Idiom Neutral -- How to Re-animate the corpse.

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David Parke

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May 28, 2010, 8:06:06 AM5/28/10
to Idiom Neutral
From reading Mithridates' blog, I get the impression that his
enthusiasm for the Idiom Neutral conlang was because of it's perceived
advantages over the likes of Interlingua or Esperanto.

Now I won't delve too far into the disadvantages of those 2 languages
-- the two usual suspects when talking about conlangs as international
auxiliary languages.
But let's just summarize that Esperanto is just too unnatural and
arbitrary and weird to be friendly.
And Interlingua is too Romance and has be co-opted as an inter-romance-
language as opposed to an international language.

So IN is one of a number of alternatives to the big 2, this group
including such notable euro-clones as Lingua Franca Nova, Ido, Novial
and Occidental.

Now the impression that I get from Mithridates, the founder of this
group, is that he sees himself as an enthusiast of constructed
languages, but has no great ambitions to be a conlang constructor
himself. He's chosen IN as a language to foster, because it has many
good features and it's a ready-made language, since he doesn't want to
build from scratch. Forgive me if I am putting words into your mouth
Dave.

Now what I have seen so far of IN has left me with the impression that
there is a lot to like in the basic concept. I like it as an
international language that doesn't automatically have a bias in favor
of the romance languages like IL. In the discussions of IL that I
follow, I repeatedly see them overlooking that English, German and
Russian are even source languages for IL at all. Although much of the
IN vocabulary is similar to Interlingua, it's that way because the
words are International and not simply because they are Romance. It
doesn't totally have Western European assumptions all the way through
it, about such things as noun definite/indefinite articles. And the
spelling and phonology are far simpler and don't automatically assume
a knowledge of one of the big Western languages. ie they don't assume
that it's OK to spell a word like "hockey" in an un-phonetic way
because "everyone" will recognize it anyway.

Reviving IN seemed a good idea in that it's practically a piece of
"abandon-ware". It materials are now in the public domain and there is
no established community to get upset if we mess with it. However, the
more I learn about IN, less that I find to to be a ready-made
language.

The dictionary is not very extensive, -- it lacks necessary words and
is very dated. I have my doubts whether it was adequate for real-world
use even in 1903.
Most words in the dictionary I think require re-checking for meaning
and translating into modern languages. For example ftisi needs to be
re-defined from "phtisis, consumption" to "tuberculosis, consumption,
TB, phtisis." possibly a word like *tuberkulose" needs to be added
instead/also.
There are a lot of words in there that aren't very much interest to
someone in 2010. So for your 7000 words, you're not getting so many
that are relevant.
And of course many words coined in the last 107 years are lacking. Or
the meaning of English words has changed. Or the definition of the IN
word is in English terms that are now obsolete or very obscure. I had
to look up phtisis in a dictionary before I recognized it as TB --
"consumption" wasn't very much help because it has more other
meanings.

Sorry if I sound rather shallow, taking issue with the changes in
English over a mere century. Afterall, there may still be someone
living today who can remember 1903. 1903, the year of the first
heavier than air flight. But the world really has changed! The meaning
and connotation of such words as "bourgeois", and "Aryan" for example.
And most likely before a constructed IAL has caught on, the world and
the English language may have changed even more.

In my opinion, the meaning of pretty much all the IN words need to be
checked against the meaning of the cognate words in the source
languages and the meaning re-written to include modern usages.

To do this right is going to be a massive undertaking and I don't
think it'll be much less daunting than creating a whole new language
from scratch.
I am increasing unsure if this language really is the ultimate in IALs
-- mainly because of the amount of hard-work involved in blowing the
dust off and polishing it to a usable state.

Maybe taking an existing language such as IL or Esperanto, one that
has been maintained in a continuous way would be easier. Such a
language could be reformed into something a bit simpler and more
logical. IL has had massive efforts put into it and has good
dictionaries into many languages already. I would take IL and reform
the spelling. And try to root out some of the most culturally biased
assumptions in it. Some of the other Euroclones are also good, but
nearly as cob-webbed as Idiom Neutral. I

Mithridates

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May 30, 2010, 3:32:25 AM5/30/10
to Idiom Neutral
You're right about the basic idea of why I support Idiom Neutral over
all the rest. I've always wanted a language that has both an academic
appeal but is also easy for people here (Korea/Japan) to learn and
without coming across as being a warmed-over version of English. I
actually translated another three pages yesterday without having to
come up with any new words or expansions on some of the existing ones,
so I don't find the dictionary to be as useless as it might seem when
looking at all the cobwebbed terms from 1903. It's actually nice to
have them around since few in 2010 could hope to come up with them,
and they can be helpful in translating some of the now copyright-free
literature from that time.

As for the suggestion of altering existing languages I'll just have to
refer to you to your own paragraph above that I'm not a language
creator and taking one of them and altering it sounds about as much
fun as drafting a new copyright law or TOS for a website. I don't mind
coming up with the basic design for a language but beyond that it's
torture. Even coming up with new words isn't as fun as just having
them in the first place, and I like the process to be as quick as
possible.

Beyond that though there's a problem with using other languages as a
source. Interlingua has the rule of three which lets in all sorts of
non-official terms and brings about a lot of discussion about which
word from the group of three is to be preferred, Occidental is all
about derivation and IN would have to ignore the De Wahl rule to
incorporate its vocabulary, Esperantists by and large just aren't fans
of languages created from it, and so on. Latino sine Flexione is also
a bit problematic in that technically any Latin word is also a LsF
word but that brings in some pretty weird archaic Latin terms and
other words that have undergone semantic shift (like necare) over
time.

Now, if somebody came up with a language now in 2010 that had IN's
advantages and made it for me I'd certainly be willing to take a look
at it.
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