wed 02 jan 2013 08:54:09 witte de withstraat
02 jan 2013
starting around 2007 i became interested in synthetic interlingua.
existing natural languages:
• have a lot of phonetic confusion, and are liable to misunderstanding
(the meaning often depends on sound distinctions that are too subtle for every listener to grasp)
• depend on vestigial parts that we don’t really need, except as filters for detecting foreignness
(such as ‘correct’ use of definite and indefinite articles by polish speakers)
• lack meaning specifiers that we do need
(like audible attribution markers, begin and end quotes, explicit demarkation of sub-phrases with phonetic parentheses and dashes)
i’m not naïve enough to think that a new synthetic language would be adopted, or that if it were, the old tendency to exploit it for divisive uses wouldn’t creep back into it over time. i’m just interested in this as an exercise in idealism, though i’m not a linguist. same way i’m interested in new uses of architecture, though i’m not an architect.
so. what would i ask of a modern language?
• use a limited phoneme set that is globally accessible to the human tongue and ear. those sounds which are very close to adjacent sounds get merged in a sort of auditory ‘snap to grid’. (does our semantics really require a distinction between voiced and unvoiced consonants like g versus k, or v versus f? i think those are vestigial.)
• strip away those aspects of language that are non-communal — those which serve only to discriminate between native and foreign speakers, or to define class and subservience.
• increase possible explicitness. leave less room for doubt.
• preserve possible ambiguity. leave room for poetry.
• make common expressions more concise. develop shorter words for slightly higher concepts which currently waste syllables.
• eliminate articles.
• eliminate distinction between polite vs friendly forms of address. make it entirely colloquial.
• use phonetic markers to show part of speech. so the same stem word can be a noun, verb or adjective depending how you inflect it.
• either reduce the ambiguity of prepositions, which map rather weirdly across existing natural languages — or make the mapping even weirder.
i need another few lifetimes. olia wants me to learn math too.