Discussions on changing Interlingua grammar and vocabulary again

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Half of the time the Yahoo! Group interlng is a forum for discussing changes to Interlingua, to make it closer to Romance languages. This is something that Interlingua is particularly susceptible to given that it wants to appear as natural as possible, and people often say that they just don't like saying things like io es for I am. Some write io so, some write io son. Personally I think once you've gone over to a language with that many irregular conjugations you should just revive Latin since at least you have the thousands of years of history and who's to say that people will stop at io son? The next thing to go might be writing le for the definite article for a noun ending in -a. "Yuck, I simply can't write le encyclopedia, it looks wrong!" Next comes adjectival agreement and who knows what else.

The other discussion now is about giving more weight to Portuguese, since Interlingua looks at Spanish and Portuguese as one source since they're from the same branch. Some have been making the argument though that their large populations should trump this. Here's one post today that is proposing a new method of selecting words:

Io sta de accordo con Josu e Chamavian in que se deberea augmentar le
influentia de le linguas ibero-romance super [IA].

Josu ha suggerite que nos include le vocabulario Hispano-Italo-Portugese [HIP]
al vocabulario de [IA]...Considera le sequente vocabulos:
I stand in agreement with Jasu and Chamavian in that one should increase the influence of the ibero-romance languages over Interlingua.

Josu has suggested that we include the vocabulary Hispano-Italo-Portugese (HIP, or Spanish-Italian-Portuguese) on the vocabulary of Interlingua...consider the following words:
1) CASA* (house) [que non se debe confuder con [F]case ([A]hut, cabbin,)]
2) COMPRAR* (to buy)
3) CONILIO (rabbit)
4) GALLINA (hen)
5) PHASEOLO* (bean)
6) SPECULO (mirror)
So what's the reason for this? Here it is given with some numbers:
Le addition de le parolas [HIP] al vocabulario de [IA] adjungerea al maximo 7%
de neologismos al vocabulario le plus fundamental de [IA]. Le Percentage de
Similaritate Lexic inter le francese et le italiano es approx. 90% un ciphra que
es identic a ille del P.S.L. de le linguas ibero-romances inter se.
Le linguas ibero-romance (com-)parte 75% de su vocabulario con le francese
et 82% de su vocabulario con le italiano. Tunc il ha un diferentia de solo 7%
del vocabulario commun al [HIP] mais diverse del francese. Iste cambios
habera poco effecto super le vocabulario academic del [IA] perque ad isse
nivello, il ha quasi perfecte concordia inter le varie idiomas romance.
"The addition of [HIP] words to the vocabulary of Interlingua would add at most 7% neologisms to the most basic vocabulary of Interlingua. The percentage of lexic similarity in between French and Italian is about 90%, a number that is identical to that of the Ibero-romance languages.
The Ibero-romance languages share 75% of their vocabulary with French and 82% of their vocabulary with Italian. Then it has a difference of only 7% of the commun vocabulary that is common to [HIP] but different from French. These changes will have little effect on the academic vocabulary of Interlingua because at this level, there is almost perfect concordance in between the various Romance languages."

So what do you think, does that make sense? Since the academic vocabulary is the same anyway would it be a good idea for Interlingua to change its method of determining vocabulary in this way?

That would result in a different language, of course.


Unknown said...

I personally prefer leaving the method of word selection intact and adopt an easier ("collateral") spelling and the very sensible and objective proposal of Dr. Mulaik for the grammatical particles.

But this is for my use. Other people are free to do whatever they want, and I do not care.

For me, Interlingua is a means to an end. I like Interlingua because:

* learning it can speed up the study of other Romance languages;

* I can communicate (in written form) to Romance language speakers, if they have the willingness to "decipher" what is written (since its lexicon is somewhat different from their native languages, so guessing what is written requires a bit of mental effort, but not that much).

It is also a benefit to have an access to a community of Interlingua speakers, but this is not what has attracted me to the language.

I do not care much for the Interlingua "movement" per se, nor I think it is necessarily the best conauxlang for the world, in objective grounds (although I would not oppose its adoption). But I see it as a great method for learning other languages indirectly, and for this Interlingua has no feasible competitors.

Barcodex said...

Well, if this will lead to Yet Another Auxuliary language, then it does not hurt anyone. There are way too much auxlangs already. When at least 10 of them have an attitude to become new lingua franca, noone will really become. Sad, but the momentum for auxlang was lost in early XX century. Now they are the toy for us, who often have interest in more than one auxlang anyway...

I wholeheartedly agree with antonielly that the only application for auxlang is to simplify learning next languages, and in this sence Interlingua seems really superior. I did not spent a single minute actually learning it, and I understand almost 100% of its text having "some ido, some spanish and 2 semester of french" as a basis.

Bill Chapman said...

These little linguistic disputes take the efforts of those interested away from the challenge of increasing the number of speakers of a planned language.

The Esperanto movement was lucky when a section of its supporters left in 1907-08 in support of Ido. Thus those with a tendency to permanent linguistic revolution were left to quarrel and quibble well away from the Esperanto movement, and the Esperanists were free to develop the use of the language in literature, science and practical applications - skiing holidays, craft weekends, Esperanto holidays, conferences for teachers and so on.

In other words, at a time when Ido had two rival academies,supporters of Esperanto were working at using the language for a whole range of purposes. There's a lesson here for our brothers and sisters in the Interlingua movment.


Me said...

Regarding the third poster: a proposed change like this to the vocabulary is no comparison to the changes made in between Esperanto and Ido; i.e., it does not follow that because in 2008 a group is proposing changes that may weaken the language that in 1907 this was a bad idea too. You'll notice that Ido has been stable since about 1920, and the reformers went on to other projects after that. As far as I'm concerned, in the schematic sphere Ido is nearly perfect.

And let's not forget that even Zamenhof proposed a reform as well. Halfheartedly, but still done.


Patro nose, kvu esten in cielo,
Sankte estan tue nomo.
Venan reksito tue,
estan vulo tue,
kom in cielo, sik anku sur tero.
Pano nose omnudie donan al nos hodiu
e pardonan al nos debi nose,
kom nos anku pardonen al nose debenti;
ne kondukan nos versu tento,
sed liberigan nos de malbono.

Unknown said...

I fail to see how "linguistic disputes" take time and effort away from "publishing Literature in the language".

If someone intends to publish Literature in the language, he may just choose whatever he feels is the "most appropriate" form of the language and ignore the "linguistic disputes".

Since nobody can oblige someone to follow a certain "desired form" of a conauxlang, there is no sense in entering linguistic disputes unless it is for "intellectual fun" (as I like to do).

By the way, the assumption of the 3rd poster that Esperanto speakers are very conservative and Ido speakers are ultra-experimenters is completely mythical.

Me said...

I think it's a little like Linux in a way. Linux has always suffered a bit from too many distros, and the creation of yet another distro without much thought regarding long term plans such as customer service, updates, and so on. One of the things that sold me on Ido at first (back in 2005 when I started studying Esperanto for four days and read a bit about Ido on Wikipedia) was that it seemed perfectly stable. I was a bit wary at first that it might be some ever-changing chameleon that I would learn and then find myself not knowing anymore a year later, but that turned out to not be the case.

Barcodex said...

Dave, excellent parallel with Linux. I was thinking the same thing. But in the world of operating systems, there is also a MacOS which is considered by many as "Linux done right". If we name natural languages as Windows, dominating the world, then what could be an analogue to MacOS?

Me said...

Hm, maybe Lingua Franca Nova will be like the Mac in a year or two. "Man, you PC (Esperanto/Ido/Interlingua) users with all your complications (adjectival accord/derivation/spelling), once you've tried LFN you'll never go back."

It might be fun to make one of those I'm a PC / I'm a Mac parodies. It might even be fun to make one that compares IALs with natural languages.

Mac (IAL): Hey, so how do verbs in your language work?

PC (natural language): Oh, it's really easy when you know how. First you conjugate depending on the type of verb and by who's doing it. The ones I use the most are irregular though so you have to learn each one...are you listening?

Mac (IAL, now talking to some girls and not paying attention): Hm? Oh, are you still talking about verbs? I did all mine while you were starting to talk about yours. You see, my language doesn't have any irregularities and verbs don't conjugate by person. Come on girls, let's go do something for a while and let him conjugate his verbs.

PC (natural language): chante, chantes, chantons, chantez, chantent, er...

Barcodex said...

Nah, that was unexpected :) You rarely write about LFN in your blog. MIE is covered by F30 way better than LFN. I'll take a quick look on this "new distro" on Wikipedia :)

Josu Lavin said...

Io lege isto con surpresa:

"Josu ha suggerite que nos include le vocabulario Hispano-Italo-Portugese [HIP]"

Io non ha dicite tal cosa.

Josu Lavin

Barcodex said...

Dave, excellent parallel with Linux. I was thinking the same thing. But in the world of operating systems, there is also a MacOS which is considered by many as "Linux done right". If we name natural languages as Windows, dominating the world, then what could be an analogue to MacOS?

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