WIDENING COMMUNICATION: INTERLANGUAGES

As regular readers here know, I watch the site statistics.  Because of that, I have long been concerned that many people who do not have English as their first language are obviously trying to read this site, but with varying levels of success.  Many others, of course, cannot read English at all, so the Hokku site is a closed book to them.

I have always wanted to open this site — and the teachings of hokku — to as many people as I could, but it is neither possible or practical to post in every language.

Lately I have been exploring the possibilities of “inter-languages,” of created languages that act as a bridge between those with different native languages.  Interlanguages are “new” created languages, generally using a natural vocabulary but often simplifying the complexities of grammar commonly found in every natural language.

My first attempts have been:

1.  To find an interlanguage that would enable speakers of Romance languages (Italian, Spanish, French, etc.) to read my postings.  One interlanguage stood out right away, because it not only has a very simple grammar but also a very large, Latin-based vocabulary.   And further, it sounds very much like a natural language.  So for this purpose I have chosen Interlingua.  I am in the process of learning it, so what I post in Interlingua will no doubt be imperfect at first, with mistakes — but I hope it will nonetheless be understandable to speakers of Romance languages.

2.  My second search has been more difficult.  I have long wanted to communicate with the very large numbers of speakers of various Slavic languages, which, like the Romance languages, have the same origin but have developed differently over time.   I am still exploring this possibility.

It is rather amazing to me that in the 21st century, with instant world-wide communication, there is still no accepted world-wide interlanguage.  By default — partly due to economic and cultural reasons — English has filled that purpose to some extent.  But English is rather difficult and time-consuming to learn for speakers of some languages, so it is by no means understood everywhere and by all.

There was once an attempt to make an earlier constructed language — Esperanto — a functioning world interlanguage, but its usage has always been very limited, and lately it seems to have fallen even further out of use.  Its vocabulary — unlike those of Interlingua and the more practical attempts at a Slavic interlanguage — is too mixed for general immediate comprehension among any language group, so I see no significant advantage at present in using Esperanto for my purposes.

In looking at various interlanguages, my purpose is not to advocate for this or that “world language,” whether natural or created.  It would be great if everyone in the world could speak easily and directly to everyone else, but that is not the situation at present.  So it is left to each of us to communicate with speakers of other languages as best we can.  That is why it seems to me that the use of interlanguages here might be a good way to at least widen the range of communication.

Even if I am able to write — over time — in Interlingua and an inter-Slavic language, that will still limit my range to those speaking Romance and Slavic languages — in addition, of course, to those already able to read English.  That leaves a great many languages uncovered, and for that I am sorry; there seems no solution to that problem at present.  One does what one can.

I hope, at least, that by using Interlingua and possibly eventually an inter-Slavic language as well, I may at least make the principles and practice of hokku known to many more speakers of Romance languages as well as to many speakers of Slavic languages.  This is, of course, all an experiment, so we shall see how it goes.  It will all take time.

What the future will bring remains to be seen — whether English will become even more of a “world” language, or whether some other solution to the problem of inter-language communication will arise.

David

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