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Posted by Dawud ( on February 14, 2002 at 21:43:56:

In Reply to: Re: Various comments on Baha'i auxlang policy (long) posted by Brett Zamir on February 14, 2002 at 15:57:38:

Yes, following Abdul-Baha I suppose the Baha'is can be said to "recommend" the study of Esperanto in this limited sense. But, the number of Baha'is involved in Esperanto is...I dunno, maybe a thousand? If the Baha'is were to ever *really* throw their weight behind Esperanto or any other conlang, the infusion of several million new speakers would transform not only the language concerned, but the world (as previous periods of aux-conlang activity show). And as the use of Persian and English demonstrates, it could be done *without* prejudicing your stance viz. the eventual world auxlang (which of course might turn out to be a natural language rather than a conlang).

Arabic and Persian--completely unsuitable as world auxlangs IMHO. Too hard. Of course as long as human beings have any taste, *somebody* ought to be studying them, just as we will always keep alive the memories of classical Greek and Latin.

The reason I say anyone interested in the auxlang issue at the specialist level really must learn Esperanto, is first due to the fact that Esperanto is far and away the most successful conlang intended as an auxlang. As such it deserves close attention from those who aspire to address the same questions--and unless you actually engage the speech community, your understanding will be limited to the theoretical. (Come on, it's an easy language.) Secondly, there is a substantial body of "interlinguistics" commentary written in Esperanto--and no, it isn't just a bunch of Esperaanto propaganda.

How much "sacrifice" are we talking about? In the case of Esperanto, let's say a few hours a week lets you write letters in a few months, and be able to converse after a year. (If you already know a Romance language, it will probably go twice as fast; if you know a Germanic language, then knock another third off.) Yes, it is quite feasible for a new language to be created (or cobbled together) and be at least this easy to learn, perhaps for non-Europeans as well. Who knows, the future world auxlang might even follow this pattern.

You may balk at asking millions of people to spend a few hours a week, but on the model of Esperanto, the most likely way for people to practice whatever language it was would be to read, write, and speak it with *people from other speech-communities* with whom one would otherwise probably not have occasion to converse (and certainly not using a relatively egalitarian language medium). In other words, rather than a side-interest to the usual run of Baha'i political concerns, auxlang policy suddenly turns out to have a direct effect on the basis of international brotherhood--encouraging new ties between actual human beings. Now how much sacricice is *that* worth?

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