Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Get Pona!

Linguist Arika Okrent has been making the rounds of brainy talk shows promoting her book "In the Land of Invented Languages," a fascinating historical survey of artificial languages from the medieval visions of Hildegard von Bingen, to the 20th century invention of Klingon. The book looks to be both profoundly erudite and highly entertaining, which is why the University of Chicago asked her to share her ten favorite made-up words on their blog.

Among Okrent's favorites are "radíidin," from Suzette Haden Elgin's language Láadan, a language designed to capture the unique perspective of women. The word means "non-holiday, a time allegedly a holiday but actually so much a burden because of work and preparations that it is a dreaded occasion; especially when there are too many guests and none of them help."

The word "pona" comes from Sonja Elen Kisa's language Toki Pona, a minimal language with only 118 words. Pona can be a verb ("improve," "fix," "repair," "make good"), an adjective ("good," "simple," "positive," "nice," "correct," "right"), a noun ("goodness," "simplicity," "positivity"), or an interjection ("great!", "cool!" "yay!")

More here.


Sai said...

I'm highly amused (in a good way!) that you call our podcast a 'brainy talk show'. I hope that means it's enjoyable. ;-)

Brian Barker said...

Concerning Arika's new book....

I think that the choice, realistically, for the future global language lies between English and Esperanto, rather than an untried project. As a native English speaker I would prefer Esperanto.

It's unfortunate, however, that only a few people know that Esperanto has become a living language.

After a short period of 121 years Esperanto is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide, according to the CIA factbook.

It is the 17th most used language in Wikipedia, and in use by Skype, Firefox and Facebook. Native Esperanto speakers,(people who have used the language from birth), include George Soros, World Chess Champion Susan Polgar, Ulrich Brandenberg the new German Ambassador to NATO and Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet.

Further arguments can be seen at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU Professor Piron was a translator with the United Nations in Geneva.

A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at http://www.lernu.net