• No languages exists with these category distinctions encoded. But they raise an important question about universality of concepts.
Cave Beck’s language • Another Englishman, Cave Beck, published The Universal Character (1657) around the same time. • The idea is similar to Wilkins’: • 3 ‘abatement’ • p3 ’a man who abates’ • pf3 ‘a woman who abates’ • R3 ‘abatement’ • x3 ‘act of abating’ • q317 ‘bold’ • qq317 ‘bolder’ • qqq317 ‘boldest’
Novelty and continuity • Wilkins’ and Beck’s are just two examples of many philosophical languages from the 17 th century. The practice was a fad among intellectuals of the day. • Clearly, there are many differences here from pre-modern languages like Lingua Ignota. • Philosophical languages were intentionally devised; divine inspiration irrelevant. • Part of a general move toward developing new scientific notations. • But: • Lingua Ignota had already partially introduced the notion of carving up the world into meaningful categories.
Philosophical languages today • The goal of creating a ”perfect” philosophical language continues among conlangers today. • Some 20 th /21 st century takes on this problem: • Loglan, Lojban, and related “logical languages” • Ithkuil • Toki Pona • Láadan
International Auxiliary Languages
Volapük: on a mission from God • Johann Martin Schleyer (1831-1912): German Catholic priest and inventor of Volapük. • Claimed that God told him in a dream to create an international second language for the world. • Created language in 1879-1880.
The first widely spoken conlang? • Today, only a few dozen people speak Volapük • (though visit volapük.com if you want to change that!) • But Volapük had astounding success. By 1889: • 283 Volapük clubs • 25 periodicals • 316 textbooks • 1 million speakers/learners!g
A conlang milestone • “In August 1889 the third convention was held in Paris. About two hundred people from many countries attended. And, unlike in the first two conventions, people spoke only Volapük. For the first time in the history of mankind, sixteen years before the Boulogne convention [the first international Esperanto convention], an international convention spoke an international language.” (André Cherpillod, Konciza Gramatiko de Volapuko )
Volapük’s simplification • Volapük was the first major constructed language designed for ease of learning: • Schleyer decided to have only [l] and no [r], to help speakers of Asian languages learn the language. • Realized that it’s impractical to have allomorphy: • The morphemes, or parts of a word, always have the same form. • In English, we have several allomorphs of the plural marker: • Cat- s, ox- en , child- ren , antenna- e , etc. • In Volapük, the plural is always [-s] , no exceptions! • This holds for every morpheme in the language. • These show an impressive level of thought and ingenuity.
Volapük’s simplification • Schleyer realized that he could simplify even further with stress .
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- The Lord of the Rings, Constructed language, John Wilkins, Lingua Ignota