Thursday, 14 February 2013

Loving Languages

Creating a link between the peoples
The Uropi international auxiliary language was created by Joël Landais an English teacher and comparative linguist in France. It is a synthesis of all the common points that can be found in Indo-European languages, based on the Indo-European roots, international words and grammatical structures that are common to most European languages. Its main characteristics are simplicity, internationality and transparency.

 The Indo-European family is the largest language family in the world and Indo-European languages are spoken on the five continents. Thus the largest number of speakers in the world can feel at home with Uropi.
Loving languages

Why do people create or support an IAL (international auxiliary language) ? There are, in my opinion, two diametrically opposite motivations - among others - which are essential.
The first one is loving languages. You can love a language - or languages - just as you love a person: you love her / his beauty (the beauty of its sounds, its poetry for instance …), the way he / she dresses and makes up with ideograms, hieroglyphs, runes…, its alphabet… You love his qualities, but also his little faults, his imperfections: nobody is perfect, no language is perfect.
When you love somebody, the most beautiful love token is having a child with the person you love, a child who will share your physical features and traits of character. I believe that my love for languages induced me to create Uropi. I wanted to have a child with all these languages I love, or rather I wanted them to have a child together, a child who would look like them and inherit features from each of them.
Of course, this was possible thanks to the common Indo-European roots. These I-E roots are the genetic inheritance of all Indo-European languages. They would provide this unborn child with his features and characteristics, together with his likeness to all those languages. Thus Uropi was born and it made me very happy.

A perfect language.

At the opposite extreme, you will meet people who find languages difficult to learn, who only see their irregularities, their imperfections, their lack of logic (according to them): in short, people who don't like languages. They are sometimes mathematicians or philosophers who are dreaming of a perfectly logical world governed by rules which admit no exceptions, who are dreaming of creating a new superior human being, endowed with all good qualities, without any shortcomings, in a word, a perfect man in a perfect world. Their aim is therefore to create a perfect language which is mathematically logical and governed by perfect rules without any exception… a perfectly in-human language.

You can find many examples of such languages in the past, such as, for example Letellier's language (1852-1880) which is philosophical and superlogical: â = animal, âb = mammals, âbo = carnivores, âboje = cat, or Sotos Ochando's (1852): a = material things, aba = elements, ababa = oxygen, ababe = hydrogen, ababi = nitrogen; numerical languages like Grosselin's (1836): 1 = abtract quality, 30 = opinion, party, 1091 = king, or musical languages like Sudre's Solrésol (1817 - 1866): doremi = day, dorefa = week, dorela = year; Domisol = God, misol = good, solmi = bad, Solmido = Satan; languages with symbolic phonemes like Nicolas's Spokil   (1904) with -rt meaning repairing, cleaning: art = dirty, urt = clean, ert = to repair, irt = to wash, ort = remedy, etc.

Of course, such a "perfect" language, so superior to "natural" languages, aims at becoming a single world language asserting itself and gradually eliminating all the other languages on earth. IAL's which met with a certain success like Volapük or Esperanto, do not escape the temptation, as you can judge by their respective slogans: menefe bal, püki bal (one mankind, one language), unu mondo, unu lingvo (one world, one language).

The danger of such a position is quite clear: a planned destruction of the extraordinary diversity of languages and cultures which is mankind's riches, which will end up in an Orwellian nighmare, peopled with "superhumans" who will only speak a kind of "newspeak". Of course Father Schleyer, the author of Volapük (1879) or Lejzer Zamenhof (Esperanto 1887) cannot be blamed for not knowing the advent of single-track thinking that marked the early 20th century in the form of Hitlerian and Stalinist totalitarisms and their attempts at creating "the new man": Übermensch in the 3rd Reich or Homo Sovieticus.

Our struggle today - together with that of the environmentalists who are fighting to saveguard biodiversity and the natural balance, i-e for the survival of our planet - is a struggle to preserve mankind's diversity of languages and cultures. What a paradox it is to observe, at a time when many new countries join the E.U, when their languages become official languages of the Union, that Europeans learn less and less different languages ! How many West Europeans for instance, learn a Slavic language when we have at least five Slavic-speaking member countries ?

This is why we would suggest a common language which would not replace the other languages but would be superposed on them, in order to enable different peoples to better communicate with each other, and at the same time preserve their own languages and cultures. This language would act as a guarantor for cultural diversity. Loving languages gave birth to Uropi, and loving languages should devise a means to protect them against global standardisation.

To see this article in its original context, in three languages: Uropi, English and French:

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