Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Esperanto seems easier

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Than Solresol:

During the first half of the 19th century, a half-century before L.L. Zamenhof invented Esperanto, the universal language movement achieved its apotheosis in Solresol, the first artificial language ever to develop beyond mere concept. Created by a french music instructor named Jean François Sudre, Solresol remains, despite its practical disappearance, the most beautiful and perfect language ever created by one man. It consisted of just seven syllables, the notes of the scale — Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, and Si (which we now call Ti) — that could be combined according to the rules of an orderly grammar to form a vocabulary of 11,732 possible words.

Words could be spoken, hummed, sung, or played on a musical instrument. In public demonstrations, Sudre would “speak” paragraphs on his violin while his students translated them directly into French. To the speaker of Solresol, every piece of music became a document. What’s more, Sudre provided a means for translating ROYGBIV, the colors of the rainbow, into Solresol syllables so that every tapestry, every painting, every splash of color took on literal meaning as well. Numbers also translated into Solresol, so that any string of digits became a potential sentence. Finally, Sudre divided the hand into seven regions to allow the blind to communicate by tapping on each other’s palms.

Paul Collins writes about Solresol in his book Banvard’s Folly: Thirteen Tales of People Who Didn’t Change the World and in the Fortean Times:

Solresol can be disorienting and a little unnerving in a chaotic world that does not actually follow its strictures; one modern Solresolist, Greg Baker, recalls that after a while he started wondering why “the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth seems to talk about ‘Wednesday’.” Needless to say, obsessive fans who hear already secret messages in music would not do their mental stability any favors by learning Solresol.

And yet the experience may be less cacaphonic than we might imagine. In practice Solresol is a language in the key of C. Imagine sitting down at a piano and only hitting the white keys randomly. No matter how hard you try to foul it up, you’ll still sound pretty good. This is why virtually every nursery rhyme is written in this key. An instrument tuned to C can give performances that aren’t terribly structured or melodic, but they’ll also never sound harsh or dissonant – and the same can be said for Solresol.

* In at least in one small circle, Solresol is making a comeback.

* A Solresol grammar and English-Solresol dictionary have been made available here.

* A Short History of the Ocular Harpsichord and its Progeny

Written by Leisureguy

26 December 2006 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Daily life

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