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(The New Yorker)   The story of constructed language Ithkuil, designed to be both maximally precise and maximally concise. Come for the fascinating discussion on linguistics, stay for the bizarre right-wing hate group adopting use of the language   (newyorker.com) divider line 159
    More: Interesting, Ithkuil, linguistics, Robert Heinlein, Caspian Sea, ambiguity, artificial languages  
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14021 clicks; posted to Main » on 18 Dec 2012 at 5:23 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-18 04:55:57 PM
Actually, that was a really interesting article. Thanks subby
 
2012-12-18 05:27:16 PM
Submitter here. I actually felt my heart break when I noticed Ithkuil had been embraced by terrorists.

Part of me, saying this as a USA citizen, wants to found a "daughter" country of the USA just to prove it's possible. And in doing so there would be two official languages: English would be spoken and written and Ithkuil would be the lingua franca. Or, I suppose, the lingua ithkuil.

Breaks my farking heart to see a hate group endorsing it, though.
 
2012-12-18 05:27:21 PM
Good read!
 
2012-12-18 05:27:43 PM
How do you say "esperanto" in Ithkuil?
 
2012-12-18 05:28:41 PM

Philip Francis Queeg: How do you say "esperanto" in Ithkuil?


e
 
2012-12-18 05:29:15 PM
So, an over-purposeful, artificial language. Like newspeak.
 
2012-12-18 05:29:59 PM
Shouldn't a new language have a name that is actually pronounceable?
 
2012-12-18 05:31:37 PM

PowerSlacker: Shouldn't a new language have a name that is actually pronounceable?


One of Ithkuil's notable features is that its pronunciations are intentionally most difficult. The only English adjective which can describe it is "Dense."
 
2012-12-18 05:32:12 PM
Ithkuil's conceptual pedigree can be traced back to Leibniz, Bacon, and Descartes, and especially to a seventeenth-century bishop and polymath, John Wilkins, who tried to actualize their lofty ideals. In his "Essay Towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language," from 1668, Wilkins laid out a sprawling taxonomic tree that was intended to represent a rational classification of every concept, thing, and action in the universe. Each branch along the tree corresponded to a letter or a syllable, so that assembling a word was simply a matter of tracing a set of forking limbs until you'd arrived on a distant tendril representing the concept you wanted to express. For example, in Wilkins's system, De signifies an element, Deb is fire, and Debα is a flame.

The natural philosopher Robert Hooke was so impressed by Wilkins's language that he published a discourse on pocket watches in it, and proposed that it be made the lingua franca of scientific research. That never happened. The language was simply too burdensome, and it soon vanished into obscurity. But Wilkins's taxonomic-classification scheme, which organized words by meaning rather than alphabetically, was not entirely without use: it was a predecessor of the first modern thesaurus.


I was wondering if they were going to get to Wilkins. I've found this field interesting ever since it was a sort of side plot in the Baroque Cycle.
 
2012-12-18 05:34:27 PM

Counter_Intelligent: So, an over-purposeful, artificial language. Like newspeak.


Or Java.
 
2012-12-18 05:34:28 PM
Quijada's entry into artificial languages was inspired by the utopian politics of Esperanto as well as by the import bin at his local record store, where as a teen-ager, in the nineteen-seventies, he discovered a concept album by the French prog-rock band Magma. All the songs were sung in Kobaïan, a melodic alien language made up by the group's eccentric lead singer, Christian Vander.

Magma--FARK YES, biatchES!!! 

\m/
 
2012-12-18 05:35:17 PM
분명히 아무도 한국어 들어 본 적이있다.
 
2012-12-18 05:37:01 PM
After listening to so many people today biatch and moan on both sides of the Instagram debate, it's refreshing to read something of actual substance.

/language enthusiast, etymology fan
 
2012-12-18 05:37:13 PM
This kicked ass.
 
2012-12-18 05:38:00 PM
FTFA:
I was a third humbled, a third flattered, and a third intrigued

Or "thtfti", in Izgudese.
 
2012-12-18 05:39:30 PM
I'm looking forward to reading this later.
 
2012-12-18 05:40:06 PM
So what happens when it becomes a living language and morphs into a flawed, yet serviceable language like all the rest. In theory, people using Ithkuil will change the way they use language. In practice, people will change Ithkuil as they use it. A lot of English's written oddities has to do with the great vowel migration (a political event) happening after the formalization of the written language. That messy people problem is what caused all practical languages to be less than ideal. Given that, why is this language "better" than english? Considering we have damn near universal literacy in the first world, and a majority a literate worldwide, what exactly is the benefit that is immune to the people using it problem?
 
2012-12-18 05:42:00 PM
So...Sanskrit?
 
2012-12-18 05:42:58 PM

Counter_Intelligent: So, an over-purposeful, artificial language. Like newspeak.


Newspeak was designed to simplify ideas and muddle the mind. This does the opposite and is designed to be specific and better convey information.
 
2012-12-18 05:43:45 PM
Huh, the ideographs look exactly like Mahrain from the Culture.
 
2012-12-18 05:44:45 PM

lockers: So what happens when it becomes a living language and morphs into a flawed, yet serviceable language like all the rest. In theory, people using Ithkuil will change the way they use language. In practice, people will change Ithkuil as they use it. A lot of English's written oddities has to do with the great vowel migration (a political event) happening after the formalization of the written language. That messy people problem is what caused all practical languages to be less than ideal. Given that, why is this language "better" than english? Considering we have damn near universal literacy in the first world, and a majority a literate worldwide, what exactly is the benefit that is immune to the people using it problem?


The idea is supposedly that the language is not intended to be spoken. It is intended to be perfect code.

Imagine a society in which English is the primary spoken and written language, except Ithkuil is the language of law. Nobody speaks Ithkuil except for practice.

You have all the advantages of English metaphor and all the advantages of Ithkuil specificity. Imagine spoken English language hand-in-hand with a written Ithkuil Constitution. Literally the best of both worlds.
 
2012-12-18 05:44:57 PM
Among the Wakashan Indians of the Pacific Northwest, a grammatically correct sentence can't be formed without providing what linguists refer to as "evidentiality," inflecting the verb to indicate whether you are speaking from direct experience, inference, conjecture, or hearsay.

English need this.

Cool article, subby, thanks.
 
2012-12-18 05:45:12 PM
I'd be very surprised if the average right wing hater could learn this. I mean study it out.
 
2012-12-18 05:45:15 PM

lockers: great vowel migration


I preferred Vowel Goes West.
 
2012-12-18 05:46:52 PM

casual disregard: The idea is supposedly that the language is not intended to be spoken. It is intended to be perfect code.

Imagine a society in which English is the primary spoken and written language, except Ithkuil is the language of law. Nobody speaks Ithkuil except for practice.

You have all the advantages of English metaphor and all the advantages of Ithkuil specificity. Imagine spoken English language hand-in-hand with a written Ithkuil Constitution. Literally the best of both worlds.


Having two languages in the place of one is stupid.
 
2012-12-18 05:48:04 PM
Imray Klaatu narruwak. Micro pru val barata luke dinsal inkaplis. Yabu tari axel bugettio barengi-degas.
 
2012-12-18 05:48:13 PM
There was a (possibly semi-joking) proposal to run Lojban through some sort of Huffman coding, to form a language called Plan B. I thought it was a fun idea, even though it was relentlessly mocked. :)
 
2012-12-18 05:49:34 PM

casual disregard: lockers: So what happens when it becomes a living language and morphs into a flawed, yet serviceable language like all the rest. In theory, people using Ithkuil will change the way they use language. In practice, people will change Ithkuil as they use it. A lot of English's written oddities has to do with the great vowel migration (a political event) happening after the formalization of the written language. That messy people problem is what caused all practical languages to be less than ideal. Given that, why is this language "better" than english? Considering we have damn near universal literacy in the first world, and a majority a literate worldwide, what exactly is the benefit that is immune to the people using it problem?

The idea is supposedly that the language is not intended to be spoken. It is intended to be perfect code.

Imagine a society in which English is the primary spoken and written language, except Ithkuil is the language of law. Nobody speaks Ithkuil except for practice.

You have all the advantages of English metaphor and all the advantages of Ithkuil specificity. Imagine spoken English language hand-in-hand with a written Ithkuil Constitution. Literally the best of both worlds.


I'd rather not imagine a society where the law is written in a language most people can't understand.
 
2012-12-18 05:51:14 PM

KarmicDisaster: I'd be very surprised if the average right wing hater could learn this. I mean study it out.


This is the strangely sad part. One of the most powerful European right-wing Caucasian hate-groups has determined that this language is key to their placebo. On one level, it's great to see their interest. When you marry that with reality it's easy to see how the author's enthusiam wilted.

To put it as personally as possible - who the fark hates Jews? I met a few Jews I could marry. So there's that.
 
2012-12-18 05:51:30 PM
Holy crap that was interesting.

I will never underestimate DMV workers again.
 
2012-12-18 05:52:21 PM

EnglishMan:

I'd rather not imagine a society where the law is written in a language most people can't understand.


Law in the US is written in English, supposedly, but have you tried to read any of it?
 
2012-12-18 05:53:51 PM

casual disregard: lockers: So what happens when it becomes a living language and morphs into a flawed, yet serviceable language like all the rest. In theory, people using Ithkuil will change the way they use language. In practice, people will change Ithkuil as they use it. A lot of English's written oddities has to do with the great vowel migration (a political event) happening after the formalization of the written language. That messy people problem is what caused all practical languages to be less than ideal. Given that, why is this language "better" than english? Considering we have damn near universal literacy in the first world, and a majority a literate worldwide, what exactly is the benefit that is immune to the people using it problem?

The idea is supposedly that the language is not intended to be spoken. It is intended to be perfect code.

Imagine a society in which English is the primary spoken and written language, except Ithkuil is the language of law. Nobody speaks Ithkuil except for practice.

You have all the advantages of English metaphor and all the advantages of Ithkuil specificity. Imagine spoken English language hand-in-hand with a written Ithkuil Constitution. Literally the best of both worlds.


Meh, law already uses a condensed and specific form of english that you and I call "legalese". Laws that are too vague get tossed by the court system. Contracts that are too vague get tossed in disputes. There is already a system in place that makes english conform to that need, while requiring no additional learning to be accessible to the vast majority of those who must conform to the law.

Color me unconvinced.
 
2012-12-18 05:54:17 PM
Mi fartas bone.
 
2012-12-18 05:54:48 PM

KarmicDisaster: I'd be very surprised if the average right wing hater could learn this. I mean study it out.


Careful now.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_intelligence
 
2012-12-18 05:55:01 PM

KarmicDisaster: I'd be very surprised if the average right wing hater could learn this. I mean study it out.


It makes sense. The accuracy of language in law is the domain of right-wingers. Look at how what "well regulated" means no longer means what it used to mean.
 
2012-12-18 05:56:17 PM
I know the New Yorker also has a print magazine. Do they publish just one article per issue? Or is each issue the size of a phone book?

/that article would have been shorter in Ithkuil.
 
2012-12-18 05:56:27 PM
d6xokdhfna55s.cloudfront.net
 
2012-12-18 05:56:43 PM

Mrbogey: Counter_Intelligent: So, an over-purposeful, artificial language. Like newspeak.

Newspeak was designed to simplify ideas and muddle the mind. This does the opposite and is designed to be specific and better convey information.


I think more precisely, Newspeak was intended to limit the range of thought available. If there were literally no words to describe an idea that the party disapproved of, then thoughtcrime became impossible. You could say 'Big Brother doubleplus ungood' but Orwell points out that that's considered a nonsensical contradiction rather than treason.

From the article, it sounds like this invented language achieved the exact opposite: it's possible to come up with words for things that no one's even thought of yet.
 
2012-12-18 05:57:27 PM
I wrote my thesis on the Philosophy of Language. I've never looked at it since.

/yes, I'm gainfully employed despite a philosophy degree
//and a chemistry minor
///slashies
 
2012-12-18 05:57:31 PM

clovis69: Holy crap that was interesting.

I will never underestimate DMV workers again.


I think that article just emphasizes how useless DMV workers are.
 
2012-12-18 05:58:22 PM

Outlawtsar: 분명히 아무도 한국어 들어 본 적이있다.


Apparently not. I want to learn Korean just for the awesome alphabet. Everything looks like an equation.

/used to know hangul
//dirt-cheap, spotless Seoul subway, I miss you
 
2012-12-18 05:58:59 PM
Parolante nur por mi mem, mi kredas ke tiu estas senmanka. 
 
2012-12-18 06:00:06 PM

EnglishMan:
I'd rather not imagine a society where the law is written in a language most people can't understand.


Even lawyers need training with it....
farm1.static.flickr.com
 
2012-12-18 06:06:28 PM

lockers: casual disregard: lockers: So what happens when it becomes a living language and morphs into a flawed, yet serviceable language like all the rest. In theory, people using Ithkuil will change the way they use language. In practice, people will change Ithkuil as they use it. A lot of English's written oddities has to do with the great vowel migration (a political event) happening after the formalization of the written language. That messy people problem is what caused all practical languages to be less than ideal. Given that, why is this language "better" than english? Considering we have damn near universal literacy in the first world, and a majority a literate worldwide, what exactly is the benefit that is immune to the people using it problem?

The idea is supposedly that the language is not intended to be spoken. It is intended to be perfect code.

Imagine a society in which English is the primary spoken and written language, except Ithkuil is the language of law. Nobody speaks Ithkuil except for practice.

You have all the advantages of English metaphor and all the advantages of Ithkuil specificity. Imagine spoken English language hand-in-hand with a written Ithkuil Constitution. Literally the best of both worlds.

Meh, law already uses a condensed and specific form of english that you and I call "legalese". Laws that are too vague get tossed by the court system. Contracts that are too vague get tossed in disputes. There is already a system in place that makes english conform to that need, while requiring no additional learning to be accessible to the vast majority of those who must conform to the law.

Color me unconvinced.


I think I agree with you. Except I have never witnissed Ithkuil fail :3 I would much prefer to witness the event in real-time than to pre-suppose it must be a dead idea.
 
2012-12-18 06:07:57 PM

cig-mkr: [d6xokdhfna55s.cloudfront.net image 201x201]


That's called metathesis. Happens a lot. For example, in classical Greek, I have is ekho. I will have should be ekhso, but it's eskho. Another example: Bird used to be pronounce brid. And Germans say Ross (short for hross) instead of horse.
 
2012-12-18 06:08:20 PM
Link

/Lots of it in the new movie
 
2012-12-18 06:11:07 PM
You know, it's like I always say:
 
upload.wikimedia.org 
 
2012-12-18 06:13:35 PM

GypsyJoker: Quijada's entry into artificial languages was inspired by the utopian politics of Esperanto as well as by the import bin at his local record store, where as a teen-ager, in the nineteen-seventies, he discovered a concept album by the French prog-rock band Magma. All the songs were sung in Kobaïan, a melodic alien language made up by the group's eccentric lead singer, Christian Vander.

Magma--FARK YES, biatchES!!! 

\m/


Good on you for spreading the Magmavirus and all, but there are videos of a 70s lineup doing Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh too:

part 1
part 2
part 3 

And De Futura too.
 
2012-12-18 06:14:13 PM
Did he come up with this idea out of jealousy of his co-workers at the DMV who are WAY ahead of him?

/nomsan?
 
2012-12-18 06:14:57 PM
Already been done but worth the repost:

http://www.fark.com/comments/3985938/45888876#c45888876
 
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