HOME :  Mission :  History :  Chancellors :  Projects :  Essays :  Photos :  Site Directory :  Contact

The World Language Process
Symposium at
AILA 15th World Congress of Applied Linguistics
August 24-29, 2008

University Duisburg-Essen
Essen, Germany


ULI
The proposed architectural center piece of
the UNKOMMON Foundation
and the World Language Process
at Bahj du Canada.

The World Language Process program of the UNKOMMON Foundation conducted a symposium at the AILA 2008 Conference hosted by The German Association of Applied Linguistcs (GAL e.V.) in co-operation with the University Duisburg-Essen and Congress Centre Essen (CCE) in Essen, Germany, August 24-29, 2008.
Prof. Jonathan Britten

flag of Japan

Symposium Presenter
Jonathan B. Britten
    WLP International Director - Asia
    Nakamura University
    Fukuoka, Japan
    former Japan Chancellor for the World Language Process
    jbritten@nakamura-u.ac.jp

    Presentation Title:
    The International Auxiliary Language:
    Symbiosis and Synergism with Multilingualism

    Click here for
    Summary

Bruce Beach

flag of Canada


Symposium Presenter
and moderator of several Conference presentations

Bruce Beach
Former professor of economics and computer science

    Founder and Coordinator of the WLP

    Liaison and coordinator

      UN NGO Language Coalition
      (for an International Auxiliary Language)

    Appointed moderator
      other sessions at AILA

    Email: language@webpal.org

    Title of Presentation:

      Implementation and Dissemination
      of an International Auxiliary Language: Essential Factors

    Click here for
    Summary

Dr.Bett

flag of US

Symposium Presenter
Dr. Steven Bett
    WLP International Director - North America
    Founder of the Phonology Forum
    SSS director and editor
stbett@yahoo.com

Title of Presentation:
Advances in the representation of meaning and sound and implications for design of a universal auxiliary language

Click here for
Summary

Symposium Presenter
Antony Alexander

UK

Symposium Presenter
Antony Alexander
Long time linguistic theorist for the WLP. Presenter at The Cardiff 2005
    Language and Global Communications Conference
    Wales, United Kingdom
Email: aita@langx.org

Title of Presentation:
An International Auxiliary Language (IAL) Hierarchy as Guarantor of Freedom of Expression

Click here for
Summary

Beijing Night

WLP Beijing Night Participants

From left to right:
Antony Alexander- Isle of Man,
Fengming Liu- China,
Jonathan B. Britten- Japan,
Bruce Beach- Canada

(in front) Jean Beach- Canada

Jonathan B. Britten
Nakamura University
Fukuoka, Japan
Japan Chancellor for the World Language Process
jbritten@nakamura-u.ac.jp

Presentation Title:
The International Auxiliary Language:
Symbiosis and Synergism with Multilingualism

Summary:

Multilingualism is not entirely compatible with the need for global communication. Even an expert polyglot can master no more than a tiny fraction of the thousands of languages and dialects on offer. An International Auxiliary Language would eliminate the necessity for learning more than two languages - one's mother tongue and the IAL - thereby sustaining minority languages, since the current imperative to learn only major languages in order to reach the largest amount of information and the maximum number of people would be absent. An IAL would therefore enhance linguistic diversity. Moreover, minority languages - indeed, all languages - would be empowered and encouraged to contribute to the co-evolving IAL. If all world languages contribute to the IAL, aggrandizement of major languages at the expense of minor should slowly come to a halt, and even reverse as the IAL co-evolves.

Proposal:

Even an expert polyglot can master no more than a tiny fraction of the thousands of languages and dialects. Moreover, the realities of multilingualism have often proven inimical to linguistic diversity: presented with alternative languages, most people have naturally chosen the most popular, so as to access the greatest amount of knowledge and maximize commercial and educational possibilities for themselves and their children. As a result, over half the world's population has come to speak one of fifteen major languages and many minority ethnic tongues are close to extinction.

Linguists have long recognized this trend, and some have responded by attempting to preserve threatened languages via state subsidy. Unfortunately, this approach has had poor results. This may be due in part to problems of dual linguistic loyalty: many people retain an intense attachment to their own ethnic origins, and might therefore welcome the preservation of their indigenous languages -- but not to the extent of being cut them off from linguistic access to the wider world and modern civilization. The World Language Process (WLP) may help to ameliorate this problem by promoting facilitated co-evolution of the International Auxiliary Language (IAL).

This process would likely involve a scaffolding of English/WE. Co-evolution of the IAL would be facilitated (and perhaps accelerated) by tools including the Internet, the One Laptop Per Child program (OLPC), and corpus linguistic analysis of the emergent IAL. The process could also be facilitated by application of scientifically formulated linguistic principles. If successful, the WLP would protect multilingualism and minority languages by gradually removing the necessity to learn more than two languages - the mother tongue and this IAL.

If this paradigm is valid, minority ethnic tongues might be revivified, not through subsidy and perceived weakness, but rather through indigenous pride, given that international contact could now take place through a neutral IAL, rather than through linguistic subservience to a major language and its culture. Moreover, minority languages - indeed, all languages - would be empowered and encouraged to contribute to the co-evolving IAL. If all world languages can contribute to the IAL, aggrandizement of major languages at the expense of minor should slowly come to a halt, and even reverse as the IAL co-evolves.

The apparent failure of constructed languages such as Esperanto suggests that facilitated co-evolution using a scaffolding of living languages is a more plausible process. . Moreover, the historic development of certain pidgins suggests a linguistically proven process by which evolution of an IAL might occur. The historic process of jargon -> pidgin -> vernacular implies that a successful IAL may evolve gradually, from simplicity to complexity, mirroring childhood linguistic development.

The World Language Process seeks to replicate and facilitate this proven process on the global scale, exploiting current demand for inner-circle English and World Englishes. (WE). The influential status of English/WE are clear, as are the theoretical economic and cultural benefits of learning the language currently functioning as the de facto language for global communication. For this reason, in one WLP paradigm, co-evolution could proceed with surprising rapidity with English/WE as the primary "scaffold" of a "global pidgin IAL" becoming a more complex IAL.

Click here to return to
Presenters


Bruce Beach
Former professor of economics and computer science
Founder and Coordinator of the WLP
Liaison and coordinator with the UN
    NGO Coalition for an International Auxiliary Language
    Email: language@webpal.org

    Title of Presentation:
    Implementation and Dissemination

      of an International Auxiliary Language: Essential Factors

    Summary:

    Rapid global changes may make mass use of an IAL highly desirable or necessary, and "traditional" teaching methods are inadequate to the task. Fortunately, as will be demonstrated, new electronic technologies, new pedagogical methodologies, and an expanded understanding of language itselfhave now appeared so that a solution is possible. As for a technically satisfactory language, broad agreement exists within the IAL movement that certain features should be incorporated, including: 1) words from many different languages; 2) the simplest possible grammatical rules, with no exceptions; 3) no synonyms; 4) no linguistic genders 5) a regular orthography, with no extra or silent letters; 6) a universal script. The details, however, will still have to be worked out in broad consensus with expert committees having delegated international authority.

    Proposal: :

    The concept of an International Auxiliary Language, centuries old, is perhaps best known because of Esperanto. However, even after 120 years Esperanto has achieved neither widespread popular acceptance nor the support of international governmental agreements needed to promote its expansion.

    A major appeal of Esperanto has been its declaration of neutrality and non-identification with any race, nation, class, creed or political movement. As a result, this constructed language has been able to appeal to universalist goals of global communication and well-being, of peace and unity. These goals are laudable and important, but social and technological events unimaginable at time of the inception of Esperanto, over a century ago, have now appeared and some kind of facilitated co-evolution of one or more natural languages seems more plausible at this stage. In any event, implementation of an IAL will require a pro-active approach in order to ensure global acceptance and mutual intelligibility.

    Rapid global changes may make mass use of an IAL highly desirable or necessary, and "traditional" teaching methods are inadequate to the task. Fortunately, as will be demonstrated, new electronic technologies, new pedagogical methodologies, and an expanded understanding of language itselfhave now appeared so that a solution is possible.

    As for a technically satisfactory language, broad agreement exists within the IAL movement that certain features should be incorporated, including: 1) words from many different languages; 2) the simplest possible grammatical rules, with no exceptions; 3) no synonyms; 4) no linguistic genders 5) a regular orthography, with no extra or silent letters; 6) a universal script. The details, however, will still have to be worked out in broad consensus with expert committees having delegated international authority.

    The need for a single universal script might be questioned. After all, the basic phonology of an inaugural IAL (5 vowels, 19 - 22 consonants, say) would be contained within the great majority of existing orthographies. This would allow IAL words to be transliterated and pronounced correctly by most peoples. However, there would still be a visual problem: for instance, even perfectly trans-literable airport signs would be of limited use to those faced with an unfamiliar script. Ergo, a single global script is arguably going to be necessary too - and one that is compatible with both cursive handwriting and modern technology.

    Click here to return to
    Presenters


    Dr. Steven Bett
      Founder of the Phonology Forum
      SSS director and editor
    stbett@yahoo.com

    Dr. Bett has moderated international discussion groups on writing systems, phonology, and graphic design since retiring as a professor of mass communications. He edits the journal for the UK based spelling society which has been promoting the study of the orthographic depth and literacy for nearly 100 years. Members of this organization believe that greater regularity in graphic representation can accelerate literacy. Dr. Bett is associated with the forthcoming PBS series titled CHILDREN OF THE CODE.

    Program Title: :Advances in the representation of meaning and sound and implications for design of a universal auxiliary language

    Summary:
    In progress

    Proposal:
    In Progress

    Click here to return to
    Presenters


    Antony Alexander
    Long time linguistic theorist for the WLP. Presenter at The Cardiff 2005
      Language and Global Communications Conference
      Wales, United Kingdom
    Email: aita@langx.org

    Title of Presentation:
    An International Auxiliary Language (IAL) Hierarchy as Guarantor of Freedom of Expression

    Summary (revised 13/12/07):

    Childhood language acquisition, as reflected in regional IAL developments from jargons through pidgins to vernaculars, constitutes a yet-untried model for a global IAL. Moreover, the fear that an elementary IAL would curtail the range of human thought and expression, as per the "Newspeak" or "strong" Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, might be annulled by the gradual incorporation of speech registers as found in major languages, in addition to the safeguard of the IAL's auxiliary status: http://langx.org

    Proposal (revised 13/12/07):

    The normal process of language acquisition, whether in childhood or adulthood, follows a path through speech sounds, simple words and grammar to more complex constructions, and finally to an ability to use language creatively. Historic regional international auxiliary language (IAL) developments have been shown to follow a similar pattern, which has been termed the jargon -> pidgin -> vernacular progression (JPVP).

    Following this established precedent, the World Language Process proposes a congruent process on a larger scale and in modern times - there being no inherent reason why a latter-day reprise should not inaugurate and foster a thriving global IAL around the planet. Indeed, it might be argued that previous attempts to formulate a global IAL have faltered inasmuch as they have failed to follow the JPVP route. Esperanto, for instance, is "regular and rational" compared to existing languages but noticeably lacks the simple pidgin-type "entry level" version that might have made its fairly complex synthetic grammar more palatable, especially to peoples from certain countries. Conversely there are very basic IALs which lack the internal capacity to develop according to the JPVP model.

    This situation has perhaps arisen through a misconception that language is a mundane phenomenon entirely within the political province: putative IALs have therefore been constructed as "improved" versions of existing languages, with a view to official acceptance and promotion. However, the real advantages of the constructed IAL concept have not necessarily revealed themselves in such a beauty parade, given that an incipient language is a process of development rather than a finished product.

    A scientific approach would therefore evaluate comparisons with existing languages according to the unique diachronicity and function of an IAL. In this context, other languages would be potential sources of material rather than rivals. The use of speech registers a good example - major languages employing a number of registers from acrolect to basilect, at least some of which are familiar to most speakers. Thus, IAL learners might use several registers - the higher mesolects being increasingly provisional - while keeping all general public utterances and writings within the basilect, as a sign of good international manners. Correspondingly, the Official IAL might start at the basilect level in the hierarchy and then gradually move upwards, as I have explained at http://langx.org

    Click here to return to
    Presenters


    T. Peter Park
    Life-long private student of languages and linguistics
    MA (1965) and PhD (1970)
      in Modern European History
      from the University of Virginia
    active member of the IAL list
      and a number of other e-mail discussion lists
    Email: tpeterpark@erols.com

    Title of Presentation:
    Proto-World Languages and Pidgins/Creoles as IAL Models.

    Summary:

    Historical reconstructive linguistics, the Platonic sound-symbolism hypothesis, and researches into pidgin & creole languages may offer promising clues to constructing a workable International Auxiliary Language (IAL).

    Proposal:

    Historically, IALs have been either posteriori (based on existing natural languages) or priori (arbitrarily invented words/morphemes and grammars constructed on purely logical principles). The better-known posteriori IALs like Esperanto have mostly been based on the principal European languages-a feature increasingly considered culturally parochial and politically unacceptable. Some late 20th century IALs like Loglan and Lojban have tried to correct this by using lexical input from major non-Western languages like Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, and Arabic, and grammar based on predicate logic but somewhat resembling Chinese.

    However, a promising new basis for an IAL is also suggested by researches into the earliest human language(s), natural linguistic sound-symbolism, and pidgins/creoles. Most existing languages - but more especially creole vernaculars intuitively developed from pidgins - have been shown to use this psychological sound-symbolism suggesting qualities of emotion, intensity, size, texture, contrast etc. - as recommended for Greek 2400 years ago by Plato in the dialogue Cratylus.

    Three dogmas dominated 19th and 20th century linguistics. First, the world's languages were regarded as belonging to many unrelated families, with no possibility of reconstructing the original proto-language. Secondly, the words of human languages were considered completely arbitrary outside a few imitative words like "splash" or "bow-wow". Finally, pidgins and creoles were seen as crude, makeshift "baby-talk" versions of European languages like English or French.

    However, these dogmas have been increasingly challenged. Trombetti (1905), Swadesh (1971), Ruhlen (1994) et al have amassed evidence for the descent of all languages from a "Proto-World" language spoken 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, and have reconstructed a "Proto-World" vocabulary. Jespersen (1921) and Swadesh (1971) extended and confirmed Plato's Cratylus suggestion of a natural sound-symbolism. Bickerton (1981, 1983, 1990) has shown creoles to have consistent, logical, well-developed though simple structures, somewhat resembling Chinese, similar throughout the world and possibly suggestive of the structures of early human languages.

    A viable IAL would incorporate these insights. Its core vocabulary might be based on reconstructed "Proto-World," incorporating natural sound-symbolism. It might have a Chinese-like structure similar to the creoles, and also a simple phonology resembling Japanese or Spanish.

    Click here to return to
    Presenters


HOME :  Mission :  History :  Chancellors :  Projects :  Essays :  Photos :  Site Directory :  Contact