Ars combinatoria, speculative computing, & creativity

Lately, and for some time, I've been writing about some loosely related topics drawing in the history of interlinguistics, ars combinatoria, steampunk, 'pataphysics, Oulipo, alternative history . . . In the past I've covered the mathematical, logical, scientific strain of thought that comes out of this, from Leibniz and his contemporaries on. I've also covered the literary/artistic side, but this time I want to focus on very interesting work combining the formal sciences, particularly computing theory, and the creative literary and other arts. Speculative computing is one of the buzzwords to attend to. The most interesting links in this area are referenced below.

Alfred Jarry's 'Pataphysics and its descendant Oulipo form a significant part of the story of creative applications of combinatorics in literature. Otherwise, the most oft repeated, cited, and influential thinkers and writers are Ramón Llull, Hermann Hesse, and Jorge Luis Borges.


Ars Combinatoria: Or, Hegel’s Logic as Chronotope for the Digital Age by Christopher Vitale, 22 Nov 2009

Ars Combinatoria: Mystical Systems, Procedural Art, and the Computer by Janet Zweig

Recombinant Poetics: Emergent Meaning as Examined and Explored Within a Specific Generative Virtual Environment (1999) by William Curtis Seaman
An Eternal Engine by Wayne Clements [on Llull, Swift, Borges, & computer-generated writing]

Ludic Algorithms” [PDF] by Bethany Nowviskie

July 2010 draft [DOCX format]
Comments by Bill Turkel
Imaginary Solution #1: Dr. Kremlin’s Disc
Playing With Technology in History, April 29-30, 2010, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada. Abstracts with links to papers
Playing History

Speculative Computing: Instruments For Interpretive Scholarship by Bethany Paige Nowviskie
PhD dissertation, Department of English, University of Virginia, May 2004
(Progenitors: Ramon Llull, Hermann Hesse, Peter Suber’s Nomic; nods to Swift & Leibniz)

"Text" and "Network", Reconsidered (2007)
by Florian Cramer


Israel Zangwill (2): Global melting pot?

Though half my manhood has been devoted to the quest for a Jewish State, I have never regarded a world settlement, based on racial differences, as a final goal, nor do I share the current enthusiasm for the smaller nationalities. The mere fact that a group of people hates its neighbors affords no basis for reverence. Moses told the Jews, ''Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," and Seneca reminded the imperial Romans that all men are sacred — homo sacra res homini. Moreover, the world always has been and always will be a melting-pot.

* * *

Its [the Jewish people] existence even in dispersion enriches the world, giving in our own day a Meldola to British science, a Bergson to French philosophy, a Schnitzler to Austrian drama, a Berenson to American art criticism, an Ehrlich to Gemian medicine, a Luzzatti to Italian statesmanship, a Josef Israels to Dutch painting, a Brandes to Scandinavian criticism, a Ronetti Roman to Rumanian poetry, a Rubinstein to Russian music, a Vambery to Hungarian adventure, an Enver Pasha to Turkish arms, a Zamenhof to Esperanto internationalism, a Sarah Bernhardt to the world's stage, a Leo Bakst to the newest Nobel Prize-list. Concentrated on a soil of its own, under conditions that might stimulate afresh its spiritual genius, this stock might well produce a superstate, a kultur, not of militarism but of humanism.

SOURCE: Zangwill, Israel. The War for the World (New York: The Macmillan company, 1916), pp. 442, 444-445. [Boldface mine—RD]

Israel Zangwill (1): Global melting pot?

For even if America — humanity's last hope — is narrowing into Americanism, America is, after all, a very large place — a Roman Empire in itself, in fact; and "the culmination of modern history," so far from lying in every petty swashbuckling race setting up for itself, is seen to consist in their fusion. A few such leviathans and we may easily fasten them with a hook. The coming Indian Nationality will also be the synthesis of a sub-Continent. Nor can the wave of rabid racialism long submerge the real "New Europe," which even in war two groupings suffice almost to cover. For our friend the Law of Contiguous Co-operation is still at its Alexandrine quest. And if the ultimate bounds of Nationality are fixed — as they obviously are — by the limits of Contiguous Co-operation, where are those limits to-day? Immensely enlarged by the same factors that have shrunk the planet — Steam and Electricity. Without Steam and Electricity to link America, it would have been by now a Europe, the separate States turned into Nations; with Steam and Electricity no racial rancour can ultimately prevent an America arising in Europe, with our Nations for States. The very disorder of the world to-day is a proof of the world-order that has been broken. With a world-post, Esperanto, and some two hundred international associations, civilisation was fast developing a nervous system. When I go to Barcelona and ride in a penny tram and to Venice and ride in a penny steam-boat, I feel that the pre-national period has returned, if by an ugly route, and, with lower links than cathedrals and universities. The demands for a Peace-League of the Powers are less a desire for an ovine or bovine tranquillity than a recognition that war between any of them is civil war. The very Manifesto of the Allies proclaiming "the principle of Nationalities" proclaims equally the contradictory principle of a World-League — contradictory because with the removal of Danger the essential nerve of Nationality must be dulled and its bristles moulted. For full-flavoured Nationality the price is War.

SOURCE: Zangwill, Israel. The Principle of Nationalities (New York: The Macmillan company, 1917), pp. 94-96. (Conway Memorial Lecture Delivered at South Place Institute, on March 8th, 1917.) [Boldface mine—RD]


Solresol: Libro, video, & grafikaĵoj

Jen plu libro por la bibliografio:

Cherpillod, André. Dore Domilado Solresol: Historio, Gramatiko, Leksikono de la Universala Muzika Lingvo Solresol. Courgenard: La Blanchetière, 2008. 27 paĝoj. ISBN 2906134813. Aĉetebla ĉe UEA @ 3.60 €.

Troviĝas kelkaj pluaj interesaj grafikaĵoj interrete, ekz.:

Kaj jen Zeke Sikelianos pri Solresol. Notu, ke per la "Flash"-versio, vi povas mem manipuli la instrumenton.

Memoro de la Ŝtono

Jen Final Fantasy XI Opening ~ Memoro de la Ŝtono:

Here is a composition with Esperanto lyrics / Jen muzikaĵo Memoro de la Ŝtono:

Composed by / komponis Nobuo Uematsu, Lyrics by / liriko de Masato Kato
Performed by / ludas Gako Konishi

Here are the lyrics in Esperanto with English translation / Jen liriko en Esperanto kun anglalingva traduko:

Final Fantasy Republic [lyrics/liriko]


How to Talk Dirty in Esperanto

Actually, there are lexicons of this sort in Esperanto, along with highbrow erotica and lowbrow porn. On this occasion, however, we will discuss how non-Esperantists have treated the prospect of "obscene" language in Esperanto.

I thought there was an article on Esperanto in Maledicta: The International Journal of Verbal Aggression, but the Maledicta web site doesn't mention anything. I could find only a couple references via Google Books.

(1) "Verbal Aggression, Not Esperanto, is the Universal Language," Behavior Today, 10: 40, 1979. This is a report on an interview with Reinhold Aman, the creator of Maledicta.

(2) Maledicta, Volume 9 (1988), p. 78:

Esperanto. Bonan vesperon, ĉambristino! Mi bedaŭras, mi havas sole B-03-n.
Good evening, chambermaid! I'm sorry, I have only a penile erection caused by a full bladder.

Unfortunately, I long ago lost my copy, but there's this famous spoof:

"How to Talk Dirty in Esperanto," by Kichard Bonker and Henry Beard; illustrated by Bruce Cochran; National Lampoon, November 1972, Vol. 1, No. 32 (Decadence issue).

Apparently, this was a popular article, as it was anthologized in National Lampoon's Big Book of Love and The National Lampoon Treasury of Humor. I recall William Auld badmouthing it when I was a student of his in 1975, because the Esperanto was botched, thus not linguistically accurate. I only remember National Lampoon's translation of scumbagvenujo—literally, a container for come (as in "come here"), whereas the correct translation would be ĉurujo (container for cum).

Remininscences, comments, and examples, can be found in several places on the web. Here are a few references:

1. "Estas mia esprima desiro ke fulmo frapus vian pinon"


3. A discussion in which Ros' Haruo comments:
Problem was the NL article reinvented not only the wheel, but the rack and the Chinese water torture to boot. The most egregious mistranslation in the NL article was the constant use of "fuki" ("to rockweed") for "fiki" (the proper F word). The result, to one fluent in Esperanto, was as irritatingly ridiculous as would be an article on "how to talk dirty in English" that gave the seven unmentionables as "shet, piz, count, fick, cockseeker, matherfaqir, Tietz". Pity the poor isolated learner who tried to use the thing to learn the juicy stuff. (Admittedly, NL never did claim language-teaching credentials.)

4. Blog d'Elisson: A LANGUAGE OF OUR OWN, July 31, 2007:
Some thirty-odd years ago, the National Lampoon published an article on “How to Talk Dirty in Esperanto,” containing such useful phrases as, “My penis has been struck by lightning” (Mia peniso estas frapita de fulmo), and “Your genitals look like moldy spinach” (Viaj generaj organoj similas ŝiman spinaco). I don’t remember much about the article itself - it’s no doubt buried somewhere in my basement amongst all the piles of old magazines - but I do remember the Esperanto word for “balls”: pilkojn. Nice.
5. "Tongues of the World, Unite!: Esperanto is alive and kicking, but why hasn't la tuta mondo caught on?" by Alison Gillmor, Walrus, September 2006:
And slang thrives, especially on the Wild West frontier of the Internet, which du Temple sees as the biggest forum for Esperanto education and information in the last decade. Websites by college kids and creative wordsmiths attempt to give Esperanto a little street cred with such phrases as kiel zumas, (how's it buzzin'), neshvite (no sweat), or even fikighu (just in case you forget the interna ideo long enough to say "fuck you"). There is also an X-rated web update of National Lampoon's 1972 classic "How To Talk Dirty in Esperanto." It seems that being filthy is not only more fun in Esperanto, it also retains an adorable innocence, even when sample sentences involve randy Esperantists doing unspeakable things with their pizangoj (big plantains). Proof that this site is the work of sophisticated linguists can be seen in the fine distinction between the transitive and intransitive forms of "to sodomize."

Finally, here is an introductory lesson in Esperanto with an authentic guide, How To Talk Dirty In Esperanto : Kiel Paroli Maldece en Esperanto, for all of your nasty needs. This is the stuff.


Konstruitaj lingvoj: el hebrea lingvo kaj/aŭ de judaj kreintoj / Constructed Languages: Hebrew-based and/or with Jewish creators

Jen magraj informoj el diversaj fontoj. / Here are the few facts available in various sources.

Languages constructed by Jews
Due to their experiences of persecution, at least two Jews have tried to promote inter-ethnic understanding by an auxiliary language. The most known is L.L. Zamenhof's Esperanto, presented in 1887 featuring influences of the principal European languages of his time. The exile of Charles K. Bliss in the Shanghai ghetto inspired him to create Blissymbolics, a written language that has found more use as an aid to communication with persons with cerebral palsy.
SOURCE: Encyclopedia of Judaism: Jewish Languages

Blissymbolics ja estas fama afero, menciita ekz. en la libro de Okrent. Mi ne sciis, ke Bliss estas judo. Sed estas pluaj artefaritaj lingvoj pri kiuj mi trovis nur magrajn informojn.

Koincide kun la vivo de Zamenhof kaj Esperanto, aperis—ŝajne kiel reago al la Volapuka movado—ankaŭ projektoj iel bazitaj de la hebrea lingvo. . . .

En Historio de la Mondolingvo by Ernest K. Drezen (2a eld., 1931), estas kelkaj obskuraj informeroj.

Ĉe p. 150, jen referenco al Pasilingua Hebraica, ia speco de reformita hebrea:
Dr. Felix Lenz, Pasilingua contra Volapuk, Neuwied, 1887.
Jen referencoj de aliaj fontoj:
LENZ, Felix. 1887. Pasilingua contra Volapük. Allegemeine Betrachtung über die Weltsprache und die Systeme Volapük und Pasilingua mit Anfügung des Versuchs einer Pasilingua hebraica von einem Freunde der Pasilingua (d.i. Felix Lenz). Berlin, Neuwied a. Rh., Leipzig: Heuser. 15 Seiten.
Alia bibliografio listigas la ĉeftitolon jene: Pasilingua gegen Volapük.

Ĉe p. 158 (Drezen): A. Nilson projektis plurajn reformojn de Volapük; la kvara estis Lasonebr (1897). Drezen priskribas ĝin ĉi tiel:
Flanke de tiuj tri skizoj staras la kvara projekto de Nilson "Lasonebr" (Lasonebr—un transitional lingvo) , rilatanta al la jaro 1897, sed konata al ni nur laŭ la nomo. Tiu ĉi lingvo prezentis per si siaspecan provon eŭropigi kaj latinigi la antikvan hebrean lingvon, ĉe kio, malsame, al la "Pasilingua hebraica" de F. Lenz in 1887, la ŝanĝon ricevis ne nur gramatikoj formoj de la antikva hebrea lingvo, sed ankau ĝia fundamenta vortar-materialo.
Mi tute ne komprenas ĉi tion.

Pasilingua Hebraica estas menciita en piednoto en:
Histoire de la Langue Universelle par Louis Couturat & Leopold Leau (1903)
Sed la informoj pri tiuj projektoj estas preskaŭ senutilaj.

Mario Pei menciis ĉi tiujn du projektojn, sen pluaj detaloj, krom bibliografia referenco:
Nilson, A. Lasonebr. Gefle, 1897.
Laŭ Vikipedio:
Lasonebro (Lasonebr) estas planlingvo proponita de A. Nilson en 1897. La aŭtoro ankaŭ proponis West-Europisch, Central Dialekt kaj Dialekt Centralia. Lasonebr estas bazita sur la klasika hebrea lingvo. Ĝi ricevas la bibliotekan klasifikon 417.924 laŭ Biblioteko Butler.
Laŭ respondo de esperantologo:
August Nilson estis sveda volapukisto, mi ne scias ĉu juddevena. Liaj antaŭ­aj projektoj estis Vest-Europish Central Dialekt (1896), Central Dialekt (1896) kaj Dialect Centralia aŭ­ Okcident-Europa Central Dialekt. Vidu Hans Cornioley, Mikra Enciklopedio Mondlinguala, 1937 kaj Marcel Monnerot-Dumaine, Précis d'interlinguistique, 1960, p. 167. Monnerot-Dumaine mencias Lasonebr sur paĝoj 69 kaj 178.
Ĉu ekzistas pluaj tiaj projektoj, mi ne scias.

Nellie Limouzin, Eugène Adam (Lanti), George Orwell, Esperanto

Here are some more descriptions of Nellie Limouzin, George Orwell's aunt.

Orwell used to visit his mother's bohemian sister, Nellie Limouzin, a militant socialist and suffragette. Though he rarely sought her help, his aunt could always be counted on for a small handout. She'd acted in vaudeville and was married to a Frenchman, Eugane Adam, who'd been involved in the Russian Revolution in Petrograd in October 1917. "The marriage was not happy," according to one of their friends. "She had no character. She was soft, without backbone, without willpower." Adam, a fanatic who refused to speak any language but Esperanto, later abandoned Nellie, wound up in Mexico, and killed himself in 1947. If Orwell had gone to Paris with the idea of exploring the French half of his heritage, he must have been disappointed, for he had little contact with French people of his own social class. He inhabited the underworld of downtrodden foreign workers, and Paris reinforced his Englishness.
SOURCE: Meyers, Jeffrey. "Orwell And the Experience of France," World and I, 1 Nov 2003. See slightly different passage in Meyers' book Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation.
Mary Myfanwy Westrope had been a member of the I L P [Independent Labour Party] since 1905 and by 1935 was a veteran of the women’s rights movement. It seems her pacifism kept her out of the militant Pankhurst suffragettes. Francis Westrope was imprisoned as a conscientious objector in the First World War, where he met the pianist Frank Merrick and Fenner Brockway. Merrick says that Westrope and he became interested in Esperanto by accident while in prison: a grammar was the only mind-stretching book available, apart from theological works. Perhaps there was some accident about Westrope’s interest, but Esperanto had an ideology of brotherhood of man and international fraternity about it that must have appealed: the tower of Babel, not Mammon or Eve’s apple, was to him the primal curse. Given one language, there would be perpetual peace. But the Esperantist cause was nothing if not eclectic and ecumenical: it could sail alongside or take up on board many another great cause or small crankery — including vegetarianism in the Westropes’ case. Esperanto led them to meet Nellie Limouzin and Eugene Adam. Like Adam, Myfanwy Westrope had visited the Soviet Union (in 1931), and she too had returned profoundly disillusioned, not with socialism but with what she saw there. She plunged into I L P activity even more heartily on her return.
SOURCE: Crick, Bernard. George Orwell: A Life (London: Penguin Books Ltd, 1992), Chapter 7: "Hard Times Or Struggling Up (1932–34)".
Orwell's aunt, Nellie Limouzin,and her lover, the Esperanto language activist Eugène Adam, welcomed Orwell into their home, from which they ran an Esperantist workers' association. The left-leaning couple engaged Orwell in spirited political debate, and Orwell later pointed to his time in Paris as influential in forming his identity as a socialist. Some scholars also believe that some of the Newspeak language created in 1984 can be traced back to his exposure to Esperanto in Paris.
SOURCE: Powell, Jessica. Literary Paris: A Guide (New York: New York Review of Books, 2006), p. 155.


George Orwell, Nellie Limouzin, Paul Gille, Esperanto

SOURCE: Blair, Eric A. (George Orwell). Letter to Leonard Moore, 27 January 1934; in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell. Volume IV: An Age Like This, 1920-1940; edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (1968).

In this letter Orwell refers to a French book which appears to him to be of an "anti-materialist, anti-marxist tendency." Footnote 3 clarifies:

Essai d’une philosophie de la dignité humaine by Paul Gille which had been suggested to Orwell by his aunt, Nellie Adam, neé Limouzin, then living in Paris, because her husband was translating it into Esperanto. Orwell had asked Moore in a letter of 16 January 1934 about the prospects of getting a translation of the book published in England. He never did the translation.
The husband in question was none other than Eugène Adam, known by his pseudonym Lanti. Here is the reference to his translation:
Gille, Paul. Skizo pri Filozofio de la Homa Digno, de Paŭlo Ĵil (Paul Gille), el la franca lingvo trad. E. Lanti. Paris: Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda, 1934. 148 p.

Here is some information about Paul Gille, in French, in the Dictionnaire international des militants anarchistes.

Orwell's aunt Nellie Limouzin is mentioned repeatedly in the Wikipedia entry on Orwell. Here is a passage on Orwell's life in Hampstead:
This job was as a part-time assistant in "Booklover's Corner", a second-hand bookshop in Hampstead run by Francis and Myfanwy Westrope who were friends of Nellie Limouzin in the Esperanto movement. The Westropes had an easy-going outlook and provided him with comfortable accommodation at Warwick Mansions, Pond Street.
There are some other details in the article on Orwell in Vikipedio, in Esperanto.

One can find hundreds of references to Nellie Limouzin in a Google search. In the process one can find oblique references to Lanti as well. Here is one:
He [Orwell] chose never to mention in print that he had himself mixed with many countercultural types, including his aunt, Nellie Limouzin—a bohemian whose husband was a socialist and stalwart of the Esperanto movement—and the Westropes, who owned the bookshop in Hampstead where he worked in the mid-1930s. Francis Westrope had been a conscientious objector in the war and was a member of the Independent Labour Party; his wife, Myfanwy, campaigned for women's rights—both were keen Esperantists. His backer Mabel Fierz, too, lived in a big house in Hampstead Garden Suburb and leaned towards a mystical and spiritual socialism.

SOURCE: Laity, Paul. "A Brief History of Cranks", Cabinet, Issue 20, Winter 2005/06.
In the same article, a cartoon can be found with this explanation:
Londoners, on their Sundays off, made special excursions by train to study Letchworth's strange collection of smock-wearing Esperanto speakers and theosophists: a cartoon from a local newspaper showed day-trippers at a human zoo. "Daddy, I want to see them feed!" pleads a child. Signs for visitors include: "To the Long Nebbed Sandal Footed Raisin Shifters," "This Way to the Non-Tox Pub," and "To the Hairy-Headed Banana Munchers."

George Orwell on linguistic innovation & Esperanto

Here is the conclusion of an essay by Orwell:

The solution I suggest is to invent new words as deliberately as we would invent new parts for a motor-car engine. Suppose that a vocabulary existed which would accurately express the life of the mind, or a great part of it. Suppose that there need be no stultifying feeling that life is inexpressible, no jiggery-pokery with artistic tricks; expressing one’s meaning simply [being] a matter of taking the right words and putting them in place, like working out an equation in algebra. I think the advantages of this would be obvious. It is less obvious, though, that to sit down and deliberately coin words is a common-sense proceeding. Before indicating a way in which satisfactory words might be coined, I had better deal with the objections which are bound to arise.

If you say to any thinking person “Let us form a society for the invention of new and subtler words”, he will first of all object that it is the idea of a crank, and then probably say that our present words, properly handled, will meet all difficulties. (This last, of course, is only a theoretical objection. In practice everyone recognizes the inadequacy of language — consider such expressions as “Words fail”, “It wasn’t what he said, it was the way he said it”, etc.) But finally he will give you an answer something like this: ‘Things cannot be done in that pedantic way. Languages can only grow slowly, like flowers; you can’t patch them up like pieces of machinery. Any made-up language must be characterless and lifeless — look at Esperanto, etc. The whole meaning of a word is in its slowly-acquired associations”, etc.

In the first place, this argument, like most of the arguments produced when one suggests changing anything, is a long-winded way of saying that what is must be. Hitherto we have never set ourselves to the deliberate creation of words, and all living languages have grown slowly and haphazard; therefore language cannot grow otherwise. At present, when we want to say anything above the level of a geometrical definition, we are obliged to do conjuring tricks with sounds, associations, etc.; therefore this necessity is inherent in the nature of words. The non sequitur is obvious. And notice that when I suggest abstract words I am only suggesting an extension of our present practice. For we do now coin concrete words. Aeroplanes and bicycles are invented, and we invent names for them, which is the natural thing to do. It is only a step to coining names for the now unnamed things that exist in the mind. You say to me “Why do you dislike Mr Smith?” and I say “Because he is a liar, coward, etc.,” and I am almost certainly giving the wrong reason. In my own mind the answer runs “Because he is a ______ kind of man”, ______ standing for something which I understand, and you would understand if I could tell it you. Why not find a name for ______? The only difficulty is to agree about what we are naming. But long before this difficulty arises, the reading, thinking type of man will have recoiled from such an idea as the invention of words. He will produce arguments like the one I indicated above, or others of a more or less sneering, question-begging kind. In reality all these arguments are humbug. The recoil comes from a deep unreasoned instinct, superstitious in origin. It is the feeling that any direct rational approach to one’s difficulties, any attempt to solve the problems of life as one would solve an equation, can lead nowhere — more, is definitely unsafe. One can see this idea expressed everywhere in a roundabout way. All the bosh that is talked about our national genius for “muddling through”, and all the squashy godless mysticism that is urged against any hardness and soundness of intellect, mean au fond that it is safer not to think. This feeling starts, I am certain, in the common belief of children that the air is full of avenging demons waiting to punish presumption.2 In adults the belief survives as a fear of too rational thinking. I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, pride comes before a fall, etc. — and the most dangerous pride is the false pride of the intellect. David was punished because he numbered the people — i.e. because he used his intellect scientifically. Thus such an idea as, for instance, ectogenesis, apart from its possible effects upon the health of the race, family life, etc., is felt to be in itself blasphemous. Similarly any attack on such a fundamental thing as language, an attack as it were on the very structure of our own minds, is blasphemy and therefore dangerous. To reform language is practically an interference with the work of God — though I don’t say that anyone would put it quite in these words. This objection is important, because it would prevent most people from even considering such an idea as the reform of language. And of course the idea is useless unless undertaken by large numbers. For one man, or a clique, to try and make up a language, as I believe James Joyce is now doing, is as absurd as one man trying to play football alone. What is wanted is several thousands of gifted but normal people who would give themselves to word-invention as seriously as people now give themselves to Shakespearean research. Given these, I believe we could work wonders with language.

SOURCE: Orwell, George. "New Words" (1940), in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell. Volume II: My Country Right or Left 1940-1943, edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (1968). Individual essay 1. New Words available as PDF file.

George Orwell is not thought of as a friend to Esperanto, partly because of the ominous Newspeak featured in his novel 1984. Here he mentions Esperanto in passing, neither favorably nor unfavorably, but as an example cited by others in unconvincing arguments against the reform and rationalization of language.


Esperanto and George Orwell (preface)

"Konsideroj pri Gandhi" de George Orwell, tradukis William Simcock

David Wolff & the Esperanto movement in the USA

Ĉe retejo de David Wolff, eks-prezidanto de ELNA (nun nomata "Esperanto USA"), oni trovos paĝon da interesaj aferoj:

David Wolff articles

Included are links to documents concerning Wolff's frustrations with the American Esperanto movement, correspondence concerning the number of Esperanto speakers, song translations, and suggested promotional material.

Gerd Fraenkel & interlinguistics

Gerd Fraenkel is a figure in the history of interlinguistics. Note the Gerd Frankel Papers at Vanderbilt University. Here are some documents online in which Fraenkel plays a role:

Broadribb, Donald. "Esperanto and the ideology of constructed languages," International Language Reporter, 2nd Quarter 1970, pp. 1-9.

Culbert, Sidney I. Letter to Mr. Albert C. Aumuller, The World Almanac, April 25, 1967. See also Esperanto translation.

Krueger, J. R. "Nabokov's Zemblan: A Constructed Language of Fiction," Linguistics, vol. 5, issue 31, Jan. 1967, pp. 44–49.

Homaj Rajtoj

Jen retejo pri Homaj Rajtoj, kiuj inkluzivas filmetojn pri diversaj listitaj rajtoj:



Auxilingua for lonely guys

From International Auxiliary Languages Wiki:

"Where everybody knows your name, and they all feel so ashamed . . ." An apt interpretation of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks. I think Zamenhof is the waiter. If you're a nerd, if you don't have a woman and your momma don't care, this is the place you want to be.

Sir Thomas Urquhart: 400th Anniversary Conference

The Cromary Arts Trust presents the 400th Anniversary Conference, 15th and 16th April 2011: A Celebration of the Life and Times of the 17th century laird of Cromarty, civil war soldier, writer and translator of Rabelais.

A nerd-o-gasm I wish I could experience: conference to commemorate the 400th birthday of Sir Thomas Urquhart, adventurer, translator of Rabelais, creator of the language Logopandecteision. Does it get any better than this?


Craik, R. J. Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty (1611-1660): Adventurer, Polymath, and Translator of Rabelais. Lewiston: Mellen Research University Press, 1993.


Thomas Urquhart - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Logopandecteision - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Logopandecteision, Or an Introduction to the Universal Language (1653)

Ekskybalauron: Or, the Discovery of the Most Exquisite Jewel ... (1653), in The Works of Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, Knight (1834). Other editions & other works by and about Urquhart are available from archive.org.

The Retrospective Review, and Historical and Antiquarian Magazine ... (1822): I: Sir Thomas Urquhart's Jewel

Logopandekteision, extract from International Language: Past, Present & Future by W. J. Clark (1912)

Sir Thomas Urquhart, excerpt & comments by Benjamin Mako Hill

Lecture on Scottish Literature 2: Thomas Urquhart by Dr. John B Corbett. Downloadable sound file available.

Unua Piramida Fraŭdo

Mi ŝtelis ĉi tiun kartunon el blogo Meksikurbo:

A Curious Expedition to Esperanto-land

Welcome to the web site Curious Expeditions: "We, your humble explorers, are devoted to unearthing and documenting the wondrous, the macabre, and the obscure from around the globe." They have not overlooked Esperanto in their adventures.

Here is a beautifully presented introduction to Esperanto:

Doktoro Esperanto, December 8th, 2007

Here, with some nice images, one will learn about Teodoro Schwartz and his son George Soros, William Shatner and Incubus, the Esperanto Museum in Vienna, products with Esperanto names, the Republic of Rose Island whose official language was Esperanto, and persecutions of the Zamenhof family, the Esperanto movement, and Esperantists.

There are two other blog entries mentioning Esperanto:

A Steampunk Galaxy, December 3rd, 2007

"Vienna is the place to go for obscure museums. From the Undertaker’s Museum to the Clown and Circus Museum to the Esperanto Museum, it is nigh impossible to decide which to see during a short visit."

Gloomy Sunday, July 16th, 2008
"Following the worldwide press of the song that drove people to their deaths, Gloomy Sunday became a hit, covered by more than 40 artists around the globe, in many different languages (including our favorite, Esperanto)."

George Eliot kontraŭ Universala Lingvo (2)

Kompareblas la historiaj kondiĉoj de la socio kaj de la lingvo. Oni devas cedi, ke la lingvaĵo de evoluintaj nacioj troviĝas en ia ajn stato krom racia; la grandaj sekcioj de la civilizita mondo nur iom reciproke kompreneblas, kaj tiel nur je kosto de longdaŭra studado; unu vorto portas multajn signifojn, kaj pluraj vortoj signifas unu aferon; la subtilaj nuancoj de signifoj, kaj eĉ pli subtilaj eĥoj de asociado, konsistigas el la lingvo instrumenton kiun apenaŭ io krom genio kapablas utiligi kun difiniteco kaj certeco. Do supozu ke la penado kiu multfoje direktiĝis al konstruo de universala lingvo racia finfine sukcesus, kaj ke oni havus lingvon sen necerteco, kapricaj idiotismoj, maloportunaj formoj, sporadaj trembriloj de buntaj signifoj, antikvaj arkaikaĵoj "familiaraj kun forgesitaj jaroj"—evidenta senodorigita ne-resonanta lingvo, kiu plenumas la celon de komunikado tiel perfekte kaj rapide kiel algebraj signoj. Via tia lingvo estus perfekta medio de esprimado je la scienco, sed neniam esprimos la vivon, kio ege superas la sciencon. Kune kun la anomalioj kaj ĝenoj de historia lingvaĵo, vi estos forlasinta ĝiajn muzikon kaj pasion, ĝiajn vivigajn kvalitojn kiuj esprimas individuan karakteron, ĝiajn subtilajn povojn de sprito, ĉion, kio potencigas ĝin je imagopovo; kaj la venonta paŝo de simpligo estos invento de parolanta poshorloĝo, kiu atingos la plejajn facilecon kaj rapidecon je komunikado de ideoj per laŭgradaj alĝustigoj de tiktakoj, reprezentotaj skribe per korespondaj aranĝoj de punktoj. Jen melankolia "lingvo de la futuro!" Tiuj sensaj kaj motoraj nervoj kiuj kune eninge pulsas, apenaŭ ligiĝas per pli necesa kaj delikata unuiĝo ol tio kio kunligas homajn afekciojn, imagopovon, spriton, kaj humoron, kun la subtilaj disbranĉiĝoj de historia lingvaĵo. Oni devas lasi la lingvon mem kreski je precizo, kompleteco, kaj unuiĝo, kiel mensoj kreskas je klareco, amplekso, kaj simpatio. Kaj estas analoga rilato inter la moralaj emoj de homoj kaj sociaj kondiĉoj hereditaj. La karaktero de eŭropaj homoj havas radikojn interplektitajn kun la pasinteco, kaj povas evolui nur per laso de tiuj radikoj nealtruditaj dum evoluado procedas, ĝis tiu perfekta maturiĝo de la semo kiu kunportas vivon sendependan de la radiko. Ĉi tiu viva konekso kun la pasinteco pli vive senteblas ĉe la Kontinento ol en Anglujo, kie ni devas rememori ĝin per strebo de memoro kaj medito; ĉar, kvankam nia angla vivo estas kerne intense tradicia, Protestantismo kaj komerco modernigis la aspektojn de la lando kaj socio multe pli multe ol en iu ajn surkontinenta lando:—

FONTO: George Eliot, "The Natural History of German Life" [La naturhistorio de germana vivo], The Westminster Review (July 1856), Vol. 66 (old series), 10 (new series), pp. 51-79. Tradukis Ralph Dumain.

Vi trovos la originalan anglalingvan elĉerpaĵon ĉi-bloge. Vikipedio enhavas skizon pri George Eliot.


Steampunk / Vaporpunko

First, introductions via Wikipedia & Vikipedio. While I have encountered manifestations of what is now called Steampunk, the term--the named genre--is new to me. Back in the 1960s I watched the TV series The Wild Wild West, an obvious precursor or example of the genre. (And, a few days ago, I made it halfway through the ineptly executed film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.) Someone had to name the confluence of science fiction, the historical novel, and alternate history scenarios into a single concept. It's a new focal point for elements that are not so new. Yet I suspect it fits into the self-reflexive character of our time.

I wrote about the increasing profile of self-referential cultural artifacts in a 1993 essay:

Cultural Sophistication and Self-Reference on American Television: Seeds of Hope?

Owing to the acceleration of social and cultural change, it becomes obvious how drastically basic social assumptions are different now than from decades past, which has long been a device pursued by TV series, most recently the runaway hit Mad Men. Also, I've long held the view that all the avant-gardes have done their work, that we have reached the end of the line, and what's left to us is retrospective engagement, combined with a recombinant orientation towards cultural elements, also a long-standing feature of avant-gardes. Combining all this with alternative history, it makes sense that writers would add to the mere possibility of alternative outcomes for critical historical/political events (the Civil War, World War II, assassinations of heads of state, etc.) alternative technological, cultural, and aesthetic developments, as an extension of a retrospective, self-reflexive orientation. This becomes yet another manifestation of an all-encompassing artistic ars combinatoria.

Given that the Steampunk era coincides with the rise of artificial languages as a mass social phenomenon, I would naturally be interested in the intersection of Steampunk with Volapük and Esperanto, and less likely, other artificial languages.

I have already blogged about Andrew Drummond's novel A Hand-Book of Volapük, which is in the neighborhood of steampunk, a genre admired by Drummond. See An interview with Andrew Drummond (2006).

Note also Michael Chabon's popular Yiddish Policemen's Union, which also pays homage to Zamenhof and Esperanto. See The Grad Students Who Mocked Michael Chabon's Science Fiction by Charlie Jane Anders.

Volapük is featured also in Spook Country by William Gibson, godfather of cyberpunk.

But here's the pay-off for you super-nerds: you can join . . .

League of Steampunk Esperantists (GVE), a unit of The Steampunk Empire.


Graham Greene & Esperanto (3): Stamboul Train

Jen raporto pri utiligo de Esperanto en romano Stamboul Train:

Jul 11, 2002:
Pri Greene kaj Esperanto:

En lia romano Stambul Train la ĉefpersono, la hungar-origina Czinner trajne traveturas Budapeŝton. El sia kupeo li vidas kaj deĉifras iujn skribojn, sed li bedaŭras ne kompreni ilin, ĉar ili estas « en lingvo kiun li de longe forgesis » (mi citas elmemore). La kunteksto evidentigas ke devas temi pri la hungara. Aŭ devus – ĉar la vortoj estas fakte en Esperanto.

Laŭ mia privata supozo, dum la verkado Greene devis konstati ke li ne havas eĉ frazlibron hungaran ĉemane, kaj li trompetis sian publikon, pigre konsultinte surbretan Esperantaĵon.

Istvan Ertl
Jaŝovardan el Germanio faris prelegon je 20 aŭgusto 2010 ĉe la Londona E-Klubo pri la temo "Uzo de Esperanto en Fervoja Romano "Stamboul Train" de Graham Greene".

Graham Greene & Esperanto (2): The Confidential Agent

Graham Greene's novel The Confidential Agent (1939) contains an obvious parody of Zamenhof and Esperanto.

Kafejo.com : Auxlang Mentions : The Confidential Agent

Here we find a few quotes and samples of Entrenationo, the artificial language of Dr. Bellows, who greets his visitors in his language: "Me tray joyass."

There is an entry on Graham Greene in Vikipedio, the Esperanto version of Wikipedia, but no mention of Greene's references to Esperanto in several of his novels.

The Confidential Agent was watered down beyond recognition in a 1949 Escape radio adaptation, which you can listen to online. No Dr. Bellows here.

The novel was made into a film in 1945, in which the character Dr. Bellows appears. I have not seen this.

Greene's novel is mentioned in passing in this article:

Esperanto and the ideology of constructed languages
By Donald Broadribb, International Language Reporter, 2nd Quarter 1970, pp. 1-9.

The blog Running like hell in the land of overkill has an entry that begins:

June 5, 2003 Brookline
Up at seven A.M., Boston time. I weigh 184 pounds. Went downtown for an interview at the language school. Such an odd air to all of those places, captured perfectly by Graham Greene in one of his novels. Always remember the Esperanto teacher in his rubber shoes, poking his nose into classrooms.

Greene portrayed the informal (but high pressure) sales pitches that all these schools employ. It's quasi-religious. Remember how, returning from Rome to Paris, I saw an Esperanto school from the metro somewhere near Place d'Italie. What qualifications must one have to work there. Are there any native speakers of Esperanto, for example?
This article by a noted linguistics scholar gives us the most information on Greene's attitudes about language:

Going Especially Careful in The Third Man: A Linguistic Exploration by David Crystal.
Paper given to the Graham Greene Festival, Berkhamsted, September 2009.

Crystal finds the danger-signals in Greene's novel often connected with language. Artificial languages are markers of especially ominous developments. 

Graham Greene & Esperanto (1): quotes from novels

He went on, 'All the same, the other does represent a mood. It's we who are the materialists. The scrapping of all the old boundaries, the new economic ideas . . . the hugeness of the dream. It is attractive to men who are not tied—to a particular village or town they don't want to see scrapped. People with unhappy childhoods, progressive people who learn Esperanto, vegetarians who don't like shedding blood.'

SOURCE: Graham Greene, The Ministry of Fear (1943).

It was a very obscure poem, full of words which were like Esperanto. He thought: So this is English poetry: how odd.

SOURCE: The Power and the Glory (1940).

There were coloured photographs of naked girls outside and in night-club Esperanto one neon-lighted word, Strippteese.

SOURCE: Our Man in Havana (1958).

. . . he was like a man without a passport, without a nationality; like a man who could only speak Esperanto.

SOURCE: England Made Me (1935).

And besides he was happy here, sitting where the rat had sat, in his own world. He began to think of the Esperanto, and of the next day's work.

* * *

"One more glass," the captain of the Esperanto, said.

SOURCE: The Heart Of The Matter (1948).

For the most part, Greene's references to Esperanto are negative. In my next post I will focus on Greene's novel The Confidential Agent (1939), which includes a satirized Zamenhof-like figure and his artificial language Entrenationo, along with some secondary sources that highlight Greene's negative disposition towards Esperanto and artificial languages.


Solresol web guide / retgvidilo

Jen retgvidilo pri muzika lingvo Solresol, kreaĵo de la 19a jarcento. Rigardu ankaŭ blogeron "Solresol Vivas!"

I have already written about contemporary interest in Solresol, Sudre's 19th century musical language, in Esperanto under the title "Solresol Vivas!" on this blog. Now see my guide to Solresol on the web, a section of my Esperanto & Interlinguistics Study Guide.

Amazon.com lists this curious monograph:

Musical Languages: Whistled Languages, Pirahã Language, Supyire Language, Language of the Birds, Silbo Gomero Language, Solresol, Soundpainting. Books LLC, 2010.

The chapter on Solresol in Paul Collins' Banvard's Folly is based on an article in McSweeney's, which also includes diagrams at the end of the article:

The Strange and Epic and Tragic Trajectory of Solresol, The Universal Musical Language, and of Its Creator, Monsieur Sudre,” McSweeney’s 5, pp. 50-66.