read, think, evolve

Volume 1 Number 20                                                                        October 21, 2000

Number of people whose first language is (source "Utne Reader" November - December 2000):

Chinese (Mandarin) 885 million
English 322 million
Spanish 266 million
Bengali 189 million
Hindi 182 million
Portuguese 170 million
Russian 170 million
Japanese 125 million
German 98 million
Chinese (Wu) 77 million
Other 3,516 million

The tower of Babel is another one of those us and them things that must be resolved before we can evolve into a nobler species.  The puzzle is how to go about.  I don't think the answer is to abandon all but one language, as each has its own beauty; but we do need to find some common ground where everyone everywhere can meet and converse.  (Anyone with ideas please feel free to send me your two cents.)

Being a poet in a country that doesn't value poetry and a publisher on the internet has led me to ponder on communicating with other parts of the world.  I would guess that my prose would translate into other languages ok, but I don't think my poetry would.  (The structure and grammar are a big part of my poems, and allow me to weave void into the poems in my attempt to write poems with 6 billion meanings.  (Ideally each should have a different meaning for everyone who reads it.))

One idea I have been pondering on is the possibility of developing a new hieroglyphics, drawing from images that are more or less universal.   For example, computers have provided us with icons that people in many parts of the world are familiar with, such as "copy", "paste", and "file".  Advertisers have also provided us with a variety of icons that are known in much of the world, but using their icons would open one up to trademark infringement cases and censorship from large corporations.  What other icons are available to write with?  (Again I'm open to ideas from others.)

The table above suggests that I should learn Mandarin in order to write poetry that will reach the most people.  That's a lot of work to go to though, to write poems that would be censored.  Maybe another approach is to find out what language has the most avid poetry fans and then learn that language?  (Please let me know if you have any ideas!  (I'm a workaholic without a job and I have to figure out some project to fill my time with.  The web site is built and I have given up on marketing and I need a new challenge.))

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