On Language

Language is the greatest example of how we have saddled ourselves with a ridiculous system which no rational entity could possibly concoct. English is by far the worst offender- and the poem The Chaos makes this point very well indeed on the counts of spelling. It’s incredibly irregular in pronunciation: with each letter having many potential ways to pronounce it, some vowels as many as 20. The methods of conjugation are random at best. See, seen, saw, but been, was, were? Go is to went as eat is to ate? Eaten? Eated? Every rule the language has is broken repeatedly. And then the lexical inventory is confusing and abstruse. Why does a ship carry a cargo, but a truck’s load is called a shipment? And even if you can get past all that, the language is often not particularly clear. Though some will say that ambiguity is what enabled Shakespeare to write such masterpieces, that’s a fairly weak reason to saddle everyone with a ridiculous mode of communication. In any case, all its eccentricities make the English language virtually impossible to learn. And once you have, you’re wasting a huge amount of brain hardware that might be better spent actually thinking. All natural languages are like this to some extent, but at least Romance languages have rigorous verb conjugations, and are mostly phonetic.

The solution is to design a better language. And the bar is not high. All that’s necessary is a language that is regular, and clear. An excellent endeavor to this effect is already created, check out Lojban. However, the possibilities for language are limitless. To give an example of the immense possibilities for language, check out Bogomol. But please ignore all the fluffy stuff about alien races. That’s just fiction the author wrote for fun. Unfortunately, creating languages has been associated with a special case of geekbrain syndrome involving orcs, elves, and fantasy worlds. So the practice of improving how we communicate, and even how we think has been ignored. Imagine a language precisely constructed to provide the fastest, most logical and accurate thought process possible. Imagine one that enables the most creative, associative, and innovative thought process at great speed. These would be wonderful tools to be applying all the time. Considering that you think more or less continuously for your entire life, a significant speed improvement (say, fifty times) yields fifty times more thought per person. Imagine the differences in society if 300 million Americans all did that.


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