What is the best constructed language?

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Freiberg
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What is the best constructed language?

Postby Freiberg » Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:19 am UTC

I am giving this question an extremely wide range of latitude. It can be most efficient, most logical, most useful, most awesome in general, or just an obscure one you made up yesterday. I want to learn about constructed languages, and I figured that asking you people on the forums would be the best way to do that.

Well, here goes:

EDIT 1: Just for clarification, this includes fictional languages as well as "real" constructed languages. Hmm. Maybe I should ask to have this moved to the "Holy Wars" subforum. Well, if enough people take interest, I will.

EDIT 2: Ok, so far we have 2 winners.
Ithkuil - Most logical and fastest
Quenya - Most artistic-looking

Shame you can't type in either, because I totally would translate this thread into both.
Last edited by Freiberg on Mon Feb 16, 2009 2:47 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Hobgoblin » Sat Feb 14, 2009 6:14 am UTC

Klingon is MUCH too complicated.

Elvish is pretty cool, but I think it sounds a little fruity.
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby ZLVT » Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:30 am UTC

O boy this'll be fun.
How do you define "best"?

artlangs like Sindarin, Quenya, and Klingon have lexical limitations but are cool to learn a bit for the hell of it, nerd points, or in the case of Quenya to pick up chicks.

englangs like lojban and to an extent Toki Pona are created with a specific purpose in mind. Lojban is completely unambiguous, solfa can be respesented in song, music, colour, whatever. Toki Pona forces you to think in simple and positive ways. Another test of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is Newspeak, from Orwell's 1984. Ithkuil will allow you to run through your mental processes at a higher speed than others so it's great for complext thoughts. Láadan allows women to express the things they really want to but can't cos of English (apparently). Lin is a language which in writing compresses text dy a factor of abotu 7 by using all sorts of ASCII characters.

Esperanto (Eo) is a good popular IAL (International Auxiliary Language). Volapük came before it can do things Eo can't and vice versa. Universalglot is possibly the first attempt at an IAL. Ido reformed some of the arguably useless things in Eo. Sona is a language created to counter complaints by Anti-Esperantists that Eo is too eurocentric and so takes from as many languages as possible. Latine Sine Flexione is a simplified Latin so very close to a natlang (natural language), but so is Interlingua, which is a generic romlang (romance language based artificial language) apparently understood by all romance language speakers (who, due to the spread of Spanish and Portuguese make up a large portion of the world.)

here's the list that wiki keeps on conlangs:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... _languages

Sooo, what exactly are you looking for?
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby AVbd » Sat Feb 14, 2009 9:53 am UTC

I'm actually quite intrigued by Láadan. Natural languages developed out of necessity, and they've always retained that restrictiveness of abstract thought; Láadan attempts to expand the range and means of expressing emotion and … my knowledge of it is scant, admittedly, so I'll shut up until I've read more.

Lojban (which is actually based partially on Láadan) is a decent conlang. It's not really completely ambiguous; actually, it allows the speaker to be far more ambiguous than most natural languages (“ko mo” anyone?), but it's designed so that any utterance has only one possible interpretation, however ambiguous that might be.

Lisp is a computer programming language :mrgreen: — but it's probably best that we don't go that way.

But the winner is … the language I invented yesterday, ẉ-tsha :-P. Admittedly, I didn't really invent it yesterday, except in the broader sense of “some time in the past” (that's right, I DIDN'T CREATE IT IN THE FUTURE, or did I?).

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Freiberg » Sat Feb 14, 2009 2:41 pm UTC

Ok, I looked at the contstructed languages you all mentioned, and so far the winner is Ithkuil! The contest is far from over, of course, but you have to admit, that is a pretty cool language. Cool as in intense.

ZLVT wrote:How do you define "best"?
.
.
.
Sooo, what exactly are you looking for?


Once I finish procrastinating, I will put on the top post categories for languages, but I am too lazy to do that right now. Meh.

Anyway, have a taco.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby ZLVT » Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:22 pm UTC

mm, Ithkuil really intrigued me, I'd like to try it and see if it really does help but alas, I've not had time to look too deeply into it. Maybe I'll get lucky in the linguistics dept. at uni and find some old school conlangers.
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Hobgoblin » Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:43 pm UTC

So what's the difference between a conlang and a natural language?

I assume that a natural language is one made over time, but doesn't that make every constructed language a natural language?
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Bobber » Sat Feb 14, 2009 9:04 pm UTC

Natural languages develop unintentionally from necessity, while conlangs are specifically created and thought up by often a very small amount of people with great thought put into exactly how the language works.
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Hobgoblin » Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:19 pm UTC

Bobber wrote:Natural languages develop unintentionally from necessity, while conlangs are specifically created and thought up by often a very small amount of people with great thought put into exactly how the language works.


Meaning it comes out with a lot less irregularities, and a lot more logic, right?
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Freiberg » Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:13 pm UTC

Hobgoblin wrote:Meaning it comes out with a lot less irregularities, and a lot more logic, right?


General idea. However, fictional languages, or constructed languages meant to look like natural languages, are even more of a mixed bag, and admittedly they are fun too.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby AVbd » Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:17 pm UTC

Hobgoblin wrote:
Bobber wrote:Natural languages develop unintentionally from necessity, while conlangs are specifically created and thought up by often a very small amount of people with great thought put into exactly how the language works.


Meaning it comes out with a lot less irregularities, and a lot more logic, right?

Often, constructed languages will be made in mimicry of natural languages, and thus have irregularities, unusual spelling of particular words, and idioms and compound words where the constituents don't seem to have anything to do with the final word; the language creator might even make a whole family of languages, related by certain sound-changes and changes in meaning.

Obviously, all languages were created at some point, but constructed languages are ones created with a specific purpose in mind, whether it be artistic (Tolkein's elvish languages), philosophical (Lojban), or to aid in communication in some way (Esperanto). There are certain languages that blur the line in some way; a posteriori languages (like Interlingua) develop their vocabulary and grammar from natural languages; Chinese sign language is a constructed language that has developed naturally, has been influenced heavily by Chinese language and culture, has several dialects, and is used as the primary language by a large number of people; Latin and other dead languages are used for philosophical (and particularly religious) purposes, but aren't spoken natively by anyone.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Kalathalan » Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:10 am UTC

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Last edited by Kalathalan on Mon Jun 06, 2016 8:10 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Jianaran » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:26 am UTC

I've got to agree with Quenya. I'm currently in the process of learning it from Fauskanger(?)'s excellent lessons, and it's a true work of art. As someone who's never managed to feel the motivation to properly learn a language before, going through lessons that don't treat you as idiots and actually provide a lot of information on linuistics that an average person (ie me) wouldn't know is very interesting. I'm certainly not at the stage where I can translate any english phrase into Quenya, and I haven't even tried learning the Tengwa alphabet yet, but learning the language has turned from a brief spurt of interest into a very interesting hobby.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:57 pm UTC

Hobgoblin wrote:So what's the difference between a conlang and a natural language?

I assume that a natural language is one made over time, but doesn't that make every constructed language a natural language?

According to evolutionary anthropologists, like Steve Pinker & Jared Diamond, natural languages are created by children, at least the spoken forms thereof; adults just do the polishing-up & fine tuning, as well as developing the written form.

This process isn't completely lost in the mists of time. Several new creoles have been created in the last century, and the process has been documented, to a degree.

FWIW, the Australian singer, Christine Anu has recorded songs with lyrics in the TI dialect of Torres Strait Creole, as well as English, and she is in the first generation of speakers of that dialect, IIRC. I reckon it sounds pretty cool. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torres_Strait_Creole

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby wisnij » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:24 am UTC

Creoles are fascinating for all sorts of reasons. :)
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Velifer » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:24 pm UTC

With Tolkein, didn't the language come first, with the books just a place to use it? Wouldn't calling them "artistic" be backwards?
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby WaterToFire » Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:19 pm UTC

Velifer wrote:With Tolkein, didn't the language come first, with the books just a place to use it? Wouldn't calling them "artistic" be backwards?
The language was still created with artistic style in mind, in its word structure and grammar. I believe that's at least a large part of what people mean when they call it artistic.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:07 pm UTC

WaterToFire wrote:
Velifer wrote:With Tolkein, didn't the language come first, with the books just a place to use it? Wouldn't calling them "artistic" be backwards?
The language was still created with artistic style in mind, in its word structure and grammar. I believe that's at least a large part of what people mean when they call it artistic.


Fair call. How much of the various languages did Tolkein actually develop before (or after) he wrote the books? I got the impression that he didn't develop full languages, just fragments, but I'd be happy to be corrected.

I read LOTR, The Hobbit, etc in my teens, in the 70s. A friend had a book that had the text of Namárië (in Tengwar) on the cover. I think it's a beautiful script. I spent some time leaning it, but I'm quite rusty now. The structure of Tengwar is very similar to Devanagari, the writing system used for Sanskrit and various other Indian languages, and is the basis of most other Indian writing systems.

Tengwar is simpler than Devanagari, since it doesn't have the same approach to consonant clusters, and the letter shapes are more regular than Devanagari, which is actually a disadvantage, IMHO. When I first started to learn Devanagari I was somewhat dismayed with the variety of letter shapes, but now when I compare it to Tengwar, I appreciate that the variety of shapes makes Devanagari easier to read. Tengwar would probably be a nightmare for persons afflicted with dyslexia. :)

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Velifer » Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:44 pm UTC

WaterToFire wrote:The language was still created with artistic style in mind.

Now it makes sense. Well, I've expended my entire knowledge of conlangs with that one factoid/musing, so back to lurking.
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby goofy » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:06 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:Devanagari, the writing system used for Sanskrit and various other Indian languages, and is the basis of most other Indian writing systems.


Actually it's Brahmi that is the basis of most south and southeast Asian writing systems.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:19 pm UTC

Ok, it's not the ancestral form, but Devanagari is ultimately a cursive descendant of Brahmi. From my previous link:
The Nāgarī or Devanāgarī alphabet descended from the Brahmi script sometime around the 11th century AD. It was originally developed to write Sanskrit but was later adapted to write many other languages.


Anyway, to get back to Tolkien, his Tengwar was clearly influenced by this family of writing systems.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby goofy » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:10 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:Ok, it's not the ancestral form, but Devanagari is ultimately a cursive descendant of Brahmi. From my previous link:
The Nāgarī or Devanāgarī alphabet descended from the Brahmi script sometime around the 11th century AD. It was originally developed to write Sanskrit but was later adapted to write many other languages.


Yes, Devanagari is used to write many languages, for instance Sanskrit, Hindi and Marathi. But as far as I know, most of the writing systems of south and southeast Asia (Thai, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan, etc) are not descended from Devanagari - they're descended from Brahmi. The only descendents of Devanagari are Gujarati and Modi.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby inhahe » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:04 pm UTC

Freiberg wrote:Ok, I looked at the contstructed languages you all mentioned, and so far the winner is Ithkuil! The contest is far from over, of course, but you have to admit, that is a pretty cool language. Cool as in intense.


I VOTE FOR A LANGUAGE I CONSTRUCTED WHICH HAS NO PRE-DEFINED WORDS AND NO PARTICULAR GRAMMAR.
The purpose is to simply say stuff that sounds good and seems to reflect whatever you're thinking/feeling.

This language has no name, as to give such a language a name would be no less a travesty than goths conforming to gothhood in order to convey their nonconformism.

Here are some advantages to this language:
- it looks/sounds good.
- it encourages freedom of thought and expression.
- there are never any arguments in this language.
- the government can't track your conversations.

In all seriousness, though, in any other language, the conceptual/analytical aspect of it often overshadows other aspects of what a person really means. I don't mean "often" -- I mean always. What *often* happens is we simply have no way of saying what we mean. In some of these cases we're so used to not being able to say such things that we don't even notice them because it doesn't occur to us to say anything. This is just the what happens on one end of the spectrum, but all throughout expression there are subtext and emotional overtones/undertones that just don't get expressed, or only get expressed through body language and finer energies, or when one gets lucky and the other can seem to relate.

What's happening in language is that the analytical and conceptual overshadows other aspects of consciousness and emotive expressions. This language *reverses* that vector so that it focuses exclusively on the subtle at the total expense of the analytical.

I say "seems to reflect", above, in jest; if you create a one-to-one correspondence between what you say and what you mean when you articulate, that unification exists in the ethers, and it's just up to the other person to see it. And it DOES happen; I've seen it in practice. Have fun...

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Roĝer » Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:39 pm UTC

Esperanto gets most useful constructed language, no discussion possible. Does any of the others have more than some ten thousands of speakers and worldwide networks of guest families?
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby ZLVT » Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:24 am UTC

Well only if you define "useful" as the ability to communicate to others in that language in real life. Many (non-IAL) languages don't try to build an international community of speakers, but have more psychological goals in mind.
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby PM 2Ring » Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:30 pm UTC

In the context of this thread, do reconstructed languages count as constructed languages? I reckon it'd be cool to learn Proto Indo-European. If my brain was a bit younger. :)

I agree that Esperanto is probably the most practical constructed language to learn. I started to teach myself Esperanto when I was in high school, but had to give it up after a few months so I could focus on the subjects I was supposed to be studying. (The same thing happened when I tried to learn Russian, but I never got much further than the Cyrillic alphabet.)

One of my high school friends was obsessed with languages. He tried to convince me to learn one of the obscure British languages like Sarkese or Manx with him. Eventually, we decided to give Anglo-Saxon a go, as it was almost impossible to find material on those other languages. But once again, we had to stop when our more legitimate subjects needed our attention.

As an adult, I've spent a bit of time thinking about, talking about, and learning Loglan. I even organized a small study group in my early twenties, but it was hard to maintain the interest & dedication of others. I no longer have my Loglan books (Loglan 1 & the dictionary), but I still have two cassette tapes. And a hand-written note from James Cooke Brown. :D

About seven years ago, before I had Net access at home, I spent several weeks at the local library reading the whole text of the most recent edition of Loglan 1. I've only had a fairly quick look at Lojban. It looks interesting, but I don't know if I want to relearn all my Loglan vocab (not that I retain large amounts thereof). I suppose the longer I leave it, the less old Loglan I'll remember, so that'll be less of an issue. :)

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby ZLVT » Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:12 pm UTC

well I guess PIE would technically be a conlang, it's main feature beign that it is based on statistically high frequency words among IE languages.
Eo isn't that bad, if you only translate and post one coment on a board per day you'll get there eventually.
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Bluggo » Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:53 pm UTC

Ithkuil looks very interesting, as does its "successor" Ilaksh - I especially like the writing system of the latter.

However, one thing that worries me a bit about these "fast" languages is that they must be extremely easy to misunderstand/misuse.

I mean, I am not a native English speaker, so - even if I have been studying it for quite a long time by now - I occasionally make spelling mistakes, or choose words that a native speaker would not use, or assign incorrect values to the vowels when I speak it (this is actually quite common for me, actually).

However, most of the times these errors do not cause big misunderstandings: people can usually guess what I was trying to say, and conversely even if I mishear a word or do not know its meaning I can extrapolate it quite easily from the context.

But in a language like Ithkuil, where you can express very complex meanings with relatively short sentences, the average "distance" between meaningful sentences must be a lot smaller than in English, and therefore it must be much more sensitive to random noise...

Nonetheless, the concept is cool - I guess I will play a bit with it, when I have some time.
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby inhahe » Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:38 pm UTC

Bluggo wrote:Ithkuil looks very interesting, as does its "successor" Ilaksh - I especially like the writing system of the latter.

However, one thing that worries me a bit about these "fast" languages is that they must be extremely easy to misunderstand/misuse.



It seems neat, but the one thing that concerns me is that the learning curve is like this:

Code: Select all

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sophistication|                |<-learning curve
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              |_______________|_________________
                      time


:P

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby ZLVT » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:41 am UTC

that...that doesn't look right...
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby inhahe » Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:43 am UTC

lol. i don't have a lot of experience with graphs.

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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby ZLVT » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:22 am UTC

What were you tryign to say? That graph suggetss you know nothign for ages, then suddenly know everything
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Bluggo » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:32 am UTC

Also, I have been listening to some Ithkuil phrases in the website - is it just me, or does Ithkuil sound horrible?

It is not just that it has a lot of sounds that I am not used to; the way they are combined just seems to me non-harmonic to the extreme.
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby ZLVT » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:37 am UTC

O dear god that's horrible. Still....do it for Sapir and Whorf.
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby Bluggo » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:04 am UTC

Another thing I am not convinced about in the Ithkuil language: the author criticizes natural languages for using completely different roots for associated concepts (e.g., 'see', 'glimpse', 'panorama', 'eye', 'glance'), and points out that in Ithkuil similar words are associated to similar ideas, because of its derivation system (e.g., req = 'tangible, concrete object', rëq = 'artificial, man-made object', reqsiu = 'storeroom', or qömc = 'an appealing woman', qömċ = 'a less than careful woman', qömĉ = 'an average woman').

Now, this may be naive of me, but is not the former system much less prone to misunderstandings than the latter?
In English, 'their', 'there' and 'they're' sound very similar, but it is not difficult to infer which is which when listening to a speech - usually, only one of them is grammatical anyway.
'Flair' and 'Flare', on the other hand, are often grammatical in the same sentences, but their meanings are so different that it is rare that both of them will make sense in the same context: therefore, confusions between these two words is very rare.

But 'req' and 'rëq' sound similar and have similar meanings, so mistaking one for another would be a real risk!

I like the idea of deriving semantically near concepts from the same roots, but I think that a more complex transformational system would be preferable - maybe change the syllabic structure and the values of some phonemes in a consistent way, or set up a vowel harmony system like in Turkish and make the rules different according to how you derive the word from its root, or just attach a lot of suffixes - prefixes - infixes.

All of these systems would reduce the terseness of the language - the first two by reducing the number of sound sequences available to primitive morphemes, the third simply by making complex words longer on average - but this cannot be helped: for information-theoretic reasons, if you want to make a code less error-sensitive you have to increase its redundancy.

A fun concept would be to have a purely written, semantically elegant, terse language along the lines of Ithkuil, and to make its verbal realization completely independent from it - in the limit case, the 'spoken version' of the language (if it even existed) could be completely indistinguishable from that of spoken English, but its written version would be able to take advantage of the nigh-noiselessness of the medium.

I still find Ithkuil interesting, but more as a written language than as a spoken one; in the (mindboggingly unlikely) event that it became the first tongue of a community, I would guess that the sound system would be completely rehashed while preserving the underlying grammatical structure and the written language - a bit like, or so I am told, the Chinese language has many completely incompatible modes of pronunciation.
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby ZLVT » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:36 pm UTC

and we call that new language Ilkash
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dhokarena56
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby dhokarena56 » Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:09 am UTC

Beyond Classical Quazian, which I invented and love to death, I'd have to say Mark Rosenfelder's Verdurian.
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Logomachist
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A couple questions

Postby Logomachist » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:45 pm UTC

What's Classical Quazian like? FOr that matter, what is Quazian?

Has Ithkuil been depreciated in favor of Ilaksh or are they both being actively promoted?

inhahe
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby inhahe » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:43 pm UTC

i don't know if i said these things already, but in case i haven't :

my favorites are Esperanto, Lojban, Ithkuil, and Toki Pona.

Esperanto has a great suffix/prefix system that allows you to construct a word for just about anything (and often to even guess at what the word for something is without knowing it). Even their pronoun system is derived from a pretty neat 2-d table. The sound of the language is ok, reminds me mainly of Spanish, with a hint of French and maybe even a little bit of Scandinavian.

Lojban is a neat idea, though not particularly suited to humans, since we're not computer programs. But besides its extremely logical organizational structure, what i really like about is the words they chose. I just like the sound/aesthetics of them. Weirdly, I heard the words were constructed with the help of a computer program...a little eerie, but i don't know exactly how that was done.

Ithkuil sounds awesome. The complexity scares me, but I like the fact that you can express sentences in so few words.. fewer than in any other language (constructed or not), that I know of..it indicates to me that the elements of this language are closely tied to human semiotics, which is one of the things I adore about Esperanto and Toki Pona. But it's not very motivating to learn the language when it's scarily complex and not even the inventor of it has taken it seriously enough to learn it. I guess, though, just like inventing it isn't knowing it, studying it isn't learning it, and may be useful in its own right.

Toki Pona is another languages whose lexicon I love, and I love the fact that it gets to the roots of human language use by expressing so many things with such a small dictionary. Or at least I used to, until I found out that it's so hard to express so many things in the language that they have a whole dictionary just for commonly used phrases that express things as simple as "sofa," and the phrases themselves are ambiguous enough that they could mean a lot of things (hence the need for the phrase dictionary). I also like how proper nouns are expressed by using the general word first, then the name. Like for example, ma Amelika means America, where "ma" means any of "earth", "ground", "dirt", "floor", "area of land", "continent", "island", "outdoor place", "park", "the outdoors", "wilderness", "nature", "territory", "country", "province", "state", "plot", "real estate", "turf", "the world", "physical reality", "a realm of activity", etc.

I like the fact that this language makes the generality inherent in actual human thinking explicit in the language. It may not be perfect (some words may be over-general, and the language might not actually be particularly *functional*, for example), but I think we live in a world lost in specificity and division, and anything that brings us closer to the most general natural concepts (perhaps related: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_semantics) helps bring us back to ourselves.

bluemouse
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Re: What is the best constructed language?

Postby bluemouse » Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:54 pm UTC

I would have to vote for Korean, simply for it's written system. Linguistics professionals say, "it is one of the most scientifically designed and efficient scripts in the world"* It's simplicity is exceptional, in that it takes the average adult merely one hour of study before they can fluently read the Korean script. Not only is learning very easy, but forgetting how to read can be extremely difficult.

Korean also arranges its letters in syllable blocks instead of arranging them in a left to right as in English. This allows for not only vastly more efficient use of space (three or four Korean letters can fit in the same space as one average English letter) but also the ability for the eyes to read along much faster.

I've always said, the best thing Korea ever did for itself was create their system of writing.

*Daniels P. and Bright W. (1996). "The World's Writing Systems" Oxford: Oxford University Press


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