Sunday, October 3, 2010

The literature of Interlingua sold by UMI and the usefulness of plagiarism to facilitate language learning and general communication

To put it charitably, it is dysfunctional for UMI or a single person in UMI to sit on all of its printed literature and make it available to people only by selling it. This material should be available to anyone in an easy electronic format completely without charge!

Fortunately, the literature that UMI sits on like this is becoming less and less important as more and more material on Interlingua becomes increasingly available on the Internet.

There are still many problems with this increasing availability, however. Often it is printed in formats that are not easily available to everyone. And often this material can be accessed only through establishing some sort of “membership” in a certain group and accessed through passwords that can be easily forgotten.

I myself am convinced that all of our literature should be immediately, freely, and easily available to everyone at absolutely no charge! That is why I have published "Interlingua multilingue" in a blog format.

I invite everyone to use it in their studies of Interlingua and its source languages, especially English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

In order to develop this material, I often start with some source text in one of the Romance source languages of Interlingua. I then translate it into English using Google's automatic translator.

After this, I use Google's translator as an editing tool as I find similar ways of expressing the content of these articles in the original Romance language and English.

Finally, I translate each article into Interlingua, at times editing the other versions of the article to make them conform as closely as practicable with one another. Doing this captures and strongly illustrates the structural core of all of these languages.

To do this, of course, I freely plagiarize. Plagiarizing from foreign-language texts helps insure their authenticity.

While plagiarizing is not academically respectable, I must emphasize that I am not writing academic papers in "Interlingua multilingue." Instead I am preparing materials that I hope will be useful to beginning-to-intermediate students of these languages.

Since I freely plagiarize from others, I invite others to freely plagiarize from the materials in "Interlingua multilingue" itself. Plagiarizing and reworking this material into other languages is an excellent way of studying them. As a useful pedagogical exercise, it deserves unqualified respectability!

It is important to note that before copyright laws were enacted, plagiarism was an accepted practice among authors, especially in the case of ancient texts. Plagiarizing is useful to writers because it enables them to avoid reinventing wheels when they incorporate text into their own writings that has already been edited into polished and readable form. As a way of making the communication process easier, it should not be condemned but accepted as a useful way of promoting effective communication.

Spoken languages themselves would be much less effective--or even impossible--if people could not “plagiarize” and reuse the expressions and even the clichés of other speakers. This is why the native speakers of all of our languages use core vocabulary and grammar over and over.

Recognizing this fact of linguistic life allows us to study language effectively using statistical techniques, as was done in the case of French, for example, in developing le français fondamentale!

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