Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Auxlang Epiphany

Yes, it's the post everyone at Auxlang knew would turn up sooner or later.

The problem is one of perception: though it is possible to become fluent in an auxlang more quickly and easily than in a natlang, there is still great resistance to auxlangs. I've already mentioned the persistent stories about auxlangs (usually Esperanto) failing in practice. Then there's the dismissal of auxlang-learners as fanboys--the sort who learn Klingon or Na'vi while blogging in their pajamas.

In any case, auxlangs are fake languages. Everyone Knows This. Even linguists, who ought to be more objective, hardly acknowledge Esperanto as a language, despite its credentials. The others are definitely beyond the pale, which is no doubt why Gode and company insisted that Interlingua was not constructed so much as revealed: it had been latent in the source languages all the time. You see, Gode himself didn't believe that it was truly possible to create a language, the evidence of Esperanto notwithstanding.

The more sophisticated argument is that auxlangs are unnecessary; English does the job just fine--at least until you try reading the manual for your latest gadget or invoke tech support. You can quickly learn enough of some languages to get by, and English is one of them. But even reading a newspaper article or novel--or a comic book, for that matter!--will probably overwhelm you until you've spent enough time and effort to thoroughly master an auxlang. Or two or three.

Be that as it may, there are a lot of things that are sensible failures. For example, most people who think about the matter will acknowledge the superiority of Dvorak keyboards, but QWERTY remains the standard.

Auxlangs are in the same position. (Actually worse, since Dvorak isn't rejected as a "fake" keyboard.)

So we need to level the playing field, which means

1. Changing the popular perception of auxlangs as "fake" languages

2. Demonstrating practical uses for auxlangs

3. Demonstrating the superiority of auxlangs as interlanguages.

Let's take these one at a time as part of a practical strategy for ushering in the Auxlang Epiphany. Note that these are cooperative points: it's pointless to argue the comparative merits of this or that auxlang until we have gained a hearing in the first place, so gaining that hearing should be our first concern. We should commit to a truce in the meantime.

Anyway--next up: Changing from "fake" to real.

1 comment:

  1. The Epiphany cometh ! :