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Global Language Alternatives

The Problem

            The problem is that 21st century humans need a planetary lingua franca that is simple to learn, intuitive to spell, yet fully communicative.

            Of the major languages, English is the simplest.  And English is already the de facto  planetary language  of  commerce, finance, science, electronics, travel, and entertainment, and the main language of Internet.  But English, with it's incongruous spelling, ncluding thousands of irregularities, and slang requres many years to learn.

            All native languages expanded one word at a time.  After a certain point, rules governed formulation of new words.  But the original words didn’t follow those new rules, and sometimes new words didn’t follow those rules.  For example, the past tense of an early word, “tell”, is “told”; eventually suffix “ed” was used for past tense, so that the past tense of later word “explain” became “explained”.  By the 21st century, the average middle-school graduate native English speaker knows 3,700 irreguler spellings.

            Native English speakers leaned how to pronounce most of those irregular words by the age of six.  Listening to their parents they learned to say “told”, “wrote”, “mice”, and thousands of other words which didn’t fit general rules.  But they still had to learn to spell, because often spelling did not match pronunciation; learning to spell is a big part of native English speaking children’s education.  Foreigners had to learn each irregular word separately – to learn, and remember to use, “sold” as the past tense of “sell”” 

            Spanish speaking children, by contrast, don’t have to learn to spell individual words.  Once they learn the alphabet, if they hear a word, they know exactly how to spell it; if the read a word, they know exactly how to pronounce it.  But Spanish is awash is word endings, which, like all continental European languages (along with Russian and Hindi, among others) continually change depending on sentence circumstance – a nightmare for foreign learners, especially eastern Asians (including Chinese), whose words have no suffixes.

            Chinese is even more difficult for foreigners to learn.  Firstly, it has no alphabet, so no correlation between printed and pronounced words.  Secondly, Chinese is a tonal language; the same sound has different meanings depending on how it is pronounced.  Thirdly, Chinese has relatively few sounds, thus relatively many synonyms. 

            The other major languages – Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese – are equally problematic.

            Due to the recent communications and transportations revolutions, by the 21st century people are in dire need of an international language that can be relatively quickly learned – for speaking and writing.  Because (1) English is the simplest of the world’s major languages, as outlined above, (2) English-speaking nation USA is the world’s dominant economic power, (3) English is the language of the inventors of computers and Internet, and (4) many nations that England formerly colonized now use English as a lingua franca, English has become the default international language.  Hence the dire need to render English easlier, faster, and thus cheaper to learn

 
 
Historical Attempts to Simply English

             Basic English

                        Introduced in 1930, Basic English is a simplified subset of English.  It provides a vocabulary list of 850 core words plus 200 international words plus as many as 1,000 speciality words, in all about 2,000 words.  It emphasizes simple grammar structure.  It utilizes suffixes, such as “s” for plural, “ly” for adverbs, “er” and “est”. 

                        Basic English deserves praise as a pioneer effort, ahead of it’s time.  It gained some traction after World War II as a language promoting peace, but, like peace, did not catch on.  The vocabulary was criticized as too restricted, and arbitrarily chosen, thus inherently open to alternatives.

             Simplified English

                        Introduced in the 1970s to help engineers write manuals, Simplified English is a subset of English using a limited unambiguous vocabulary and straightforward grammar rules.  It continues to be utilized with some European manufacturers.  It has been helpful it unambiguously communicating technical issues.

             Special English

                        Utilized by Voice of America radio station, Special English is clear, simple English, using short sentences and a vocabulary of 1,500 words – aimed at maximizing it’s non-native-speaking audience.

             Globish English

                        Globish English, introduced in 2005, also a subset of English, utilizes a core of 1,500 words and simple grammar structure.  It’s core purpose is to facilitate international business meetings and conferences of particpants whose native language is not English.  Simplicity and clarity are emphasized.  Instruction books are available from it’s website, http://globish.com .  It appears to be gaining in popularity.

 
Analysis

             The above admirable attempts succeeded to a degree in enabling more people from diverse backgrounds to communicate.  However, none attempted to solve the core problem:  the 21st century world needs a human species language with consistant rules and an exact correlation between spelling and pronunciation.  Moreover, the choices of vocabulary and grammar in the above English language subsets are arbitrary, and thus open to ever-changing alternatives (in every-changing times).

            Ironically, during international meetings which utilize English, the speakers notoriously most difficult to understand are native English speakers.  Non-native English speakers have learned core vocabulary and basic grammar, and can inter-communicate.  Native English speakers, however (except those relatively few who are fluent in another language), spout out slang, and utilize complicated sentence structure, littered with allusions, cultural particularities, nuanced meanings, even jokes, often spoken rapidly – and expect everybody to understand.  Non-native English speakers are often reluctant to admit, so as not to lose face, that they do not understand the native English speaker – a further blow to communication.

            Near the end of the second decade of the 21st century, some two billion people are attempting to learn English.  Students can spend nine or more years studying English, still not be able to speak properly, and, if they do not continuously utlilize English, exceptions to the rules are easily forgotten.  Auto-spelling correction software helps, and auto-translation programs are improving, but that doesn’t preclude the necessity of billions of children spending years and years of their lives learning English’s thousands of irregularities and problematic spellings.

 
 
Planned Languages

             Invented languages – also called “constructed” or “artificial” languages – have been attempted, with one clear result:  utter failure.  The only planned language with significant success is Esperanto, launched in 1887, spoken today, some 130 years later, by as many as two million people (0.03% of the world population).  Esperanto was billed as an international language, but in fact it is a continental European language.

 
Peoplese

                  Peoplese solves the problem.  It is a full-blown language, not a language subset.  Peoplese is based solidly on English, while utilizing aspects of other languages, principally Chinese and Spanish.  It is legitimized in literature:  many hundreds of fiction stories have been written exclusively in Peoplese.  In the Sound Spell Same version of Peoplese, spelling and pronounciation have an exact (100%) correlation:  hear a word, and the spelling is obvious; read a word, and the pronunciation is obvious. 

            Key point:  English speakers can readily and completely comprehend spoken Peoplese, and can easily and accurately read Peoplese after 15 minutes of instruction.  English speakers can learn the entire language in one morning of study.

            Key point:  Non-English-speakers can learn Peoplese, to university level, in two years.

            Peoplese, the complete language, is presented on this website.  Summaries are found in the Home and Overview pages, details elsewhere on the site.  Or go  right to the Jumpstart page in the Learn Peoplese section (lower right button).

            Peoplese is presented to the public, gratis.  It’s website includes an online dictionary, a English-to-Peoplese computerized document translator, and a Microsoft Word spellcheck.

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