I have a break from classes until 26 January and while I still have my internship and a new part-time job, I have a lot more free time for the time being.
This same geek that is enamored with the Bahá’í Calendar is now interested in another Bahá’í futurist concept–that of a world auxiliary language.
The Bahá’í Faith teaches that a universal language and accompanying script should be developed. Bahá’u’lláh told his followers that in the future, the world must, “…either to choose one language from among those now existing or to adopt a new one, and in like manner to select a common script, both of which should be taught in all the schools of the world…” In another one of his writings, he wrote, “When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home.” “
At the time of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá‘s visit to the U.S. in 1912, Esperanto, a constructed language was gaining in popularity, and he encouraged people to learn it. At the same time, he had criticisms of the language–two of them being that is that it is too difficult for many people and his conviction that it should be based on a wider diversity of languages–and he recommended reforms that have not as of yet been implemented. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said “”The love and effort put into Esperanto will not be lost, but no one person can construct a Universal Language. It must be made by a Council representing all countries, and must contain words from different languages. It will be governed by the simplest rules, and there will be no exceptions; neither will there be gender, nor extra and silent letters. Everything indicated will have but one name. In Arabic there are hundreds of names for the camel! In the schools of each nation the mother tongue will be taught, as well as the revised Universal Language.”
An issue I have with Esperanto–and indeed, almost all of the artificially created languages over the last two centuries–is that they are very Euro-centric. When Esperanto was created in the late 19th century–during the lifetimes of both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá–European colonialism was at its peak. Then (and to a large extent now, even) people of European origin thought that what was right for Europe and the U.S. would work for the world.
Lojban–originally called Loglan–was a project started by Dr. James Cooke Brown in 1955. Hundreds of volunteers have been involved and continue to be involved in its development. The initial purpose of developing the language was to help test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis which states that “the structure of a language constrains the thinking of people using that language”
Some of the benefits of Lojban touted on its website are its simple construction compared to natural language, efforts to be culturally neutral, lack of ambiguity in pronunciation and meaning, phonetic spelling, a system of 1,300 root-words that can be used to form millions of other words, a logic-based grammar that also contains emotion and metaphor, and its attempt to remove restrictions of thought.
I am using an online Lojban tutorial to teach myself. I find it fun and stimulating. I will let readers know what I think of it once I complete the tutorial.
Oh and by the way, the Lojban expression I have in parentheses in the headline of this post translates into English as “Lojban is designed to be culturally neutral.”