How to speak a foreign language without accent

Mi5 Mick   Friday, October 29, 2004, 13:44 GMT

American presidents, European presidents... yes I can imagine the warm fuzzy feeling, but I can't imagine it ever happening. With other pressing international issues, I don't think it'll ever be given much consideration, simply because it's infinitely more practical to settle for a popular and widely spoken language, already set in place -- English at the moment. Most of the vocabulary for an artificial language would have to be devised from existing languages anyway, and the techno-business jargon of English, most likely, would be transparently piggybacked to it. So creating a language for the sake of some kind of neutrality or worldly vision isn't productive.

I don't know that citizens would endorse their governments to introduce an artifical language somehow into their communities. Fund writers for newspapers, magazines, literature... with no readership? I don't think so. Adults, generally, wouldn't be interested in learning a soulless language. Parents would rather send their kids to language classes in French or Spanish, Japanese or Mandarin, etc. to relate an underlying culture and a geographical presence -- a population where it has been and is actually functional and functioning, day-to-day.

Language is more abstract, complex and spirited than a common counting system. Esperanto is a far cry from the euro (the currency) and I don't think we'll ever hear much from it.
DaVinci   Friday, October 29, 2004, 17:20 GMT
Mi5 Mick,

Debates about the introduction of an international language - including existing and popular ones - have been going on for very long but without any significant breakthrough:

Even now the European Union has eg. rejected English as its official working language. Briefly, we live in a world order in which no language will be accepted officially for international communication purposes simply because its associated nation, class, ideology or whatsoever happens to be more powerful or influential than others at the time.

Creating an international language not just for the sake of neutrality but also for its simplicity would make sense indeed. Of course, language springs from the people using it. More or less all of us agree on this, don't we? However, I think where we differ fundamentally is the future and success of such a language:

Your believe is that the introduction of an international language would fail because nobody would use it. Whereas I believe that once an international language was endorsed officially by powerful governments such as the EU or/and the US and with all the consequences as outlined earlier, the user community would grow continually and make it literally very useful.

Only future will tell which of our visions will come true.

There is nothing against learning "organic" languages. On the contrary, my approach is to encourage multi-lingual educational systems as this opens our eyes/broadens our horizon towards a much better understanding of other cultures.
Fb2   Monday, November 01, 2004, 16:35 GMT
A "politically neutral" and easy-to-learn, artificial language that is being approved and endorsed internationally by a union of governments?

Sounds like an unimaginable but also powerful visionary idea:

In times where international communities such as the EU are struggling to cope with an ever increasing plethora of different languages, there seems to be an "official" market for it which could, bearing the globalisation process in mind, be even globally in size if it was accepted and introduced accordingly. But also on a private level such a language could prove very useful in an era that, with the creation and development of the Internet, does already have a worldwide functioning platform. In fact it's only the lingua franca that is the missing link to communicate with a worldwide community. Of course, especially native English speakers would such a lingua franca like to be their own language but which might not be the majority's choice, both politically and privately. let alone the intricacies of the English language. It would be interesting to see a poll where people could vote on their favorite global language.

Apart from that, the time for a lingua franca seems definitely ripe, and even though it might take one or two generations to work, an easy-to-learn, artificial language could be an appropriate solution for it as long as it has the official blessing.

Whatever thoughts and further plans people have with the development of such a lingua franca - don’t take advice from the guys who sit there continually moaning in the corner of the bar, they’ll tell you nothing works anyway.
Steve K   Monday, November 01, 2004, 17:07 GMT
If it were possible to develop a neutral lingua franca that was neither eurocentric nor asiacentric nor any kind of centric, and was easy to learn and was used by everyone, then there is a real danger that this language would replace all existing languages much faster than English ever could.

If we let people use whatever language they want. Brasilians will speak Spanish with their neighbours and maybe English with Americans. Koreans and Japanese may converse in Chinese. Arabic may become a lingua franca in the Moslem world, or maybe it won't. Swahili will serve in East Africa, but individuals will make their own decisions. They will use English and other common languages and resist them at the same time, just like now. That way the rich variety of languages will remain and people will enjoy this diversity of human expression and its related cultures.

It just remains to make language study easier. This means taking it away from the pedants, the linguists, the ESL experts, the grammaticians, the people who split hairs over phonemes and dangling gerunds etc. and giving the power to learn to average learners by making it more fun and more practical.
Easterner   Tuesday, November 02, 2004, 07:58 GMT
Steve K said: >>If it were possible to develop a neutral lingua franca that was neither eurocentric nor asiacentric nor any kind of centric, and was easy to learn and was used by everyone, then there is a real danger that this language would replace all existing languages much faster than English ever could.<<

Steve, my experience supports the conclusion that people do not have a particular "kick" for artificial languages. Consider Esperanto: apart from a few ardent supporters, its cause has not been embraced by too many people. And most languages that have risen to the status of international languages (Hellenic Greek, Latin, French <with some restriction> and English, together with Arabic as far as Islam is concerned) have been natural languages linked to a historical entity that became dominant beyond its proper boundaries, affecting the fate of large groups of people. They started to use it for "international" communication because it put them into a more favourable position (in the same way as English is a prerequisite for all "prestigious" jobs nowadays).