Friday, October 07, 2011

Esperanto is Old School

Wittgenstein described language as a city. Three's the Old Town with its twisted streets and the new suburbs that are neatly organized. The entire city is constantly changing and growing.

That's the way it's supposed to be, but is language evolving enough? We are adding a lot of slang and that's fun, but is it really moving us forward? We could be working to create language evolution that would enhance our understanding and bring thought to a new level.

Children can learn a language by a fairly young age, knowing all the difficult grammar and learning a very sizable vocabularly. Why stop there? Why not make basic communication a lot more difficult, so we have to keep learning? The beauty of learning language is that we internalize it, so it is more powerful than academic book learning.

Here's an idea, somewhat half-baked but I present it as a start to the conversation... The world could move to one written language, and it should not be phonetic. Different groups will interpret the written form differently, resulting in a rich collection of spoken languages. But those groupings don't have to be geographic or historical; there can be different spoken interpretations for poets and accountants and so on. Meaning has always been layered, but it will become much more so, allowing different perspectives on existence to display different strengths in insight and communication.

There was a time when scholars from all of Europe wrote in Latin. The new language would go further in that it wouldn't be just for scholars, and there wouldn't be just one verbalization of it. The same symbol, word or phrase might be interpreted by different groups as eternity, death, the sky, forgotten memory. The new language might be partly mathematical. (Math has insufficient vocabulary.)

By learning a new verison of the language, we'd be internalizing new layers of meaning. That would allow a deeper understanding of the interconnections between different perspectives: for example, it could make us aware at a deep level of the sameness of math and music, poetry and philosophy, different schools of thought in physics.

As it stands, our science is growing but our overall understanding of the world is growing less so. To move to a new level we need human evolution, not just more technology. We need to dream bigger and reach higher.

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1 comment:

tomslee said...

Good to see you posting again. "Different groups will interpret the written form differently, resulting in a rich collection of spoken languages." I think Japanese and Chinese share much of their written language, so that (in the past at least) they could read the same texts but would say them differently. Not sure how much of the written language is really common though.