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Subject: Are artificial languages considered real languages?
Question: Can artificial languages (from Esperanto, to Loglan, to Klingon) be
considered real languages in the field of linguistics? What are the
characteristics that would make them ''real'' or ''fake'' languages based
on how linguists define language?

I have read some of the previous questions and answers about
artificial languages but I have not really found anything that
specifically answers this question. One characteristic mentioned in
the case of Esperanto was the fact that some Esperanto speakers are
native speakers. Some linguists seemed to agree that having native
speakers made Esperanto a natural language while others did not
think so. I would greatly appreciate any input. Thank you very much.

Reply: To me it always seems a mistake to treat a matter of definition as if it were a "real" question! You and anyone else are free to use the word "language" how you like; artificial languages are what they are, they have some of the characteristics of natural languages but not others, and notably they have not emerged from long-term, largely unconscious cultural evolution. For some purposes that difference might be very important, for other purposes not at all.

Actually, there are in any case two very different types of artificial language. One kind, of which Esperanto is a good example, tries to be similar to natural languages except without the irregularities and gratuitous complexities which make natural languages difficult to master. Another kind, exemplified by the philosophical languages of the 17th century and by Lojban in our own time, deliberately sets out to move away from the structure of natural languages in favour of structures which are seen as logically superior. I believe the differences between the latter kind of artificial language and the former are considerably greater than between the former kind of artificial language and natural languages.

Geoffrey Sampson

Reply From: Geoffrey Richard Sampson      click here to access email
 
Date: 30-Nov-2012
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Are artificial languages considered real languages?    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (02-Dec-2012)

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