Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
November 25th, 2002



The other day, some classmates were talking about having a universal language. Some were for it, some were against it. It reminded me: a long time ago, I found Interlingua, which mixes together words and elements of English, French, Italian, and Spanish/Portuguese (as one unit), into one conglomerate language. Interlingua has’t taken off as Esperanto has. I think I like Interlingua much more than Esperanto, or any of those other interlanguages.


  1. This comment does not appear to have raised much interest. Would you care to be more specific as to just why you think you like Interlingua more than Esperanto?
    If you just want something for passive understanding, totally Romance-based, then choose Interlingua. But if you want something that you can actively use, and be linguistically creative in, then choose Esperanto. Frankly, I see little point in Interlingua - if I were going to stick with a totally Romance base, then I'd rather learn an actual Romance language, such as Catalan or Romanian (in addition to the French & Spanish I already speak). I'm biased of course - I've spoken Esperanto for 55 years and never regretted it. Just totally baffled by the reaction to Esperanto of uninformed people.

  2. Hi mankso, I wrote this over three years ago, back when my blog barely had any readers, so that’s why no one has commented on it. For that matter, you’re probably the first person to even take a look at this entry in that many years!

    I actually meant that I’d like to study Interlingua more than Esperanto or any other conlang, because it’s still somewhat intelligible (if you speak slowly) to a native speaker of one of Interlingua’s source languages.

    Of course, back then I wasn’t that well informed about languages in general; nowadays I would much prefer to learn another Romance language than learn Interlingua. But Interlingua’s nice to point out when my (also biased) friends say they want to see an international language… one that’s a lot like English.

    I find Esperanto intriguing, too, but these days I’m so busy that learning Spanish and Vietnamese at the same time is already hard enough on me.

  3. Thanks for the fast reply. So sad that so few monolingual English-speakers can bring themselves to look into other languages.
    I discovered Esperanto by chance at the age of 15, and that's what turned me onto languages, but I had a good grasp of basic grammar (subject, direct object, indirect object; word classes, tenses etc.) unlike most of today's youth. If you know all this stuff well, you can learn a European language quite fast. After only a few months I was not only able to read Esperanto (with an occasional look at the dictionary, of course), listen to radio broadcasts in it, and actively write in it. Have you ever listened to any of the daily Esperanto broadcasts from Radio Polonia? Or looked into the Prague Manifesto? All this is available on-line through:
    I've even had contact with Vietnamese Esperanto-speakers via e-mail.
    ¿Hace cuanto tiempo estás estudiando español?
    By the way, your face doesn't seem to have changed that much in three years!

  4. I’d have to thank my eighth-grade English teacher for teaching me how to diagram sentences (using the Reed–Kellogg system). That skill enabled me to actually comprehend sentences in other languages more easily, even though the diagramming I learned was more or less specific to English. It got me to think about the structure of language, something that’s rarely emphasized in English.

    I’d imagine that if I had a few months with nothing to worry about (read: school), I’d be able to pick up a European language on my own, but, well, priorities and all that.

    Hace más o menos cuatro años que estudio español – lo estudié en el colegio, pero cada año, el maestro generalmente nos enseña el mismo, entonces en la universidad estoy asistando una clase de español del segundo año.

    As for my face – except for the extra photo on my About page, I always use my school photo from four years ago. It’s not my face that’s stayed the same, it’s my website.

  5. Personally, I never had much use for diagramming sentences - very soporific and of little use in learning a second language! Much more pedagogically useful is a slot + filler approach.
    If I may make three linguistic comments: i) I think the verb you want in the Spanish paragraph is not a non-existant 'asistar', but 'asistir + a'; ii) elsewhere you tried some Latin 'ad nauseum' - a common mistake, but actually it's 'ad nauseam'; iii) how on earth is anyone, or any keyboard, able to handle the 67 accented letters of Vietnamese?!
    Have you, as a Catholic, listened to today's Esperanto broadcast from Radio Vatican yet?: http://www.ikue.org/radio.html
    (the music at the beginning is very inspiring, even if you don't listen to anything else!)
    Pax tecum!

  6. Ah well, diagramming’s a dying practice anyhow. Thanks for the various pointers; I tend to make careless mistakes a lot, and I’ll try to remember “ad nauseam” from now on.

    The accented letters in Vietnamese are handled in a way reminiscent of typing in Chinese or Japanese: in Vietnamese, you first type in the base letter, than (depending on your choice of IME), you type in the keys that correspond to combining diacritical mark(s) – except that any decent Vietnamese IME with combine the base letter and diacritic(s) into one of the 134 precomposed characters.

    In the case of VIQR, my preferred IME, to get “Nguyễn”, I would type in “Nguye^~n”. Awkward key combinations like these are quite common with VIQR, but I’m used to it now, being a relatively fast typer. The more ergonomic Telex doubles up vowels or uses uncommon letters for diacritical marks, and VNI uses the row of numbers at the top of the keyboard. I prefer VIQR because the characters actually look like the diacritics they become, so it’s easy to remember the code as well as read it.

    I don’t listen to Internet radio that often, thanks to my dorm’s shotty Internet connection, but I’ll try it out when my roommate’s not sleeping.