Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Semi-random links drive-by - 21 April, 2009

Just dashing off to a meeting, but here's a few tidbits of interest(?).

Take the Design Council challenge and help take the profit out of "mobile theft for fun and profit."

Fitch Ratings (annoying registration required) is concerned that DOCSIS 3.0 deployments could kick some telco butt, at least in the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal. I agree, though the asymmetry problem is getting worse.

UK consumer misery loves company - more online time devoted to social networking, less to shopping.

Last night I heard a good joke:

Q: How many people work at BT?
A: About half.

If you're looking for something to do over your lunch hour, why not give a listen to some classic songs reinterpreted, excruciatingly, in Esperanto? Volare is particularly scintillating. With support like this, I now understand why I have only met one Esperanto speaker - ever.

5 comments:

Rudolf van der Berg said...

Fitch may be right. KPN has chosen to offer only asymmetrical FTTH. 30/3, 50/5 and 60/6 and compared to UPC they aren't competitive

http://internetthought.blogspot.comfor a comparison of the two offers.

michjo said...

If you're looking for something to do over your lunch hour, why not give a listen to some classic songs reinterpreted, excruciatingly, in Esperanto? Volare is particularly scintillating.Have you heard of Sturgeon's law? It goes something like this: "Ninety percent of science fiction is crud. But then ninety percent of everything is crud, and it's the ten percent that isn't crud that is important." You just happened to stumble across a confirmation of Sturgeon's law - which in itself reveals nothing particular about Esperanto music in general. For a better use of your lunch hour, check out this sampling of Esperanto music at MusicExpress.com.br (nb: site is only in Portuguese and Esperanto), with a wider variety of artists, styles and originality. In keeping with Sturgeon's law, consider the best 10% before passing judgment. Also, consider that this is just a sampling of Esperanto music: there's a lot more Esperanto music out there than this.

With support like this, I now understand why I have only met one Esperanto speaker - ever.Are you sure you've only met one Esperanto speaker? You can't tell by looking or listening, and most Esperantists - including myself - don't advertise it. You may actually know more Esperanto speakers than you think :-).

James Enck said...

Wow michjo, now I've met two Esperanto speakers, one of whom thoroughly kicked my ass, albeit very politely. ;-) Mi bedaŭras.

James Enck said...

My real question about Esperanto is really to do with whether it really fulfills its stated purpose, which was very noble when first conceived. However, the world was very Eurocentric then. As a linguist myself, I look at Esperanto and see a language where Europeans, especially speakers of Romance languages, particularly Italian, have a huge advantage over, say, native speakers of Mongolian, Yoruba, or Burmese. I don't see how we gain much benefit by having a "neutral" lingua franca which is so highly skewed in favor of one language group.

michjo said...

Saluton Jakobo!

Mi bedaŭras.
Tute ne bedaŭrinde :-).

My real question about Esperanto is really to do with whether it really fulfills its stated purpose...
You raise some very good questions about Esperanto. I'd like to address them by looking at two aspects of Esperanto: vocabulary and grammar.

It turns out that while the lexeme stock is almost exclusively European (mostly Latinate with most of the rest being Germanic), a perfectly regular and extensible word-building system results in a vocabulary that requires a fraction of the rote learning of other languages, the rest being derived. That, plus the morphological and semantic invariance of lexemes, yields a language in which one can literally make up words on the fly that are always correct. The limited semantic scope of lexemes further reduces the learning burden. Acquiring the first 20% or so of the vocabulary does require more effort of non-Indo-Europeans, but the rest comes just as easily. Overall, the effort required to acquire Esperanto vocabulary is marginally greater for non-Indo-Europeans, but still much less than that required to acquire a vocabulary with similar coverage in any national language.

Esperanto's grammar is similarly regular and extensible, and also very simple. Attention was given in its design to maximum flexibility, making it possible to pattern one's utterances to a large degree on one's native language without breaking any Esperanto rules. I'm not a linguist, but I do speak a couple of languages, including Arabic, and I can tell you that it is possible to speak Esperanto as in Arabic (e.g., VSO, post-positioned qualifiers, nouns as qualifiers of nouns, fuzzy distinction between adjectives and nouns, fuzzy definition of adverbs and prepositions, simple verb tenses, derivative word-building system) without sacrificing comprehension. Even more than the vocabulary, Esperanto grammar is much easier to pick up than other languages for non-Indo-Europeans.

A site worth checking out is this collection of testiomonials by Asian Esperantists. A common thread is that, yes, Esperanto is somewhat more difficult for Asians than for Europeans, but still much easier for Asians than are other languages.

I could go on, but since you're a linguist, perhaps it would be more convincing for you to see for yourself by trying your hand at Esperanto. A great learning resource site with a number of free courses of various levels is Lernu!. There's also a free multimedia course at Kurso de Esperanto. If you decide to give it a shot, try saying things in Esperanto as if you were a speaker of a non-Indo-European language to see for yourself just how adaptable it is.