As six students from the University of Utrecht, we embarked on an audacious mission:
to construct an International Auxiliary Language. From February until June of 2023, we
met every week to work on constructing the language, writing literature review essays on the different
aspects of the language, programming different tools, and finally putting it all together in a book as the
final project. We all enjoyed working on the project, and had many interesting discussions about language,
philosophy, literature etc., as well as establishing informal friendships.
Before we proceed, we must mention that the current language being presented should be seen as a first draft of a fundamental proof of concept. It is far from flawless, and we invite the criticical enthusiastic reader to contribute to help us add to the language and revise problems or inconsistencies. The main aimed purpose of the language is to be a competitor of English as a global language. Therefore, it´s main goal is to be suited better for such a role than English is. It might never be finished as a final ´perfect language´, partly since language is always alive, but if, we may hope, it is found to be more suitable than English, our goal seems to us to be achieved.
Our constructed language ‘Atlan’ is designed to be both an international auxiliary language (IAL) and a philosophical language (PhilIAL). It is built along three primary constraints:
Human universality / cultural-linguistic neutrality
The first constraint covers the goal of the language to be an IAL: a truly unbiased auxiliary language does not show a disproportionate favour of one specific language over any other, as is now very much the case with English being the main IAL (the reason why this book is written in English). It cannot be a mix of a few European languages, like Esperanto for example. Nevertheless, absolute neutrality is impossible because there is no true ‘centre’ to different linguistic structures, and the number of different languages and their relative number of speakers will also shift the balance in the total world population.
The second constraint overlaps in political and philosophical relevance: a language that is to be learned and commonly spoken by speakers of any language on Earth is intended to unify and overcome language barriers, as if to ‘undo the confusion of tongues’, and to construct a ‘modern Adamic language’. Therefore, miscommunication and ambiguity should be avoided as much as realistically possible. Within the analytic tradition, philosophy is often regarded as the ‘perfecting of language’ through making statements logically consistent and definitions clearly defined (Stanford, n.d.). These political and philosophical concerns together require Atlan to have an orthography that is phonologically consistent, a lack of homonyms and synonyms that do not add any meaningful nuance and a syntax that does not (easily) allow for grammatically confusing or logically mbiguous statements.
Elegance / form from function / parsimony
The third constraint is the most ideal and philosophical in nature. ‘Elegance’ here is meant in a similar way to how mathematicians and physicists praise simple and straightforward formulas that describe and predict a vast set of phenomena and data. The goal is thus to have as little unnecessary parts as possible: less is more (parsimony). This means that any form of complexity, be it orthographic, semantic or syntactic, should arise as an emergent property of the combination of its basic parts.
If you would like to get in touch with us for suggestions, criticsm or just a fun brainstorm, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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