Constructed languages

elroy

Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
What are people’s opinions on constructed languages? Has anyone here studied one?

I’ve never studied one, nor do I find the idea appealing.

I’m averse to the whole concept of constructed languages. In fact, I find it almost offensive.

For me, a big part of the beauty of natural languages is that they are organic entities whose development over time is not “manufactured.” I find that incredibly fascinating and profoundly awe-inspiring. In that sense, a constructed language is like an artificial lake.

I’m also not sure I see any point or benefit to constructed languages. An artificial lake at least serves some purposes. What purposes do constructed languages serve?

If it’s about creating a community of people united by a common language, there are plenty of existing natural languages that can be jointly learned for that purpose.

If it’s about creating a language that’s easy to learn because its grammar, vocabulary, or whatever else is simple, again, I’m sure there’s at least one natural language that already meets whatever need the constructed language is supposed to meet.

I would much rather see a community of people studying one of the world’s many lesser-studied and/or endangered languages than see artificial languages constructed and studied.

How do others feel about constructed languages? Do you see any draws or benefits to them?
 
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  • Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Do you see any draws or benefits to them?
    Did you read Arika Okrent's In the Land of Invented Languages (2009)? It's quite good. This is how she describes a Lojban convention ("Logfest"):
    I didn't see much live conversation at Logfest, but I did see a little. It goes very, very slowly. It's like watching people do long division in their heads. Of course, the types of people who are attracted to Lojban are precisely the types who are good at doing long division in their heads.
    I think the "game" factor is probably more pertinent than the "we want to build a utopia" thing.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    When I was about 15 I got to lesson 5 of Teach Yourself Esperanto - I got to lesson 5 of a few other Teach Yourself language books.

    I have no more objection to people making up languages than I do to them writing fantasy such as The Lord of the Rings. Where I part company with many supporters of languages such as Esperanto is the claims made for them - a subject touched on in this thread: https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/are-some-languages-superior-to-others-”.3240437/

    It can be argued that learning to manipulate the affixes of Esperanto is a worthwhile intellectual exercise, but any benefit derived from it can also be obtained in many other ways. If you are going to spend a lot of time learning a language much better to learn a natural one. I think that everyone would benefit from being at least introduced to a language or two quite unlike their own.
     
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    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I think Esperanto was created on the premise that European nationalisms were based on linguistic divisions and that if everyone spoke one language these divisions would cease to exist and there would be peace on earth. Nowadays, it's just a novelty or hobby I suppose.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I think Esperanto was created on the premise that European nationalisms were based on linguistic divisions and that if everyone spoke one language these divisions would cease to exist and there would be peace on earth.
    Riiiiight.
    Because there’s no nationalism in the Arab World or Latin America, of course. :p
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Riiiiight.
    Because there’s no nationalism in the Arab World or Latin America, of course. :p

    I meant that late 19th century Europe was the context where the idea emerged and nationalism in that era was primarily based on language, not that nationalism didn't arise elsewhere as well or that Esperanto was only meant to benefit Europeans.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I think you misunderstood me. I was scoffing at the premise you described. My “Riiiiight” was directed at Zamenhof, not at you (I would never speak to you that way! :eek:).
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I'm sure it made some sense at the time ... if language is dividing us, maybe if we all spoke one language we won't be so divided. People have had similar ideas about religion ("let's come up with a unified religion so we're not divided anymore") and that's how some syncretistic religions arose but needless to say they were no more successful at bringing peace than Esperanto.

    I think you misunderstood me. I was scoffing at the premise you described. My “Riiiiight” was directed at Zamenhof, not at you (I would never speak to you that way! :eek:).

    Noted my friend :)
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I agree that it sometimes is. However, the notion that a common language will somehow eliminate nationalism is an illusion. That's utopian to the point of absurdity.
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Even if it did eliminate 'nationalism' (whatever we mean by that term), it certainly cannot eliminate conflict. I am interested though to know more about the type of people who speak Esperanto today and teach it to their kids.
     

    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    I am interested though to know more about the type of people who speak Esperanto today and teach it to their kids.
    You should read the book referred above. The native Esperanto speaker interviewed by the author, if I remember correctly, is (disappointingly to many I guess) normal. No trauma done.
     

    amikama

    a mi modo
    עברית
    If it’s about creating a community of people united by a common language, there are plenty of existing natural languages that can be jointly learned for that purpose.
    Because choosing an existing language as a common language would give an unfair advantage to the native speakers of that language.
    Because any existing language has cultural, historical and political charge, therefore no existing language can be neutral.
    Because most existing languages have complex grammars and/or vocabulary with too many exceptions, ambiguities and inconsistencies.

    Not all conlangs are intended to serve as an international second language (such as Esperanto), but invented for other purposes. For example, studying how a language influences the speaker's perception of the world (Lojban, etc.). Or for artistic purposes (Na'vi, Klingon, Tolkien's languages...), or just for fun, as a hobby.
     
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    Uncreative Name

    Member
    English - United States
    Most constructed languages I've seen are either for a fictional universe (such as Tolkein's Elvish family), or are made to serve some kind of real-world purpose (such as Esperanto).

    Fictional languages only exist to make a world feel real; if your race of space creatures is speaking English, the immersion kind of fades. Some people also make fictional languages as a hobby; it's something of a creative excersize for people who are into linguistics.

    International Auxiliary Languages like Esperanto are meant to be easy to learn, enabling communication among people of all kinds of different groups (though in most cases, "all kinds of different groups" is limited to Western peoples, as most AuxLangs neglect major Eastern languages like Mandarin or Japanese).

    Neither type has any intent to actually replace real languages, nor have any of them claimed to be real languages (except Esperanto, which allegedly has the largest "conlang" community in history).
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    I'm totally the opposite to you here, Elroy. I think the benefits are obvious.

    There are two main types of aim for a constructed language: 1, as a practical means of communication (a supposedly neutral lingua franca or auxiliary conlang, as Esperanto, but also one to be used as a secret language by yourself or among a few) and 2, for the pleasure of it, an almost artistic one, usually with the purpose of using it as the language of certain peoples in a novel or film (creative conlang).

    Learning a conlang as Esperanto helps you see that constructed languages can also end up being 'organic' or 'naturalized' with the passing of decades, with a beauty of its own as a cultural world around it keeps being created, and with interesting linguistic features that can open your mindset just as much as that of any other natural language.

    Learning creative conlangs has more to do with a personal taste related to how passionate you are or were about a fictional world. And in these globalized days, also to create a community. The difference, though, is that creative conlangs tend to be more personal, more 'belonging to the author', and as such, limited and incomplete. This always creates conflict among those who want to keep it 'canon' and those who want to continue with it after the author's death. But that's a different story.

    In the end, the most beautiful thing about the creation of languages is the personal process, one in which those who create them gradually learn concepts related to linguistics and differences among languages in a practical way at a very young age, as this 'language passion' tends to show up in one's early teens.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    What purposes do constructed languages serve?
    For one, they made me study theoretical linguistics.
    Anyway, most serve artistic purposes. When you create a brand new fantasy world, it's a generally good idea to have a couple languages for it to add some flavour. However, the degree of actual usability varies greatly. While Quenya and Klingon are well developed and Dothraki together with Na'vi must be quite close in that regard (if not in popularity), Sapkowski's Elder Speech actually consists of just several phrases and a bunch of words loosely based on Celtic and Germanic languages, and it's the typical state of most fictional languages which have been mentioned and occasionally used but have never been really worked through (obviously, that requires a lot of effort at the very least, especially when you aren't much into linguistics - and, unlike Tolkien, most fantasy authors aren't).

    P.S.: I also should probably mention that some languages, like Ithkuil, serve purely theoretical purposes.
     
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    Dymn

    Senior Member
    I think Esperanto was created on the premise that European nationalisms were based on linguistic divisions and that if everyone spoke one language these divisions would cease to exist and there would be peace on earth.
    I agree that it sometimes is. However, the notion that a common language will somehow eliminate nationalism is an illusion. That's utopian to the point of absurdity.
    Skimming through Zamenhof's biography it looks like the initial spark was indeed being frustrated at the division between language groups in his native town, however I don't think he ever aimed to supplant natural languages but rather act as a bridge between them. Surely this was part of an ideal of peace and brotherhood among nations but I'm sure he was under no delusions and didn't think that his language could put an end to nationalistic conflicts.

    Also the practical idea of having a global auxiliary language probably made sense at the time. Latin was on the demise, French was maybe the best placed pretender but it hadn't such a firm grip especially not outside Europe, so he saw a niche. Nowadays English is so well established it'd be pointless trying to dethrone it.
     

    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    the most beautiful thing about the creation of languages is the personal process, one in which those who create them gradually learn concepts related to linguistics and differences among languages
    For one, they made me study theoretical linguistics.
    Indeed, conlanging and the study of "natural"* languages seem to go hand in hand. There's a lovely passage in Arika Okrent's book, about a conlanger who ended up being an expert on the Iroquoian languages:
    For these language inventors, language was not an enemy to be tamed or reformed but a muse. And they bowed down before her. [...] [H]e had been inspired to build his own family of "Central Mountain" languages by the incredible beauty he found in Mohawk when he took a course on it in college. [...] His talk didn't focus so much on his own creation as on the real languages that inspired it. He wanted us to understand where his artistic vision had come from. As he went over the complicated details of the Mohawk pronominal system, he spoke softly, but with such love and wonder in his voice that I thought he might burst into tears.

    I was energized by the proceedings, reminded of the reason I had gone into linguistics in the first place—my own heart-fluttering fascination with languages. Over the years that visceral feeling had been somewhat dampened by the intellectual focus that an academic track demands. All linguists begin with that spark of love for language, but they sometimes end up so involved in supporting a theory or gathering evidence against someone else's theory that they forget it.

    *Sorry for the scare quote ... "the art itself is Nature" and all that.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    A constructed universal language would be appealing and could fill a need, but I don't think Esperanto is going to take off.
    I would definitely learn it if I saw many other people were making that effort but this is not the case.
    So I won't spend my time learning it and will just keep learning the languages of the countries I hope to travel to. At this point in time Greek and German are more useful to me.
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Is there like some kind of software or SimCity-type program for people to create new languages with?
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Is there like some kind of software or SimCity-type program for people to create new languages with?
    In general it's poorly algorithmizable, syntax in particular. But there surely are various assisting tools, like Mark Rosenfelder's word generator (a rather simple program, in fact, which still can be really helpful).
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I can understand the appeal of inventing specific linguistic features.

    E.g. what if there were a language that allowed only 10 morphemes per clause?
    Or what if there were a language that, instead of normal vowel harmony, had a harmony between back vowels and voiceless stops?
    Etc.

    However, once you've come up with ideas like this, I don't (personally) see any point or appeal in constructing a "complete language" for these features to reside in, unless you have some specific project in mind.

    For example, maybe you want to conduct an experiment with actual speakers to see how they would cope with these features, and/or how these features might develop with time, etc.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I can understand the appeal of inventing specific linguistic features.
    That's how "theoretical" languages like Ithkuil are born. :) However, for a true linguistic artist the language's grammar is just a way to express his mental image of the language's speakers, together with the language's phonetics and vocabulary ("There is no word for thank you in Dothraki" - a rather naive and generally extreme approach, but still a good illustration). Languages like Quenya or Klingon were invented with Elven and Klingon cultures in mind.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    However, for a true linguistic artist the language's grammar is just a way to express his mental image of the language's speakers, together with the language's phonetics and vocabulary

    OK. I somewhat doubt that English grammar (i.e. the totality of what you learn when you read an English grammar book) tells you much about any English speaker, past or present, and likewise for any other natural language.

    Specific words/features can be informative in this way (e.g. the fact that terms like "coombe" are of Celtic origin suggests that ancestral English speakers lived in a place where such landforms were rare or absent), but these are just isolated parts of the whole.

    However, since most constructed languages have only imaginary speakers, a language creator is of course free to make his/her language into a mirror of those speakers. (Or vice-versa, to mold the speakers based on the language.)
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    I'm sure it made some sense at the time ... if language is dividing us, maybe if we all spoke one language we won't be so divided. People have had similar ideas about religion ("let's come up with a unified religion so we're not divided anymore") and that's how some syncretistic religions arose but needless to say they were no more successful at bringing peace than Esperanto.

    Well, Zamenhof himself initially considered his linguistic creation just a tool for his religious one, a sort of reformed Judaism focused on ethics that would develop into a common set of universal pacifist religious values (see Hilelismo > Homaranismo), since he was pretty conscious that two are the pillars in humankind which tend to join people together: religion/common values and language, and that one in itself may not last more than a generation. The thing is, when Western Europe became interested in something that was likely more intended for Eastern European Jews in its origin -I'd say even more interested, as Jews generally preferred a reform of Yiddish or a revival of Hebrew than a new language-, then Zamenhof had to face the truth: secularists like the French were not interested at all in the 'religious' or 'mystical' part of the project. For those interested, the whole history of the first decades, from its creation to World War Two, is indeed one of a kind.

    The whole thing ended up in something reduced to the so-called interna ideo and a sense of goodwill and pacifism within the community of speakers of it through the years. The name of the language, the green colour of Hope in the flag, the lyrics of the anthem, many of the original works in the language, the Pasporta Servo (or free homestays offered worldwide by speakers to speakers), all this kind of things and many other reveal that sense of a distinct community, which in turn may have been one of the reasons for its long success. (Success not as in reaching its original purpose, but as of being the only auxiliary constructed language in the world which has really created a solid community and culture for more than a century)
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    I’m averse to the whole concept of constructed languages. In fact, I find it almost offensive.
    Me too.

    The problem is history. In English, when I ask "what is a chair" the answer isn't simple. There are many things that are called chairs (canvas loops, stone thrones, overstuffed recliners, plain wooden chairs, etc.). The word "chair" recalls kings on their thrones, peasants in their huts, and many other things in many countries during history (and fiction). There are many things that people sit on that are not called "chair" - sofas, benches, stools, church pews, steamer trunks, boxes, etc.

    And that's just one word. Now do the same with another word. Do it for 20,000 words and you have a tapestry of human culture and history. You cannot create all that with a new language. After 50 or 100 years of the new language, with millions of people speaking it all day, every day, you will have that. But not right away. One person (or group) cannot create that.

    In English, people create new words (or new word meanings) every day. Most are local slang (one family, one neighborhood, one town). Some become regional or national. Most national ones only last a few years. But a few continue to be used, and become "words in the language". That has been happening for hundreds or thousands of years. The result is a language.

    So someone can invent a new word and give it a meaning. No problem: that happens every day. Invent 5,000 of them. Give them all meanings. Still no problem. The problem is getting large numbers of people to use them, and use them instead of using something else, and continue to use them for 30 years or longer. Until that happens, it isn't really a "language".
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    So you seem to imply auxiliary languages only. I just find the concept rather naive, but it doesn't even remotely cover all the artificial languages.
    I probably agree, but I don't know what you mean by "auxiliary languages" as a subset of "all artificial languages".

    Please explain. THEN, I can agree with you. :)

    Note that I don't consider computer programming languages to be "languages". I know many of them, and how they work.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    but I don't know what you mean by "auxiliary languages" as a subset of "all artificial languages"
    Languages that have been specifically designed to serve as a neutral or superior mean of real world communication. Esperanto, Slovio, Interlingua, Volapük, Lingua Franca Nova... It's a totally different kettle of fish to artistic artificial languages like Klingon or Quenya mentioned above. And then there are those "theoretical", engineered languages like Ithkuil, created solely to prove or test something.
     

    Apollodorus

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I’m averse to the whole concept of constructed languages. In fact, I find it almost offensive.

    I think there are good reasons to be opposed to the concept, especially when the purpose is political and, possibly, not necessarily benign. For example, if it is motivated by the desire of (self-appointed) elite groups to manipulate the masses, to “unite and mobilise” people for a subversive agenda.

    Paradoxically, although “diversity” has become the politically correct ideal of modern society (at least in the Western world), as far as languages are concerned, many of them are disappearing very fast and there seems to be a growing possibility that within the next few decades there will be just a handful of languages that will dominate most of the world, with English (or different forms of it) probably remaining at the top of the hierarchy for the foreseeable future.

    Constructing a new language would probably have the effect of accelerating the disappearance of “minor” languages some of which have been around for millennia. Languages like Esperanto may seem intellectually interesting – not least because they tell us something about their inventors – but I for one don’t find them appealing enough to start learning them. Not only that, but who would you be speaking with and what literature would you be reading in constructed languages?

    I very much prefer “living” languages with a history, that have evolved naturally over time and that are actually spoken by people with an authentic cultural identity, not an artificial one manufactured by others for their own agendas, however grand those agendas might seem.

    In any case, the main purpose seems to be to control people through control of language and if the aim is to supplant existing languages, then it is certainly subversive.
     

    S.V.

    Senior Member
    Español, México
    Given the history of English and Spanish in the Americas, I will not join in pretending Esperanto is out to get Hñähñu this year. :p

    But to answer the question, yes, instead of millions of Mexican or Malaysian kids half-learning English, most countries could settle on an easy aux. language. Hopefully not a "hideous" one, with "factory product... written all over it" (Tolkien on Novial). Nor a political farce, just to dethrone English in our time.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    just to dethrone English
    That presumes millions and billions of people will make considerable efforts just to "dethrone English". Doesn't look like a realistic scenario to me, unless we're all going to live under some totalitarian dictatorship which would be actually capable to enforce it.

    The objective reality is that English is not only the mean of international communication but also the main language of the world's science and (ever growing) culture which become directly accessible to anyone who has learned it. No constructed language can outweigh those benefits, not until major changes in the world's development at the very least.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    I think there are good reasons to be opposed to the concept, especially when the purpose is political and, possibly, not necessarily benign. For example, if it is motivated by the desire of (self-appointed) elite groups to manipulate the masses, to “unite and mobilise” people for a subversive agenda.

    If it was so, it'd have succeeded. If, say, the EU were interested at all in it, with an agenda, imposing it in school curricula would make the constructed language become a second language for all Europeans in a matter of two generations.

    But it won't happen, because there's no political or economical interest behind. After all, 'global' languages are global because they've been politically imposed by the elites of a certain Empire.

    as far as languages are concerned, many of them are disappearing very fast and there seems to be a growing possibility that within the next few decades there will be just a handful of languages that will dominate most of the world, with English (or different forms of it) probably remaining at the top of the hierarchy for the foreseeable future.

    That's going to happen indeed, but not because of any constructed languages.

    Not only that, but who would you be speaking with and what literature would you be reading in constructed languages?

    It's quite possible that you find works translated into Esperanto that haven't been translated into your language, and if they have, chances are that the Esperanto version is better, as it was likely translated by someone from his/her own language into Esperanto.

    Besides that, an original literature in Esperanto has been written for more than a century, with its own important names. Which means there's a larger literary corpus in Esperanto than in many literatures of a living language out there.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It's quite possible that you find works translated into Esperanto that haven't been translated into your language
    Only when your language is really small.
    Besides that, an original literature in Esperanto has been written for more than a century
    It's not like you have nothing to read in Esperanto, but it's about competitiveness. The Game of Thrones, for instance, was originally produced in English and then dubbed in many major languages, but I doubt it will be ever dubbed in Esperanto. And it's just one and relatively small single example. Take Paradox Games, for instance - a Swedish company which doesn't even produce Swedish versions of its games. The reason is simple: Sweden is a small country where most people have a decent knowledge of English, so making video games in Swedish is simply unprofitable. What about profitability of translating anything into Esperanto? Mostly negative, I believe. Russian holds chiefly because the Russian-speaking communities have limited knowledge of English, relatively large cultural demand and relatively good generative capabilities, so overall culture in the Russian language forms a stable market. For Esperanto you would need endless centralized investments (and not small ones at all) to achieve the effect that mostly comes naturally in the case of Russian. And in the case of scientific literature the situation is even worse. Even some important major books, like Shopen's Language Typology and Syntactic Description in 3 volumes, simply don't exist even in Russian, because in all of Russia there are too few people who are theoretically capable to translate it properly and Russian science is underfunded. And who will ever translate it into Esperanto?..

    So when we come to the choice of learning some foreign language, Esperanto is invariably a sub-optimal decision, and if you'll ever learn it, it will happen not because you objectively need it but because of some subjective factors - which, however, are unable to make Esperanto a globally popular language.
     
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    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    English (Southern England)
    In any case, the main purpose seems to be to control people through control of language and if the aim is to supplant existing languages, then it is certainly subversive.

    which conlang has its creators tried to control people through the language and to set out to supplant existing languages? If we’re talking about Esperanto, then that is certainly not the aim of Zamenhof or the language’s adherents. It was designed to be used alongside existing natural languages, to assist in communication. Zamenhof, or any other auxlang creator I can think of, has never wanted to control language or supplant any existing ones (if anything it seems to be some of the speakers of natural languages who want to supplant other natural languages).
     

    Apollodorus

    Senior Member
    English UK
    But it won't happen, because there's no political or economical interest behind. After all, 'global' languages are global because they've been politically imposed by the elites of a certain Empire.

    That boils down to two facts: (a) global languages are imposed by imperialist elites and (b) constructed languages have not (yet) been imposed because global languages (e.g. English) already exist.
     

    Apollodorus

    Senior Member
    English UK
    If we’re talking about Esperanto, then that is certainly not the aim of Zamenhof or the language’s adherents. It was designed to be used alongside existing natural languages, to assist in communication.

    The fact is that at the time Esperanto was in vogue there were many intellectual radicals with megalomaniac tendencies: Marxists, Nazis, Fascists, Anarchists, Fabian Socialists, Liberal Imperialists, etc. Although these ideologies were mutually incompatible, many of their adherents aimed to establish a United States of Europe as a step towards world government controlled by themselves, etc.

    As stated by the Wikipedia article on Esperanto,

    “[In the 1920s] the League of Nations recommended that its member states include Esperanto in their educational curricula. The French government retaliated by banning all instruction in Esperanto in France's schools and universities. The French Ministry of Public Instruction said that "French and English would perish and the literary standard of the world would be debased". Nonetheless, many people see the 1920s as the heyday of the Esperanto movement. During this time, Anarchism as a political movement was very supportive of both anationalism and the Esperanto language”.

    The original creator of a constructed language may not explicitly state this aim, or even implicitly harbour it, it is sufficient for those who come to control the language to have this aim as part of their internationalist agenda.

    Of course, there are many different types of constructed language. However, by definition, a constructed language intended to become international will tend to replace existing languages at least at international level and, potentially, at national level once it has become international ....
     
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    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The fact is that at the time Esperanto was in vogue there were many intellectual radicals with megalomaniac tendencies: Marxists, Nazis, Fascists, Anarchists, Fabian Socialists, Liberal Imperialists, etc. Although these ideologies were mutually incompatible, many of their adherents aimed to establish a United States of Europe as a step towards world government controlled by themselves, etc.
    I don't have Fabian Socialists down as megalomaniacs. Not everyone who believes in "world government" wants to exercise power. Some believe in universal kinship. The UK recently succumbed to narrow nationalism and is now sinking under the weight of its own folly.

    Narrow nationalism is perfectly capable of promoting one language at the expense of another. The EU, in contrast, actually promotes "small" languages, even to the extent of producing reams of information in Irish which they know few, if any, will ever read. UNESCO, a world organisation, works to prevent language extinction.
     

    Apollodorus

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I don’t think I said any of that. First of all, there is a difference between “megalomaniac” and “megalomaniac tendencies”. And I didn’t say ALL Marxists, Nazis, Fascists, Anarchists, Fabian Socialists, Liberal Imperialists, etc. were guilty of harbouring them. Many of them were probably just plain, ordinary people who were seduced by their respective ideologies for different reasons. However, those ideologies were (a) radical and (b) what they all had in common was the idea that if THEY ruled the world, the world would automatically be a better place.

    As Esperanto had been mentioned, I gave an example of it being promoted by an international political organisation like the League of Nations, as stated in the Wikipedia article. It’s a well-known fact that the League’s creators were internationalists who wanted to create a new international order based on a world federation of governments.

    The main architect of the League was Britain which at the time was the largest empire and the world’s superpower No. 1. Organisations like the Fabian Research Bureau (which produced the report “International Government” in 1916), the Council for the Study of International Relations (CSIR), the League of Nations Society (LNS), the League of Free Nations Association (LFNA), the League of Nations Union (LNU), etc., as well as the Imperial Conferences that together led to the founding of the League, were British.

    Moreover, although the League’s Assembly had 42 member states, the League’s Council had only four permanent members of which Britain was the dominant one (the others being France, Italy and Japan). And the League’s Secretariat (which prepared the agenda for the Council and Assembly) was run by secretary-general Sir Eric Drummond, a leading British imperialist who had drafted the Covenant of the League of Nations together with other Brits.

    See D. Macfadyen, M. D. V. Davies, M. N. Carr, J. Burley, Eric Drummond and his Legacies: The League of Nations and the Beginnings of Global Governance, 2019.

    In other words:

    (A). Esperanto was promoted by the League of Nations.

    (B). The League of Nations was created and controlled by representatives of the British Empire.

    (C). The League of Nations was a political organisation with an internationalist agenda.

    (D). It follows that Esperanto was promoted by a political organisation with an internationalist agenda.

    It’s simply an example of constructed language being promoted for political purposes by internationalists.

    The fact that “narrow nationalism is perfectly capable of promoting one language at the expense of another”, does not mean that internationalism isn’t equally capable of doing the same.

    The fact that “the EU produces reams of information in Irish that very few will ever read” does not mean that Irish doesn’t continue to be replaced by English or that it hasn’t got the status of endangered language according to UNESCO itself.

    The reality on the ground is that the dominance of a few "global languages", especially English, is steadily increasing. And chances are the same would be the case with a constructed language once it has become international.
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    The reality on the ground is that the dominance of a few "global languages", especially English, is steadily increasing.
    English is widespread as an L2 language. That may be a trend that is "steadily increasing". But I am not sure that English is replacing other languages as an L1 language. So I'm not sure that "dominance" is the correct term.
     

    Ihsiin

    Senior Member
    English
    I don’t think I said any of that. First of all, there is a difference between “megalomaniac” and “megalomaniac tendencies”. And I didn’t say ALL Marxists, Nazis, Fascists, Anarchists, Fabian Socialists, Liberal Imperialists, etc. were guilty of harbouring them. Many of them were probably just plain, ordinary people who were seduced by their respective ideologies for different reasons. However, those ideologies were (a) radical and (b) what they all had in common was the idea that if THEY ruled the world, the world would automatically be a better place.

    This is really not true - in the case of anarchists, it’s an outright contradiction in terms.

    The fact that “the EU produces reams of information in Irish that very few will ever read” does not mean that Irish doesn’t continue to be replaced by English or that it hasn’t got the status of endangered language according to UNESCO itself.

    I’m not sure English is any more dominant in Ireland now than it was in the 1890s, to be honest.
     

    Apollodorus

    Senior Member
    English UK
    English is widespread as an L2 language. That may be a trend that is "steadily increasing". But I am not sure that English is replacing other languages as an L1 language. So I'm not sure that "dominance" is the correct term.
    I think English has already replaced many native languages in places like Ireland, Scotland and North America. German used to be the language of science in the 1800s before being replaced by English. English is the main official language of the European Union (EU) even though Britain is not a member and English is the most widely spoken language in Europe, at about 50% (compared to German 32% and French 26%).

    English also dominates the international book market and, increasingly, the entertainment industry and social media.

    It probably depends on a number of factors such as age group, area (urban/rural), country, etc. But from personal experience over the last few years, I’ve noticed people using English words more and more frequently. In Greece, for example, you hear English words like “OK”, “sorry”, “cool”, “social”, etc., on a daily basis, including on TV shows and in the press. Definitely in Germany and most Scandinavian countries, though perhaps less so in some places like France, Italy or Poland.

    Anyway, I for one don’t see the point of invented languages and I'd definitely look into the inventors'/promoters' motives before even considering any of them. If we insist on an international language, let’s bring back Greek which used to be the language of culture and civilisation ….
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    Esperanto like any other language is just a tool of communication. Whatever connotations it may have it's current people who attach them, not Zamenhof or the early Esperantists who are long dead. In today's world it seems to me people who promote it dislike the role of English as a lingua franca and would prefer an easier language which sets everybody on an equal footing. This doesn't seem very likely, but if it came true I don't see how it would be worse than English.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    In today's world it seems to me people who promote it dislike the role of English as a lingua franca and would prefer an easier language which sets everybody on an equal footing.
    I agree that Esperanto is much easier than English.

    Esperanto is based on European languages, not all languages. So it doesn't set everybody on an equal footing.

    Several natural languages are widely used today as lingua francas (languages used between people with different native languages), including English, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Russian, Hindustani, and Indonesian.
     

    Apollodorus

    Senior Member
    English UK
    This is really not true - in the case of anarchists, it’s an outright contradiction in terms.

    The “contradiction” isn’t mine. Anarchism may be opposed to the authority of the state but not to Anarchism being the dominant ideology. On the contrary, Anarchists aim to make their system dominant, sometimes including through “direct action”.

    I’m not sure English is any more dominant in Ireland now than it was in the 1890s, to be honest.

    I still don’t see how speaking Esperanto might help a speaker of Irish preserve his or her language.
     
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