Previous Suggestions re LangX Phonology/Vocabulary


The following chapters from my previous website are mostly a few years old. I have tucked them away in this sub-section because LangX is now a collective endeavour and my colleagues Jens Wilkinson and Risto Kupsala are organising the provisional LangX core vocabulary. Nevertheless I include this material in case it is found to have any value.

The Phonetic Basis of a Global Core Vocabulary

Towards a Lang25 Phonology

Criteria for Core Vocabulary Selection

The Unish Wordlist: A Brave Attempt

More Wordlists, Please!

A "Basic English" Global Core Vocabulary


The Phonetic Basis of a Global Core Vocabulary

It's not impossible that a latter-day Shakespeare will be inspired to produce an acceptable international lexicon of common words, so more wordlists are always welcome - the only proviso being that, due to the potential difficulty of translating concepts between cultures, an initial list should be restricted to sensible or tangible objects.

An alternative scientific approach, focusing upon historically-proven examples of successful vocabulary formation, would suggest that empirical attempts to form a global core lexicon might fall into error through not starting the process right at the beginning.

For instance, the study of childhood language acquistion would warn that a ready-made wordlist or international core vocabulary might be starting the process too late (or insufficiently far back), inasmuch as infants begin their linguistic odyssey with speech sounds rather than words. Thus a child of English-speaking parents might utter about 36 speech sounds or phonemes during the first year. These sounds are not really (indistinctly or incorrectly articulated) "words", since the connexion between sound and object is obviously not yet understood.

Indeed, people instinctively know when the "first word" ("mama" or "dada", perhaps) emerges amidst the babbling, duly followed by many more at an average rate of perhaps 6 per day. Then, between 18 and 36 months, the ability to structure words syntactically is likely to start. Later, the child will normally begin to realise Aristotle's dictum that narrative has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Correspondingly, it has repeatedly been shown that "phonics" rather than "word recognition" is generally the best means of acquiring literacy. The phonic method breaks a word down into its constituent speech sounds and then reassembles it - a process greatly facilitated, of course, by orthographic regularity.

The upshot of these pedagogical observations is that it might be better to begin with a list of phonemes, together with their associated (entirely orthographically-regular) script elements, and then select words from international sources within this phonetic restriction.

Analogously, the "jargon" stage of what has been here termed the "jargon ~ pidgin ~ vernacular" progression (JPVP) has always been preceded by a process of phoneme utterance and recognition, prior to a proper common understanding of the words comprising the "contact language".

As an initial step, we have suggested inaugurating a scientific global vocabulary within the phonetic limitation of 5 vowels, whose approximates are part of the sound system of most languages, and 20 consonants - from not only the commonest worldwide but also the first babbled by most infants in most countries.



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