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