“Beyond that, I just wanted to know: who are these people?
”In early 2010, he was forwarded an e-mail in patchy English from a Ukrainian academic named Oleg Bakhtiyarov, who introduced himself as the director of a recently formed institution of higher education in Kiev called the University of Effective Development, and as a leading proponent of a philosophical movement called psychonetics.
“One can hardly learn enough about the Ithkuil language from the Russian scientific print editions.” curing natural languages of their flaws by constructing entirely new idioms according to orderly, logical principles.
Inventing new forms of speech is an almost cosmic urge that stems from what the linguist Marina Yaguello, the author of “Lunatic Lovers of Language,” calls “an ambivalent love-hate relationship.” Language creation is pursued by people who are so in love with what language can do that they hate what it doesn’t.
Using their efficient language to communicate, the New Men plot to take over the world from the benighted “homo saps.”Soon after the publication of the Russian article, Quijada began to receive a steady stream of letters from e-mail addresses ending in .ru, peppering him with arcane questions and requesting changes to the language to make its words easier to pronounce.
Alexey Samons, a Russian software engineer based in Vladivostok, took on the monumental task of translating the Ithkuil Web site into Russian, and before long three Russian Web forums had sprung up to debate the merits and uses of Ithkuil.
In the previous century, Jesuit missionaries had brought back the first substantial accounts of the Chinese language, and many philosophers were taken with the notion that its characters signified concepts rather than sounds, and that a single ideogram could have the same meaning to people all over East Asia, despite sounding completely different in each tongue.
What if, they wondered, you could create a universal written language that could be understood by anyone, a set of “real characters,” just as the creation of Arabic numerals had done for counting?