Inventing languages

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Abstract

An objection that is commonly raised against Esperanto and other auxiliary languages is that they are “invented.” Somehow, being “invented” is assumed to give Esperanto a shady character: it’s just not natural. The problem with this view is that – in being invented – Esperanto is not unique. And I don’t just mean that there is also Klingon and Volapük. In fact, each and every language with a name is an invention. We may not always be able to identify the inventors – in fact the trick of the inventors of English, Chinese, German, Spanish and all the others – has been not to let themselves be identified as language inventors. Instead, they pose as teachers, priests, bureaucrats, academics, poets or scientists. The invention of major national languages such as these gets obscured by time (although Standard German with its origins in the 19th century is not much older than Esperanto), and it is a rare opportunity to see a language invented before our own eyes.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationLanguage on the move
PublisherLanguage on the move
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • 200401 applied linguistics and educational linguistics
  • 200405 language in culture and society (sociolinguistics)

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