Quantcast

Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

I found the article today by a Google search for "Weilgart." I knew the late John W. Weilgart, a professor at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, up to his death around 1983. I thought of his "Language of Space" today, when reading about all the hate speech that occurs on radio and TV. He designed his logical language in a way that makes inflammatory speech difficult to express. One of his sayings was, "Love divides, hate unites." He traces that phenomenon to natural selection, where two lovers of the same person, motivated by the reproductive drive, fight each other.

One declared purpose of his language is for attempted communication with beings in outer space. They might not understand linguistic forms influenced by Darwinian evolution, here on earth. In anthropoids other than man, the hands are associated with logical thoughts, and the voice is associated with alarms, threats and the like. So in humans the voice becomes a means of exhorting people to hate and to fight against something, whether it's a wild beast or another group of people. Hypothetical beings in outer space might find incomprehensible a harangue by someone such as Rush Limbaugh. Dr. Weilgart hoped that his language might make people more peaceful.

The title of this article reminds me of Weilgart's book Shakespeare Psychognostic. Dr. Weilgart escaped from Austria in 1939, the year after the Anschluss. He'd just gotten his doctorate in psycholinguistics from the University of Vienna, and he came to America. His daughter Lindy, a professor at Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, studies the language of whales.

(Your readers might be interested in my blog.)

Gerald Baker

Cedar Falls, IO

Nov 17 2009 - 12:19pm

Web Letter

Esperanto is a planned language and therefore should be included among the languages discussed in the book In the Land of Invented Languages. No doubt this is an admirable book, and it's one that I look forward to reading. However, I suspect that Ange Mlinko's knowledge of the history and development of Esperanto is sadly limited.

Mlinko suggests that: 1. "the most successful [planned language] may be the language invented by Marc Okrand and trademarked by Paramount Pictures (Klingon)."

2. "Okrent's book is a compilation of wonderful stories about batty inventors--some lovable, like Esperanto's Ludwik Zamenhof."

I would not venture to tell you how many people in this world speak Esperanto; nobody knows, exactly. However, in the recent 94th Congress of the World Esperanto Association in Bialystok, there were 1861 participants from more than sixty-one countries. This is just one of the Esperanto venues in today's world.

Nowadays it is so easy to get hold of information before writing an article. If Mlinko had, for example, consulted esperanto.info/, she would perhaps have reconsidered calling Ludoviko Zamenhof "batty"; neither he nor the countless millions who have used Esperanto since its introduction in 1887 have been more "batty" than average.

Betty Chatterjee

Vallensbaek Strand, Denmark

Sep 2 2009 - 2:50am