Monday, December 10, 2007

Proto-Indo-European – Lingua Franca for the Imperium

If Europe had witnessed at some stage during the last couple of centuries the unification of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Romania and parts of Switzerland and Belgium, perhaps as the result of a successful campaign by Napoleon, then the interesting question arises: which language would the people of the new Mediterranean Imperium have chosen to communicate with each other?

Southern European lingua franca

My guess is that Latin would have soon overcome any rivals – notably French. It is from Latin that all the Romance languages evolved, so none of the participant nations of this hypothetical Napoleonic Imperium need feel slighted by having their language and culture ignored. All are off-spring of the Roman Empire. A stable empire demands a common language, but forcing French as a lingua franca onto the peoples of southern Europe would seem to serve the petty interests of French nationalism, rather than those of a Napoleonic Imperium aiming for centuries-long progress with stability. Additionally, Latin had been the language of the educated classes, of the natural sciences and humanities, throughout Europe for many centuries.

Literary tradition

With the advent of the IMPERIUM during the early 21st Century, a similar problem arises. Which language, out of the proud literary traditions of England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia or Russia, will the peoples of Europe decide to use to talk to one another?

Once again, the answer is straightforward: Aryan, or Proto-Indo-European, to give it the polite, if cumbersome, moniker.

On the practicality of such a venture, extensive and plausible reconstructions of the original Aryan language were already available by the middle of the 19th Century, ironically a generation before the abortive liberal experiment of Esperanto. Instead of patching together some artificial language like an intellectual Meccano kit, how much better to take inspiration from the source of all the languages, nations and tribes of Europe: the source of not only our language but our culture, our metaphysics and the very stuff we are made of! All the major tribes and language-groups of Europe (Celts, Germanics, Balts, Slavs, Hellenics and Italics, as well as many beyond) are direct descendants of the Proto-Indo-European ur-speech, so no nation need complain of alienation: instead all will rejoice in their common brotherhood. Necessary new words arising from new technologies can be incorporated into common-language Aryan much as they are today, perhaps even maintaining the Greek/ Latin composite pattern.

Natural language for Europeans

Once a common Aryan language is taught in all our schools across Europe, in addition to the regional or national mother-tongue, we will see two immediate benefits.
The first is practical. For the first time in millennia, the people of Europe will be able to speak to each other with ease. We can expect a corresponding acceleration of our culture, science and economy.

The second advantage is more esoteric, yet more profound, especially for the individual mind. Studying the roots of our own language will give us a deeper understanding of ourselves, as a member of a nation, a tribe (Celtic, Germanic, Slavic etc.) and as part of a potentially eternal race and culture.

Language is deeply implicated in consciousness; our native tongue forms our perception at the same time as exterior reality informs and modifies our language. As well as revealing the deepest strata of the European weltanschauung, study of the original Aryan language will necessarily throw light on significant divergences between one's own native language and the pan-continental speech from which it evolved. For instance: the subsequent development of the future tense in Germanic languages by use of the verb “will”. Not only will Europeans better understand the metaphysical structure of our 10,000+ years of shared culture, as outlined in Georges Dumézil's trifunctional hypothesis, but also the particular viewpoint and contribution summarized in the idiosyncrasies of their own unique mother tongue.

The argument for the original Aryan language as the common language of the future pan-European IMPERIUM is powerful: it will bring to each individual a fuller appreciation through words of both their nation and their race and culture, and their station in the cosmos.

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13 Comments:

Blogger Remush said...

"Studying the roots of our own language will give us a deeper understanding of ourselves, as a member of a nation, a tribe (Celtic, Germanic, Slavic etc.) and as part of a potentially eternal race and culture."
Have a look at http://users.telenet.be/raymond.gerard/esperanto/etimo.htm
then you'll get a deeper understanding of the sources of Esperanto.

6:49 AM  
Blogger Alisdair Clarke said...

Hi Remush

Thanks for the interesting link (http://users.telenet.be/raymond.gerard/esperanto/index.htm). I understand that Zamenhof used mainly European languages as the basis for Esperanto: my problem is not with his sources, but rather with his purely intellectual clinical method and universalist objectives – he desired that Esperanto be spoken across all five continents.

4:11 AM  
Blogger Remush said...

Stupid idea, ain't it?
We all know it will never work as we are bewitched since biblical times:-)
We all are doomed, with or without Esperanto. Unless...
Well, I dare to spell Esperanto already, and many dare too. The odds in favour of it are getting better.
Eo is a very small step towards building a worldwide happy family.
We should think of what to do in phase 2.

5:01 AM  
Blogger James O'Meara said...

Alisdair,

I've studied a bit of Esperanto, years ago, and it was quite interesting. Oddly enough, some of his most Indo-European elements were the most non-universal; eg, using the Greek 'oi' plurals rather than the more familiar 's', etc.

Of course, cobbling together a bunch of roots from all over does not equal producing a root language.

Also, how was speaking one language going to stop war? Hadn't he heard of civil wars?

8:44 AM  
Blogger Remush said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Remush said...

The vast majority of words are Indo-european. You'll find a minority of words coming from asian languages, american indian and others as well.
Esperanto won't stop wars, but it's unlikely it will increase the danger. Esperanto was meant to give the people a tool to communicate. Lack of communication is a source of misunderstandings. The more people you know from the other community the less you will support a war against them.
What is a "root language"? Who needs that? To my understanding Esperanto is a derivated language.

2:14 PM  
Blogger James O'Meara said...

Notes of a non-linguistic man

My only academic study of languages was high-school German, so this remains my only semi-fluent language. Over the years I have availed myself of the Teach Yourself Books to acquire a middling knowledge, for reading purposes, of several ‘big’ languages. [There was a British film years ago, 60s I think, about some misfit with a closet stocked with Teach Yourself books -- that’s me! Of course, his were things like archery, ballroom dancing, and dental surgery, so he was clearly nuts] Basically, I can follow along with someone’s translation, or even puzzle a bit out, some more than others.

I took up the study of New Testament Greek and Biblical Hebrew because I was tired of half-educated twits on TV and radio ranting about God and alluding to their knowledge of ’scripture’. As I suspected, their ‘scholarship’ was bogus: both languages are ridiculously simple; moreover, having been studied for centuries by children without any interest or aptitude, there exist whole bookstores of ‘helps’ and cheats.

I also learned NT Greek itself as a kind of dumbed-down Classical Greek, which is exactly what it is: the Esperanto of the Hellenistic age. [For centuries, Bible ‘scholars’ thought it was a “special language designed for spiritual transmission” until they dug up all the account books and dirty poems in it] And yes, even so, I am not really close to fluent, simply because the text you puzzle out is so idiotic: first connect NT passage for students is universally 1 John: Little children, love one another, for he who loves, loves God, as God is love, and loves you, who love Him, etc. etc. until you realize these guys were really the mental defectives of the Aegean.

Hebrew is such a ridiculously simple language that once you get past the ’scary’ letters, you can probably learn the grammar in about an hour. The vocab is also a problem: other than bible-words [hosanna!] there’s few friendly “sounds like English” to help; ’who’ means ’he’, ’he’ means ’she’, and ’dog’ means ’fish.’ But still, there’s only about 5000 words in the whole OT! [And only about 2000 in the mentally challenged NT]. In modern Hebrew, they get around the problem of a 2000 year old vocab by just importing English words: ha-radio, ha-TV, ha-car. Again, very Esperanto-like.

I would wager that the whole idea of Esperanto is essentially Jewish: simple grammar, small vocab, universal usage.

On the other hand, if you look at the Aryan root languages, what we see is that they are famously complex: Greek, Sanskrit, Icelandic, etc. While these have obviously simplified into today’s languages, Hebrew [compared to Arabic, which is still of Greek-like complexity] seems to have been almost born simple [One of my idiotic textbooks says the case endings were lost because they were used too much and ‘worn off’. Such is the brilliance of theology students]. Does that tell us something about the Jewish mentality? Reduce everything to the least common denominator, and foist it on everyone as being “universal.”

To assume a simple, Esperanto like language is appropriate for all, is to assume, well, that all humans are the same. It is precisely the ‘universal’ nature of Esperanto, it’s built-in ideology, if you will, exemplified by its simple structure and vocab, that disqualifies it as suitable to EuroMan. The failure of Esperanto to ‘catch on’ anywhere validates this.

[And the only Jewish nation itself, rejected Esperanto as well, going with its own, albeit Esperanto-like, root language; to paraphrase Burt Young in Once upon a time in America, “even a Jew wouldn‘t speak Esperanto“]

Whatever the value of some kind of universal pigeon language [and I still don’t understand the ‘peace through understanding ‘ idea -- does Pat Roberson hates gays because he’s never read The Advocate? Quite the opposite, I’d say; like the Gay Pride parades, familiarity does breed contempt] there’s no reason for Europeans to speak some manufactured one; Hellenistic Greek would be enough; it was simple enough for Galilean fishermen to learn and use, and would incorporate both our Greek and Xtian heritages., including the basic texts [including the classics, with some extra work].

Some people recommend Icelandic, as being basically Old Norse [they can read the Sagas with a few footnotes] and the language of a living nation. Well, as someone who completed TY Greek and TY Sanskrit, I took a look at TY Icelandic, and gave up after the first 10 pages. However, I plan to give the modern Icelandic book a try; after all, may need to flee there sometime.

I take it, Alisdair, that the purpose of the EuroLanguage is not simply ’facilitate communication’ but, literally, to bring us closer to our roots. Hence, a root language, not a Judaic ’derived’ language suitable to the de-racinated, economic Universal Man.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Remush said...

Quoting James O'Meara "To assume a simple, Esperanto like language is appropriate for all, is to assume, well, that all humans are the same."
No language is appropriate for all in all circumstances. Some problems are very easily solved with APL and others with LISP. The more languages you know, the better you will be able to pick up the best suited one to solve a particular problem.
On the other hand, all humans are not the same. There is as much difference between two Americans, or two Chinese, as between a Chinese and an American.
Does that mean that Chinese or Americans cannot speak the same language?
Esperanto is most appropriate when several people speaking different mother tongs meet. When a language as English, French or Spanish is used, the floor is monopolized by the native speakers of that language. This bias the whole discussion.
The truth is that all languages (even constructed ones as Esperanto) have their limitations. We have no choice but to live with those imperfections and make the best use of the possibilities offered by the language.

Quoting James O'Meara "The purpose of the EuroLanguage is [...] to bring us closer to our roots."
Then a look at Esperanto etimologio will convince you that Esperanto is pretty close to the roots.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Stanislaus Turba said...

Europe is fighting for a common language, and we do not talk about the technocratic Brussels or Stassburg or Luxembourg regime that is in place only to regulate the capital and the interests and wants to formalise and level all peoples and their traditions. A language is the soul of a people, and no universal language set up by liberal dispraisers could ever be the core of a united tradition. However, to research and inspirit a Lingua Franca for Europe and its people, is a task we follow up with all our strength as a foundation of our independent continent.

I allowed myself to feature your article on my blog www.menschenkunde.org and look forward to some more posts on your site. It is a real pity to see one of the best blogs in the web persisting in inactivity.

Stanislaus

6:32 AM  
Blogger Will Madison said...

You know that Indians also share Aryan heritage, right? Gypsies do too, and you think they're racially impure don't you?

Sanskrit is one of the languages employed when reconstructing Proto-indo-european (thus the 'indo' meaning Indian)

and what about the European peoples who don't have an Indo-European language as their mother tongue; such as Hungarians, Finnish, and Basque?

1:33 PM  
Blogger M said...

Blah blah blah.

"I would wager that the whole idea of Esperanto is essentially Jewish: simple grammar, small vocab, universal usage."


Duh? Esperanto was created in the late 1870s and early 1880s by Dr. Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof, a Belarusian-Jewish ophthalmologist from Bialystok,.

Europe already has a common language. Guess what it is.

If it's novelty you're after, look at Dnghu: http://dnghu.org/en/Indo-European%20grammar/

7:34 AM  
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