[ExI] Universal languages (was: wta-talk Voting Members ...)

Kevin H kevin.l.holmes at gmail.com
Fri Dec 28 23:10:26 UTC 2007

Bryan, doesn't your post assume that meanings already exist, that they can't
be created?  If it does, then I disagree: the creation of new meanings is
very much a part of the art of language, and so there's little hope for a
world language to be able to keep up with all the innovations that accrue in
every valley, village, and town.  This happens often enough
*within*languages.  For instance, even ten years ago, anyone speaking
of blogs would
be met with wonder what language that word came from.  Another example to
bring in with the addition of new meanings would be something like
tangerine-orange, which is not just orange but a bright highlighter orange:
one would have to have seen such a color to know what the word means.

Yet, I do think it would be great if we could accomplish the spirit of your
post.  At the same time, I think it's already happening.  As the world both
communicates, and finds the need to communicate, across national and lingual
boundaries, I think what must happen is a change to language itself.  There
will eventually must be, if globalism is to continue at an accelerated pace,
a global language that I would call the World Core which would represent a
common subset of all meanings that people across languages [i]must[/i] know
for various purposes.  Now I think that there will always be a great deal of
meanings that can't be included in World Core, but we can hope and
facilitate the World Core to grow larger: to decrease miscommunication as
well as enriching all of us.  We already have a great deal literature:
translation dictionaries and tools to facilitate learning other languages;
for the purpose of communicating between the world's major languages.
Indeed, the World Core will almost entirely consist of the world's major

But to me, I think it would be interesting and useful for there to be a
dictionary of World Core itself: not itself obsessing on the intricacies of
any one language, but forming a series of narrow bridges and
ridiculously-spaced stepstones [i]between[/i] languages, as international
communication will probably always be the World Core equivalent of "broken
English".  Such a dictionary would probably be more like an encyclopedia, as
much of it's utility would have to come from training readers in not just
new words or symbols, but in their meanings.  The word for an animal may
require a picture and some information on the habits and behaviors of that
animal, or even a discussion of it's cultural significance in the use of
idioms or figures of speech in that language.

Needless to say, I oppose those movements that crop up every now and then,
such as recently in Arizona that has made English our state's "official
language."  This movement can only really be understood in two lights: the
first which is xenophobia, which is a conservatism that believes that our
current culture, unparelleled, must be protected, and sees any merging of
cultures as inherently distructive; and the second is a war waged by the
simple-minded who, having difficulty with a single language, panic at the
thought of there being two and even more is unthinkable to them.  Now, it
makes absolute sense for them to be resistant to this idea; so this is just
one of those issues where they and I should part ways (and why, contrary to
ideology, democracy isn't always the best decision-making process: when you
have self-interest governing all sides, you hardly result in what's best for
everyone, or even best for other things like nation, culture, and wisdom),

Best regards,

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