Thursday, 28 February 2013

Humanism, perhaps…

Facing brutal strength, the power of weapons and money, there is humanism …
I know it is like fighting a tank with bare hands, it is David against Goliath, but it might be the only way out.

The first step towards humanism is experiencing otherness: you are here, standing in front of me - very different. At first sight, everything distinguishes us. Yet I look at you - you look at me in the eye, and suddenly we understand : you are a human being just like me, you have your wishes, desires, fears, anxiety, which are also mine. Let us shake hands. Between us there is a very strong link of solidarity, of brotherhood.

Our difference is not an opposition it is complementarity, our difference is our riches: you can bring me a lot of things, I can bring you a lot of things. This basic complementarity, which is light and darkness, night and day, black and white, red and green, yellow and purple, cold and warmth, north and south… the yin and the yang, gives birth to movement, energy, dynamism, which, alone, can save us from eternal glaciation, from nuclear apocalypse.

This complementarity should not be reduced to an opposition of two elements; such an opposition is manicheism, the battle between "good" and "evil", "God" and "the devil", all those old ideas which gave us the Crusades, the Holy war, blood purity and ethnic cleansing. Humanism is a radical rejection of any form of fascism, which feeds on an opposition of differences, creating a system of castes such as priests, warriors, merchants, peasants, untouchables, Übermenschen, Untermenschen (superhumans, subhumans, "Aryans" against Slavs, Blacks, Jews, Roms).

Experiencing otherness is the key to an opening onto diversity. The other is not ANother (it is not limited to a couple), but all the others, that is the extraordinary diversity of life on earth (and elsewhere, why not ?), a diversity which is threatened everyday by an overpowering standardization (be it a question of languages, cultures or living species). Personally as a Uropist, I am not only fighting for a common language, I am also fighting for Breton, Basque, Corsican, Occitan in my own country, for Malinke or Bambara,  Nahuatl or Aymara… elsewhere.

The struggle against uniformity is a question of survival for mankind and its diversity, if we don't all want to end up as cloned robots made in USA, in China, or wherever. Only because I am myself, can I go and meet the others. I regard myself as an heir to the ancient Greeks, to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Denis de Rougemont… And this is what enables me to meet the thought of Laozi, master Kong, Taoism, the yin and the yang…, but also the philosophy of Ibn-Rushd (Averroës), Ibn-Sina (Avicenna) and that of Native Americans…

Being oneself shouldn't mean a withdrawal into oneself and one's own culture, which could only lead to rejecting the others, to xenophobia and racism. Greeks have a beautiful word, which, to my knowledge, doesn't exist in any other language: φιλοξενία "philoxenia" usually translated by hospitality, but which means in fact "love strangers", the very contrary of "xenophobia" and which, in everyday life amounts to a real sense of hospitality.

Obviously all this raises the problem of identity. According to Edgard Morin identity is always a multiple identity, which is at the same time a personal (Jan), family (Kervadek), vocational (gardener), regional (Breton), national (French), supranational (European, African, Latin American), world identity (as a citizen of the world). It is when I become fully aware of this poly-identity that I can communicate with the others on an equal basis.

This is precisely the Unity of human beings in the diversity of their languages and cultures: a dialogue between cultures just as Uropi is a permanent dialogue between languages - all of them being regarded as equal to each other.

Uropi has been built on those lines: Unity in Diversity: we are all different, but all united through our humanity. Creating a link between the peoples, that is creating a link between human beings.

Uropi vocabulary has been chosen in the largest language family, the Indo-European family, which is the most widespread in the world, so that the largest number of speakers might feel at home (to a certain extent). Uropi has not just borrowed a few words from the other language families as an excuse for looking more international, but it has incorporated basic grammatical structures of those languages.

Such as, for example, the use of the "naked" verb in the present (the verb root without any ending) as in Chinese, Vietnamese or Thai.
For ex: C.  wŏ lüxíng, nĭ lüxíng, tā lüxíng… = Ur. i vaiz, tu vaiz, he vaiz*… (I travel, you travel, he travels…)
It has also taken up the Chinese way of building compounds, which is common to many other languages.

Ch. guŏ = frut (fruit) + zhī = suc (juice) > guŏzhī = Ur.  frutisùc (fruit juice)
guŏ = frut (fruit) + yüán = gardin (garden) > guŏyüán = frutigardin (orchard)
jīn = gor (gold) + yǘ = pic (fish) > jīnyǘ = goripìc (goldfish)
shuĭ = vod (water) + mò = mulia (mill) > shuĭmò = vodimulia (water mill)
tóu = keb (head) + téng = dol (pain) > tóuténg = kebidòl (headache)
xüé = skol (school) + nián = jar (year) > xüénián = skolijàr (school year)
zhōng = mid (middle) + fàn = jedad (meal) > zhōngfàn = midjèd (lunch)… etc.

Dante Alighieri, Verona, Italy 

It has taken up the Arabic way of building feminine nouns and adjectives .
For ex: Ar. kalb > kalba = Ur. kun > kuna (dog, bitch), tâlib > tâliba = studan > studana (student > female student)
Ar. dahab > dahabi = Ur. gor > gori (gold > golden), gharb > gharbi = west > westi (west > western)
The example of the words raj / raja (king / queen) is particularly revealing of what internationality means in Uropi. The words raj / raja come from Sanskrit rājan / rājñī, Hindi rājā / rānī (< I-E rēgs* / rēgnī*, cf Lat rex / regina). But the way the feminine is built has nothing to do with Indian languages: it is typically Arabic, cf malik / malika (-consonant > -a) = king/queen.

In short, Uropi has always tried to find what unites us, rather than what divides us: Unity in Diversity. Creating a link between the peoples.

* Another interesting example of word building in Uropi is vaizo (to travel) which has been formed on vaj (< I-E weghyā* > Lat veha, via, It, Sp via, Fr voie, Eng way, Ger, Dutch Weg, Swe väg, Da vej = way), just as It. viaggiare and Sp viajar, Fr voyager were formed on via, voie, but also Rus путешествовать "puteshestvovat'" and Serbian/Croatian putovati on путь "put'", put = way. At the same time vaizo also phonetically reminds us of German reisen  [raizən].

By Urko

To see this article in its context, in 3 languages (Uropi, French, English):

The last article on the Uropi Blog: Jespersen, root-words, affixes, stress:

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