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.

3 comments:

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.

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