Re: Linguist's Of The Apocalypse, unite!

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Tue, 28 Jan 1997 17:17:33 -0800 (PST)

> I'm afraid that this extends to be more of a pesky memetic problem
> than one of linguistics. It is how people use the language...not the
> language itself. Ask Eugene Leitl...he'll tell you that there are 'sexist'
> words in Germany; likewise, Anders could tell you the same for the Swedish
> language. Most words in *any* language are ambiguous, and thankfully so.
> Ambiguity *increases* freedom of perception --it hones a language and gives
> it character-- rather than illeviating such freedom. So before we try to
> quell certain words in English (why am I reminded of "1984"?), we should
> modify the perception. Personally, I have no qualms with the
> life is based upon it! Enough rambling.
> -E. Shaun Russell

Nowhere have I suggested throwing away English, or drastically changing
it (I have advocated minor changes like the gender-neutral pronouns I
used in the Oceania constitution). If you like its ambiguity for artistic
reasons, then fine, go on using it for artistic prose and poetry and such.
I'm rather fond of a good sonnet myself.

I am a bit concerned at how good English and all other "natural" languages
are at indoctrinating our cultural prejudices into the minds of our youth.

My primary suggestion is that some functions of language, namely the
effective communication of objective concepts, and the storage and
retrieval of objective information (and I for one will not surrender
to subjectivism by denying that those things exist), would best be
served by another means of expression, and that the creation and use
of that means would accelerate my ascension to transhuman condition.

The particular means in which I find the most promise is Lojban,
though I would add to it an ideographic writing system, a hypertext
protocol, a gestural form, and some other tweaks. I am certainly
open to alternative ideas, but the only ones I've heard so far are
half-assed attempts like Esperanto and E-prime. Lojban is at least
a three-quarter-assed attempt. I am optimistic that it can do some
great things, and I am puzzled by the lack of interest. I will
have to take it upon myself to do the work of further evangelizing
it by making more materials available on my web site or elsewhere.

Hey Max, would the magazine be interested in an article on it?