15 December 2014

Random Crap

oday is Walt Disney’s birthday, and the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, and Bill of Rights Day, and Zamenhof Day. Unfortunately, none of them exactly inspire me at the moment. I suppose I could translate the Bill of Rights into (bad) Esperanto or something, but it’s probably been done. (I see from the Esperanto Vikipedio that the unua amendo al la Usona konstitucio at any rate reads:
La Parlamento faru neniun leĝon por fari starigon de religio aŭ malpermesi la liberan ekzercadon de ĝi. Nek de la libereco de la memesprimado aŭ de la gazetaro; nek de la rajto de la homoj de pace kunveni kaj peticii la registaron por la ĝustigo de plendoj.
I imagine the rest of it is about somewhere.) From random glances at the internetz I gather that right-wingers think Esperanto has something to do with socialism. I have my problems with Esperanto (that word malpermesi, for example—permesi meaning allow and mal meaning the opposite of it—hence prohibit—seems awkward) but any connection with socialism isn’t one of them.
Mind you, if I were going to do something in the auxiliary language line it would probably be more like Loglan or Lojban or whatever they’re calling it now. A grammar taken from logic, a vocabulary derived from our scientific understanding of the world. That sort of thing. It’s not that I have anything against English (my mother tongue and the only language I’m actually comfortable in), or French, or Greek, or Turkish or Latin or Navaho or Swahili or any of the other languages I’ve had to deal with at some point; I just think we could do better, and why not start with a language that could be everybody’s second tongue? Something flexible enough to serve as a vehicle of translation for languages as diverse as Coptic and Mandarin, something sufficiently regular as to be easily learnable—and I got interrupted here, so I don’t know where I was going with this.
I took my own stab at it decades ago, with a language I called Glossalalia, in which there were essentially only two kinds of words, those that expressed concepts like book or running, and those that expressed grammatical relationships. English words expressed by nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs belonged in the first class, while prespositions, conjunctions, and so on belonged in the second. There were preposition-like words that showed what modified what, or how one thing was connected to another. The vocabulary was built up from a tiny handful of core concepts that could be given a variety of nuances by adding prefixes and suffixes. It was rather hideous-looking, in part because I insisted on having a large variety of consonants and vowels to keep the words short.
All my notes for it vanished a couple of years ago in the great storage disaster. A small loss, I guess.
I see that Vikipedio has articles on the Bostona tea festo and on Valtero Diznej as well, showing that somebody’s still up and using the language, even though I keep seeing it described as a failed experiment and dead as Volapük (or Volapuko in Esperanto). And for that matter there’s a Vükiped member of the Wikifamily.
Trying to write while being talked at under a last-minute deadline is probably not the most effective way of producing a blog entry. I think I’ll give up now…

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