The Friday Cyclotouriste

a geo-photoblog chronicling my "excursions velo"

On the Road……Above Bonita Cove: Views of the Bridge and Sutro Tower

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I’m not exactly sure what this graffiti artist is trying to communicate. Perhaps, it’s that war = destruction? (since the opposite of creation is destruction).

But speaking of language, the December 24th issue of The New Yorker magazine had a curious article by Joshua Foer about an amateur linguist named John Quijada. When he wasn’t working at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Quijada spent his spare time (extending over 25 years) engineering a new language and grammar system combining what he believed were the best aspects of all the world’s languages.

Here’s a quote from the beginning of the article:

In his preface, Quijada wrote that his “greater goal” was “to attempt the creation of what human beings, left to their own devices, would never create naturally, but rather only by conscious intellectual effort: an idealized language whose aim is the highest possible degree of logic, efficiency, detail, and accuracy in cognitive expression via spoken human language, while minimizing the ambiguity, vagueness, illogic, redundancy, polysemy (multiple meanings) and overall arbitrariness that is seemingly ubiquitous in natural human language.”

Ithkuil has two seemingly incompatible ambitions: to be maximally precise but also maximally concise, capable of capturing nearly every thought that a human being could have while doing so in as few sounds as possible. Ideas that could be expressed only as a clunky circumlocution in English can be collapsed into a single word in Ithkuil. A sentence like “On the contrary, I think it may turn out that this rugged mountain range trails off at some point” becomes simply “Tram-m?öi hhâsma?p?uktôx.”

This is really quite odd.

Ithkuil seems to be a language devoid of nuance, implication, metaphor, and for that matter: poetry!



Written by fridaycyclotouriste

January 26th, 2013 at 6:33 pm

2 Responses to 'On the Road……Above Bonita Cove: Views of the Bridge and Sutro Tower'

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  1. Check out Borges’ Tlon Uqbar Orbis Tertius:


    26 Jan 13 at 6:41 pm

  2. Mirza/ Thanks for the Borges lead! I had not read this one. I have to admit, however, I find Borgesian, epistemological, ruminations — for the most part — to be highly inscrutable!

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