The most uplifting day of the year

It's International Women's Day! Let's all celebrate by not learning Esperanto. (Link indirectly via languagehat.)

Special Japan-only bonus celebration: It's Escalator Day! According to Wikipedia, this commemorates the unveiling and demonstration of Japan's first escalator at the Taishou Exhibition (大正博覧会) in 1914 (大正三年, Taishou Year 3), held in Ueno, Tokyo. Here are some cakes that were also viewable there. Mmm... pre-war cake.

In the interest of fairness, I should mention that Mitsukoshi also claims the glory of having run Japan's first escalator. However, according to a note at the bottom of this page, Mitsukoshi didn't renovate, escalatorise and reopen its Nihonbashi branch until the 28th of September in 1914. If this is correct, Mitsukoshi can claim the first permanent escalator in Japan, but not the very first.

You can look at a small picture of that escalator (presumably) here, courtesy of the Japan Elevator Association. But you can't ride it, because it was destroyed in an earthquake.

Popularity factor: 8


Don't like the sexism and general weirdness of Esperanto? Learn the language even fewer people speak: Ido!


So now Esperanto is branching into mutually unintelligible dialects? That's beautiful. Who will be the first to propose a Universal Universal Language, with bits from Esperanto, bits from Ido, bits from Solresol, etc., designed to unite the disparate Universal Languages and allow their speakers to -- at last! -- communicate unhindered?


Well, if your conception of "now" is broad enough to encompass 1900-1907.

Here's a discussion (by an Esperantist, so you know what side he's going to come down on) of most of the major international auxiliary languages to have been proposed.

In truth, most IAL's are very boring linguistically - either euroclones or, less often, the kind of classificational philosophical languages that were so popular in the 17th century.

Now Lojban is an interesting language, although probably ill-suited to aiding international comprehension. Babm [bɔˈɑːbɔmu] is slightly interesting for its syllabic use of Latin script (and the fact that its creator was Japanese).

-- Tim May


Oh, I should have checked those dates more carefully. Still, as a student of language evolution over centuries, I claim the right to have a century-long now.

While I was poking around in all this stuff I found a great language called Earth Language, also by a native Japanese speaker, which is refreshing in that it rather than a euroclone it's a ground-up reboot of Chinese writing, this time done purely ideogrammatically. (I hope that's the right word. What I mean is that if picture C is picture A + picture B, it will always mean "meaning of picture A + meaning of picture B" rather than "meaning of picture A + sound of picture B", or whatever. Actually she doesn't want to specify any pronunciations at all, for various reasons.)


I read the anti-Esperanto site. Now I hate Esperanto too!

One thing I didn't get from that page - do you know what this means?

English may depend on an "Adjective" to say "the new houses", but many languages go about things differently. Arabic uses appositional nominals ("the-new-things the-houses"); Japanese prefers things that morphosyntacticians analyse as stative verbs ("being-new house").新しい家 means "being new house?"

I like the idea of World Language.
Actually, it reminds me of what would happen if everyone learned to write international communication in a simplified pidgin of Chinese,while pronouncing the words in our own languages. It could work...and preserve word recognition for many people...one of the criticisms of Esperanto was that common words around the world like "coffee/cafe" were changed beyond recogition.


I can see that. After all, adjectives behave much like verbs in Japanese, including conjugating. This is why "家が新しいだ" is wrong, no? The だ is redundant, as the adjective is verbal enough to complete the sentence alone. (Adding です would just be for politeness.)

Also compare 新しい家 with 腐っている家. While "new house" and "the house which is rotting" are two different constructions in English, they're the same in Japanese.

I could be wrong.


I think that's basically the deal. When they're before a noun you don't really notice it (except that as max says they act like a relative clause), but when they're after a noun, the fact that they can complete the sentence on their own (without a copula, like in English) is a giveaway.

It's even more obvious with the "-na" adjectives because they came from "-nari" (i.e. -naru), forms, back when "naru" meant "be" rather than "become". So 静かな家 really is, etymologically, being-quiet house!


I get it - thanks.

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