Sunday, 17 July 2011

Subconscious affect of Mission Civilisatrice on the designing of IALs

Summario

Il es un commun conception inter creatores de linguas auxiliar que cambios minor o major in linguages west-european pote provider un lingua ideal pro tote le mundo. Le conception es basate sur le credentia erronee, subconsciente que le Mission Civilisatrice esseva un successo e multitudes jam cognosce le orthographia latin e paroles west-european e istes non es estranie a les.

===================================================

The European colonisation was never a calm affair. It involved wars in which the Europeans were killed too. To convince their public at home why colonisation was necessary a theory was devised. They called it Mission Civilisatrice the Civilising Mission. On surface, it sounds good. The Europeans leaving the comfort of their home countries and wandering in the tropics to educate Asians and Africans and bringing prosperity to them. But that's not the true definition. According to this Wikipedia article, here 'to civilise' means to make the natives more "like" their Western masters. What has it to do with the attempts to create an IAL? Most creators of auxlangs subconsciously believe the Civilising Mission was a success.

Most of the IALs proposed so far use Roman characters, some with a few tweaks such as the use of diatrics or a couple of non-latin letters. I have no issue with the use of Roman characters. I find them beautiful, or I found them beautiful until I read somewhere that a Chinese views these alphabet the same way we view Morse code or Greek letters. Imagine what it would be like if we are told some day that the UN has decided to make Greek letters the official writing system for some IAL. I wonder if I would ever be able to relate to a language written like this:

Γενική επισκόπηση και ιστορία των μαθηματικών

Orthography aside, most of the grammars and vocabularies are modeled on West European languages. This is more of an inconvenience for the uneducated and poor masses in Asia and Africa whose knowledge of European languages is usually not more than being able to say 'Hello!' or 'Bonjour!. To justify this stand an argument is often made. It says that adding non-European features to an IAL would hardly increase its learnability for non-Europeans but it would make the language significantly out of reach of ordinary Europeans. I agree with the argument but at the same time I also think that a way out is possible if a team of renowned linguists is asked to work out a solution.
The Civilising Mission was not a big success anywhere so I think it would be great if auxlangers came up with languages which shattered old conceptions and made one rethink about the world around him. I may find nothing abnormal with this sentence but now I know to the eyes of most Chinese and Japanese it is at least as foreign as this font to us.