submitted 5 months ago* (last edited 5 months ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

A few times I've come upon the power of a common language in the last few days.

I've seen a video about a meeting of Amazonian pajés (shamans) and herbalists sharing and maintaining traditional plant use, facilitated through the common language Portuguese, I've read about the success of the Zapatistas where native people are helped in their efforts by the common language Spanish. And just now a post in Anarchism & Social Ecology mixing Spanish and English just as comfortably as my family juggles three languages at home.

Do you know of other examples?

I thought one of the non-evil possible uses of a LLM could be to create a new language like Esperanto, and ideally it would simply be a mix of English and Spanish, to connect a maximum number of people? Or are artificial languages always doomed to fail?

Edit: title, because there is not one language of solarpunk

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[-] [email protected] 12 points 5 months ago
  • roughly, three broad sources for “the next international language”
    • lingua franca – a third language that acts as a bridge between two other languages – English has pretty well wedged itself into this position currently
    • interlang – constructed languages designed for interlinguistic and international communication – Esperanto is in this category (with Esperanto’s main shortcoming being its Euro-centrism)
    • creoles – languages that arise from the mixing of other languages – creoles exist all over the world, but just don’t have the visibility – Naijá is probably the strongest with over 121 million speakers
  • I got distracted by this a while back, and I figured a solarpunk interlang would probably arise out of the creoles or conlangs (and people just getting tired of English’s dominance and a willingness to start giving indigenous voices a chance)
    • my personal choice would be toki pona – most likely not the best choice, but I like it for its simplicity (and it still has far less baggage other options)
[-] [email protected] 7 points 5 months ago

Oh see you have been down the language rabbit hole, very neat!

people just getting tired of English’s dominance and a willingness to start giving indigenous voices a chance

I would really hope that, but I'm afraid the dominance of English is here to stay for a while. Just like Latin after the Roman empire collapsed - a quarter of Europe practically still speaks some dialect of Latin. I guess that's also why interlang languages don't really seem to take off ever. Language is a tool one has to use every day - no time to handle the learning curve of a whole new tool, no matter how fancy and world-changing it is.

toki pona

wtf :D Guess I'm back into the rabbit hole. Language is a never ending source of fascination!

[-] [email protected] 8 points 5 months ago

Instead of fighting to invent new languages we should fight to preserve indigenous languages.

When an indigenous language disappears so does often the knowledge that it was used to describe:

Medicinal knowledge vanishes as Indigenous languages die - Science.org

With over 40 languages disappearing every day, learning local dialects can help create loan words that broadens our understanding of the world.


[-] [email protected] 7 points 5 months ago

this is just my 2 cents as a silly cat on the interwebs:

artificial languages designed to be international ones always feel a little authoritarian to me, as people usually arent going to want to learn something that isnt useful or fun to them, so youre at a disadvantage going that route, as you fail to pick up the population required for a common language. to make if work, you need to lower barriers to learning languages, while also providing a motivation to learn it, and for a new conlang, that initial growth is the hardest part, from what ive seen.

as for using an LLM to create a mix of eng+esp, that really doesnt scale much past the americas imo in terms of speaking population, what about Hindi or Mandarin as an example? not to mention the issues with LLMs in general on the environment. as far as i know there really isnt a way to make a conlang that fits in all compatible aspects for all the world's languages, and honestly, i dont think that's a bad thing. languages are fun and beautiful when they are unique, though it does stifle communication between people.

i think youre headed down the wrong path here, there is no (single) language of solarpunk, and i think there shouldn't be. to me, solarpunk has always been about the people, and people speak different languages, have different dialects or accents, or maybe cant speak at all. to me, what you described was the language of solarpunk, overcoming challenges in communication for the benefit of all. in my solarpunk vision, there are many languages in a community, and most people can speak a few, and sign at least partially if they can,while translators and language education is publicly funded (whether though coops or a government). solarpunk needs translators, not dictators telling them how to speak (side eyeing the french govt here). imho international languages font work within the moral framework of solarpunk, you need either colonialism or globalism to spread a language far enough to become a common language, im not sure how youd acheive it otherwise.

anywho, i only dabble in a little bit of conlangs myself, so i may have missed something xx meow

[-] [email protected] 4 points 5 months ago

many languages in a community, and most people can speak a few

I guess that's the world we are approaching already.

artificial languages designed to be international ones always feel a little authoritarian to me

Not sure, the efforts to create international languages never seemed to come from the authoriarian corner historically, or do they?

[-] [email protected] 3 points 5 months ago

One of the thing I had not realized and that was explained to me by a linguist, was that the biggest difference between "natural" and artificial languages, is that the former have an inherent useless complexity and that artificial languages are almost always much, much easier to learn and use.

I guess vocabulary is always a sticking point and will tend to be easier in some languages and others, but I think a universal grammar could already be agreed on.

[-] [email protected] 7 points 5 months ago

I don't think artificial languages will work, but there are so many examples of societies that are by default multilingual that I really don't see any issue with that. It is rather the exception of a few large nation states that the majority of the population there only speaks a single language well.

[-] [email protected] 7 points 5 months ago

If the Amazonian pajés didn't make up a new language, why would we? Each language genuinely brings a different way of seeing the world and bridges are built through multilinguism. Embrace the diversity, it's the homo sapiens thing to do.

[-] [email protected] 5 points 5 months ago

Why create this new language and start from zero when Esperanto already has speakers and resources?

[-] [email protected] 5 points 5 months ago* (last edited 5 months ago)

Esperanto has a lot of good features, but it is binary gendered and default male by design. That hasn't aged well.

Due in part to persecution on both sides during the Cold War, it has skipped a generation in terms of adoption. There are a lot of old speakers, a growing set of new speakers, but not a lot of middle aged speakers. But the dated politics and class interests of the large population of the surviving advanced aged speakers with leisure time to participate in the culture can make them as much a burden as they are a resource, in north America at least.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 5 months ago

That's interesting and kind of disappointing to hear - I mostly know of Esperanto thanks to Harry Harrison who loved it enough to write it into his books and add ads about it to the last pages.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 5 months ago

What I find interesting in the evolution of LLMs nowadays is that they end up being multilingual by default. Still biased towards some languages but this is fixed by adding a more diverse dataset. They do not "think" in a language and are becoming very skilled translators.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 4 months ago

I am currently trying to translate documentation where UI entries are supposed to be "Target language" (Source language). AI just can't handle the apostrophes and brackets, plus it keeps confusing the order of the languages. And that's what I end up fixing, feeling a lot like a robot at the end of the day.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 4 months ago

Saluton! Protect local langs and use Esperanto or Ido as a main second language. no need to reinvent one more European language. Reuse what we have.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 4 months ago

I always thought that artificial languages always needed more stickiness. I learned some Esperanto, but it is easily forgotten if there is no need to use it.

Solarpunk, like many Libertarian Socialist paradigms, really shines with diversity, so languages focused on Solarpunk sound quite weird, like having homogeneous aesthetics. Usually, language changes, like the way Zapatistas talk in Spanish, pursue specific goals that can be done within a language rule set or some mixture between different languages like Spanglish (Spanish + English) or Portuñol (Portuguese + Spanish). The whole point is to be able to communicate a concept.

Now, like the examples you have shown, it seems easier to frame the "Solarpunk language" not as a language per se but as a dialect. Since some geographies share more common communication than between language speakers, it happens in English, Arab, Spanish, French, and Chinese... When you learn to speak those, there is always the question of whether you sound like a foreign person or a native from someplace.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 4 months ago* (last edited 4 months ago)

There are still enthusiasts of alt/inter-langs, more modern than Esperanto, which only has european roots - I prefer those that also blend in words from Chinese, Hindi, Arabic etc.

See also this community .

However modern technology - such as instant translation built into phones (very useful for Ukrainian-French here last year) - changes the situation, maybe diminishes the motivation to learn such languages, although potentially facilitating their use.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 4 months ago

which only has european roots

Oh I love it how people shit on Esperanto for it's euroncentrism. Argumentation by perfectionism, that's this. No one says that Esperanto could not evolve into a more egalitarian language, but feeling morally superior because its inventor chose to take from one cohesive language family (latin, romance languages) because the roman empire conquered the world a long time ago ... is silly and wrong.

[-] [email protected] -2 points 5 months ago

It's kinda sad to me that the common languages of the Americas are all European.

[-] [email protected] 4 points 5 months ago

I really felt like that at first, but also I think that using the language of the oppressor to join native forces and maintain and spread traditional knowledge is pretty cool. There is something positive growing out of the horrors of the past, I hope, some new understanding.

[-] [email protected] 4 points 5 months ago

that’s one area you have to be VERY careful with – co-opting the language of the oppressor is one thing, but in most cases, the oppressor’s language was the one used to erase indigenous languages (cultural genocide) – this was so prevalent across the US and Canada, that many indigenous American societies have to turn to ethnographic records compiled by those same colonizers in an effort to rebuild or recreate their native languages

[-] [email protected] 1 points 4 months ago

I'm aware of that. I'm not trying to say that having been oppressed had advantages for indigenous people, maybe rather that using the language of the oppressor to preserve knowledge means making the best out of a bad situation, and opens the knowledge for the world, which is an important and valuable contribution to common human knowledge.

At same time I immensely appreciate the diversity of thoughts that can arise out of a diversity of languages. By no means do I think we should impose a world language and make all other languages disappear. More of everybody being bilingual or multilingual by default, and an artificial language being one language used to communicate among larger groups of people, like English is now, but involving a larger group of people (and yeah, not being colonialiser-based would be great, maybe a completely new language would truly be better).

Being able to share a common language gives people power - we can share and relate to experiences from people all over the world, we can organize as human species.

this post was submitted on 25 Nov 2023
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