In the Land of Invented Languages: Miscellaneous Reviews

I'm collecting various references gathered and comments made some time ago, but which I never posted here.

Written 27 June 2009:

By A.J. Jacobs
Washington Post
Sunday, June 28, 2009

{review} IN THE LAND OF INVENTED LANGUAGES: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language By Arika Okrent

The review is rather half-assed, as if the reviewer were too lazy to write anything beyond a few cliches. Well, nothing better can be expected from this cow town, anyway. The comments are not exactly brilliant, either. I have no interest in justifying Esperanto for being anything other than it is, and accurate reporting would be good enough for me.  One thing Esperanto is not is an attempted perfect or logical language, akin to either Loglan or the philosophical languages of the 17th century.  And only a minority of the minority of Esperantists who are stark raving mad are daft enough to think that a common language will lead to world peace.  Zamenhof himself did not think so, so he concocted an even more ridiculous notion of how that would happen, i.e. a universal religion that no real religion would ever tolerate.  Also, though Esperanto does attract nerds, it is light years away from what must be the appeal of Klingon, which is aptly summarized iun the character of Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons and William Shatner's famous put-down of Trekkies on Saturday Nite Live. Nevertheless, this review, like others, is good publicity for a topic that generally doesn't get this kind of attention.

Written 5 Sept. 2009:

I'll admit it. I think Klingon is cool.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Cate Morrison, The Doxophiliac Blog

Interesting reaction to Okrent's In the Land of Invented Languages.

On this particular bullet point:
"The goals for Esperanto sound a lot like those Peter Galison describes as linking Vienna Circle logical positivism and Bauhaus aesthetics, though Esperanto is older. Inventor L. L. Zamenhof sought to create a universal second language to foster peace. I link all three because each saw difference as the cause of violence between peoples and sought to erase the markers of that difference. The VC sought to overcome subjectivity by creating a logical structure of thought and expression which could be more resistant to miscommunication or misunderstanding. The Bauhaus movement stripped ornamentation from their creation and elevated the functional as the source of beauty without provincial/historical markers. The object is made transparent to the viewer--it is truthful."
Not the best of analogies. But since we are on the topic of the Vienna Circle, it is apropros to note that Carnap was an enthusiastic Esperantist, but he viewed Esperanto as a tool for social communication totally differently from his project of logical syntax, i.e. an artificial logical language or formalism. And I have the web pages to prove it:

Carnap on Wittgenstein & Esperanto / Carnap pri Wittgenstein & Esperanto

"Lingvoplanado" (Language Planning) de Rudolf Carnap (9/9/2004)

          ( For part of original English text, see Rudolf Carnap on IALs.)

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