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The approach of an international language committee towards questions of orthography and script should be modified where names are concerned because words and names are two different things. Words are inclusive but names are exclusive - as in the distinction between common and proper nouns. Names always contain an element of privacy - including the subjective definition of correct pronunciation. This is especially true of personal names; it is up to the owners of personal names to give them up for orthographic revision if and when they are ready; anything else is a kind of violation.
However, place names have a wider currency than personal names, and might be standardised via proper consultation with all interested parties. Lancelot Hogben in his book "Essential World English" suggested that local forms of place names should replace "English" versions. This is already happening - e.g. Ceylon, Leghorn, Moldavia, Andalusia have become Sri Lanka, Livorno, Moldova, Andalucia - but the process is not always straightforward. The ownership or validity of a name can be disputed: e.g. most of the citizens of a great Indian city call it Mumbai, but a substantial and influential minority prefers the "English" name Bombay. Homonymous villages, towns and regions are normally harmless enough, but not so in ethnic hot-spots such as Macedonia. Variant names for famous places become established by long and frequent usage. Thus the city the Italians call "Roma" has been "Rome" in English for hundreds of years and "(An) Rˇimh" in Irish for over a thousand; "Beijing" is now largely accepted, but "Peking" - which derived from the 17th Century French Romanisation system in which [k] was used for the "j" sound /dzh/ - is still preferred by some publishers. Sometimes a name cannot be universally adopted due to the script, or the presence of diacritics, yet an old transliteration is inexact: e.g. "Cologne, Copenhagen" for "K÷ln, K°berhavn". Many place names have a traditional spelling which hardly corresponds to the spoken version, and many others have distinct local and national pronunciations - raising the question of which should be used as the basis of an orthographic change.
The 1967 decision by the United Nations Organisation to standardise geographical names worldwide in Roman script may be seen as yet another indicator that the coming international auxiliary language is likely to be English-based. The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN), which meets biennially, is concerned not only to promote particular names but also to discourage the production of additional variant names. This disapproval of so-called "exonyms" challenges the desires of nations whose people are strongly conscious of the value of language as an aid to independent political existence.
The question of a name for an initially English-based international auxiliary language would have to be determined democratically: a provisional suggestion we have come up with, until or unless something better emerges, is LANGO - which would have far-flung linguistic resonance, yet without a current meaning as in the case of LINGO or LINGUA. Moreover, LANGO is a handy acronym in English, French and Spanish, among other languages, (as shown on the first page - also, "LANGuage Organisation", as on the front cover). LANGO also happens to be the name of an important African tribe divided linguistically by two dialects and politically by the Sudan/Uganda border. Other names for the language that have occurred to us include:
LIBRE "Language Initially Based on Reformed English"
REFIC ("Refits") "Reformed English For International Communication"
ALIEB "Auxiliary Language Initially English Based"
GABIEL "Global Auxiliary Based Initially on the English Language"
KABARE "Kommon Auxiliary Beginning As Reformed English"
LUA "Langue Universelle Auxiliaire"
UNAL "Universal Neutral Auxiliary Language"
IDEAL "Initially Derived from English Auxiliary Language"
RENUAL "Reformed English Neutral Universal Auxiliary Language"
SABIR "Shared Auxiliary Based on International Roots"
SABIRE "Shared Auxiliary Based Initially on Reformed English"
REGAL "Reformed English Global Auxiliary Language"
REAL "Reformed English Auxiliary Language"
EMESAL "English Made Easy Shared Auxiliary Language"
LINK "Language for Inter-National Kommunication"
KENGA "Kommon ENGlish Auxiliary"
KELBA "Kommon English-Language Based Auxiliary"
KEBA "Kommon English-Based Auxiliary"
KEBIT "Kommon English-Based International Tongue"
KOREA "Kommon Orthographically-Regularised English Auxiliary"
RENGO "Reformed English with Normalised Global Orthography"
SOLE "Second Language English" or "Speakers of Other Languages' English"
BETIC "Better International Communication" or "Basic English Tongue for International Communication"
KIT(EB) "Kommon International Tongue (English-Based)"
KIBAT "Kommon International Brito-American Tongue"
KEBARO "Kommon English-Based Auxiliary Reformed Orthographically"
KOINE "KOmmon INternational English" orig. "lingua franca"
MON "Modern Orthographic Norms"
BUSA "Britain/USA language" or "BUSiness Auxiliary"
SHENGIL "Shared English International Language"
MUNDISH "Mundo" - "world" (Romance); "Mund" - "mouth" (Ger.)
GENLISH "General English" or "Genesis in English"
WoLa "World Language"
Most of us are trained throughout our formative years to regard the slightest variation to T.O. as a "mistake" rather than as a simplification or useful innovation: and the valid reason for this constraint - that unity must take precedence over regularity in matters of orthography - has tended to develop into a fetishistic or shibbolethic attachment to T.O. which scorns attempts to construct a universal and rational alternative. Thus the psychological aftermath of early conditioning has figured largely in the failure of attempts, whether gradualist or revolutionary, to influence the English language directly.
Ingrained attitudes of this kind can be difficult to change, but have yet been shown to respond to determined campaigns of public education, which brings us to the thought that we haven't yet considered the role of publishers and propagandists in the orthographic reform of English. Could influential newspaper and media magnates extend their worthy contributions in the fields of grammar and neologism to the realm of English spelling reform? They would seem to be ideal agents of change - conscious as they must be of the benefits of print-saving, of the needs of second-language speakers, and of the value to the bottom line of reaching the widest possible readership for their products.
Indeed, it might be supposed that the transnational character of major English-language publishers was an advantage in this respect. So it might be, but the maintenance of orthographic unity within the peculiarly decentralised English-speaking world depends upon an agreement which is all the more powerful for being informal, with no obvious centre to define itself against; and although publishing and media interests may be merging and consolidating, there is still sufficient diversity of ownership that no publisher or lexicographer is likely to independently introduce substantial reforms for fear of being left out on a limb.
The experience of the "Chicago Tribune" provides a telling illustration. Towards the end of the last century Joseph Medill, owner and editor of this leading American newspaper and member of the Council of the Spelling Reform Association introduced a number of orthographic spellings, most of which were gradually abandoned. However, the enterprise was revived in 1934 by Medill's grandson, with the support of readers who voted 3 to 1 in favour of "short spelling". Thus the "Tribune" once again started using words such as "bazar, burocrat, catalog, crum, glamor, harth, herse, iland, jaz, rime, sherif, staf, subpena, tarif and trafic".
Other spellings, including "tho, altho, thru, thoro, frate, photograf, philosofy" were subsequently added, though some of the 1934 originals were already being discontinued. During the 50s and 60s no new words appeared, and most of the remaining orthographic spellings were dropped, including "tarif" and "frate". By the 70s only "thru", "tho" and "catalog" etc. survived, and even these were soon to disappear from the "Tribune's" columns.
Likewise "The Times" abandoned more orthographic spellings such as "Jugoslavia, baptize, colonize" etc. after a fairly recent change of ownership. All the evidence goes to show that an orthographic reform will only occur collectively, and in an organised manner; the gradualist approach, hitherto endorsed by many workers in the field, has manifestly failed. Although it might be rational to introduce a number of revised spellings it might be still more rational not to break the unwritten consensus.
In view of this fact, which has become apparent over a long period of time, enthusiasts for spelling reform have had to content themselves by inventing a variety of orthographies and writing numerous articles about the subject. But these theoretical considerations have done very little to advance the cause; praxis is an essential ingredient of language development. In Esperanto and other constructed languages we already have enough negative examples of the purely academic approach. It is now time for a coherent and co-ordinated initiative in which reforms might be assessed pragmatically.
As is well known, the democratic process demands that, after a due period of consultation and reflection, a single united programme be adopted, and then continued for a set period of time; the central principle being, not so much that the popularly chosen manifesto should be correct in all its aspects, as that everyone should endorse and uphold it for a trial period until the next election. In this way an incorrect policy or decision might be modified as a result of experience; without a run out in practice, there is no way of telling whether or not a theory is workable.
The international stage is now set for the redevelopment of a language which has redefined itself at roughly 200 year intervals since the 10th Century. In King Alfred's time there was a somewhat artificial standard national language based on the Wessex dialect. In the 12th Century the Chancery made the English of London standard and determined the orthography. Many neologists, grammarians, orthoepists and lexicographers later made important contributions. The language today known as English was quite different in the past, even as recently as the 18th Century, and it has been pointed out how much it has changed in our own lifetimes.
It is a myth that English, like Topsy, "just growed". There has been a good deal of planning in the development of English, but it has taken place in an atmosphere of goodwill and consultation that would now be difficult to replicate, either in or between the diverse political systems of the English-speaking world. The forces of creativity have moved on to the international arena, as all the great movements of the late 20th Century testify, and it is within that matrix of modern idealism, the international auxiliary language, that the transformation of English must take place.
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