A common language being a necessary component of global harmony, a new language, Matchish, will be developed using the best available information and technology. This new International Auxiliary Language must be taught from the earliest grades of school in all Localities alongside the existing natural language of that Locality.
All individuals will therefore be educated to be bilingual (at least). Globality and Locality communication with individuals will be primarily in Matchish and secondarily in the existing language(s) of the Locality. All communication between Localities with different native languages will be in Matchish.
Learning Matchish will be by far the most difficult and time-consuming part of the transition to Matchism for most people, even though it will be designed to be far easier to master than any other language has ever been. The goal should be to have fluent English speakers functional in Matchish within a few weeks, and fluent in both spoken and written forms within a year, with a similar timeframe for those with little or no experience with English but a talent for languages and/or a mastery of several others.
In addition to the difficulty issue, there are the issues of cultural pride and aesthetics to address. The former can reasonably be dismissed as being just another manifestation of tribalism, which, by the time Matchism has been approved by a Locality, must have been generally acknowledged to be a bad thing. Aesthetics is more difficult, since Matchish will probably feel like using baby-talk or pidgin/creole/Ebonics at first. This of course is not coincidental since those types of simplifications are exactly what English needs to make it easier to learn and more efficient to use. At first there won’t be any quotes from poetry or literature, witticisms, or even clichés for people to use in their everyday speech to dress it up as they do now. But like current languages, Matchish will soon acquire these things, and because it is a new language it holds the unique promise that it becomes even better over time.
It will bear constant repeating that language is just a technology, a tool we use to accomplish a particular task. It is not a defining characteristic of who we are any more than trying to continue doing your accounting work on a 16-bit computer running MSDOS would be. Existing natural languages are not only primitive, poorly designed things, but they even lack any upgrade path now that this has become necessary to implement a governing system capable of spanning existing national boundaries.
Although it will take a lot of work from a lot of people to develop this language, we can reasonably predict that features of the new language will include:
- no verb conjugation
- no verb tenses: Tense will be indicated by modifier words
- regular spelling: if you can say it, you can spell it
- no noun genders
- no tones (as found in Chinese and some other Asian languages)
- maximizing information density by minimizing homonyms and other ambiguities
- provide pronoun gender specificity and independence (e.g., that genderless singular pronoun that’s missing from English)
- maximize reliability of machine translation to/from other languages
- minimize vocabulary size through the use of compound and modifier words and by restricting slang and jargon
- recordable with ISO-latin1 character set (digraphs like sh and ch will be used instead of special characters)
- easily generated with a standard US keyboard (which is needed for WWW use anyway)
- retain as much vocabulary from English (the most widely spoken second language) as possible to make it as easy as possible for those with some English-language experience to learn by leveraging the vocabulary they have already learned
- use the set of phonemes easiest for non-native English speakers to understand and produce via the use of a crowd-sourced assessment system: Each participant will speak samples and assess the intelligibility and aesthetic quality of samples spoken by others, which will generate a confusion/preference matrix that can be used to make phoneme, vocabulary, and spelling decisions
Note that Esperanto, Interlingua, and other previously-designed languages are non-starters for the role of Matchish: Not only were they designed using inadequate resources and prior to most of these requirements even being determined, but they each also lack some of the required structural features. A key component of the development process will be actually measuring the preferences and capabilities of native speakers of other languages rather than relying on rules of thumb or other seat-of-the-pants engineering heuristics. So, rather than just ruling out all r/l distinctions in deference to native speakers of Japanese as most other auxlangs have, we will actually measure their capabilities and make phoneme and vocabulary decisions based on this empirical evidence. For example, r/l production ability varies in native Japanese speakers depending on phoneme position in a word (e.g., collect/correct is much more difficult than right/light). It probably also varies by the vowels that precede or follow and by the exact quality of the rhotic (r-sound), and if it turns out that Japanese (and indeed speakers of all other languages) can produce and understand that sound better if spoken the way Swedish or German or Arabic speakers would, then that may become the standard pronunciation. The vocabulary selection will proceed in parallel with the phoneme selection to both maximize the range of available terms and ensure that the language contains the terms that not only most efficiently convey information but will also ensure that the output will be the language that the world’s population prefers. This proposal has many benefits:
- It will minimize confusions between phonemes by all the world’s speakers, not just those few that we have heuristics for.
- It will preserve the maximum number of phonemes and available English vocabulary terms which will greatly improve the languages ability to resist contamination from other languages (a serious problem in all languages, something the French have been fighting (and losing) about forever, and a force that is slowly destroying pidgins and creoles like Bislama and Tok Pisin)
- Any existing English accent is very unlikely to be the standard pronunciation for most words, which gives back some of the advantage native English speakers will have: We will all speak Matchish with an accent which will greatly reduce the status-consciousness that comes from ESL speakers having an accent that makes it easy to identify them as non-native speakers.
- By designing a system to create the language rather than relying on a top-down language designer, it truly becomes The People’s Language (i.e., it “matches us”). This will greatly reduce the perception of chauvinism and increase marketability.
Acknowledging a bias toward English in the design of Matchish is intentional, and anyone who objects should consider this: If we don’t implement Matchish now, within a few hundred years everyone will be speaking English. Given that a common language is a requirement for a global civilization and that English already has a vast head start in most key fields (e.g., business, science, and foreign relations) there is no way to prevent this from eventually coming to pass other than designing something better than English that is still easy for English-speakers to learn. This is one-time opportunity with a relatively small window of viability: Once English becomes the most commonly used language, something that will occur within decades, it will be impossible to ever displace it. Failure to design and implement Matchish now means subjecting not only the current population of earth to the hell that is learning English as a second language, but also saddling all future generations with the handicap of its poor design. If nothing else, we must do it for the school kids of the future who will thank us for sparing them uncounted hours in the tedious study of spelling and grammar.