Required readings for those interested in an international auxilliary language

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Posted by Dawud ( on June 11, 2002 at 17:34:02:

Hello, I see that Claude Piron--one of Esperanto's most prominent linguists--has translated some of his articles into English and French. If you're interested in the question of an international auxilliary language (auxlang), Piron not only makes an excellent case for Esperanto, but discusses the various other options in considerable detail.

Remember, this is not a question to be postponed for the far future, when the world is united. It's a live discussion in the European Community right now, and happens in a quiet sort of way whenever people from different language communities meet.

One of the great tragedies of inter-linguistics is the fact that the sort of reasoning which Piron engages in, has little practical effect on our actual choice of language for communication. This usually turns out to be governed by political considerations and/or historical inertia. The result is that we fall back on English (or French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Swahili...) which

(a) is needlessly difficult, creating formidable barriers to popular use (only an elite succeed in learning it, even at an intermediate level). If the chosen auxlang is twice as simple, that many more people can participate in the discussion. This may not seem important to you...until you find yourself trying to communicate with your mother-in-law!

(b) privilege certain communities (native speakers) over others. When a native speaker talks with a non-native speaker, the non-native often feels like he's "talking uphill." (Some of you will be nodding your heads at this phrase, others will be scratching them. Ask your foreign friends!) Ultimately there are serious economic benefits involved for the native speaker as well.

Whatever you ultimately conclude about Esperanto, it is at least one of the best existing solutions to these problems, and deserves consideration from those interested in international communication. Piron's articles represent its virtues (and those of its competitors) very well.

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