There have been many attempts to construct (see ConLang
) a culturally neutral human language.
The most famous is EsperantoLanguage
, which claims that it ought to be the dominant language for intercultural communication. It really shows very much a Czech (how so? Dr. Esperanto was Polish, not Czech..
) bias and does not have any basis in any non-IndoEuropeanLanguage
. (Esperanto is purposefully similar to any RomanceLanguage.
A better attempt was LoglanLanguage
, in 1960, which has now been supplanted by the derivative LojbanLanguage
). Both derive their root words from the most widely spoken languages worldwide to provide mnemonic aid to most people in the world, and avoid cultural idioms. The grammar is entirely logical. It would be the perfect language for avoiding AmericanCulturalAssumption
in our wiki.
Assuming that this is something that should be avoided. If this were being hosted in Germany and most of the participants were German, I would expect GermanCulturalAssumptions? and not gripe about it.
IMO, there is no such thing as a culturally neutral language. The most important cultural assumptions come in what words exist, what kind of concepts the language has. Lojban may be avoiding some of AmericanCulturalAssumption
by taking other cultural assumptions, though.
.i e'osai ko sarji la lojban.
Yeah, but would it not also bore the readers to tears?
Not necessarily. The only thing that characterizes a logical language, like LojbanLanguage, is that it's unambiguous from a structural standpoint. It seems that Lojban is just as expressive as any other human language, with the same capacity for overstatement, understatement, irony, metaphor, simile, pun, etc. A lot of famous works of fiction have been translated into Lojban by enthusiasts.
I think concurrent mathematical logic in itself has very strong Indo-European cultural assumptions. But it does have some interesting special flavour that makes Lojban a very interesting language.
It would be better to pick a language like klingon. Sure, it ain't culturally neutral, but then it also ain't a real culture, so it is neutral to us. LojbanLanguage would be about the same. Equally alien to everyone.
Yes, and that's not very alien after all.
Yeah, but it uses Latin characters. EuropeanCulturalAssumption anyone?
well, it doesn't have an alphabet. There's one standard ASCII orthography, and that's what we use. But we also have a Cyrillic orthography, and even an official Tengwar orthography!
- No. It doesn't use Latin characters, it uses ASCII. which represents only Latin characters. the alphabetical order of LojbanLanguage is the order in which the characters come in the ASCII character code, making computer sorting easy. Is pronouncing C as sh a EuropeanCulturalAssumption? No, nobody does it that way. [IIRC, they do in the English-based orthography of Malay. How is Malaysia in Europe?] It's not our fault that ASCII is based on the Roman alphabet. And might I remind you what alphabet the PinYin? spellings of ChineseLanguage use?
- Help! You are saying you are culturally neutral because you use the American Standard Code for Information Interchange? Although it might actually make sense there is quite a bit of irony in that...
- Why's it use ASCII? Make up your own, sane alphabet, and just provide some regular way of transcribing it using Roman letters. Esperanto doesn't use ASCII, and not too many people are complaining.
There are other orthographies, but the ascii really is the standard one.
"Culturally neutral language" strikes me as an oxymoron. Language is culture, and culture is language. SapirWhorfHypothesis
It would be very difficult to create a culturally neutral language. Even if you succeed, a constructed language, once it gains a critical mass of speakers, evolves a culture of its own.
Qespi mihuyta atani, mana onqoychiwanchu
("I can eat glass, it doesn't hurt me", in Quechua.)
Lojban has yet to gain that critical mass, and with our attitudes toward MalGlico
it is likely to be a culture of neutrality - where we strive for rational thought and speech at the expense of idiom, where malglico usages are not tolerated at all, where false assertions, even metaphors, are looked down on ... Oh wait, we've already got that!
...But what you describe (striving for this or that) is a culture.
Yes it is, but it's the easiest kind to enter easily. I was into the culture of lojban within a day or two. I've never been to Lojbanistan, but I'm as much into the lojbanistani culture as most of the others. I still don't quite get all of Spanish culture, but I've spent time in Spain trying to learn it. Which culture is more neutral?
Lojbanistani culture isn't more neutral, it's just easier for you to fit into. I, for one, am actually starting to find it kind of scary. -- NickBensema
Ah, so by "neutral," you mean "neutral with respect to other cultures"?
No, I mean easy to enter no matter what other culture you are from. LojbanLanguage
is easy to learn no matter what your native language is if you are almost anyone on the earth, so it is neutral. EsperantoLanguage
is neutral with respect to EasternEuropeanLanguage?
s, but not for the rest of the world. LojbanistaniCulture
is minimal, and neutral in that anyone can find it easy to become a part of.
Meek llama, oui?
One could consider a neutral language the same way one considers a neutral country: one that has no bias towards either side of a dispute. ArabicLanguage
could be a neutral language between speakers of EnglishLanguage
. All three languages are simply oozing with culture and cultural assumptions, but Arabic has little in common with either of them. Both parties would be on equal, unfamiliar ground. I've heard that a strength of EsperantoLanguage
(and other planned languages) is that it serves this purpose well, being both easy to learn and seldom spoken as a first language. -- NickBensema
of them aren't Indo-European including the one
most common world-wide. I'm sorry for that, I was half asleep when I typed it.
: To place Hindi in second place are you grouping Hindi and Urdu together? (This is just out of interest. I am not questioning the validity of putting Hindi second, as the normal spoken forms of Hindi and Urdu are almost identical.)
Now, let's don't SpokenLanguagePissingMatch
... -- NickBensema
Mathematics is a culturally neutral language and as such is extraordinarily useless for talking about culturally relevant topics. -- AndyPierce
Mathematics, too, has its own culture.