Well, hrmph. I myself am not happy with Esperanto, kvankam mi povas paroli la lingvon iom bone [although I can speak the language somewhat well.] My best friend is trying to learn Esperanto but is having tremendous difficulty and I don't understand why.
Some of the criticisms of Esperanto are fair (such as the redundancy of certain grammatical endings, the irregular, haphazard word derivation system - see my web page http://geocities.com/Qwertie256/misc/es … lems.html). But other criticisms are unfair because they are inescapable - for example some will criticize it for being too "Euro-centric", saying that word roots should be taken from all major world languages; while others will say it ought to be more recognizable to Europeans. And although to some extent arguments about the wordstock are quite reasonable, it should be kept in mind that for any constructed language there are *always* critics of the wordstock and critics of a language's word compounding system, no matter how the vocabulary was selected or what the system is.
Nevertheless there are a lot of common criticisms of Esperanto that have been avoided by other languages without much critical repercussion. For example, if an IAL (international auxilliary language) design doesn't have accusative case markers and plural adjective agreement, the strongest criticism you'll hear is that it's "no better than Esperanto".
I'm afraid I can't see Basic English as a good international language. Why would one want to learn a language with the all the phonological and spelling difficulties of English, except as a stepping-stone on the way to full English? I agree with DreymaR: it's hard to imagine many English speakers would be inclined to learn Basic English (I, for one, am not).
In any case, it's not really up to us, is it? As DreymaR pointed out, a language, more than a keyboard layout, requires a community (though it certainly helps for keyboards too.) In over a hundred years Esperanto's community has only grown to between 100,000-3,000,000 speakers (estimates vary widely) and I can't imagine it growing much more than that with the way things are now. Some people assume that if any IAL succeeds, it will be Esperanto. I don't like that idea since I would really like some other IAL to "win" instead (perhaps Ido, perhaps Novial, perhaps some as-yet-not-invented language to be designed by a team of the world's top linguists). With so few speakers, Esperanto has the ideology and momentum to survive, but not to become a second language for the world.
I think what an IAL really needs to thrive is government support. The UN would be a good start--as Claude Piron has pointed out, with the UN's large document translation expenses, it could actually save money by standardizing on Esperanto or another IAL. But to really thrive I think an IAL would need a home base, a geographic area where it thrives. An area where at least two languages are spoken already.
Consider that it is more economical to make everyone learn an "easy" IAL than to make everyone learn a particular "natural" language. For example, suppose you have a region in which a few different languages are spoken and that the most popular language is X (X could be English or anything else.) Suppose 50% of the people can speak X and that there is an IAL called L that can be learned in 1/4 of the time it takes to learn X. Then teaching everyone L should cost half as much as teaching everyone X.
It would be more economical in the long run if children were brought up on Colemak instead of Qwerty. But the problem is community: languages need big communities to thrive; an existing large community of IAL speakers might grow naturally, but such a community cannot form spontaneously. I think a government somewhere needs to create that community by bringing up a generation of children on a particular IAL.
I can't point to a particular place in the world where an IAL would be an obvious solution to a language problem. But there must be someplace where it would be a good idea--some place where three or four languages are spoken and where language barriers are somehow economically detrimental, so that an IAL is the most efficient solution to the economic language barrier problem. Of course, personally I think language barriers should be removed even if there is no clear economic benefit, but that is an altruist belief and the argument "it's the right thing to do" is rarely (never?) enough to convince a government of anything.
So the point is, it's not up to those of us who speak or promote IALs to decide which one will "win". It's up to governments--the organizations in charge of teaching children--to decide if and which language will obtain a large community of speakers. Governments seem to be the only entities powerful enough to create the requisite communities. All ordinary citizens can do is seed-planting... spreading the idea around so that perhaps one day it will be "on the table" during government negotiations.
Last edited by Qwertie (01-Jan-2007 00:52:15)