Category: Proto-Indo-European

Prometheus Engineer language in updated alternative version of A Grammar of Modern Indo-European

As we announced yesterday at Dnghu, our book A Grammar of Modern Indo-European, Third Edition has been revised, and the new version of the Proto-Indo-European lexicon has been added and it is available now online and printed at Amazon, without the Etymology section – it is therefore a cheaper, more handy manual.

But, more importantly, we have added a new section and published a parallel Prometheus Edition – Engineer language of the grammar, that includes unprecedented content with discussion of Prometheus’ recreated Late Proto-Indo-European dialect of the Prometheus/Alien/Predator fiction universe. There is also a printed version at Amazon. As you probably know already, our grammar is a Late Indo-European dialectal grammar, so it wasn’t difficult to add some information on ‘Engineer’ for fans.

We have opened a blog dedicated to the language, and a new dedicated section in our forum for discussion on this recreated language, and on the universe shared by Alien, Predator, Alien vs. Predator, and now also Prometheus franchises.

In my opinion, given the dialectal nature of the language as we know it now, the richness of the reconstruction on which it is based, and the specialized group that Ridley Scott contacted to work on it, it could be the most interesting conlang ever – or reclang, since it is recreated from a reconstruction…

New Edition of “A Grammar of Modern Indo-European” Published

A new full-revised version of Dnghu‘s main book, A Grammar of Modern Indo-European, Third Edition, has been published.

Details on the revision are found at the Indo-European Linguistics blog.

Information on this major release and all subsequent changes will be published at Dnghu’s site on Indo-European Language Grammar. Files containing Proto-Indo-European vocabulary will be found at the Proto-Indo-European lexicon‘s site.

If you like the files, please recommend them to your friends in your social networks!

The official site where all newest version’s files and formats published should be found will be from now on indo-european.info.

Enjoy!

A Grammar of Modern Indo-European, Second Edition, published online, and its printed version available at Amazon

The latest version of A Grammar of Modern Indo-European, version 4, Second Printed Edition, was published online some days ago. It includes a lot of minor corrections, new examples and sections, and hundreds of pages of Indo-European words and their etymology. It is – as always – licensed under a dual CC-by-sa and GNU FDL.

It has been eventually approved for its printed version at Amazon, and is now available for purchase. The general features of the printed edition are as follows:

  • Page Count: 824
  • Price: 19.99$
  • Binding Type: US Trade Paper
  • Trim Size: 7″ x 10″
  • Language: English
  • Color: Black and White

It is highly recommended to replace older versions of the ebook with version 4 or newer, as it entered a stable version of the language system.

The web page of the grammar offers the book in different formats, to download or read online

About the European Union’s arcane language: the EU does seem difficult for people to understand

Mark Mardell asks in his post Learn EU-speak:

Does the EU shroud itself in obscure language on purpose or does any work of detail produce its own arcane language? Of course it is not just the lingo: the EU does seem difficult for people to understand. What’s at the heart of the problem?

His answer on the radio (as those comments that can be read in his blog) will probably look for complex reasoning on the nature of the European Union as an elitist institution, distant from real people, on the “obscure language” (intentionally?) used by MEPs, on the need of that language to be obscured by legal terms, etc.

All that is great. You can talk a lot about the possible reasons why people would find too boring those Europarliament discussions where everyone speaks his own national language; possible reasons why important media (like the BBC) would never show debates on important issues, unless the MEP uses their national language; possible reasons why that doesn’t happen with national parliaments where everyone speaks a common language…

But the most probable answer is so obvious it doesn’t really make sense to ask. The initeresting question is do people actually want to pay the price for having a common Europe?

Paleoglot by Glen Gordon, about his Proto-Indo-European and “Proto-Aegean” (or “Proto-Tyrrhenian”) linguistic concepts: The conspiracy of “dogmatic relativism” in Language Hat too

It is well known that Google is used by many when they are too lazy to type in “.com”. That’s the only reason I made a search this morning for “dnghu”, because I am usually more interested in knowing if Google searches with keywords like “Indo-European“, “Indogermanisch”, etc. or “European language”, “languages European Union”, etc. are giving results including dnghu.org. I don’t think a lot of people would look for “dnghu” in Google without knowing there is a dnghu.org site…

And have you noticed that, using Google that way, you may sometimes end up in funny websites that criticize those you were looking for? You might even have known that that website wasn’t the one you were looking for before clicking on its link, but you entered it anyway, because you were too curious not to read critics about others… Thus, if you tried to find “Paypal”, you might have ended up surfing the not-so-independent customer reviews at “paypalsucks.com”; or, if you looked for information about president “Bush”, you might have read “bushorchimp.com”, trying to find his relationship with a chimpanzee. Apart from those obvious tricks of using the noun in the domain name to cheat search engines, there is a less obvious, but equally effective strategy to attract other website’s visitors: to write a page or a post with the appropriate title. Like the one Glen Gordon wrote in Paleoglot about Dnghu. Or like this one, about him and his blog.

Dear reader, you may have arrived here really looking for Glen Gordon’s personal theories about a supposed “Proto-Aegean” or “Proto-Tyrrhenian” language, from which – Mr. Gordon believes – Etruscan was derived. You are in the wrong place, then. Search again.

If you, on the contrary, were looking for information about Glen Gordon and his blog Paleoglot, about his weird theories and childish and aggressive personal behaviour, to have some fun reading what others have said about him – and maybe share your experience -, you’ve come to the right place.

You can see an example of Glen’s “discussions” (personal attacks would be more correct) at:

  • The discussion in a post at the Association’s English blog, later trolling elsewhere, ending up using his ‘rational’, ‘scholarly’ way of doing things, relating us to “nazis”, “kkk”, “genocide”, “Spanish Inquisition”, etc. There have been lots of criticisms of our Indo-European language revival project – including Language Hat, by the way, which shared a similar, very critic view of the possibility of reviving PIE -, but Glen Gordon of Paleoglot was the only one to see in us (the project and the whole association) a conspiracy against him personally.
  • Language Hat page on Paleoglot and Glen Gordon is an excellent example of Glen’s aggressive attitude towards criticism and his conspiranoic view of society and the WWW in particular. What starts as an innocent joke by a reader about Glen and his blog ends up in Gordon’s belief in a general conspiracy of everyone against him.
  • But better than that, Glen Gordon’s own view (reading his blog’s comments is strongly recommended…) on the discussion about him on Language Hat, and then his conspiranoic thorough “study” of the comments on Language Hat! He might not have enough time to prove his theories about his “Proto-Aegean” or “Proto-Tyrrhenian” concept among scholars, or his own views on Proto-Indo-European, but he has certainly enough time to participate in flames everywhere as the worst of trolls, to attack personally and professionally other linguists, including Sergei Starostin (and his son George), John Emerson, Stephen Dodson, and a large etc. They are all apparently too stupid and opened for discussion (AKAdogmatic relativists) for him.

If you happen to discuss with him, remember he is mentally unstable, and has a blog he uses for personal attacks, and friends (I would say “a friend”, in singular) that might help him in the flames he ignites. To describe him, Language Hat readers did a good job:

[Anonymous] Gordon talks the talk but doesn’t quite walk the walk. In fact, a good portion of this time is spent bashing academics instead of politely disagreeing with their work and offering his own. He also believes far too much in his own theories (see his Wikipedia discussion page) and pushes aside commentary or on his work except backclapping and agreement (see PhoeniX at Gordon’s blog and elsewhere). Though this is all done in a heavy academic tone, it obuscates his work as an independent researcher who does not seek review or aid from others, as is typical at many stages in actual scholarly investigation.

[Michael Farris] Gordon is an Asperger’s kind of case who can’t perceive anything beyond the surface meaning of words. He’s the kind of old school scholar who absolutely cannot back down about anything even (or especially) when he knows he’s in the wrong. Since he didn’t realize in time he was making a long pompous answer to an insiders joke not aimed at him he has to go on pretending the original comment was as serious as his rebuttal.

I’ll add my personal view. If you find him commenting about you or your work, think twice before answering him, because:

  1. If you write on his blog Paleoglot, he will investigate your IP and ISP, build up conspiranoid theories about who you might be depending on your IP or ISP geographic location and his imaginary ‘enemies’; and he will probably delete your comment if he dislikes it, because for him letting (what he deems) “meaningless speech” appear in his blog is “too relativist“. He believes in dogmas, and everyone knows dogmas cannot (and even shouldn’t) be discussed…
  2. If you discuss something with him – and you contradict his dogmatic view of the world -, he will chase you and your websites, writing in every website he finds of yours or about you or your work, and indeed in his own blog, to try to demonstrate everyone (and himself) that you are little less than the reincarnation of evil (or of dumbness, which are equal in Mr. Gordon’s “logic”), and that you must therefore be wrong. Dogmatism doesn’t allow disagreement, and someone has to be right, otherwise his own existence would be relative! As you might guess, he deems himself always right, so you must always be wrong (AKA stupid AKA evil).
  3. I’ll repeat it: he is a dogmatic guy, and likes dogmas (what he calls “truth”), also in the field of social sciences, and especially (however odd it may sound) in comparative linguistics: everyone opened enough to try to discuss his views and to change his mind is a relativist. Anyone who says Glen Gordon of Paleoglot is a dogmatic – thus unscientific – person automatically turns out to be a “dogmatic relativist“. After learning about that dangerous (but very useful for him) concept, “dogmatic relativism“, Glen abandoned those unending (and unnecessary because of its relativism) discussions held in specialized journals, and publish his ‘true’ theories in his blog: there must be no gray in life, only black or white. So, if you eventually decide to talk with him, keep a dogmatic view: it’s always an “either-with-or-against-me”-type of discussion. Don’t hesitate, and don’t let him drive you out of the linguistic question into personal attacks – about you and your work, your personal opinions, your knowledge of other languages, your political ideas… he finds every ad hominem possible OK to prove his point. After his first ad hominem or conspiranoid remark, just leave the conversation, because you’ll just obtain worse ad hominem arguments or conspiranoic theories, if not direct insults and signs of psychotic paranoia.
  4. His only will is to be read and known. He believes that, because he must always be right, people will know he must be right. Flames are ignited to show everyone his ‘truths’ about linguistics – he deems himself an “expert” or “expert-to-be” in every possible field -, to convince his ‘fans’ or else to fully destroy his ‘enemies’ (personally and professionally) – but also (and especially) to attract readers to his blog. You don’t need to delete his troll comments – something that will give him still more conspiranoic base to keep trolling and complaining elsewhere about you -; just avoid his linking again and again to his blog, to his weird theories and works, and he will sooner or later get tired of trolling, if he sees he cannot get more readers. Just ignoring him, which is enough with most trolls, won’t probably stop him from spamming your site again and again…

A simple FAQ about the “advantages” of Esperanto and other conlang religions: “easy”, “neutral” and “number of speakers”

This is, as requested by a reader of the Association’s website, a concise FAQ about Esperanto’s supposed advantages:

Note: Information and questions are being added to the FAQ thanks to the comments made by visitors.

1. Esperanto has an existing community of speakers, it is used in daily life, it has native speakers…

Sorry, I don’t know any native speaker of Esperanto, that has Esperanto as mother tongue – Only this Wikipedia article and the Ethnologue “estimations” without references apart from the UEA website. In fact, the only people that are said to be “native Esperanto speakers” are those 4 or 5 famous people who assert they were educated in Esperanto as second language by their parents. Is it enough to assert “I was taught Volapük as mother tongue by my parents” or “I taught my children Esperanto as mother tongue” to believe it, and report “native speaker” numbers? Do, in any case, those dozens of (in this Esperantist sense) native speakers of Klingon or Quenya that have been reported in the press represent something more than a bad joke of their parents?

Furthermore, there is no single community of speakers that use Esperanto in daily life, I just know some yearly so-called World Congresses where Esperantists use some Esperanto words with each other, just like Trekkies use Klingon words in their Congresses, or LOTR fans use Quenya words. Figures about ‘Esperanto speakers’ – and speakers of Interlingua, Ido, Lingua Franca Nova, Lojban or any other conlang – are unproven (there is no independent, trustworthy research) and numbers are usually given by their supporters using rough and simple numbers and estimations, when not completely invented. Studies have been prepared, explained, financed and directed by national or international associations like the “Universala Esperanto-Asocio”, sometimes through some of its members from different universities, which doesn’t turn those informal studies into “University research”. The answer is not: “let’s learn creationism until evolution is proven”, but the other way round, because the burden of proof is on the least explained reason: If you want people to learn a one-man-made code to substitute their natural languages, then first bring the research and then talk about its proven advantages. Esperantists and other conlangers make the opposite, just like proposers of “altenative” medicines, “alternative” history or “alternative” science, and therefore any outputs are corrupted since its start by their false expectatives, facts being blurred, figures overestimated and findings biased in the best case.

2. But people use it in Skype, Firefox, Facebook,… and there are a lot of Google hits for “Esperanto”. And the Wikipedia in Esperanto has a lot of articles!

So what? The Internet is not the real world. If you look for “herbal medicine”, “creationism” or “penis enlargement”, you’ll find a thousand times more information and websites (“Google hits”) than when looking for serious knowledge, say “surgery”. Likewise, you can find more websites in Esperanto than in Modern Hebrew, but Hebrew has already a strong community of (at least) some millions of third-generation native speakers who use Hebrew in daily life, while Esperanto – which had the broadest potential community – has just some hundreds of fans who play with new technologies, having begun both language projects at the same time back in the 19th century.

Also, is the Wikipedia not a language-popularity contest? A competition between conlangers, like Volapükist vs. Esperantists, Ido-ists against Interlingua-ists, Latinists against Anglo-Saxonists, etc. to see which “community” is able to sleep less and do nothing else than “translate” articles to their most spoken “languages”? How many articles have been written in Esperanto or Volapük, or in Anglo-Saxon or Latin, and how many of them have been consulted thereafter, and by how many people? In fact, Volapük wins now in number of articles, so we should all speak Volapük? No, Esperanto is better than Volapük, of course, because of bla bla…
I guess everyone wins here: Wikipedia has more visitors, more people involved and ready to donate, while those language fans have something more to say when discussing the advantages: hey, we have X million articles in the almighty Wikipedia, while your language has less! Esperanto/Volapük/Ido/… is so cool, we have so many “speakers”! Then, congratulations to all of you Wikipedian conlangers; but, if I were you, I wouldn’t think the real world revolves around the Wikipedia, Google or any other (past or future) website popularity.

3. Esperanto is far easier than what you are suggesting. I am fluent in Esperanto, and I only studied 3 hours! And so did my Esperantist friends!

Do you mean something like saying “me spikas lo esperanto linguo” – with that horrible native accent that only your countrymen understand – and then being able to tell anyone “I speak Esperanto fluently after 3 hours of study”? And then speak about two or three sentences made up of a mix of European words more once a year with your Esperantist friends in an international “Congress”, and then switch to English or to your mother tongue to really explain what you wanted to say? Well then yes, to say “I speak Esperanto fluently” or “I learned Esperanto in 2 days” is really really easy – hey, I’ve just discovered I am a fluent speaker of Esperanto, too! Esperanto is so cool…
But, talking about easiness…Have you conlangers noticed it’s “easy” just for (some) Western Europeans, because those “languages” you are using are made of a mix of the most common and simplest vocabulary of some Western European languages, whereas other speakers think it is as difficult as any Western European language? Do you really really think it is easier than English for a Chinese speaker? I guess good old Mr. Zamenhof didn’t realize that English, French, Latin, Italian, German and Polish wouldn’t be the only international languages today as it was back then in the 19th century, when European countries made up almost the whole international community…
Furthermore, do you really really think that supposed ease of use, which is actually because of the lack of elaborated grammatical and syntactical structures, hasn’t got a compensation in culture, communication and even reasoning?

4. But I’ve been told that Esperanto is successful because it has a (mostly) European vocabulary that makes it easy for Europeans, an agglutinative structure that makes it especially fit for Africans and Asians, and some other features that make it better than every other language for everyone…
I won’t be extending into linguistic details, because those assertions are obviously completely arbitrary and untrustworthy. Not only Esperantism has failed to prove such claims, but also some people have dedicated extensive linguistic studies and thoughts to see if that was right – Esperantism has obtained independent criticism by insiders and outsiders alike, and still they claim the same falsenesses again and again. You have e.g. the thorough article “Learn not to speak Esperanto” which, from a conlanger’s point of view, discusses every supposed advantage of this Polish ophthalmologist’s conlang. Also, it is interesting that some researchers have noted the condition of Esperanto for most speakers as an anti-language, as they use the same grammar and words as the main speech community, but in a different way so that they can only be understood by “insiders”. That can indeed be the key to the perceived advantages of Esperanto by Esperantists of different generations and places, just like anti-social people like slang words to communicate with members of their community and to hide from outsiders, and it is especially interesting in light of the condition of Esperantism as an anti-social movement more than a promotion of a language, representing Esperanto with flags, slogans (“democracy”, “rights”, “freedom”,…), international consultative organizations and congresses…

5. You talk about real cultural neutrality for the European Union; but, since there are several non Indo-European languages inside the EU, Proto-Indo-European does not solve that issue either.

In fact, the European Union is made up of a great majority of Indo-European speakers (more than 97% falling short), and the rest – i.e. Hungarians, Finnish, Maltese, Basque speakers – have a great knowledge (and speaking tradition) of other IE languages of Europe, viz. Latin, French, English, Swedish, Spanish. So, we are proposing to adopt a natural language common to the GREAT majority of the European Union citizens (just like Latin is common to the vast majority of Romance-speaking countries), instead of the current official situation(s) of the EU, like English, or English+French, or English+French+German… To say that Indo-European is not neutral as the European Union’s language, because not all languages spoken in the EU are Indo-European, is a weak argument; to say exactly that, and then to propose English, or English+French, or even a two-day-of-work invention (a vocabulary mix of 4 Western European languages) by a Polish ophthalmologist, that’s a big fallacy.

6. So why are you proposing Indo-European? Why do you bother?

Because we want to. Because we like Europe’s Indo-European and the other Proto-Indo-European dialects, just like people who want to study and speak Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit do it. Have you noticed the difference in culture, tradition, history, vocabulary, etc. between what you are suggesting (artificial one-man-made inventions) and real world historical languages? Hint: that’s why many universities offer courses in or about Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Proto-Indo-European, etc. while Esperanto is still (after more than a century) another conlanging experiment for those who want to travel abroad once a year to meet other conlang fans.
We propose it because we believe this language could be one practical answer (maybe the only real one) for the communication problems that a unified European Union poses. Because we don’t believe that any “Toki Pona” language invented by one enlightened individual can solve any communication or cultural problem at all in the real world. Because historical, natural languages like Hebrew, or Cornish, or Manx, or Basque, are interesting and valuable for people; whereas “languages” like Esperanto, Interlingua, Ido, Lojban or Klingon aren’t. You cannot change how people think, but you can learn from their interests and customs and behave accordingly: if, knowing how people reacted to Esperanto and Hebrew revival proposals after a century, you decide to keep trying to change people (so that they accept inventions) instead of changing your ideas (so that you accept natural languages), maybe you lack the necessary adaptation, a common essential resource in natural selection, appliable to psychology too.

7. Why don’t you explain this when talking about Proto-Indo-European advantages in the Dnghu Association’s website?

Because if you make a website about science, and you include a reference like: “Why you shouldn’t believe in Islamic creationism?” you are in fact saying Islamic creationism is so important that you have to mention it when talking about science… It’s like creating a website about Internal Medicine, and trying to answer in your FAQ why Homeopathy is not the answer for your problems: it’s just not worth it, if you want to keep a serious appearance. We are not the anti-Esperanto league or something, but the Indo-European Language Association.
Apart from this, proto-languages are indeed difficult to promote as ‘real’ languages, because there is no inscription of them, so they remain ‘hypothetical’, however well they might be reconstructed, like Europe’s Indo-European, or Proto-Germanic – see Five lines of ancient script on a shard of pottery could be the longest proto-Canaanite text for a curious example of a proto-language becoming a natural dead one. For many people, Proto-Basque (for example) seems exactly as hypothetical as Proto-Indo-European, when it indeed isn’t. If we also mixed Esperanto within a serious explanation of our project as a real alternative, that would be another reason for readers to dismiss the project as “another conlanging joke”. No, thanks.

8. Esperanto has its advantages and disadvantages. You just don’t talk from an objective (or “neutral”) point of view: most linguists (of any opinion) are – like Esperantists – biased, so there is no single truth, but opinions.

Yes, indeed. Many Esperantists, as any supporter of pseudosciences, conclude that people might be for or against their theory, and that therefore both positions are equally valid and should be taken with a grain of salt. For this question, I think it’s interesting, for those who think in terms of “equal validity” of their minority views when confronted to what is generally accepted, to take a quick look at Wikipedia’s Neutral Poin of View – equal validity statement, because they’ve had a lot of problems with that issue. To sum up, it says that if you talk about biology, you cannot consequently demand that evolution and creationism be placed as equally valid theories, only because some people (are willing to) assume they are; if you talk about the holocaust, or medicine, you don’t place revisionism or alternative medicines as equally valid theories or sciences: there are academic and scientific criteria that help classify knowledge into scientific and pseudoscientific. Most (if not all) Esperantist claims are at best pseudoscientific, and when they claim real advantages of their conlang, those are just as well (often better) applied to other conlangs or even to any language.

9. Then why do the “Universala Esperanto-Asocio” enjoys consultave relations with both UNESCO and the United Nations? Why is Esperantism described as “democracy”, “education”, “rights”, “emancipation”,… Why do still Esperantists support Esperanto, when it hasn’t got any advantages at all, and they know it?
The only conclusion possible is that Esperantism (and some other fanatic conlangism) is actually a religion, because it’s based on faith alone: faith on believed “easiness”, on believed “neutrality”, on believed “number of speakers”, without any facts, numbers or studies to support it; on the belief that languages can be “better” and “worse” than others. And it’s obviously nonsense to discuss faith and beliefs, as useless as a discussion about Buddha, Muhammad or Jesus. But, trying to disguise those beliefs as facts helps nobody, not even Esperantism, as it can only attract those very people that see creationism and alternative medicines as real alternatives to raw scientifical knowledge. Esperanto is the god, Zamenhof the messiah and the UEA its church.