Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lasido lafa, Lasido fala, Lasido...

Bad news. I received an email in response to my request to obtain a copy of Sudre's book from the Library of Congress, and the respondent told me that the book had been deemed too fragile for reproduction. All this after I paid a $14-dollar processing fee. Lovely. Well, if you were interested in the same work, now you can save your money because it's not accessible via the LoC.

Good news. Sort of. I ordered a book called Dore domilado Solresol by Andre Cherpillod. The book is in Esperanto, and small (about 27-28 pages), like a pamphlet, so I wasn't expecting much...but wow! I was surprised. I haven't gone through the whole book, but it seems to answer two of the questions I had about Solresol. First, the book explains that in order to form the dative one merely uses "fa" (to). Therefore, dore remila fa domifasol domisolfala = mi donas pomon al infano = I give an apple to a child. Yay! Secondly, the book has a mini-dictionary/glossary at the back, with a word for "to hope": dofadomi. Now I can derive a word for Esperanto/one who hopes, namely "dofa¯domi".

Unfortunately, there's no word for "when" or "where" listed in Cherpillod's dictionary. Seriously, Gajewski, c'mon, couldn't you have included these words in your list? They're essential to basic communication.

More bad news? Some of the words in Cherpillod's book are not consistent with what's presented in Gajewski's grammar. For example, Cherpillod says "fare" means "tiu" or "that" but in the grammar the definition is "with." Cherpillod says "soldo" means "nenio" or "nothing," while Gajewski has this meaning "but." Cherpillod says "but" in Solresol is "mimidore." The last word that stuck out was "solfa," which according to what I learned meant "because," but according to Cherpillod "solfa" means "for this reason" and "because" is "milalado." Cherpillod also says "dodo" refers to the preterite, while Gajewski says "dodo" refers to the past imperfect. As you can plainly see, something doesn't add up. I'm not sure who made the mistake. Did Cherpillod misinterpret something (his book was published in 2008)? Has the version of Gajewski's grammar online somehow been altered? Either way, not knowing sucks.

I have a headache from constantly running into obstacles while trying to learn Solresol. Maybe it's time for a break.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fa New York!

Road Trip!

A few weeks back I made a trip into New York City to make use of the public library system to get a look at the book Rapports sur la langue musicale . Now, I was not sure what to expect, since this title was not the same as the famed Langue universelle musicale, but the book was listed by Sudre and a full seventy-six pages. As a result, I did as I'm often prone to do and jumped to the best-case scenario. I hoped that this book would contain more details about Solresol's grammar or some other Sudre-isms, that it would give me some more insight into François's thought processes. Rapports sur la langue musicale also predated the publication of the Solresol Grammar which piqued my interest. Unfortunately, the book was not all I hoped it would be. It turned out to be a collection of articles from newspapers and other publications on the introduction of Solresol to the general public and Sudre's ideas behind the language. No dictionary of hundreds of Solresol words. No grammar with further info.

I'm posting some pictures of the book, as I haven't seen it on the net. And also to show that I didn't come back empty-handed :)

One interesting tidbit I learned while reading parts of the book was that one of Sudre's selling points for his language was that it could be used as a means of secret communication during war between members of the same army. This somewhat put me off, as I'm all for pacifism or nonviolence, but whether this was Sudre's true sentiment - that is, his true hope for how the language would be used - or just another persuasive point in his cache on top of many others, I don't know.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fasol fafa sidosi-dola Solresol?

Why learn Solresol? Well, there is probably no practical reason to learn Solresol; it more than likely will not look impressive on a résumé/C.V. or help with business transactions like Spanish or Chinese or some other dominant world language would. Solresol also will not open up a whole new world of speakers to you, because, well, at this point, I don't think any monolingual Solresol-speakers exist. ;) But what studying Solresol can be is a fun hobby, an interesting and challenging linguistic exercise, a chance to discover a bit of history, and just a plain cool chance to philosophize on the relationship between language and music.

Why am I learning it? I have been a fan of languages for many years. I studied a couple of languages in school and read books about others on my own outside of classes. Oddly enough, there was a time when I would not touch a constructed language like Esperanto or Solresol...and I could not understand why anyone would. But then last year, while at a very low point in my life, I discovered Esperanto and subsequently studied it almost daily over the course of a year.

That experience changed my attitude and opened me up to constructed languages. I dabbled in Ido, which is like Esperanto's cousin, and then Toki Pona. However, I really wanted to find a language that started from square one, an a priori language where words were not drawn from other existing languages, but rather, were developed from scratch. Potential candidates I came across included Klingon, Kēlen, and Solresol. Most conlangs, which are unheard of by the mainstream public as it is, are a posteriori - Esperanto, Ido, the Tolkien languages, Sona, etc. Anyway, I have never really been a Star Trek fan, and this alongside Klingon's fairly complicated grammar caused me to cross it off the list. Kēlen is very pretty, and I did fancy it for a while, but its grammar is also very complex and was more than I wanted to take on at the time (although I may revisit it in the future). So Solresol's simplicity in comparison was a definite draw for me. Also there was the idea of a language being tied to musical notes, which seemed like a very original idea worthy of further investigation, even if I am not the most musically-inclined individual.

The other cool feature that drew me to the language was that Sudre/Gajewski had come up with various ways of expressing the language. Not only can Solresol be written in text, but because all the sounds correspond to musical notes, the words can be played as music with instruments. There is also a color scheme that can be used to express the language as well as hand gestures, numbers and other methods. All these options to express language opened up a world of possibilities I had not previously considered...and even now, these various modes of carrying a language are affecting how I view language in general.

So what are the goals of this blog? Firstly, the blog is meant to be a fun pastime for me in the midst of a bout of underemployment. Secondly, I hope this blog will help spread awareness of Sudre's book and help make the work more accessible (If you happen to have a copy of Langue Universelle Musicale, send me a copy! ;) ). Thirdly, I hope this blog can be a site where fans of the language can converge, share info, and give a second (or third or fourth...) wind to this incredibly unique language.

Initially, I just plan to write in English (maybe even French as well) about the language, discoveries I make while searching for more info on Solresol, and questions (there are oh-so-many questions) that have arisen during my studies of Solresol. Eventually, however, I want to blog just in Solresol...Let's see what happens.