This blog is highly personal, makes no attempt at being politically correct, will occasionaly offend your sensibility, and certainly does not represent the opinions of the people I work with or for.
Ithkuil, the perfect language for the perfect mind.
avatar

The New Yorker, just provided us, with what I think is one of the most amazing, mind blowing, beautiful and exciting account of human ingenuity of all of 2012: The birth and rise of Ithkuil.

For somebody like me who is such a proponent of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and having witnessed first hand the effects of having mentally embraced English as my primary language (leaving behind my mother tongue, French, to never ever look back), Ithkuil looks like something amazingly attractive. [ See Ithkuil at Wikipedia ]

For the moment, English together with my mathematical mind/education provide enough precision not to feel that am missing something, but now that I know that somebody has dreamt off Ithkuil, and managed to define it, I will never get out of my mind the fact that maybe something better is waiting for me...

My history with artificial languages, actually started many years ago, when I once sat down and started designing a language that, I hoped at the time, my girl friend and I would be the only two persons to talk. It borrowed a lot from French making it not very difficult to learn, but used temporal and spatial references in (novel) ways that would make it nearly impossible to decipher. One of its main features was that the speaker could at any time (re)define the logic used to interpret coming sentences. (As I would have said years later --contaminated by programming concepts--, you could in fact reconfigure your interlocutor's mental runtime interpreter in real time.) It would be a language requiring a non trivial amount of forward and backward memory to be spoken or listened to, and in which no sentence taken in isolation would have a definitive (if not extractable) meaning. The idea was that I needed a form of expression that would allow us (me and her) to have private fragments of discussions in the presence of friends and family. The language would have probably stuck with us had we decided to marry and have children. It would have been the language in which we would have settled children requests in front of the children before giving them an answer.

(It took me an embarrassingly short period of time when I was a kid to reverse engineer the way my parents thought and then turned both of them against each other every time I wanted the permission to do something special, which I always got in the aftermath of the perfectly predictable and carefully engineered argument I was pushing them to have, while making sure that they were not aware that I was actively manipulating them; and promised to myself that my kids would not have this chance...)

After many years, I looked at Lojban, but didn't find any speaker to practice it with, above all that at the time I was busy learning English. One thing I know for sure, is that whomever I get involved with in the future, would have to find the idea of a secret language shared only by two of us interesting enough to try. There is an actual practical reason for this. Every single girl-friend I have had in my life, every single one, grew tired of how much I require them to be precise when they talk. Despite the fact that I didn't expect anything more that what second year maths students find minimum acceptable...

And, cherry on the cake, I have no problem if we get to design it together. Something like that would sound stratospherically erotic to me and certainly more binding than any form of sexual act. The air vibrations of her voice speaking that language to me would envelop the room as well as me in ways human female hands will never be able to match (above all if she says something clever) :-)

[ add a comment ]

Archives