Ideal Languages...Really?

March 22, 2010

Today I was reading a book called Language, Its Structure and Use by Edward Finegan. In it, the author talked about how through the ages, people have been on a quest for the perfect language. Explaining what exactly that is, he said the perfect language can be of two kinds (as has been decided by linguistic scholars).
First would be one, in which whatever is said is direct and precise. Every phrase or sentence has a particular meaning, and cannot be altered. So this language would be so vast, that it would encompass all the millions (or zillions) of thoughts, expressions, content, and ideas of the world.
Second would be one in which all that can be said is boiled down to one word. He used the word uh as an example. So, regardless of your state of mind, and the emotion you want to convey, or for that matter, anything you want to say, the word uh would be used.
So, both types of ideal languages are complete opposites of each other, and if given a thought, both languages are far from perfect!
The first one is so complex, that it would probably take a person a week to form one complete sentence. It would reach a point where people would rather just keep shut, than go through the trouble of saying 'how are you?' ( if I think about that situation with certain people, it seems quite ideal actually ;) )
The second one is so simplified, that one would lose all interest in language altogether, out of boredom. Every question would sound the same, and all questions would have the same answer. There would be no way to express emotions through words!
Now that I think about it some more, I realize that both concepts have one thing in common. They both result in getting people to stop talking!
So I would concur that an ideal language is one which makes talking, or communicating through words completely obsolete!
Can everyone say IRONY!

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