A replacement for the English language?

I read an interesting question at Slashdot this morning:

What Would a Constructed Language Have To Be To Replace English?

There are an amazing number of considerations that would have to be made in tackling this sort of project. I am not a linguist – I’d like to qualify (or disqualify) myself at this point, lest someone think I’m speaking with any authority here – I speak more than one language fluently; but this does not make me a linguist. That having been said, I think my first answer to this question would be as follows:

To replace English, a constructed language would have to be something that is commonly spoken either among most members of the world’s most dominant power(s); or something that is commonly spoken among most members of the world’s other remaining powers. Without either of those two happening, a constructed language would only be spoken among a small group of avid enthusiasts, like Klingon. It’s been my experience that Americans are quite comfortable with their version of the English language, and see no need to learn something different. To change this, a constructed language would need to be demonstrably superior in filling the various linguistic needs of the average American to English. The easier the language is to learn, and the more tolerant it is to mistakes, the more readily it would find itself adopted. As it is, English is very easy to learn (once one memorizes the stunning number of exceptions to every rule), and even the most broken and butchered attempts at communicating in English are usually easy enough to understand – the language is highly adaptable, and tolerates mistakes very readily. A constructed language would have to try hard to pass that mark, and find itself readily adopted in America.

This leaves the rest of the world. It would have to be easier to learn than English – keeping in mind that there are plenty of countries where education is not the highest priority to begin with. Unlike Esperanza, I think such a language would need to be independent of the various cultures (and their native languages) that would adopt it. I think it would also need to rival English in its ability to accurately communicate technical, financial and political concepts … it would have to be simple, adaptable and flexible in the extreme. A more mathematical approach seems likely … math is universal, it is flexible and accurate, and easy enough to learn and use even among those with little or no formal education. Adapt math to language, then, and I think such a project would have a chance.


3 responses to “A replacement for the English language?

    • That’s actually a very interesting idea … building a language that employs musical elements, and music is every bit as universal as mathematics (at least as far as human culture is concerned). Very cool – thank you for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I thought about this subject a little further, and decided that my vote goes toward developing the language outside of the U.S. … therefore, I think the hypothetical language would not only have be less complicated than English (because if it’s more complicated, why bother to learn it?), I think it would be better-served if it were also less eloquent than English from the get-go. Easy to learn and adapt, more focus on function than eloquence, and catchy with some musical elements :-)


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