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In the Land of Invented Languages

Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on June 4, 2009 No Comment

Salon.com has a cool review of Arika Okrent’s book In the Land of Invented Languages (2009). By invented languages, she means “a language with its own fully constructed vocabulary and grammar, which is potentially or hypothetically capable of replacing the flawed, irregular, piecemeal “natural” languages virtually all of us speak.” Here’s a fun fact from the book:

John Wilkins, an Englishman…invent[ed] a “philosophical language” that bore no relationship to any natural languages and would reflect the true nature of things. Wilkins’ utterly unusable language was derived from an immense treelike chart of the Aristotelian variety, running several hundred pages and meant to categorize everything in the universe. To find the word for “dog,” you had to drill down through the following categories:

Special>

creature>

distributively>

substances>

animate>

species>

sensitive>

sanguineous>

Beasts>

viviparous>

clawed>

rapacious>

Dog-Kind (oblong-headed).

Check it out! 🙂

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