You Question, We Answer
- Why do we need an international language?
- Why not use a natural language as an international language?
- Why not use a regularized form of a natural language as an international language?
- Is Ayola a revision of any other constructed language, such as Esperanto, Loglan, or Interlingua?
- Why does Ayola use the standard parts of speech and how are they chosen?
- How is the vocabulary of Ayola being created?
- Does Ayola resolve all ambiguities encountered in language?
- What is the current status of Ayola?
1. Why do we need an international language?
In today’s world the needs for international communication have increased but people have less time to devote to studying languages. Thus, a single language, such as Ayola, which can express the full range of ideas needed in business, politics, industry, etc. and which is easily learnable can fulfill the increased need given the limited time available for study.
In addition, the information which must be communicated among speakers of various languages in organizations such as the European Union has proliferated enormously. Human translation of this material among many national languages is at present costly and time consuming, and threatens to become totally unmanageable. Here again, a single language such as Ayola could serve as a central hub from which translation to the national languages could proceed.
2. Why not use a natural language as an international language?
Learning any natural language requires years of study in order to use it fluently. A constructed language such as Ayola, whose grammar and vocabulary are simpler and more regular, can be mastered in far less time. Also, it is often impossible to separate a language from its people’s culture and the implications associated with it. Thus, by making a natural language as a medium of international communication, we automatically assume predominance of that culture over the less influential ones. Ayola, on the other hand, is not culturally imperialistic.
3. Why not use a regularized form of a natural language as an international language?
In our opinion, a language which looks and sounds similar to a natural language is problematic. First, it often appears to be a bad version of a natural language to native speakers. Once usage of a given language is established, it is very difficult and even disturbing for people to modify it. Second, even a modified version of a natural language still carries with it the potential for cultural and linguistic imperialism.
4. Is Ayola a revision of any other constructed language, such as Esperanto, Loglan or Lojban?
No, it is not. It is essentially impossible in creating a constructed language intended to be recognizable to produce a result that does not share some features in common with previous attempts. The term ‘revision’ implies a high correlation between the original and the revised version, i.e. a correlation coefficient of 75 -100%. The correlation between Ayola and other previous international languages such as Esperanto, Loglan and Lojban is considerably less than this range for the three principal grammatical categories of roots, prefixes and suffixes, and word endings.
Although Ayola has borrowed some features from other constructed languages, most of its features are taken from natural languages, but regularized, or are original. One good example is the very important distinction between descriptive and relational adjectives, which is dealt with, although imperfectly, in natural languages such as English, but is essentially overlooked by other constructed languages.
5. Why does Ayola use the standard parts of speech and how are they chosen?
In agreement with most linguists, we in the ARG believe that grouping of words into parts of speech is an essential feature of any language in order for it to qualify as a truly human language. Many studies have shown that the human brain processes different parts of speech such as noun and verbs differently. Some constructed languages such as Loglan and its offshoot Lojban have attempted to do away with the parts of speech, but such forcing of all terms in the lexicon into a single category is deceiving. Some words function nominally, some function verbally, some function adjectivally, etc., and these functions must be marked by a variety of function words. The parts of speech are still there although a given word in the lexicon is not preferentially associated with a particular part of speech.
In Ayola, each part of speech is marked by a distinctive work ending, a feature which significantly enhances rapid recognition and acquisition of the language. Words are assigned to a fundamental part of speech based on meaning, e.g. those denoting physical objects, abstract states, properties, events, etc. are nouns, those denoting actions or relations are verbs, etc.
From these fundamental parts of speech other parts of speech may be derived by changing the word ending on the root, e.g. both descriptive and relational adjectives may be derived from nouns; nouns, relational adjectives and adverbs may be derived from adjectives, etc. Thus, although each lexical entry is preferentially associated with a particular part of speech, the conversion between different parts of speech is very fluid and is far simpler and more regular than in the natural languages.
6. How is the vocabulary of Ayola being created?
In creating the vocabulary of Ayola, we have attempted to attain a maximum of recognizability of the words while still following the rules of Ayola spelling and pronunciation and using a distinct root for each important distinct meaning of each word.
In some cases, such as the Linnean terms for animal and plants and chemical terminology, there is little choice: we are constrained to follow international usage. Thus the term for ‘loon’ is ‘Gavia immer’ in Linnean nomenclature and imera gavio in Ayola. The term for ‘white oak’ is ‘querbus albus’ in Linnean terminology and alba kwerko in Ayola. The term for ‘carbohydrate’ in Ayola is karbohidrato. Even in the general vocabulary, many words are so widely used internationally that there is really no choice: animalo (animal), matematiko (mathematics), and teatro (theater).
Where there is a clear choice for a vocabulary word, we have followed and are following a four-step procedure:
1) The important distinct meanings of a word are chosen. The number of meanings generally ranges from four to eight.
2) Language lists for these meanings in approximately 30 Indo-European languages, which include all the major language families (Baltic, Germanic, Slavic, and Romance) are created by importing from lists in Wiktionary supplemented by Google Translate.
3) Distinct roots are chosen for each distinct meaning which does not conflict with previously chosen roots. Generally short, easily pronounceable roots are preferred and occasionally minor modifications have to be made to satisfy the requirements of Ayola orthography. The roots are then entered in the Root Forms Lists.
4) Most roots are also entered in the Basic Word List.
This cross-referencing procedure, using the three lists, is essential for developing the vocabulary as quickly as possible with a minimum of wasted time.
7. Does Ayola resolve all the ambiguities encountered in language?
No. It does not. It eliminates the great majority of both syntactic and lexical ambiguities present in all natural and most constructed languages but not all of them. It is our own opinion, based on a number of years of developing and testing Ayola, that, in order to be learned and used easily by a large number of people, a language must tolerate some ambiguity or it will simply be too cumbersome. It has been our goal in the Ayola project to strive for a practical minimum of ambiguity rather none.
Here are two examples where words have more than one meaning in Ayola:
The plural forms of both pronouns and nouns may have both individual and collective meaning. For example, in the following two sentences:
La studentoy farits la enhayma gepracoy.
The students did their homework.
Dyay farits dwa.
They did it.
One cannot tell in Ayola, any more than in English, whether the students did the homework individually or collectively. In order to clarify this difference one may use the words kune (together) and separe (separately).
La studentoy farits la enhayma gepracoy kune.
The students did their homework together
Dyay farits da separe.
They did it separately.
Where Ayola does make the individual/collective distinction is in the two words for the connective ‘and’: ce (and, without specifying whether individually or jointly), cke (and jointly).
Tom ce Dik farits la enhayma gepracoy separe.
Tom and Dick (individually) did their homework.
Tom cke Dik farits dwa.
Tom and Dick (jointly) did it.
A system in which the individual/collective distinction was made in pronouns, articles and quantifiers, similar to that used in Loglan, was tried out by the ARG, but rejected as being too cumbersome.
In Ayola most words have literal meanings. Additional meanings of words are allowed in the following two cases:
●Metaphorical usage, such as the meaning of kworo (heart) and cantare (to sing) in Myoza kworo cantats. (My heart sings.)
●Specialized usage, such as the meaning of grupo: group in mathematics versus group in general usage and legjo: law in physics, chemistry, etc. versus law in the legal sense.
Both metaphorical and specialized usages must be allowed because, otherwise, the vocabulary would become impractically large to acquire.
8. What is the current status of Ayola?
Ayola is still developing! After more than 15 years of research and growth, the ARG is still working to complete Ayola. Among the tasks nearing completion are the Language Learner’s Guide and Ayola lessons for beginners.