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Replies on behalf of the World Language Program by Antony Alexander (firstname.lastname@example.org)
|What is the World Language Program? |
Go to Response #1
|Assuming a globally representative congress or committee could agree on an IAL, wouldn't it be an unwieldy compromise? Wouldn't a functionable language require the coherent vision that only an inspired individual could provide?
Go to Response #2
| Wouldn't each member of the international committee seek only that the IAL conformed as far as possible to their own language, in whose favour they were likely to be prejudiced, albeit unconsciously?
Go to Response #3
|Isn't English already the international auxiliary language for all practical purposes?
Go to Response #4
| Esperanto is a perfectly adequate IAL which only needs support. Esperanto's official adoption and consequent implementation through educational systems worldwide would be hastened if sites such as this promoted it.
Go to Response #5
|| "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet!" Kipling's sentiment remains as true today: cultures are essentially self-contained and will remain so; no more than the most basic IAL will ever be required.
Go to Response #6
Shouldn't the international committee choose an entirely neutral language, equally easy or difficult for all nationalities?
Go to Response #7
|Would it be possible to guess what kind of IAL the international committee might select?
Go to Response #8
Does the World Language Program have any additional preferences? |
Go to Response #9
|1: What is the World Language Program?|
|2: Assuming a globally representative congress or committee could agree on an IAL, wouldn't it be an unwieldy compromise? Wouldn't a functionable language require the coherent vision that only an inspired individual could provide?|
A congress or committee solves these problems by vesting authority in its unanimous or majority opinion. Of course there is a danger in this too, so a properly constituted arrangement is necessary - one which incorporates systematic consultation with all interested parties into the decision-making process. There is no reason, in fact, why the official committee and their consultees should not collaborate for the benefit all concerned.
|3: Wouldn't each member of the international committee seek only that the IAL conformed as far as possible to their own language, in whose favour they were likely to be prejudiced, albeit unconsciously?|
The advance of scientific linguistics is another factor that will help to maintain a proper balance with political interests. A great deal of high-quality research now exists concerning subjects which might be expected to inform and influence the course of IAL discussion and decision-making: comparative grammar and phonology, childhood speech and literacy acquisition etc..
|4: Isn't English already the international auxiliary language for all practical purposes?|
Moreover, as has often been pointed out, the pre-eminence of the English language relates more to the current status of English-speaking civilisation than to its inherent qualities. If the dominance of the English-speaking countries - which has arguably lasted from 1815 to the present - were to be superseded, the English language might consequently be expected to go the way of Ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic and French. The demise of the British Empire, the relative economic decline of America, the reversion of several ex-colonies to native languages, the establishment of rival languages in former English-speaking heartlands, and the continued political and cultural opposition to the English language from various quarters in several countries - all these are indications that the dethronement of English might already be proceeding.
The following statements are pertinent in this regard, though over a decade old:
........"In 1989 a study conducted in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain concluded: "The real correct understanding of English in all the countries studied is notably inferior to the most pessimistic existing evaluations and our own guesstimates" Van de Sandt, Report in "Initiative Media News Bulletin" (London: Lintas Worldwide, January 1989)
........In 1990 Sir (now Lord) Randolph Quirk, Professor of English at University College in London, put it thus: "Despite the persistent and glib assumptions in Britain and America, we are witnessing a significant relative decline (perhaps even an absolute decline) in the currency of English worldwide. This may come as a surprise to those who think of English as the medium of high-tech skills, international conferences, and professional journals: here indeed continued growth is doubtless the order of the day. But these are relatively slim and specialized lines of communication."
........In 1991 Richard Bailey, Professor of English Language and Literature at the the University of Michigan and Associate Editor of the "Oxford Companion to the English Language" was even more specific: "The proportion of the world's population who regularly use English is 15% - and falling".
|5: Esperanto is a perfectly adequate IAL which only needs support. Esperanto's official adoption and consequent implementation through educational systems worldwide would be hastened if sites such as this promoted it.|
|6: "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet!" Kipling's sentiment remains as true today: cultures are essentially self-contained and will remain so; no more than the most basic IAL will ever be required.|
On the other hand are those who discount the possibility of self-sufficient or autonomous entities communicating indefinitely on a second-hand basis, believing that all languages will eventually merge into a single language by way of an official IAL, and claiming that this process is merely a conscious continuation of what is already occurring. Decades or centuries after the official IAL inauguration, everyone might still learn at least two languages at school, but they would expect the IAL to develop relative to the mother tongues.
They would point to the precedent of pidgins and creoles, inasmuch as pidgins were IALs on a smaller scale, formulated for essentially the same reason - the pertinent fact about pidgins being their tendency to become creolised: a process shown to derive from children learning and using the pidgin as a mother tongue. Thus, although pidgins were originally employed as purely auxiliary trading languages - second languages that nobody used as a mother tongue - children of certain traders, seafarers etc. evidently learned the pidgins as mother tongues, and elaborated them with borrowed or intuitive grammatical constructions and new words from various sources - exactly as tends to happen with mother tongues or primary languages in their developmental phase.
Correspondingly, since the IAL will begin its life essentially as a global pidgin, there is every chance that it will be elaborated by future generations in a similar way and for the same reasons. The modern world contains an ever-increasing number of itinerant key workers and administrative personnel employed by transnational corporations and international agencies. Such people will find the IAL particularly useful, whether or not they possess other second languages such as English, and consequently the children of some of them are likely to pick up the IAL as a mother tongue. The intuitive elaboration of the IAL might then be expected to follow, in concert with more formal and conscious innovative attempts by authors, advertisers, film-makers etc. who might well wish to write in the IAL directly in order to access the global market, the whole being co-ordinated and kept within acceptable bounds by the IAL committee.
Assuming this process of development came to pass, the relationship between the IAL and every national tongue would be comparable to that which formerly existed between the minority ethnic tongues and the great national languages which entirely surrounded them. Thus, even as islands of minority ethnic tongues have been surrounded by a sea of English, every language would eventually find itself within the matrix of the IAL. And correspondingly, even as English formerly diluted and absorbed minority ethnic tongues in its midst, English would itself be absorbed, along with all other languages, into one universal tongue of enormous capacity and subtlety.
The history of the dogged survival of certain minority ethnic tongues clearly shows that such a process would never be achieved by force, rather would it happen for cultural and economic reasons. Thus, if speakers and writers were to deliberately use the international auxiliary language to reach the widest possible audience or readership, and listeners were to learn it - and tune into it - to keep up with the latest news and newest thought from anywhere in the world, there is little doubt that this common language would develop its own character as a truly global tongue, even as primary creative impetus went into it. If this did indeed happen - whether through neologism, transliteration, or other aspects of linguistic development - the national languages of the world could be expected to successively abandon their separate identities, over a period of centuries, in order to become part of it: in the same way that some minority ethnic tongues have hitherto become submerged in national languages.
Thus there is no reason to suppose that an international auxiliary consciously developed for creative usage would not gradually obtain the linguistic and euphonic capacity to incorporate all useful features, whether structural or decorative, from both "national" and constructed languages. Indeed, it might well display these assets more precisely and harmoniously than their own more or less irregular grammars, partial phonologies and ramshackle orthographies. In such a scenario the mother-tongues would continue to be preserved in written and recorded form, but ultimately for sentimental value rather than linguistic information.
|7: Shouldn't the international committee choose an entirely neutral language, equally easy or difficult for all nationalities?|
|8: Would it be possible to guess what kind of IAL the international committee might select?|
They might well operate within certain established norms endorsed by many IALers, as by others with an interest in the subject. These include:
|9: Does the World Language Program have any additional preferences?|
Orwell's "Newspeak", probably based on his perception of Esperanto and Basic English, is an old chestnut that might be brought out by way of illustration. Orwell's inference that an imposed IAL might be used to limit the thought and expression of speakers of more complex languages evidently struck a chord with his readers - unless it is purely coincidental, and related only to the ascendancy of the English language, that both Esperanto and Basic English have declined so much since his book was published.
On the other hand, a median IAL such as Esperanto is beyond the capacity of many non-linguists, particularly those whose own languages have a very different or more restricted grammatical structure or sound system. Certainly, speakers of creoles and some Asian tongues have found Esperanto very difficult. Many English speakers have also found Esperanto challenging, since it uses grammatical constructions that English manages without, apart from vestigially.
The two alternatives to a median IAL have, of course, been an advanced IAL and a basic IAL: Schleyer's "Volapuk" and Hogben's "Interglossa" (forerunner to "Glosa") are respective examples. However, for the reasons mentioned, neither of these IALs would now be acceptable. The inadequacies of Volapuk became evident when people tried to use it in everyday conversation; it obviously lacked a basic version. Conversely Interglossa, with its three tenses and absence of inflections, was in many ways an ideal IAL - though its lack of expandability was a fatal drawback. No current IAL is expandable or contractable: that is the problem with all of them.
Any language taught to children begins with "infant-speak". Those transmitting the language to the very young instinctively employ the simplest grammar, the easiest speech sounds and the shortest words, often internally repetitive. However, the "infant-speak" is really the same language as that used by adults, as are the other gradations and variations.
The essential problem with IALs at the present time is that none of them have a "infant-speak" version and an advanced version and all the versions in between. For practical reasons, it's necessary to start with an "infant-speak" as the official IAL, whilst the other IALs in the hierarchy are developed in the background. At the requisite time, when all (or nearly all) peoples have attained the next level as a result of cultural and linguistic development, the second IAL on the hierarchy (which many if not most people in the world would already be using unofficially) would be designated as the official IAL, and so on. Thus the IAL hierarchy is really a single IAL, introduced in stages.
The table below, reproduced for illustrative rather than prophetic purposes, shows the kind of scheme the World Language Program has in mind. For mnemonic purposes, the number of consonants and vowels accords with the year of introduction. Thus Lang25, with 25 phonemes in its sound system - 20 consonants and 05 vowels - would be introduced in the year 2005 AD.
Lang25 would have an alphabetic script (possibly English-type, without diacritics), a very basic grammar (possibly Chinese-type, word-order based, wholly analytic), and the core vocabulary without consonant clusters etc. would be limited to the twenty most universal consonants identified by the UPSID survey and the five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) which most languages employ, and to which Spanish, Japanese and other tongues are restricted.
Perhaps the year 2005, at least, will be prophetic since the beginning of the construction of the World Language Program Universal Language Institute at Horning's Mills, Ontario, Canada is scheduled for that year.
|Provisional IAL Name||Number of Consonants & Vowels||Inaugural Year as Official IAL||First Language or Mother Tongue||Second or Auxiliary Language|
|Lang53||27 C 26 V||2726 AD||100%||0%|
|Lang49||26 C 23 V||2623 AD||98%||2%|
|Lang45||25 C 20 V||2520 AD||90%||10%|
|Lang41||24 C 17 V||2417 AD||70%||30%|
|Lang37||23 C 14 V||2314 AD||30%||70%|
|Lang33||22 C 11 V||2211 AD||10%||90%|
|Lang29||21 C 8 V||2108 AD||2%||98%|
|Lang25||20 C 5 V||2005 AD||0%||100%|
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