28 May 2008

Book of the Week #2

Here's another book in my collection. This one is a quirky auxiliary language proposal. Not as quirky as aUI or Babm, but moderately odd. Rawson Universal Language, copyright 1962 by "The Rawson Associates." It's a softcover book, 198 pages, 18.5 cm tall. According to WorldCat the author's name is Perry B. Rawson (his name does not appear in the book); they list the publisher as Ashbury [sic] Park, N.J.: Rawson Associates, 1962. This book is quite scarce and I consider myself blessed to have stumbled across a specimen.

This language is like a hybrid of UNI and Dutton Speedwords. All of its words are written in upper-case letters and they are mostly abbreviations of English or international words. SVP means "please" (from French), NP means "newspaper."

You can click on the thumbnail above for a larger view of a text specimen. The book is illustrated by utterly random bits of clip art, and the English portions are written in a breathless unpunctuated style. Somehow (through some psychic gift) I can visualize the author sitting in an older house in Asbury Park smoking something, listening to jazz on his vacuum-tube radio while the summer breeze pushes in through the curtains, tapping his feet in time to the music while he assembles this book.

All the words are 1 to 3 letters long. Some of the 2-letter words are dedicated to ideas that don't seem like they would come up very frequently: AP = unscrupulous, GU = guitar, RN = redhead.

As a system of stenography (or a tool for encoding one's diary) this might have been quite useful, but the idea that millions of people around the world would try to communicate using sentences like T BB VKP+ BM A BP AKA VFJ2 TQ is incredible; how do auxlang creators convince themselves of such things? Granted, it does look remotely like cellphone text messaging, but the abbreviations are a lot more arbitrary.


Bill Chapman said...

What an interesting find!

It is not clear that this was planned as a language to be spoken.

I think I'll stick with Esperanto!

Jeffrey Henning said...

I love the name, which reminds me of Rossum's Universal Robots.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!