Here is a link to Chapter 7 of my book Vinylia.
The chapter is mostly about an artificial language called Dervish and the attempts of a woman called Confucia Wang to bring it under control. Dervish is invented in order to overcome the unavoidable misunderstandings and ambiguities in drafting treaties and conventions using natural languages and thus improve the quality of the output of international organisations.
It starts out as a very promising instrument but its effectiveness begins to be dulled when the introduction of new mood-tense forms make it over-complicated and the language later attains dizzy heights of baffling complexity when mood-mood combinations are invented, so as to create forms of speech such as the Valedictory Terminal, the Nugatory Inconsequential, the Absolute Abject, the Pandering Proximate, the Counterfactual Extortionary, the Vacillatory Optative, the Expletive Introspective, the Minatory Merciless, the Presumptive Hereditary, the Spectral Apparitional, the Bovine Ruminative, the Alcoholic Indeterminate and the Hemorrhoidal Inflammatory.
I have an irrational passion for phrase- books. Whenever I go to a country where I don’t know the language I take along a phrasebook. I often take one with me even when I go to a country where I do speak the language. Sometimes in a foreign country I suddenly stop in the middle of the road. People walk into me, but I don’t notice because my mind is wholly taken up by the question: why? What are phrasebooks for?
The first surprising fact about phrasebooks is that you hardly ever find what you want to say in them. Of course if you read them from cover to cover you will be able to note down some expressions which will be very useful in many situations. Two I have just noticed in the last few seconds while writing this are I am not used to this and Is this a local or a national custom? These are both the kind of thing you can want to say about a dozen times a day when travelling. But phrasebooks suggest the idea that when you find yourself in a situation you will be able to turn to them and find a way to deal with it. This, I think I can say safely, never happens. Read more…