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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

506                The Loom of Language
do so wŁ should be entitled to use the unclean for unckanlmess as well
as for the unclean individuals The misery of all existing speech is that
useful devices remain half-exploited Grammarians say that analogical
extension has not gone far enough. English has now a simple and
highly regularized fksaonal system,, but in its linguistic expression of
concepts and relations it is as chaotic as any other language, including
Esperanto. This is what foreigners mean when they say English is
simple at the start, but, etc
While we can design a language to achieve a high level of word-
economy in Ogden's sense, and therefore to lighten the load which the
beginner has to carry, there is no reason for restricting the vocabulary
of an Interlanguage constructed with this end in view to the bare
minimum of words essential for lucid communication, and we have no
need to exclude the possibility of ringing the changes on synonyms
which safeguard style against monotony. We might well add to our
interdictionary an appendix containing a reserve vocabulary of compact
alternatives. Even so, a maximum vocabulary of roots excluding all
strictly technical terms and local names for local things or local institutions,
need scarcely exceed a total of three thousand
INTERPHONBTICS
It would be easy to formulate the outstanding desiderata of an ideal
language on the naive assumption that phonetic considerations are of
prior importance, and it would not be difficult to give them practical
expression. To begin with, we have to take stock of the fact that the
consonant dusters (p. 214) so characteristic of the Aryan family are
almost or completely absent in other languages, e.g in Chinese, Japan-
ese, Bantu, and in Polynesian dialects So dusters of two or three
consonants such as in blinds, and, more serious, quadruple combina-
tions as in mustn't, are foreign to the ear and tongue of most peoples
outside Europe, America, and India. Then again, few people have a
range of either simple consonants or simple vowels as great as our own
A five-fold battery of vowels with values roughly like those of the
Italian and Spanish a, e, z, 0, u, suffices for many speech communities.
Several of our own consonants are phonetic rarities, and many varieties
of human speech reject the voiceless series in favour of the voiced, or
vice versa A battery of consonants with very wide currency would not
indude more than nine items—/, m, n, r, together with a choice between
the series />, t,f, k, $, and the series b, d> v, g, z Even this would be a
liberal allowance. The Japanese have no /,