Global Language

Global LANGUAGE by Alexander Popoff A global village is a world considered as the home of all nations and people living interdependently. A global village requires a global working language alongside national tongues. It should be a language the people accept as their own language, not something imposed by an imperial state. The kids should grow up with their mother tongue and the working tongue of the world. The new lingua franca should be as neutral as possible. Global terrestrial intelligence is the mental capacity of the swarm of the sentient living beings, artificial intelligences, and intelligent machines living interdependently on the planet. The terrestrial swarm is actually what we call our civilization, still very primitive, and as yet only on Earth, and still devoid of artificial intelligence and intelligent machines. GLOBAL SWARMS Tomorrow our civilization will face two major inevitable challenges: 1. Very soon new members will join our global village—artificial intelligence and intelligent machines; 2. We are entering next level of competition, humans have to compete with extraterrestrial intelligences from our Galaxy. Human and machine intelligence will be partners and competitors, gradually forming the global terrestrial intelligence. The first new semi-intellectual members of our society will be rudimentary artificial intelligence and simple robots (biological, semibiological, and electromechanical). Only the combined efforts of human and machine intelligence could resist alien pressure. This is the only way for Homo sapiens to survive and thrive. Biological creatures aided by artificial intelligence and intelligent machines are much more powerful and have much better chances for mutual survival. The major future battles will be between the global swarms of various planet origins. Global language means a stronger terrestrial swarm; in the near future we will need all our strength to survive. COMMUNICATION PROBLEM Our home artificial intelligences and intelligent machines, both military and civil (personal, industrial, research, office, etc.), could be very dangerous when mishandled, misused, or misunderstood, or in the case of technical and program failures. Robots and the artificial intelligences will be produced in different countries and by numerous production companies; the language communication problem between machines and machines, and between machines and humans, should be successfully resolved. The intelligent machines, the artificial intelligences, and humans should understand each other, and, more importantly, machines should obey correctly, in at least two languages: the local one and the lingua franca of the time. For instance, today, a Japanese robot should be able to communicate and obey in Japanese and in English. Operators and users should be able to deal safely with the machines in their natural language. This is extremely important in critical situations. The intelligent machines will also be used by kids, sick people, drunk individuals, people on medicines and drugs, criminals, jokers, all sort of silly persons, and so on. The first human casualties resulting from artificial intelligence and robot mistakes, misuse, or failures will make a big fuss and will doubtless put the communication problem on the agenda. The artificial intelligences and the intelligent machines will become part of the transport system, army equipment, our homes, industry, health care, etc. Every year, millions of people die and tens of millions are injured and become invalids as a result of transport, industrial, medical, and hospital errors and accidents. A single artificial intelligence mind could control thousands of robots and huge transport systems, which are used by many millions of people. Sometimes it is just as simple as that: the command to the artificial intelligence or intelligent machine is not correctly recognized or is misinterpreted because it is badly pronounced or unclear; the operator’s command of the second or foreign language is not good enough; even native speakers often pronounce the words badly or their statements are not clear or adequate. Naturally, the software of the artificial intelligence and the intelligent machines will be foolproof, but no one can stop the candidates for the Darwin awards and the like, who self-select themselves, and unfortunately many other people, right out of the terrestrial gene pool. There should be a common language for all artificial intelligences, intelligent machines, and people in order for all individuals to communicate and work safely, regardless of their native language. It’s hard to expect a robot in a small Balkan country to know a rare African or Asian language, even if it is Internet-connected, because the machine could have difficulties in understanding a drunken tourist lisping in an obscure tongue. In this example, the tourist would not receive proper service, but in many cases, the incident will end catastrophically. Adopting a global language and software matrices for communication with artificial intelligences and machines would be a good start because it would offer better control and a reduced risk for misuse. Language is an important tool for success in competition, cooperation, and progress, but it can also kill people. NO LANGUAGE LASTS FOREVER The lingua franca of the modern world is English, but it should be modernized and simplified in order to be among the major candidates for the global language of the near future. Most people take it for granted that English will be the global language and that will last forever. For instance, this is written in the dead English language—from the perspective of the future. From the perspective of the future almost everything is dead—book authors and the readers of books, 99 percent of the novel ideas, theories, hypotheses, and great cultures are dead, too. Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! We don’t know what the global language of humans in times to come will be. Maybe there will be no single dominant language, but several, each lasting several hundreds or thousands of years. In the Middle Ages (the 5th to the 15th centuries, from the collapse of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the Renaissance), during the Renaissance (14th to 17th century), and in the early modern period (up to 18th century), English, a West Germanic tongue brought to Britain by German invaders, was considered an unimportant language. Latin was the “language for all serious writing.” When England became an empire, its population was between 5 and 8 million people, and at the time of its collapse it was about 40 million, which was not enough to support a world language. On the global stage, English as a lingua franca is a newcomer. Its dominance started only after World War II. The mighty engines behind the rise of English are the USA and the Internet. If the Internet had existed when Latin ruled the world, Latin would now be the world language. The massive usage of the Internet creates a new language phenomenon, which is giving unprecedented strength of to modern English and turning it into the language of the human race. Billions of users are using the same language. English is no longer a national language. The massive usage of English by billions of people, artificial intelligences, and intelligent machines will require the language to be improved and rationalized. In the near future, the global language will become a meta language, creating new layers of abstraction, and it will include new elements of human-machine-artificial intelligence communication. For future people, it will be just a regular language, for them our current language will be just an artifact from the primitive past. “Related to this is the fact that we refer to the language of, say, Chaucer (1400), Shakespeare (1600), Thomas Jefferson (1800) and George W. Bush (2000) all as ‘English,’ but it is safe to say these are not all mutually intelligible. Shakespeare might have been able, with some difficulty, to converse with Chaucer or with Jefferson, but Jefferson (and certainly Bush) would need an interpreter for Chaucer. Languages change gradually over time, maintaining intelligibility across adjacent generations, but eventually yielding very different systems,” wrote Stephen R. Anderson in How Many Languages Are There in the World. The outcome of World War II decided which language would become the world language: Americanish or German. If the USA had in the past adopted the Spanish language in the past, the world tongue would now be Spanish. The German, French, and British tongues lost—the American language won. Now several countries take advantage of the fact that their languages are very close to the language of the Americans and the Internet. If Germany had not made the fatal mistake of invading Soviet Union, we would be writing now in German, and the language of the Internet would be German as well. The world reserve currency would be the Deutsche Mark or Reichsmark. Over the course of human history, there are a lot of ifs, but only one reality. World languages come and go. Egyptian, Sumerian, Akkadian, Latin, English (from the perspective of the future), Sanskrit…are dead languages, even though they played a significant role at the time of their triumph. There are about 6,500 to 7,300 living languages known today. Probably only a few hundred of them will survive. More than half of all languages today have fewer than 10,000 speakers; more than a quarter have fewer than 1,000 speakers. 390 languages have more than 1 million speakers. Only 30 languages have more than 40 millions speakers, which is considered one of the requirements for a vibrant and independent culture. English is expanding as a world language, but not as a mother tongue. Over a billion people speak English worldwide, but only approximately 375 million of them as a first language, and the number is not increasing significantly. The future of English is in the hands of people speaking it as a second language, who are twice as numerous as the native speakers of English, and their number is increasing rapidly. They could decide to adopt another language as the world language or to reform English, making it their working language, but without being interested in what the native speakers of English think about it. For them, the new world language will be solely a convenient instrument of communication. The second-language speakers of our planet don’t need English; they need a lingua franca and they are an ever-increasing majority. On the other hand, living speech recognition and instant machine translation will reduce the influence of English. The future of English is in the hands of countries outside the core Anglophone group. There are different approaches for solving the communication problem and adopting a world language. One of the possible ways is through a common European language. COMMON EUROPEAN LANGUAGE The concept of a common European language is important from both a theoretical and a practical point of view. Theoretically, a common language is the key to answering many questions about effective communication in the European Union, but in fact there is still no satisfactory solution to the problem. About 8,000 to 5,000 years ago, the Europeans spoke a common tongue, which scholars call Proto-Indo-European. Beginning around 3,000 BC, the Indo-Europeans abandoned their homeland, the steppe zone north of the Black Sea, and migrated in a variety of directions. Through the ages their common tongue developed into the modern Indo-European language family. Now, with the establishment, development, and enlargement of the EU, Europeans should gather together their tongue patrimony and once again speak a common language, alongside their national languages. The most frequently proposed options for solving the ever-increasing language and communication problems in the European Union are: 1. All languages in the EU to play the role of lingua franca—a nonworking idea. Presently there are 27 member states, and there will be more that 30 in the near future. Now, the European Union have 24 official and working languages: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish. Genuine computer language translation has been one of the Holy Grails of the software designers for decades. Using computer translation will be of great benefit, but it cannot truly resolve the language problem. 2. A neutral language based on Latin or Esperanto, or on another planned or dead language, could become a common tongue. It is hard to believe that the EU institutions would seriously discuss such a highly unrealistic idea. 3. One or two official languages of the EU to become common languages—a realistic, but very discriminative approach. The use of a national language as a common tongue would provoke political, cultural, and language jealousy, and the native speakers would be at an unfair advantage. The main candidate is English, plus French as a kind of balancer. The attempts to make member states’ languages into working languages of the EU will result in imposing American English, which is now the unofficial common tongue of Europeans. Already some 70 percent of communications between the European Institutions, and between the Institutions and the outside world, now take place in English. The advantages of English are many. American English is the most commonly spoken language in the world. The lingua franca of the Internet is English as well. In Europe over 90 percent of all schools and all universities teach English. 65 percent of young nonUK Europeans claim to speak English “reasonably well.” English is the most important second language in the world. But imposing English as a common European language is unacceptable for most member states for many reasons: it would be the language of the minority imposed on the majority of European citizens. The population of the European Union is over five hundred million people. The most widely spoken mother tongue in Europe is German, with about 90 million native speakers, followed by French; Italian and English share the third place. A neutral language based on a few popular languages would be an appropriate choice. The vocabulary of modern English is approximately half Germanic and half Romance (Italian, Old French, Brittonic, and Latin) plus Old Norse and Classical Greek, with copious and increasing importations in science and technology from dead languages, and considerable borrowings from many other languages. Such a vocabulary makes English a good candidate. The relatively simple grammar of English is a plus, too. But English spelling is notoriously difficult and illogical; it takes much longer to learn than more regular systems do.Millions of native speakers are functionally illiterate—around 7 million British adults and 40 million U.S. adults. This obviously contradicts important objectives of the EU member states like “making Europe the most competitive knowledge-based society in the world,” “free movement of knowledge, researchers, and technology,” etc. But a common European language based on reformed English—with simplified spelling and grammar—would be an excellent choice. There is no other common language that could be learned more easily and faster by Europeans. This is the shortest and the easiest way to solve the communication and tongue problems. There is one important point to clarify: this proposal does not intend to reform the English language for the native speakers in the UK, the USA, and other countries, but rather promotes an effort to find the easiest and most effective way to create a common European language so as to facilitate common Europe with a common working language alongside the official national languages. The native speakers of English will continue to use their traditional pronunciation, spelling, and writing. That way British English will be one of the national languages of Europe, just like French, German, Spanish, and so on. An ideal spelling system matches letters to speechsounds. There are 26 letters in the Latin alphabet, but over 40 sounds (phonemes) in the English language. Strictly phonemic systems (one symbol for each sound) have a few alternatives: using an entirely new alphabet, adding diacritics, treating case as significant, or adding symbols. These systems look very strange and are hard to read. Pragmatic spelling has to be simple and easy to read, using only the existing Latin alphabet and avoiding diacritics and additional symbols. The spelling could be simplified by merging similar phonemes. That way the number of phonemes could be reduced. An additional method is a slight change in the pronunciation of some words. This would not be a problem, because there is no one standard English pronunciation andwordsare pronounced differently all over England, America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Many languages have undergone spelling reform. The following demonstrates the natural development of English and the proposed spelling system. The Lord’s Prayer, also known as the Our Father or Pater noster is probably the best-known text that can be traced back over time. Old English, circa 1000: Fæder ure þuþe eart on heofonum si þin nama gehalgod tobecume þin rice gewurþe þin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us to dæg and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge ac alys us of yfele soþlice. Middle English, John Wyclifs Bible, 1384 Oure fadir þat art in heuenes halwid be þi name; þi reume or kyngdom come to be. Be þi wille don in herþe as it is doun in heuene. yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred. And foryeue to us oure dettis þat is oure synnys as we oryeuen to oure dettouris þat is to men þat han synned in us. And lede us not into temptacion but delyuere us from euyl. Modern English: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, May your kingdom come, May your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Sample of the proposed orthography: Auwr fadwr in hevwn, haloud bi iuwr neim, Mei iuwr kingdwm kam, Mei iuwr uil bi dan, az in hevwn, so on wrf. Giv ws tudei auwr deili bred, Ent forgiv ws auwr dets, az vi olso hav forgivwn auwr detwrs. Ent liid ws not intu tempteishwn, bwt delivwr ws from dw ivwl uan, for iuwrs iz dw kingdwm ent dw pauwr ent dw glori forevwr. Amen. Of course, the spelling of the worlds could be different than in this text sample, but it should be phonemic. Creating a new dictionary requires a lot of work, but much of it would be done by computers, significantly reducing the time and expense. Simple software could convert texts from the traditional English orthography into the European one, and vice versa. That way the native English speakers could easily use the European tongue. A spell checker will easily correct initial mistakes by using the European language. The massive usage of European as a working tongue by over 500 million speakers will undoubtedly change it. Words and phrases of the national languages will find their way into the European tongue. Languages have always grown and adapted when coming into contact with diverse cultures. The working European language will develop its own vocabulary and grammar, and will become a different language, but still closely related to British and American English. The Europeans could use three languages in education: first language—their mother tongue, second language—the proposed European, third, optional—a foreign language of one of the member states, or Russian, Japanese, Arabic, Mandarin (often called Chinese), etc., or one of the great dead languages like Latin. The terms “official language” and “working language” are often confused. The European national languages should remain official languages of the EU, and the proposed European tongue could be the working language of the union. The EU citizens should have the right to address their correspondence to any official body or service of the European Union in their national tongue and to receive an answer in the same language. All official decisions taken by the European Union (laws, regulations, directives, recommendations, court rules, etc.) and important discussions should also be published into the official languages of the Union. This proposal for a common European language offers the most practical and effective solution to the communication and language problems of the EU because: It guarantees linguistic, political, and cultural diversity; all official national languages and citizens are treated in the same way; It provides efficiency in communication and education; It has a strictly phonetic spelling and simple grammar; It is the fastest, easiest, and most inexpensive way to solve language and communication problems; It ensures easy and quick learning of English because both languages would be related; It guarantees equality by communication and gives no advantages to native speakers; It greatly reduces translation costs; It facilitates the political, economic, and cultural cohesion of the European Union; It is an excellent candidate for a global language. The extraterrestrial civilizations, the artificial intelligence, and the intelligent machines are coming to Earth, and we can’t stop their advent. We have to be prepared to communicate, trade, and fight, and if possibly—to survive! A global language would be of great use!