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We've all heard about artificial international auxiliary languages such as Esperanto, Interlingua and (ugh) Lojban. Some loon decides he's God's personal gift to the world, and proceeds, with lofty goals in mind (and hardly any knowledge of linguistics), to invent some ugly, baroque and unfunctional monstrosity that he expects the whole world to learn to speak so they may thus love each other forever after. The clueless latch on, and successively loonier and increasingly reality-impaired nutcases and mentally unbalanced propertarian gun worshippers (Dr. Zamenhof, who wished Esperanto would bring world peace, must be turning over in his grave, and deservedly so) try to best each other by coming up with the craziest misinformed goals and the wackiest language. The idea of an international auxiliary language seems dead by association.
But is it really? What if I told you that as the result of a remarkable natural experiment, we already have a tried and tested language suitable for intercultural communication, developed not by ignorant loons in a stroke of misplaced "genius", but rather created by its speakers out of sheer need to communicate with people who don't speak their language?
Yes, gentlepersons and anglos, such a language exists. It is Tok Pisin, the national language of Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country on Earth-- over 700 languages from a few different families are spoken in this country of roughly the size of California and roughly 5 million people. This is a communication problem of a size far beyond anything the inventors, er, loons behind the artificial languages, er, monstrosities, even aspire to solve; their languages are designed to be spoken by Europeans (or in the case of Lojban, by nutcases).
But Tok Pisin is different. Very different. It was not designed; rather, it sprang out of the basic communicative needs of migrant agricultural workers over 200 years ago, and later, as it became used in more and more domains, expanded to cover the whole range of human communicative needs. Up to the point that today it is the official language of a country, newspapers are published in it, popular music is recorded, legislative speeches are given in it, education is conducted in the language, Shakespeare is performed, and so on. Its time has certainly arrived, and it must conquer the world.
Characteristics of Tok Pisin
Why such a big deal? Look at the characteristics of Tok Pisin:
The proposalI propose governmental programs in each country to spread Tok Pisin over the world's population. Clearly the world needs a real natural language to serve as a common communication vehicle, and Tok Pisin is the simplest and most convenient tried and true choice. Yumi bai spikim Tok Pisin nau!
This should be modeled after successful English language literacy
programs such as have been already conducted in the US (and elsewhere
in Europe; particularly, revolutionary France), a prime example being
the wildly successful English language initiatives in southwestern
Louisiana in the 1920's and 30's, or the successful resucitation of
the Hebrew language in modern times. It must be said that not all
such programs have been successful; witness the case of Puerto Rico,
where a lack of commitment, forcefulness and resources by the US
administration in its language policy during between 1900 and 1930 made
a comparable program a miserable failure, much to the embarassment
of USia. The governments of the world must act firmly and decisively
to bring this about; otheriwse, the consequences can be quite disturbing. Given the demographic
trends in place in western countries today, we can all agree that we
need special goverment intervention by specially created agencies
to establish a firm language policy; otherwise, our countries will
degenerate into Quebec-like linguistic strife. And Tok Pisin is the
perfect tool for job.