Private Language

The British government owns the copyright to Basic English

Controlled natural languages (CNLs) are subsets of natural languages that are obtained by restricting the grammar and vocabulary in order to reduce or eliminate ambiguity and complexity. Traditionally, controlled languages fall into two major types: those that improve readability for human readers (e.g. non-native speakers), and those that enable reliable automatic semantic analysis of the language.

Controlled Natural Language, on Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

Java/Oracle and the clash with Google

Common tongues: seaspeak, airspeak

Compression: telegrams, academic publishing

Linguistic imperialism: creoles, Singlish, standardised Spanish, Italian, etc.

"Privatise the profits, socialise the costs"

Compilers & translators (cf to read section)

As language teaching has become a job, it has begun to cost a lot of money. Words are now one of the two largest categories of marketed values that make up the gross national product (GNP). Money decides what shall be said, who shall say it, when and what kind of people shall be targeted for the messages. The higher the cost of each uttered word, the more determined the echo demanded. In schools people learn to speak as they should. Money is spent to make the poor speak more like the wealthy, the sick more like the healthy; and the minority more like the majority. We pay to improve, correct, enrich, update the language of children and of their teachers. We spend more on the professional jargons that are taught in college, and more yet in high schools, to give teenagers a smattering of these jargons; but just enough to make them feel dependent on the psychologist, druggist, or librarian who is fluent in some special kind of English. We go even further: we first allow standard language to degrade ethnic, black, or hillbilly language, and then spend money to teach their counterfeits as academic subjects. Administrators and entertainers, admen and newsmen, ethnic politicians and ‘radical’ professionals, form powerful interest groups, each fighting for a larger slice of the language pie.


In Indonesia, in half a generation of resistance to Japanese and Dutch, the militant fraternal and combative slogans, posters, and secret radios of the freedom struggle spread Malay competence into every village, and did so much more effectively than the later efforts of the Ministry of Language Control that was established after independence.

shadow-workch. III


shadow-work Illich, Ivan. 2011. Shadow Work. Marion Boyars. ↩︎ 1