Roger, a small language?

Voice Card  -  Volume 6  -  Tomas Card Number 3  -  Mon, Apr 24, 1989 6:45 PM

This is a response to Vol 5 Robert 1 ("Pos. Small Language")...

Roger, a late response on "small NATURAL (as opposed to invented) language"

There ain't no small language!

In fact, there is no clear way to COUNT words in a natural language.

Without getting philosophical about it:

1. The problem is that there is no clear definition of what constitutes a word - really!

2. Natural languages are THE primary tool used for communication by a particular society. In this sense, they ALL are strong on descriptive "words" AND on words dealing with feelings and emotions. The fact that you may find a "small" dictionary of a natural language should tell you, not that the language is "small", but that the linguists could not find any more data (as in the case of dead languages or languages that are "dying")

Suggestion: Take anyone you want (English is as good or as bad as anyone), give ONE and only one definition to each "word", cut out any unnnecesary "words", like synonyms: a = an, next to = by = beside, etc.

Come to think of it, have you considered ESPERANTO?

The little I know about it is that it was created by ONE individual (therefore, it's not "natural") somewhere near the middle of the century. It uses LATIN as its base for vocabulary, it has a very regular syntax (that was the whole idea: no irregularities! together with "universality") and a minimum number of endings. Let me invent an example to give you an idea:

beauty = bel-o embellish = bel-a beautiful = bel-e beautifully = bel-i

I've just invented this, OK? But what I wanted to exemplify is that given a "base" form "BEL":

nouns are constructed adding an "o", verbs are constructed adding an "a", adjectives are constructed adding an "e", adverbs are constructed adding an "i".

There are NO EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULES! which makes it so attractive to the "rest of the world" and "so boring" to linguists... (I just couldn't resist saying it!)

Hundreds of books - literature, mainly - have been translated to Esperanto. There are Esperanto Societies in different countries, and most certainly in the United States.

You could use Esperanto itself or better yet use its structure and create your own vocabulary base forms according to your needs.

Esperanto is not the only "artificial" language of its kind. There are a couple of others, but this is the one that has managed to survive - up to now...

A final note:

1. In simple terms we could divide a language into 3 major components: phonology (sound system), syntax and lexicon (vocabulary). My experience tells me that if one of these components appears to be simple or "small" then you can bet that one or both of the other ones are gonna be monsters!

Robert suggested "Hawaian". I'm not familiar with that one, but I did study one of its "sisters", Tongan (which should be somewhat similar): its sound system is a piece of cake, the lexicon so-so, but the syntax ... its horrendous or beautiful, however you wanna look at it.

Does this help you in any way?