In Response to: A Language for Idealists

An interesting article, but despite its title about ideas, this one stopped on the threshold of some important ones. It would appear that Esperanto is an efficient language, easily learned, that can resist the “power structures” represented by more established languages like English. That’s fine, but is a language any more than a power structure? Chinese has recorded the thoughts and feelings of one of the world’s major civilizations for thousands of years. There is a body of work about how the hybridization of Ango-Saxon, French, and Latin adapted English for developing an ethic of personal freedom that it spread. To consider another representative medium, blues music, which grew out of the tragedy of slavery, has a pathos that is more than a theoretical description of its chords. The role of language has been theorized in a great variety of ways that include mirror, lamp, communication tool, aesthetic object, speech-act, reservoir of the unconscious, ideological register, archive, philosophical game and much more. To propose that an invented language could do all this better than the ones that have developed over history seems improbable.

Matt Conner ’88