LINGUIST List 6.200

Mon 13 Feb 2005

FYI: Humour: Optimal artificial languages

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  1. Jacques Guy, Optimal artificial languages (humour)

Message 1: Optimal artificial languages (humour)

Date: Tue, 31 Jan 1995 16:51:20 Optimal artificial languages (humour)
From: Jacques Guy <j.guytrl.OZ.AU>
Subject: Optimal artificial languages (humour)

There has been a bit (wee) of discussion on this on sci.lang and, well,
I could not resist the temptation. Here is my contribution to the topic:

>From (Jacques Guy)
Date 27 Jan 1995 15:29:06 +1100
Newsgroups sci.lang
Subject Re: Optimal Artificial Languages

Language being for communication (not necessarily of truths, mark my words),
an optimal artificial language should be designed so that its messages
survive unscathed through the worst static.

 Ergo, we want *maximal phonetic differentiation* (tm)

 Of the vowels, we pick those maximally distant: a, i, u.
 Of the consonants, ditto: a dental, a labial, a velar.
 Having picked the most differentiated points of articulation
 we must also pick the most deifferentiated manners thereof.
 Fricative, nasal, stop should do nicely. And let us use
 voicing to help along. That leaves us with *three maximally
 distant consonants*, which are: m, z, k.

 So far, so good. But we can do better still. Let each
 consonant be associated with one, and only one, vowel,
 so that, if either consonant or vowel manages to get
 mangled in the transmission, you can restitute one
 from the other. Naturally, we would match vowels and
 consonants to ensure least articulatory effort, lest
 speakers, tired by too much tongue and lip shifting,
 start slurring their words. There aren't two ways
 about it: i goes with z, u with m, a with k.

 So there we have it, the perfect language for noise-free
 communication. It's CV, no consonant clusters, no
 diphthongs, and each syllable starts with exactly one
 consonant and has only one vowel. If the consonant
 is z the vowel is i, and so on (how lazy can one get!
 the list of possibilities is short indeed, yet I
 wrote "and so on"). Ergo, it has only three possible
 syllables: zi, ka, mu, thereby being some 130 times
 easier than Chinese (with its 400+ possible syllables).

 And consider this sample vocabulary (I leave the
 meanings to your imagination):


 Infants will learn it easily! Consider all its advantages:
 your children will speak fluently before they are two!

 One of the first, because shortest, words they will learn
 will be..... muzika! Thus ensuring the earliest possible
 development of their musical aptitude!

 Promote ZIKAMU (tm), the international language of

 NB It has come to our attention that a renegade splinter
 group of the original ZIKAMU (tm) movement is peddling a pale
 imitation of ZIKAMU (tm) under the plagiarized name
 "KAZIMU". Do not be deceived! The study and practice of
 their inferior product may cause brain damage! Insist
 on learning the one and only ZIKAMU (tm). Join the official,
 approved ZIKAMU Foundation (tm) to day!

 (Il y en a des qui vont encore se demander si c'est du lard
 ou du cochon. C'est du lard, bonnes gens, c'est du lard!)
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