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#20195 - 02/26/01 10:44 AM Esperanto
macha Offline
stranger

Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 1
Loc: Trinidad & Tobago
Why are we using English as lingua franca, whreas its pronunciation is difficult and often illogical, its spelling objectionable and since long up to reform(which goes for French too!)?
Not to mention the serious handicap that non-native speakers have compared to native ones! (Could this be the reason why today America and its little brother the UK( "uk" meaning exactly that in Dutch!), in all their linguistic megalomania, are ruling the world c.q. the EU?)
Considering furthermore its proverbial lack of precision and despite the fact that I don't speak a single word of Esperanto, I strongly believe that the issue should anew be discussed at the UN, whether Esperanto as the universal language is the answer to this crucial question!



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#20196 - 02/26/01 01:29 PM Re: Esperanto
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
its proverbial lack of precision...

I don't believe you could be more wrong about the main bodies of Englishes (note the plural) used in the modern world, whether US or UK or Antipodean or other variants. The language has evolved over a long period of time by adopting loan words and new transfusions of structure and meaning from many, many other languages, with the result that it has the largest core vocabulary of any major world language. The effect of this is to allow unprecedented control over nuances of meaning between almost-synonyms drawn from different cultural roots.

As for any grand plan to conquer the world - nah! The current state of English as the de facto world language is largely a historical accident of two major world empires having used the same core language. Other peoples now adopt it out of choice to enable their personal needs and dreams.

Esperanto, like so many bureaucratic grand schemes, will always fail when tested against this popular will enacted out by millions of individuals taking their own personal choices. There may well come a time when English no longer has such a key role to play; but we can be certain that it will NEVER cede authority to an artificial construct of this kind!

Now Chinese might be a more interesting possibility...


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#20197 - 02/26/01 02:47 PM Re: Esperanto
Jazzoctopus Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/03/00
Posts: 1094
Loc: Cincinnati & Loveland, Ohio, U...
It seems right now that all of the people that have newly posted in response to this week's theme have a starkly contrasting opinion of the English language on the global stage. While those who have posted for the first time on this subject today appear to have a scornful view of English as a tyrannical overpowering force that is trying to suck in more people and destroy other languages. This, in my opinion, is a fallacious claim. As mav said, the dominance of English is purely coincidental and nothing but it's sheer volume of usage is pushing it on others. Those of us who have been here for a while realize that English is a growing, changing language that is very accepting to the entrance of new words. This is part of the beauty of English. In English one can express any number of shades of meaning and this makes it very desirable for literature. Perhaps a massive collection of words isn't the best for a global language, but this just happened, and no supreme dictator enforced this on the world at any time.

And about Chinese, I don't think that language will be gaining any global influence as long as it remains an isolationist communism.


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#20198 - 02/26/01 04:15 PM Re: Esperanto
deguoren Offline
stranger

Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 6
Loc: USA
Esperanto, like so many bureaucratic grand schemes, will always fail when tested against this popular will enacted out by millions of individuals taking their own personal choices.

There are many prejudices and objections against Esperanto. Esperanto certainly is not a bureaucratic scheme. It was developed for the use as an auxiliary second language by an individual who was simply addicted to languages. Just as you are. The inventor of Esperanto had no bureaucratic schemes or plans to conquer the world in mind.

One of the advantages of Esperanto as an international language is the fact that it is neutral, because it is not a national language. However, this turns out to be also an obstacle for a wider spread of its use or even of it becoming a world language. As there is no Esperanto-land you can visit, most people do not see any reason for learning such a language. The number of speakers around the world is too small (a few million) for Esperanto becoming a major player for global languages. Moreover, any national language has a more or less large support from one or more nations. This is not the case for artificial languages like Esperanto.

Artificial languages are a wonderful playground for people who love languages, but it is unlikely any of them will catch on as an internationally accepted global language.



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#20199 - 02/27/01 12:33 AM Re: Esperanto
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
In reply to:

And about Chinese, I don't think that language will be gaining any global influence as long as it remains an isolationist communism.



Point of information: Chinese is also the national language of Taiwan, and is one of the national languages of Singapore. It's quite widely spoken in SE Asia, and shares most if not all of its characters with Japanese. Although the current mainland regime certainly has its regrettable features, it could easily become much more expansionist than it is at present.

Bingley

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Bingley

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#20200 - 02/27/01 12:38 AM Re: Esperanto
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
In reply to:

One of the advantages of Esperanto as an international language is the fact that it is neutral, because it is not a national language.


While it's true Esperanto is not a national language, it follows the patterns common to European languages too closely to really be a neutral language. It's probably nearly as difficult for speakers of Asian languages as any other European language.

Bingley

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Bingley

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#20201 - 02/28/01 08:47 AM Re: Esperanto
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
wonderful playground

You make some interesting points, Holger. I would still maintain that Esperanto is essentially a bureaucratic scheme though, since as you rightly point out it is not rooted in any natural speech community. A ‘wonderful playground’, yes; but is it more meaningful than a clever crossword puzzle or other extrinsic wordplay? I think not, since a ‘language’ without a natural speech community is like a stream without a source. Bottled water, preserved in a flat and insipid state for all time, may be fine in a desert - but give me natural language that dropeth as the gentle rain from heaven!

As Mencken said, “A living language is like a man suffering incessantly from small haemorrhages, and what it needs above all else is constant transactions of new blood from other tongues. The day the gates go up, that day it begins to die.” This kind of vitality, I suggest, can only be found when responsibility for a mother tongue’s changing usage is vested in a wide and diverse group of individuals. Take this Board, for instance… we rarely agree on anything except our common love of language!



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#20202 - 03/07/01 03:47 PM Re: Esperanto
deguoren Offline
stranger

Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 6
Loc: USA
While it's true Esperanto is not a national language, it follows the patterns common to European languages too closely to really be a neutral language. It's probably nearly as difficult for speakers of Asian languages as any other European language.

I meant politically neutral. I apologize for the lack of precision. I agree that Esperanto - although artificially constructed - is a European language as its main vocabulary and grammatical features are borrowed from romance, germanic, and to a lesser extent from Slavic languages. This is one of the few points I do not like with Esperanto.

On the other hand it is difficult, indeed, to create a really neutral language. Other artificial languages, like Lojban for example, are not based on natural languages as for vocabulary and grammar, but still use the latin alphabet. A completely unbiased approach would require a totally new system of symbols or letters, but then you run into problems with acceptance and the difficulty to learn such novel structures. As a consequence most artificial languages make a compromise between borrowing features from existing languages and inventing novel features.


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#20203 - 03/07/01 04:04 PM Re: Esperanto
deguoren Offline
stranger

Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 6
Loc: USA
Bottled water, preserved in a flat and insipid state for all time, may be fine in a desert - but give me natural language that dropeth as the gentle rain from heaven!


Nice example. Would you also prefer taking a bite out of a living cow instead of opening a can of cooked meat?

As Mencken said, “A living language is like a man suffering incessantly from small haemorrhages, and what it needs above all else is constant transactions of new blood from other tongues. The day the gates go up, that day it begins to die.” This kind of vitality, I suggest, can only be found when responsibility for a mother tongue’s changing usage is vested in a wide and diverse group of individuals. Take this Board, for instance… we rarely agree on anything except our common love of language!

This is a very good point, indeed! And it also applies to Esperanto! In the very beginning the Esperanto community was as lively and diverse as this board, and so was the language itself. But after a couple of years some guys worried about the continuous discussion about developing the language further and fixed grammatical rules and vocabulary as if it was the ultimate thing. This, of course, was the point when Esperanto stopped to expand and ever since there is a great deal of stagnation. It even made the Esperanto community fall apart as many objected this decision to 'lock' the language. The biggest block of Esperantists leaving the community were those who created Ido, a kind of reformed Esperanto (which was not a big success either). The communities of other artificial languages should learn from this (partial) failure.


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#20204 - 03/07/01 09:12 PM .
Max Quordlepleen Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409


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