Design a new language?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by livingin360, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm 67.
    Oh "we" did, or at least the government did. If "we" transfer a popular product to the black market, a huge criminal enterprise will spring up to sell it at vastly inflated prices, giving us the opportunity to augment our income with bribes. In addition, since criminals can't use the court system they have to resolve their disputes with gunfire, striking fear into the hearts of the populace, who will then beg us to suspend their privacy and other civil rights and hire more government employees, in order to keep them safe.
    I'm the Moderator of Arts & Culture too, so occasionally the topics spill over.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    I do a pretty convincing imitation of a scholar, don't I? My degree is in accounting and I've been working in IT for 43 years.
    I've always been fascinated by the technologies of spoken and written language. I've taken classes in Spanish, German, Chinese and Yiddish, and can speak them in decreasing order of fluency--8.0, 7.0, 6.0 and 5.0 on my own powers-of-three scale. Everything else I know I've picked up from reading and from pestering people who know linguistics or individual languages and their history. Since I've always done a lot of writing and have been making a living at it for the past few years, not to mention having taught business writing to IT geeks and ESL to speakers of Chinese, the fine points of grammar, vocabulary and syntax are part of my daily life.
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  3. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

    You got me by a little over 4 years.

    The best way to end the problem is to make it not profitable for the criminals. One way to do that is to go to a cashless society. After all how many criminals want all their transactions recorded. It's a lot tougher being a gangster in a cashless society. Also it beats the alternative of legalizing all drugs.

    That's good to know.

    That would have been my guess.

    This SciForum has many very knowledgeable people and I'm glad to be here.
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  5. I always thought that those languages were similar but then when I asked someone who's native is Japanese and studied Chinese were different I quote, "Chinese and Japanese are totally different languages, having developed from different roots. What they have in common is only kanji or Chinese character. Grammar and pronunciation are totally different. They are more far away apart from each other than French and English are."
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The Indo-European language family has two main branches (plus a few singularities like Albanian). The main groups in the Eastern Branch are Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian. The Western Branch has several main groups: Celtic, Germanic, Romance and Greek (a one-member group).

    So English and French are not just relatives because they're in the same family, they are very closely related. Me for "me," ne for "not," trois for "three," the similarities bash us over the head. And of course the relationship was made even closer in the Middle English period, when French was the language of England's government and commerce, and we borrowed thousands of French words.

    Chinese, Japanese and Korean belong to three different language families. We don't know for sure that they may not have a common ancestor twenty or thirty thousand years ago (or for that matter that all languages may not have a common ancestor sixty thousand years ago, the key technology that made the first successful migration out of Africa possible, by allowing us to plan, organize, share our ideas and dreams, and pass information across generational boundaries). But if they do, they have changed so much that all evidence of the relationship seems to have been obliterated.

    China was one of the world's six independently built civilizations. (The other five are Mesopotamia, India, Egypt, Olmec and Inca.) So it was always an influence on the nearby populations. Chinese Buddhist missionaries brought Chinese culture and technology to Korea and Japan in the early centuries CE, when they were still in the Bronze Age and China had an Iron Age culture. This included introducing them to the technology of written language. Since the Chinese writing system is not and was not phonetic, they simply adopted the Chinese words as they learned to read Chinese literature--many of those words were for concepts that did not exist in the Bronze Age anyway.

    For centuries, educated people in Japan and China simply read and wrote in Chinese rather than their native language. Ultimately they assimilated Chinese words into their own languages--which after centuries of phonetic shift did not sound quite the same as the Chinese originals. Then they began writing their own words in the Chinese logograms for the equivalent Chinese word, as the idea of literacy in the native language caught on. Just as in Europe, literacy and education became more widespread after the invention of printing made written material more easily available to the average citizen.

    A few hundred years ago, scholars in Korea and Japan invented phonetic writing systems for native words that had no Chinese equivalent, and for grammatical prefixes, suffixes and particles.

    Today an educated Japanese must be able to read 2,000 Chinese logograms in addition to 100 phonetic symbols--and each logogram has both a Japanese pronunciation and a (mangled) Chinese pronunciation. Logograms are being phased out in South Korea so most words are written phonetically; in North Korea they have been outlawed completely. In China you have to know 5,000 logograms to be considered well-educated, and scholars know thousands more.
  8. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    Are you aware of Esperanto?
  9. livingin360 Registered Senior Member

    Nope i never heard of it. Has the language been continually improved on since its founding?
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    No, and for the same reason that this is not done with natural languages. It is impossible to change a language from the outside. It has to be done by a consensus of the speakers, or the changes will simply not be adopted. And also because change has to happen very slowly or people won't be able to understand the new form of the language.

    A couple of people invented new forms of Esperanto, notably Esperantido ("offspring of Esperanto") and Ido ("Offspring.") They never caught on because twenty million people (the most optimistic estimate of the number of speakers at the movement's peak in the idealistic 1920s) are simply not going to take the time and trouble to re-learn a language that already works just fine.

    All changes have to be downward-compatible so people can still read old books and understand old movies. This greatly limits the ability to reform a language.

    George Soros is one of a handful of people who were raised from birth with Esperanto as his primary language.

    If you're curious about Esperanto it has its own Wikipedia section like Polish and Korean.
  11. wow that last part shocked me. Ok so I guess you did give the answer as to why Chinese, Japanese and Korean looked so similar. Maybe the reason as to why scholars can't make a connection between the three languages is because the Japanese and Koreans made it that way.
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    No, the reason is that they are not related. Chinese is a member of the Sino-Tibetan family of about 250 languages, including Tibetan, all the languages of China, and many languages of Burma and other southeast Asian and south Asian peoples. The family is not well-attested; some linguists include Thai and Vietnamese, while others don't even think Tibetan and Chinese are related--that the people have lived in close proximity for so long that massive borrowing and even grammatical and syntactical influence makes them look related.

    Japanese is a member of the very small Japonic language family, whose only other known member is Ryukyuan.

    Korean is an isolate, i.e., no living or dead relatives have been identified. Some linguists think it belongs in the Altaic family, others Japonic, but those are minority viewpoints and really only speculations anyway.

    Since China was the first civilization in east Asia and Chinese Buddhist missionaries brought Chinese Iron Age culture and technology to Japan and Korea, their languages have thousands of Chinese loan-words, just as our language has thousands of French and Latin loan words because of the history of England. But just as English is not a Romance language (although it is distantly related to them through ancient roots in the Indo-European family), Japanese and Korean are not related to Chinese (and do not have any ancient roots like ours).

    Some day we may find a relationship that currently eludes our analysis, as we did with the Yenisei language of Siberia and the Na-Dene group of Native American languages, but until then we have to say there is no known relationship.
  13. DeliberateIndecision Registered Member

    What about Esperanto makes it easy to learn? I know it has a very uniform structure for grammar, but what about vocabulary? Where are its roots?
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Esperanto is a highly synthetic language. Its words are formed from a relatively small stock of roots, combined with an array of suffixes and prefixes, not to mention with each other. Mal- is a prefix meaning "opposite," so "old" is malnova, "slowly" is malrapide, and "after" is malantaŭ. -Er- is a suffix meaning "unit," so monero is "coin" and plorero is "tear."

    Compound words are rampant. Landlimo is "border" (of a country), bestkuracisto is "veterinarian" (animal physician).

    The grammar has been aggressively regularized: mi, min, mia, "I, me, my"; ni, nin, nia, "we, us, our"; li, lin, lia, "he, him, his," etc.

    Then there's the series kio, tio, io, ĉio, nenio, "what, that, something, everything, nothing"; kiam, tiam, iam, ĉiam, neniam, "when, then, ever, always, never"; and so forth with the families for which, how, who, where, and why.

    As a result, a much smaller vocabulary is required in order to communicate at any level. A hundred root-words in Esperanto will give you the communication power of a thousand in English; two thousand--the work of a few months--will enable you to converse and read quite well.

    So not only is the language easier to learn than any natural language, but it doesn't take as much of it to be useful.
    Zamenhof was a European (Poland) so Esperanto is an Indo-European language. The roots are taken from what, at the time, were the major European languages: Latin, French, German and English, with a smattering from the others (like Greek kaj for "and") so they wouldn't feel left out.

    But the majority are Latin. This is no problem for speakers of Western Indo-European languages because our dictionaries are full of borrowed Latin words. As for speakers of Japanese or Hungarian, it hardly matters since they would no more recognize a Swedish or Croatian word than one of ours anyway.
  15. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

    I read the article below and wanted to know if anybody has had any experience with any of these communities and can comment on how they compare with other language learning systems. Also, is there a constructed language learning community?

    Language learning communities are the fastest growing part of education 2.0, with the three biggest services Babbel, Busuu and Livemocha having between one to eight million users and adding thousands of new users every day.
  16. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    English all the way.

    Come on the England!
  17. Kellisness Registered Senior Member

    I'm in the process of creating a language. I've always been interested in linguistics and my language is coming along nicely. But the more you go into it, the more you realise there is to know, and it gets more and more complex.
  18. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

  19. Kellisness Registered Senior Member

    Because it's fun.
  20. John99 Banned Banned

    We need a new language. One that is streamlined and universal, has little need for punctuation and strange symbols is easily understood and intuitive.
  21. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Is your language design a solitary effort? Or do you develop it via interaction / communication in the developing language / with others, at least one other?

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