ONLY ONE NATIVE SPEAKER.

This comes under the heading of “weird but interesting.” The mysterious folks at socialfiction.org have created the site OnlyOneNativeSpeaker (“the collaborative Babylon bonanza”):

Languages, by cultural definition, seek standardisation and mass-adoption; the command of language is one axis on which the ability to participate in all what society has to offer revolves around. It’s to this domain of human culture that OnlyOneNativeSpeaker seeks to add parallelism, diversity and heterogeneity. It will do this by creating thousands of new artificial languages. Languages with deliberately just that: Only One Native Speaker.

A language is a collaborative effort to conceptualise place and time. At the most fundamental level languages reflect the environment of, and the social agreements between, the community it belongs to. The study of languages from other cultures is of direct important to us, as it shows us the boundaries of our own culture, and refutes claims of cultural universality.
OnlyOneNativeSpeaker excludes no possible line of enquiry. Every artificial language, independent of medium, origin and intent helps to display the horizon of possibility, in ourselves as well as in others. But creating a language from scratch is not the only option, finding languages where nobody did before: in crowds, in amoeba, or in the shape of rocks, is of equal interest to the scope of OnlyOneNativeSpeaker.
How can you participate in the Babylon bonanza that is called OnlyOneNativeSpeaker? That’s simple, develop a language! While doing that, send us an e-mail with a link to the website containing the purpose and details of your language. If necessary we can host this information for you. At the same time OnlyOneNativeSpeaker will try to facilitate the exchange of ideas between all people involved as far as language permits.

I’m not entirely sure what the point is, but at least one of the languages, SASXSEK, seems carefully thought out and seriously intended (even if ultimately futile, like most such attempts):

The goal of SASXSEK is to construct a language which is easier for the world to pronounce, with a much simpler grammar, and a small, easy to learn, but powerful core vocabulary from which other words can be formed. SASXSEK has no consonant clusters, which makes pronunciation easy. A one-to-one relationship between spelling and pronunciation using a simple 18-letter alphabet consisting of phonetic units which are already known, or could easily be learned by almost anyone. The grammar is simple. The lexicon is small enough to be easy to learn, but a powerful set of suffixes and the ability to build compound words give the ability to express more complex ideas.

And yes, it’s simpler than Esperanto.
(Thanks, Wilfried!)

Comments

  1. If I were going to construct a language with a 1:1 grapheme:phoneme ratio and no consonant clusters, I would definitely not name it SASXSEK.

  2. Actually “x” is a vowel — “Like a in about. The ‘schwa’ sound”. Which, according to their Word Derivation rules, is used in compound words, when “the first portion ends with a consonant.
    hon + tom (book + home) = honxtom (library)”

  3. X-hx.

  4. Does this phenomenon derive from a form of solipcism?

  5. O.K. I take that back. Never mind. (Blushes with embarrassment).

  6. This feeds into the debate about what a “native speaker” is quite nicely!
    (If I were to make up a language from scratch, rather than the pseudo-making up which is respectably known as “reference grammar writing”, which is what I get paid for, I’d make it entriyl centre-embedding).

  7. Quote:
    Noun Gender
    Grammatical gender does not exist. Physical gender of living beings can be indicated by using the adjectives papeni or mameni as necessary.”
    “papeni or mameni” choice is thoughtful, since in most languages “papa” and “mama” means “dad” and “mom”, because they are the first sounds a baby can utter.

  8. speedwell says:

    As an old role-playing gamer (dice and pencils), I remember the space-opera game Traveler. It actually included a set of tables, customized for each character race, that allowed you to roll dice to determine c/v arrangement, number of syllables in a word, and other such interesting things.
    As an old science fiction buff, I made up my “language” long ago, in the seventh grade, for a novel I was doggedly trying to write (and never finished and am embarrassed even to remember).
    Just saying.

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