replies (to Brett)

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Posted by Dawud ( on February 15, 2002 at 04:22:48:

In Reply to: Re: replies posted by Brett Zamir on February 14, 2002 at 22:57:48:

(1) While being "apolitical" in the sense of not standing for political elections or participating in political parties, Baha'is do turn out to support a number of significant political positions, such as one-world government or (less distantly) religious freedom for Iranian Baha'is. I'm not complaining, just saying.

(2) This Paris Talks reference is interesting in that the procedure it anticipates is *not* democratic (at least not in the popular sense), any more than the great 20th-century transnational institutions were/are democratic. Interestingly it passes over the question of who is to *select* the delegates (national governments? the League of Nations? Baha'i institutions? Academic bodies of some sort?), and how the resulting deliberative body would be weighted.

Members of linguistic groups that control nation-states may well have different interests than members of minority languages that don't look like they'll get to send delegates. Similarly, the "professional" elites whose participation is envisioned here may well have language interests which conflict with those of the majority. (For instance, elites may prefer to entrench their status by adopting a needlessly difficult language--English, say--as the auxlang.)

(3) On Esperanto: I mean it's necessary for those aspiring to expertise on the auxlang issue, not to everybody regardless. (It's similar to saying that English, French, and German are necessary to academic folks specializing in most humanities subjects.) If the Baha'is would consent to experiment with Esperanto or the like on a mass scale, that would be a big help, but maybe as a group they'd rather pick some other way of contributing to the auxlang issue.

The auxlang issue is indeed a "side-issue" to the majority of Baha'is, who give lip-service to it but rarely engage it with anything like the same enthusiasm that they bring to racism etc. It's on all the 14-point-type lists, but ask around--how many Baha'is can really relate to it?

What non-Esperantists may not realize is what effect participation in a con-auxlang speech community may have on these seemingly more core issues. After less than a year (!) of Esperanto I have made several friendships that would never have occurred otherwise. I realize this happens in Baha'i circles as well, but even Baha'is may not appreciate the degree to which their dependence on national languages hinders this process. That's one of the reasons all auxlang enthusiasts should learn Esperanto, so you'd be aware of things like this, and--who knows?--maybe make your own improvements.

(4) I agree with you that reliance on machine translation isn't as good as human language learning. However, human nature being what it is (I use a calculator), such developments could easily take the wind out of whatever modest sails our auxlang efforts may possess. If we only "had" to learn languages that we love, there'd be a whole lot less English teaching going on--and ironically enough (considering the language's purpose), about the same amount of Esperanto!

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