cave canem

Cave Canem- Beware the Dog

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Universal Language? Solresol

Not too long ago, I was surfing das interwebs and came across the coolest concept ever- Solresol, a language created by some 19th century French guy named Sudre. That's not the cool part, though- Solresol can be spoken, sung, played on an instrument, written with letters, colors or stenographic symbols, or signed using a sign language. This was one attempt to make a universal language, and, in fact, to make it truly universal- it's intended to be easy to learn and understand even to the blind and deaf.

There have been a few attempts to create a universal language, of course. Esperanto probably did the best of them all. Poor Solresol suffered rather a lot, but the internet has begun to bring it back a little, and there are a good deal of people who are quite certain that it's only a matter of time until it catches on.

I am not one of those people.

While Solresol is, in fact, the coolest damned thing in the world, it is probably the least practical attempt ever to create a universal language. Its main problem stems from one flaw in its design. Solresol has seven phonemes, or units of sound (or color/symbol, as the case may be). Do, re, mi, fa, sol, and si/ti, the seven notes of a major scale. (You may recognize them from that irritating but useful song from The Sound of Music.) So, Solresol has seven phonemes. The problem? Most languages need around twenty-something, at least.

Now, Solresol is hardly meant to be a complete language. It's supposed to be a simple pidgin, easy and accessible enough to allow people from around the world to communicate simply. However, even in this goal, it is painfully limited by its dearth of phonemes. It has only between 1000 and 2000 words- while this ought to be enough to form a simple language, it most definitely does not conserve its words well. It has enough words to completely and accurately translate the Lord's Prayer, but it uses the same word for both tea and coffee. What I'm saying, basically, is that a vocabulary overhaul seems to be in order here. (This is enough of a chore already- the language classifies words into groups based on their starting sound/letter/etc., with words starting with sol for the fine arts and words starting with dodo for religion, and just fitting things into their appropriate categories takes some consideration.)

The lack of available words and the difficulties in creating new words leads to, in my opinion, Solresol's most glaring flaw- It isn't adaptable. In the modern world, technology is an integral part of everyone's lives, and Solresol is simply not able to keep up with the pace of technology. Hell, you can't even say a person's name in it let alone the name of a website, and try using a language made in the 1800s to talk about an iPhone or nuclear warfare. Yeah, Solresol will not be catching on anytime soon.

This is not to say that I won't be learning it, of course. Like I said, it's way awesome. I've already converted the Solresol for "I Love Satan" into the chorus for one of the songs in my rock opera about Paradise Lost.

................That was an odd sentence I just typed there.

Anyway, valete, or, in Solresol, misi.

1 comment:

  1. Hi!

    I am working with the folks on the Sidosi forum to revive the language. We are discussing how to best reform the language without mangling it beyond recognition.