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What would it take for you to learn a constructed language?
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What would it take for you to learn one?
Nothing. I like learning things like that just for fun.
25%
 25%  [ 4 ]
At least a hundred people, otherwise I'd feel lonely.
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
At least a few thousand.
6%
 6%  [ 1 ]
At least a hundred thousand.
6%
 6%  [ 1 ]
At least a million (population of Estonia).
6%
 6%  [ 1 ]
At least ten million (population of Hungary).
6%
 6%  [ 1 ]
At least a hundred million (population of Japan).
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Half a billion.
25%
 25%  [ 4 ]
I hate learning languages.
25%
 25%  [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 16

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pollyplummer



Joined: 07 Mar 2005
Location: McMinnvillve, Oregon

PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 2:40 pm    Post subject: y'all Reply with quote

Mith works hard, sillies. Wink No offense, mith, I'm sure you're quite gifted. But I'm certain others could do the same if they were passionate about it. Passion is another key for learning, and plain old hard work. Language learning can be other-worldly at times. When I learn other languages, it causes me to feel like English is an extension of my body. When I'm speaking it, I think, "How do I know how to do this? Why don't the other ones come this naturally?" Sometimes I hear people speaking and I have to repeat what they're saying in my auditory memory in order to know what language they're speaking, because it all registers as pictures in my brain. I think in pictures with sounds stamped on top of them, almost as an afterthought. My dad told me this is not normal. Maybe it doesn't lend itself well to learning languages... ??? I dunno.. who cares? Even if you're not good at learning languages, it's worth a try.
Tickets to Iceland are not that expensive. However, staying there is like the most expensive place you could vacation, since they have to import everything. All this I've heard. I want to go, because the landscape is really woven into the language and the music, bleak and mystic, seemingly undisturbed in some places. How are they even living there? Very Happy
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mithridates



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Location: President's office, Korean Space Agency

PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SuperHero wrote:
I like learning languages, but would never waste my time on a constructed language - like it's ever going to be useful knowing how to speak Klingon or esperanto.

I didn't vote because there is no option for me.


Really? Then you could vote for half a billion. We're imagining right now.
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tomato



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Location: I get so little foreign language experience, I must be in Koreatown, Los Angeles.

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SuperHero, I am prone to agree with you.
I studied Esperanto when I lived in Chicago.
During that time, everyone made a big fus when the Esperanto Club had one international visitor, and guess where she was from: Great Britain!

When I came to Korea, I again looked up the Esperanto Club, but I quickly lost interest after noticing that most Korean Esperantists speak English also.

Having English as a safety net takes all the fun out of speaking a second language.
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mithridates



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Location: President's office, Korean Space Agency

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 4:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ooh, the UK!

Here's what all of them are lacking in: $

This is what they need to do: find someone who has immigrated from a poor country and get him/her to learn the language. Not an insanely poor country, just a regular poor one. Then they go back to their own country and recruit university students or other people. Pay them the minimum daily wage every day just to study the language, and have them write letters every day to prove it. "Get paid to become bilingual!" - advertise it like that. After three months they 'graduate' and you pay them 1 cent for every Wikipedia article they write. Or 2 cents, or whatever. The biggest Wikipedia has over 500000 articles, but Esperanto has 22000 or so and Ido has 2600. Getting a few more Wikipedisti always helps.

On the internet they're pretty useful though. I've used Ido to chat with some Spanish people, Germans and Finns.
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d503



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Location: Daecheong, Seoul

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ohh, combining wiki with language growth is a sweet Idea. Also I am learning my friends language so it is damn small and still in its begining stages...reminds me of watching a baby grow up, or a tadpole as I have seen that go down.

And it is a shame that a constructed language hasn't taken the place of English as the lingua franca. It is really hard for people to master, and as we all know has numerous exceptions. This leads to native speakers having an advantage in most cases, as they are most at ease in the language. Where if a construct were found that could be easily learned and used (let's face it, it can be done) it would ease the pressure to learn English. A god awful language for most native speakers to use.
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pollyplummer



Joined: 07 Mar 2005
Location: McMinnvillve, Oregon

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:22 am    Post subject: grow it Reply with quote

But there is so much richness and depth in a language that is grown over time. A constructed language, though perhaps more logical and with more easily recognizeable patterns, seems so sterile and utilitarian. If you view language as merely a utility, then I can certainly see how you might conclude that it would be better to scrap ours and use a constructed one. Seems like constructed languages are put up in a hurry.... reminds me of the condition of Korea in some ways. You look around and everything seems to have been put up in a hurry, and you can feel the effects of it. I wonder if a large group of people living and working together using a constructed language would feel some of the same effects, most notably, a lack of depth.
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mithridates



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Location: President's office, Korean Space Agency

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought so when I looked at Esperanto, and grudgingly decided to learn it when I found Ido. After agreeing to use Esperanto in 1900 instead of the other language that was popular at the time, they also put up a council to reform it and take out the awkward points, which published its report in 1907, wasn't accepted, and then decided to change its name.
I'm not sure what a Roman would think, though most of the major ALs are mostly based on Latin and so do have the history behind them, just without all the points that make them difficult to learn.
I shan't be shedding any tears if an AI isn't adopted during my lifetime, but it would make sense.

The biggest advantage I see would be not just in ease of interpretation, but also scientific knowledge. Having all scientific documents written in a language easy to understand would help quite a bit; my brother for example is an amazing chemist, but only knows a little bit of French in addition to English. Luckily he knows English, but were we from Bangladesh or somewhere it wouldn't be all that easy. I often wonder about the wealth of untapped knowledge in poor parts of the world that goes undiscovered. A UAL wouldn't solve everything but it would help a little.
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mithridates



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Location: President's office, Korean Space Agency

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BTW, anybody here know Hebrew? Was it awkward at first in the 40s when it was reinstated / brought back from the dead? Usually it takes about a decade for most slang and colloquialisms to appear.
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pollyplummer



Joined: 07 Mar 2005
Location: McMinnvillve, Oregon

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:48 am    Post subject: tools and toys Reply with quote

I have a Hebrew name, but that doesnst count Very Happy No, seriously, though, would you take all of these advantages of the ease of communicating information through constructed languages over the richness of an organic language, sacrificing all the nuances, the subtleties, the graduations of meaning that a constructed language would inevitably lack? Or would you suggest that we have a constructed language for the express purpose of communicating information and an organic language for everything else, i.e. communicating emotions, history, poetry, etc . ?? I'm guess I'm just wondering how a constructed language could realistically become part of our lives, not only in our linguistic toolbox but also in our linguistic toybox. It doesnt seem to work so well in the toybox.
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mithridates



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Location: President's office, Korean Space Agency

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I know most of them promote themselves as being a tool that can help other languages survive; as a neutral medium of communication it lets people use their own language whenever they want, and use the AL when necessary. That's the idea, anyway. Most people who are interested in ALs are people who are already interested in languages in the first place, which often defeats the purpose. Thus far none of them have been able to reach a critical breaking point.
Usually the best places for ALs to succeed are in places like, oh, the border of Finland and Russia for example. Both languages are tough to learn and there's no guarantee people there will know English. It's much easier to promote an AL in a place like that than somewhere inside the States, for example. That's why a lot of AL users come from Eastern Europe. Stalin killed a lot of them though, kept their numbers down for a bit.
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Saxiif



Joined: 15 May 2003
Location: Seongnam

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Man known as The Man wrote:
then you're as big a moron as DW-and that's just sad.

Is that even possible Question

I'd learn one if my spouse learned it to and my kids didn't that way I could use it like my parents used norwegian when they didn't want me or my brother to know what they were talking about.
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Saxiif



Joined: 15 May 2003
Location: Seongnam

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also I think that constructed languages have a role in translation. In institutions like the EU it must be hellish find people who can do Danish-Greek translations and the like and that problem is only going to get worse. You could translate it from Danish to English and then English to Greek since so many people speak English, but then the meaning would get warped pretty badly.

A constructed language that is set up in a purely rational fashion could work pretty well for that since you could use it as a translating conduit that strips off all the slang and other stuff that usually gums up the translating works. I'm sure it would also be easier to get a computer to produce good translations of, say, English to an constructed language than English to another "real" language since it would be much easier to program the language rules of a constructed language into a translating program.
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mithridates



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Location: President's office, Korean Space Agency

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's true. A constructed language would also indirectly help Celtic languages as well. Apparently Ireland has been trying for some time to get Irish recognized in the European constitution, which is nice in theory, but if you do that then what about Cornish, Breton and maybe even Manx? Then where is one to find a Cornish-Hungarian, or Breton-Maltese interpreter? The EU is just barely going to meet its translation goals, except for Maltese because so few people speak it.
So, if you're going to Eastern Europe and you feel like learning Maltese while you're at it, you have a guaranteed job.
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sonofthedarkstranger



Joined: 15 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Innaresting discussion. Pollyplummer expresses reservations about the lack of depth, wealth, richness, culture, character of a conlang...I imagine that's all quite true.

I've always looked at Esperanto and Ido as being rather bland and soulless. So it does seem hard for me to imagine that those langauges will develop rich poetic or literary traditions.

But for purely practical purposes like science, medicine, and just simple communications, they just might be the thing.

When you ask if we'd "choose" the simplicity and efficiency of Esperanto or Ido over a real language, that presupposes that we have to choose one or the other, as you say "scrap" our organic langauges and adopt the artificial one. This is a false dilemma.

Who knows, it might even be best for a universal langauge to be bland and artificial. Everyone would speak their own native language(s) with all their richness and depth, and also the much more sterile Globalspeak, strictly for Mongols ordering beer in Brazil and similar situations. Of course I'd rather try the native language of any place I visit, but then I have a clear advantage doing that, being an english speaker.
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mithridates



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Location: President's office, Korean Space Agency

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an interesting bit I found on a page devoted to studying all of these language schemes. I don't agree with all of it but it's quite interesting. I think I'll put the interesting parts in bold.

Quote:
farewell to auxiliary languages
Rick Harrison (24 Feb 1997)


introduction

For at least 300 years, an argument that sometimes resembles a verbal war has been raging. People who support the adoption of an artificial language as a means of global communication have been sniping at each other and quibbling over the details for several centuries. I spent a few years of my life participating in this endless argument. To celebrate my escape from the auxiliary language belief-system, and to erect a sort of warning sign which might save a few future travellers from falling into the same mental quicksand, I would like to share some thoughts on the matter.

public acceptance of a constructed
auxlang is extremely unlikely

With regard to natural languages, people will accept irregularities and difficult features because "that¡¯s just the way it works." When it comes to artificial languages, however, people tend to put the grammar and vocabulary under a microscope and feel great resentment about any aspect of the language that seems arbitrary, irregular or otherwise disagreeable. Anyone who critically examines an auxiliary language (auxlang) proposal can find something to object to, but the strength of the general public¡¯s objections can be quite remarkable. For example, I once heard an eyewitness account of the students in a college linguistics class laughing and howling derisively when informed that Esperanto¡¯s word for "mother" is derived from the word for "father" by inserting an affix. No doubt these same students would have listened quietly and respectfully if told that some natural language had an identical feature.

People will accept arbitrary or irregular features that were invented or tolerated by an entire culture, but they will not accept identical "bugs" in a language that was deliberately created by one or a few auxlangers. It is impossible to create a language which has no objectionable features. Therefore, public acceptance of a constructed auxlang is extremely unlikely.

most auxlangers are eristic

The debate over desirable auxlang characteristics has been raging for several centuries. It involves many points on which there will clearly never be agreement, such as the fairness for all of an a priori vocabulary versus the familiarity and ease of learning (for some) of an a posteriori vocabulary. What kind of people rush into a milieu whose participants are involved in centuries-old debates for which no solution or agreement can ever be expected? People who like to argue, mostly.

In certain internet newsgroups and mailing lists, auxlangers¡¯ constant re-hashing of dogmatic disagreements has made them pariahs among other language hobbyists. Many users of the sci.lang newsgroup have constructed elaborate killfiles to automatically filter out any messages pertaining to the dread topic of auxiliary languages. At one point the administrator of Conlang, a mailing list devoted to constructed languages of all types, found it necessary to create a separate forum to contain the auxlangers and their arguments. (footnote 1) This strategy was somewhat successful, but some of the argumentative auxlangers still lurk in Conlang, occasionally trying to re-open the old wounds. Some language constructors who have non-auxlang interests have removed themselves from the public internet forums and resorted to old-fashioned direct e-mail and hardcopy correspondence, so that they can communicate with like-minded people without needing to dodge the auxlangers¡¯ crossfire.

On rare occasions the holy war between pro- and anti-Esperanto partisans has broken into the letters columns of significant periodicals; looking at the microfilm records of these debates, one gets the distinct impression that the editors sorely regretted allowing the subject to arise. And in most cases, mainstream magazines that run one article about auxiliary languages never touch the subject again, probably a conscious decision to abandon the topic after a barrage of hate-mail and zealous propaganda sent in by auxlangers. Granted, this is only speculation, but after having received a few stunning examples of such mail in response to an obscure newsletter that I published, I believe my speculation to be correct.

Even some auxlang projects that appear, on the surface, to be gestures toward unification turn out to be, on closer analysis, subtle attacks directed at other auxlangers. An example of this is my own despicable Proposed Guidelines essay, in which I constructed an elaborate web of rationalizations to convince myself that a selected technique of language-making was somehow supported by more objective evidence than other techniques. I realize, in retrospect, that this essay was partly an attempt to elucidate my objections to other auxlang proposals in a manner that would preclude any response -- in other words, an attempt to attack the work done by others without giving them any opportunity to reply to the attack.

Another example of this subtler style of attack is the attempt to organize an election in an auxlang-oriented mailing list -- a vote to determine which auxlang proposal the list-members would support. Of course, certain auxlangs "had to be" excluded from the ballot; and if you were just starting to design an auxlang, you might as well put your crayons away, because this group will have already made its decision before your vocabulary is assembled. However, we can sleep soundly tonight knowing that the results of this election would not stop future auxlangers from creating, publishing, and endlessly arguing about their numerous proposals.

The willingness of auxlangers to vigorously keep arguing the same questions over and over again in any forum that will tolerate them certainly must contribute to the public notion that auxlangers are crackpots. I wonder if auxlangers ever stop to ponder the effect their behavior has on the possibility of public acceptance of a constructed auxlang. Could it be that auxlangers¡¯ love of wrangling is stronger than their fondness for the ideal that they allegedly share?

auxlangs and artlangs:
contrasts and similarities

The term "artlang" refers to a constructed language which is designed for the creator¡¯s pleasure, as a work of linguistic art. Tolkien¡¯s essay "The Secret Vice" is the de facto manifesto of the artlangers.

Artlangers design languages according to their own tastes, and freely admit that they have done so. Auxlangers also follow their own preferences, but some of them stubbornly deny that they have done this, citing statistics and elaborate rationalizations about the imaginary future users of their language to justify their position that they have found the only right way to design a constructed language. The fact that hundreds of other auxlangers have looked at exactly the same target users and drawn vastly different conclusions about an appropriate interlanguage does not impress the auxlang designer du jour. The feeling that "everybody else is wrong" seems to be common among auxlangers.

Some auxiliary languages are pleasant to contemplate, and a few have been brilliantly imaginative. If these interesting projects had been offered to the world as artlangs instead of auxlangs, they could have been considered great successes, because the only purpose of an artlang is to bring pleasure to its author and like-minded members of the audience. But because these projects were offered as global auxiliaries and the world did not embrace them, they are viewed as failures.

Auxlangers sometimes express surprise that people are interested in artlangs such as Klingon or Tolkien¡¯s languages. It seems to stun them to realize that the imaginative and festive atmosphere of an artlang is naturally more attractive than the aggressively argumentative atmosphere of the auxlang milieu. (footnote 2)

The difference in these two social climates is worth noting. The auxlang milieu is competitive; publishing a new project is a subtle way of telling all those who published previously that they got it wrong, and now the auxlang designer du jour is going to show how it really should be done. Most auxlangers who take the time to examine a new project are doing so for the purpose of finding weaknesses that they can criticize. The artlang milieu is a little more coöperative, and artlangers are more likely to dwell on the strengths of a new project rather than looking for some vulnerability that they can attack.

While auxlangers sometimes express the feeling that a more perfect design will attract people to a language, it seems to me that ordinary people (i.e. non-linguaphiles) generally study languages because the cultures that produced the languages make them interesting; it is cultures rather than language characteristics that provide worthwhile conversations, broadcasts and literature. The authors of new global auxlang projects sometimes brag that their languages are not the property of any single culture, but unfortunately this disconnectedness makes it difficult for such projects to appear interesting. Artlangs in many cases are associated with real sub-cultures or fictional peoples, and this gives them a certain spark of connectedness which is achingly absent from most auxlangs.

conclusions

The quest for an auxiliary language that everyone will embrace is similar to the quest for a perpetual motion machine -- futile.

If the world unexpectedly develops a hunger for an auxlang, it already has a thousand options from which to choose. In marketing terms, the supply of constructed auxiliary languages far exceeds the demand.

Continued re-hashing of the centuries-old arguments about design criteria is harmful. It increases animosity among the factions and further tarnishes the public image of auxlangers.

For these reasons, I am retiring from the auxiliary language milieu. So long, and thanks for all the verbal pillow-fights.



I'm not sure that I agree with the conclusion; you have to remember that this was written in 1997 when Clinton was king, the economy was good, and the internet was 90% English. Auxlangs don't flourish well in an environment like that. The environment of today (and even more so in the future) seems to be much more conducive. When the first auxlangs were created right around the end of the 19th century French was more prominent but English was gaining ground; it looked like a good time for these projects but then WWI started, then after recovering from that Stalin and Hitler sent thousands of Esperantists off to die, then the war ended and English was king, then the internet finally came about and now we have Wikipedia and whatnot, and English is down to 32.8% of the internet according to the latest statistics.
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