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Includes the name: Arika Okrent

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audient_void | 31 andre anmeldelser | Jan 6, 2024 |
Such a fun read, and fascinating as well, which makes this the best kind of good read. Bonus: it talked about other interesting books, which I now want to read.
 
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blueskygreentrees | 31 andre anmeldelser | Jul 30, 2023 |
Arika Okrent does an excellent job of explaining why language invention is an interesting subject apart from 14or if one can get over 14any prejudices one might have against such projects. While critics have always had mild objections to earnest attempts to construct artificial languages, the appearance on the scene of out-and-out charlatans like Webster Edgerly, a.k.a., Edmund Shaftesbury, a.k.a., Dr. Ralston, have positively poisoned many people's opinion on the subject. (Edgerly 19s Adam-Man Tongue, introduced in 1903, 1Cis nothing more than a bizarre-looking English. 1D)

But among the earnest contingent of language inventors, there is as much to be admired as there is to critique. Yes, these inventors are often laboring under illusions that lofty goals such as world peace can be reached through their efforts, and yes, they often have illusions about how language works that get in the way of their construction process, but some of them are both admirably sincere and admirably willing to sacrifice a great deal of comfort and success to pursue their dream (or 1Csecret vice 1D as JRR Tolkien 14himself an inveterate language inventor 14called it). Creating a language is hard work. After studying so many invented languages, Okrent inevitably asks herself whether she has any interest in trying to invent one. 1CI guess I don 19t have it in me, 1D she concludes (page 290); she is 1Cnot a language creation artist 1D but 1Ca language creation appreciator, which in itself takes a certain amount of work and background knowledge. The more you know about language and linguistics in general, the better you can enjoy the truly elegant or complex idea, and the better you can tell the good stuff from the lazy stuff, the mature solutions from the beginners 19 mistakes. 1D Note well the use of the word "artist" because Okrent thinks that many of the best language inventors are really exhibiting artistry whether this is incidental to their avowed purpose, as in the case of Esperanto, or deliberate, as in the case of Dritok, a language that mimics chipmunk noises invented by Dan Boozer, a librarian from Cleveland, who apparently has no agenda/ambition for his language other than to impress/entertain language creation appreciators like Okrent.

There are a variety of motives for inventing a language, and these motives say something very intriguing about humankind 19s ingenuity, imagination, strivings, longings, and also about the sociology of movements around novel ideas and their often charismatic and even difficult innovators. And, yes, artificial languages even have something to teach us about natural languages.

As to the various motives we can point these out in typical exemplars: John Wilkins (17th century) created his Philosophical Language and James Brown (20th century) created Loglan in order to give the world hyper-logical languages; Ludwik Zamenhof (19th century) created Esperanto as an easy-to-learn lingua franca that he hoped would promote world peace (and nothing more ambitious than that); Marc Okrand (twentieth century) created Klingon for entertainment purposes.

There can be mixtures of purpose. For example, Brown originally offered Loglan as part of a proposal to launch experiments with language learning to see how it affects the learner 19s ability to be logical; but in his last published work on Loglan, he betrayed his heretofore hidden grandiose ambition for his constructed language as a consciousness transformer, 1Ca treatment of a disease we didn 19t know we had 26 18logical language limitation 19 26or 26 18unnecessarily narrowed minds 19 26. Loglan would be seen as ideal in the role of that international auxiliary language, the first language to be taught to the world 19s school children, the one slated to be everybody 19s second tongue 26. The mind-expander, 26 and perhaps also the medium of intercultural mediation, a culture-spanning bridge to a more tolerant and peaceful world. 1D (quoted by Okrent, pages 228-229) Mind you, the remarkable thing about this gushiness is that up until this 1989 passage, Brown, who first revealed Loglan in 1960, had kept these idealistic hopes to himself.

Zamenhof introduced some features that were supposed to make Esperanto more logical, but, as Okrent points out, 1CThe best hope a language inventor has for the survival of his or her project is to find a group of people who will use it, and then hand it over and let them ruin its perfection. 1D Indeed, this appears to be happening to Esperanto as the million or so people who speak it 14including those who actually have learned it as their first language 14are already changing it in ways that have introduced potential irregularities. (See pages 258-259, which are probably based on the reference on page 328: B.K. Bergen, 1CNativization Processes in L1 Esperanto, 1D Journal of Child Language 28 [2001], pp. 575-595.)

I love languages and linguistics although I am a rank amateur. (I speak only one language and that one not as well as I'd like. I only know smatterings of other languages that I have begun to study but not followed through on.) If you are fascinated by language, this book might be for you. If you are fascinated by people, this book might also be for you because Okrent takes a very human approach to her subject, often interviewing the people involved if they are still alive, or if invented languages have communities of speakers who still get together. She explores the motives of people and looks at the messiness of personal relationships that inevitably affected the development and use of each artificial language. She also looks at these languages subjectively, evaluating both her personal reactions to them and her professional evaluation. (She has a Ph.D. in linguistics.)

The book contains appendices that include samples of the same texts written in different artificial languages and a list of 500 artificial languages dating back to the twelfth century; there are actually more artificial languages than that, but Okrent decided to cut it off at 500!
… (mere)
 
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MilesFowler | 31 andre anmeldelser | Jul 16, 2023 |
Very interesting study on invented languages, such as Esperanto, Tolkien's languages in his books, Klingon, etc. Fun and compelling. Makes you want to learn some to get the mind-expanding experience that some people have.
 
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kslade | 31 andre anmeldelser | Dec 8, 2022 |

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