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Re: [glosalist] Re: minimal vocabulary

Robin Fairbridge Gaskell (Robin Fairbridge Gaskell <drought-breaker@...>) on April 10, 2006

At 12:12 AM 4/10/06, Bill Branch replied to Kevin:

Hello Kevin,

After staying up all night looking at the three languages you referred to, I have a greater appreciation for what you’ve been advocating. It seems that Tavo and Glo both fit your design requirements. I don’t understand why you say you’ve abandoned them. *** The abandonment of a Planned Language is easily explained: Esperanto has almost made it to “accepted” status after a century; Glosa has been around for a third of a century, and is still not ‘completed’; any new player has to appeal to people with a range of linguistic interests, and then has to try to launch through a very thick ‘glass ceiling’.


Nothing. That’s what I did a few years ago. Aside from the vocabulary issues, I found a few syntax/grammar concerns. After a few months of serious work, I ended up with a language that had about 500 Glosa words, and about 5 changes to the language itself.

And this definitely causes a conundrum for language resarchers like Kevin:

But at that point, it’s no longer Glosa. It’s not fair to Wendy and Glosa-pe to claim I’m promoting Glosa when it’s not really Glosa. It’s also not fair to anyone who learns my dialect, because they will not be able to read most Glosa text with its thousands of words.

So in 2003 I renamed my language “Glo”, implying that it was a simplified version of Glosa. But having split from Glosa, I then decided to switch from Greek roots to Latin, and chose the new name “Tavo”. Later, Lingua Franca Nova simplified its syntax to be almost isolating (like Glosa), so I mostly abandoned Tavo and just decided to support LFN.

Looking back, I think I prefer the Greek roots to the Latin, so if I do more work, I’ll probably revert to something more like Glo.

*** Decisions, decisions! As Kevin shows, he has sought to solve the problems by working alone - or now with Lingua Franca Nova; however, were those who are really interested in the improvement of communication around Planet Earth to work co-operatively, a sub-group working in the area of Syntax-based Language would eventually agree on a ‘best product’. This could include the most suitable features of languages from the un-inflected group of Planned Languages. Whether such a level of agreement is achievable with the egos, personalities and philosophical associations involved … is another matter. After that, of course, we can imagine a play-off between the extremely polarised contenders, with the highly inflected Esperanto in one corner, and the best product of the un-inflected group in the other.

   Must there be ultimately only the ONE International Auxilliary  Language, or can the human race cope with two IALs - to cater for the  great divergence of psychological types in the world?  I do suspect  that the reason for such vehement dispute over possible world  languages is a matter of the balance between right brain and left  brain dominance within mankind: left-brainers have good memories and  really like complex inflections; right-brainers prefer to let the  grey matter do it for them intuitively, and would rather the apparent  simplicity of allowing hard-wired syntax to produce their sentences  for them from discrete concepts.  While that last sentence was  getting too long, it does suggest that Ron Clark and I come from the  Creative camp; and, on the other hand, inflectors - with good  memories - are drawn to Esperanto, because they have an  intelligent/creative balance tipped in the direction of Intelligence,  and can easily cope with the mental loading of an inflectional schema.

To summarize: I can’t wholeheartedly support Glosa because:

  1. I am aware of perhaps a dozen possible improvements to the language which apparently have no hope of being debated and perhaps eventually accepted into the official language.[1] *** Actually, this Mailing List ought to be the debating board for Glosa. The trouble seems to be that people, including me, become attached to their ideas, and cannot treat the matter objectively. My difference from neophyte Glosa-pe is that I have seen a number of failed ploys attempted, and dead ends entered, and retreated from - in the process of defining what Glosa is to-day. I have also seen a number of ideas promoted, ones which could, or should, have been persued, in the development of Glosa, but were not. There has been no serious discussion, with worked examples, of the actual grammatical system at work within Glosa; the possibility of further, hyphenated inflection-like affixes, like the eighteen 'category endings' (-do, -pe, etc) has not been explored; no centralised book exchange has been set up, to which authors and translators may send their new Glosa works; the actual mechanics of what constitutes good (or natural, or hard-wired) syntax has not, to my knowledge, been explored; a set of protocols for the addition of new words to the Glosa lexicon has not been developed; and there is no sub-office for the development for Glosa of the wide range of technical vocabularies that make up our complex civilisation.
  For example I became very frustrated when I wanted to use a  Glosa word to cover the English-language concept, "employment".  Un  the absence of any guidelines - apart from the Greek and Latin  dictionaries plus Glosa usage - I derived from ~uti~ [(to)use] the  Glosa word ~utor~.  Right or wrong I reached a pragmatic decision,  and added it to my dictionary.  We could even be more professional in  our search for the magic ``Universal Grammar`` and even upgrade our  efforts from the amateur to the businesslike.

  However, I would like to tell one story of where something was  done right in Glosa.  A couple of decades ago someone tried out their  various English-language Tense constructions, and created Glosa  versions for them using the standard Glosa tense particles: the final  result is called "Tense Table" and is on the <>  site.  But, this original attempt to systematise the use of tense  particles bumped around the Net from one Glosa learner to another,  and back again, being added to, and altered, in the process.  It was  a very rapid, organic sort of process, and no-one can now say which  bit came from whom.
  IMHO this is the way that all Glosa decisions should be made.
  The table might now be considered to be out of date, and the  ~pra~ [=had] particle which became discarded, might still be  there.  Frankly, my use of English would be degraded if I could not  use this `Past Perfect` construction when I need it; similarly I find  it semantically useful, if not necessary, in Glosa.

e.g. ~Kron mi pa gene ad an domi, an pra morta.~ (when I did get to his home he had die/death) “When I got to his home he had died.”

  1. I think that a reader should be able to memorize, or have printed, about 500-1000 words of an IAL, and be able to read almost any text that claims to be written in that IAL. The main exceptions would be technical words in a field. Splitting the language into “core” and “full” does not help, unless the non-core words are VERY rarely used.

*** This is a left-brain type statement. Some people love learning new words, and often, the more the merrier. If there is a ‘core’ and ‘advanced’ divide, at what number of words is the division made? If, on the other hand, there is a suitable “Learner Vocabulary” and there are progressively more wordy learner books written, then is a hard-lined division necessary? I believe that it is between the standard, global Glosa and the ‘technical lexicons’ that the division exists. If I write a treatise in Glosa on nuclear energy, I will use the Global lexicon, and I will also use vocabulary from the General Science and Nuclear lexicons. Needless to say such lexicons do not yet exist, and are purely constructs of my mind.

You mentioned your aims are different then the Glosa community. I’ll bet there are as many different aims in the Glosa community as there are people in it.

*** Sadly, in large part, that is how it has been. If there is more generosity of spirit, then much more co-operation is possible.

Perhaps. But Glosa doesn’t seem to fit my goals. An unofficial dialect of Glosa doesn’t seem to fit my goals either. And a fragmented community will have great difficulty promoting the language and gaining widespread acceptance.

*** We’d like to see a written statement of your goals. Perhaps working out a commonly acceptable set of linguistic goals is the right place for us all to start.

I’m sorry if I sound negative about all this. I really like almost all of Glosa. I am disappointed that it is not in a position to fulfill my own ambitions for an IAL. Hopefully I will end up being wrong and Glosa (or perhaps some other isolating IAL) will sweep the world.

*** What are your ambitions for an IAL? Agreed with the idea of an isolating (un-inflected) being ultimately successful. As I have said before, with English as our model of a very evolved national language; and, taking the trends in English to their logical conclusions, we end up with something very much like Glosa. ((With apologies to some: this is a highly creative statement.))

[1] A list of some differences can be found under “Glo structures not in Glosa” on this page: But also note that I abandoned some of these ideas when I moved from Glo to Tavo. I think these and other ideas are worthy of dicussion and possible inclusion in the language. I have an open mind. Kevin *** I am not as relaxed as I might like to have been in retirement, so I have had to budget time for this discussion. I will read your Glo/Glosa differences during the coming week; I do recall your Glo from wayback, but need my mind refreshed.



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Re: [glosalist] Re: minimal vocabulary - Committee on language planning, FIAS. Coordination: Vergara & Hardy, PhDs.