a book about invented languages

land of invented languages

“in the land of invented languages” (2010) by arika okrent is an entertaining & erudite exploration of the linguistic world / the language inventors are an eccentric bunch but you have to admire their passion, energy & creativity \ john wilkins’ philosphical language, esperanto, loglan & blissymbols never became the universal auxiliary language that their inventors hoped for them to be / but out of these came unintended benefits such as the thesaurus <wilkins>, a community & culture <esperanto>, a demonstration that language is not all about logic <loglan> & a method for teaching young disabled non-speaking children to eventually use language <blissymbols> \ then there are the languages of imagined worlds such as klingon & quenya / j.r.r. tolkien wrote the lord of the rings trilogy so that quenya, the elf language would have a home

if there is one creative endeavor that i would not venture into, it would be to invent a language / i would not lobby for a universal auxiliary language either \ what’s wrong with any of the natural languages? / common among them are that there are many rules, many exceptions, idioms, cultural nuances \ as well as ambiguity, fuzziness of meaning, and ever-changing usage <explored in “bad english: a history of linguistic aggravation”> / but guess what?  in the end, natural languages enable us to express ourselves not only about the mundane but the transcendent as well

the history of invented languages, the author points out, is a history of failure / but i think the invented languages were failures only in the sense that none achieved their goal of being the universal language that will bring peace & harmony to the world \ on the other hand, their failure illuminated the wonderfulness of natural languages / still, in my opinion, just having 10 other persons able to speak the invented language, or at least study it, makes it a success / it is a quite admirable to be multilingual in the natural languages, much more so the ability to speak an “unnatural” language!

i found out about this book from stan carey’s language blog “sentence first”

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