This is an essay that was written prior to 2002.
Premise: There is a universal language which is both a foundational manifestation of the universe, and a unique, precise, and optimal representation of the universe.
Objective: To construct and use a human language which approximates this universal language as closely as possible.
Procedure: Generate a language from our personal experiences. There should be a rationale for the structure and organization of all aspects of this new language. Each element should be related to, and compatible with, all other elements of the language, and there should be a rationale for the element's structure, use, meaning, and interrelationships within the language.
The language should be used so that it will evolve through its use. It should start by being embedded within existing languages, so that it will be subsumed by these existing languages, and ultimately subsume the universal aspects of all existing languages itself.
The new language must be symbolic, so that it can be written. It also must be identified with sound so that it can be spoken, and ultimately sung as songs and/or played as music. There is a sense that both the written symbols and the spoken sounds which comprise the words of the language should also convey or exemplify in some manner the meaning they represent.
ODODU is a language created in accordance with these principles. Its rational and structure are presented below.
There are four primary undefined concepts which are key to understanding ODODU and they are represented as U, I, E, and A. Relative to our own languages we can approximate what these four concepts mean in terms of the concept of relation. By assuming that the primordial stuff of which the universe is made is something like what we mean by the word relation we can identify the four primary concepts U, I, E, and A as the four fundamentally different types of relations. Here we follow the procedure developed by Jon Ray Hamann in Relational Systems Theory which considers the concept of relation to be divisible into four fundamental types of relations or relational orders. The identification of primary concepts with the relational orders is presented below where the symbol is followed by the relational exemplification.
|U||self relation, relation related to itself|
|I||linear relation, relation relating other things|
|E||relational relation, relation related to relation|
|A||interrelational relation, relation interrelating relations|
These four concepts may be viewed metaphorically as representing the four dimensions of space-time. Thus U can be viewed as a time like component of space-time and the other three concepts can be understood as taking place in time with I as a distance or linear component, E as a planar or area like component, and A as a volumetric component.
Finally the four fundamental concepts can be viewed as representing the four basis elements of a quaternion. A quaternion is a number with a form of;
a1 + bv + cj + dk
Where a, b, c, and d are real numbers and 1 is the unitary concept of one, and v, j, and k are non equivalent complex numbers expressed in matrix form with each one being equal to minus one expressed in matrix form. The symbol i, is itself equal to the square root of minus one expressed as a complex number in real number notation. Thus
i * i = - 1, v * v = - 1, j * j = - 1, and k * k = - 1 (* represents multiplication)
but v, j, and k are two by two matrices that are not equal to each other.
U is like the basis 1. I, E, and A are like the bases v, j, and k.
ODODU will comprise eight vowels and sixteen consonants, each of which is represented by a letter from the English/Roman alphabet. Each letter will represent a fundamental relational concept which is foundational to all of us. Thus each letter will be a perspective or function of one or more of the four primary concepts. The symbols are assigned to represent the ODODU letters in a manner which allows the shape and structure of the assigned English letter to approximate the relational meaning and structure of the represented ODODU letter-concept as much as possible.
The eight vowels will be divided into two sets of four letters each (U, I, E, A) and (O, Q, Y, H). Each set will represent the four fundamental concepts as seen from different perspectives. (U, I, E, A) will be from the perspective of my personal consciousness (sender, observer) and (O, Q, Y, H) will be from the perspective of you (receiver, observed).
The eight vowels are presented below.
Here the symbol is again followed by a guide to pronunciation and a more extended interpretation as to its foundational meaning.
|U||long u||being, origin, start, real, consciousness, point|
|I||long i||will, I as an active principle, ego, line|
|E||long e||emotion or feeling, surface|
|A||long a||thinking, thought, space, volume|
|O||long o||distinction, other than me, closed entity, circle|
|Q||awe||interaction between you and I, crossing a boundary|
|Y||eh||representation, set, number, measurement|
|H||ah, hah||interrelation, contemplation, reason, mathematics|
In these choices all of the vowel letter symbols actually do illustrate in some manner the relational nature of their represented meaning. This can be illustrated as follows.
The U and O concepst are conceived in terms of a relation which is related to itself. Its natural symbolic representation is a dot or a circle. We represent this concept in ODODU with a capital letter U or with an O. Here a period would be a better choice than a U but the period on a modern keyboard is often hard to see and does not look like a letter. So U was used as a substitute because it was a vowel, did not obviously fit any of the other categories, and could be related to the U in Universe.
The concepts I and Q can be conceived as relations whose relating is undefined. They may relate something to something else. Their natural symbolic representation in ODODU is a line. What the line connects is undefined in terms of its primary exemplification but we can think of many specific examples. If V is related to J, then this could be represented as V - J. This concept will look like the letter I or the straight line crossing the circle which makes the letter Q. It is a straight line.
The concepts E and Y can be conceived as relational relations, that is, as relations related to another relation. Just what is related to the additional relation is undefined in the same way as for the letter I above, but whatever it is, it is related to a relation. Its natural symbolic representation in ODODU is a line, one end of which terminates somewhere in the middle of another line. The concept itself looks like the letter Y or the letter E.
The concepts A and H can be conceived as interrelations, a relation relating other relations. Their natural symbolic representation in ODODU is a line which connects two other lines, somewhere other than at their ends. It looks like the letter H or the letter A. In each case the cross bar is the defining relation.
As you can see in these relational examples, the actual symbols exemplify in some way the concepts which the symbols represent. Eventually ODODU will be developed only from an understanding of the nature of the fundamental concepts and the symbols representing those concepts, and no "translation" into English or other languages will be needed. However, at this early stage of development the exemplification is helpful in getting ODODU established as a usable language.
The 16 consonants are constructed by taking the change in each vowel in the second four letter vowel set, (O, Q, Y, H) with respect to the change in each vowel from the first four letter vowel set (U, I, E, A). This reflects how I perceive external changes with respect to internal changes. That is, how I perceive changes in my body, experiences, environment, and communication with others, with respect to how my internal awareness, desires, feelings, and thoughts actually change.
This is the concept of partial derivative as developed in calculus. However, in this case it is not required that the change be numerically representable, but it must be recognizable by a consciousness. The concept is that each consonant represents a partial derivative of how the perceived external reality changes relative to changes in me.
The consonants are presented as follows:
|D||dO/dU||memory, being, consciousness, awareness|
|P||dO/dI||will, doing, personal action|
|B||dO/dA||decision, choice, belief|
|L||dQ/dI||doing, performance, process, procedure|
|N||dH/dU||particle, thing, system|
The final structural component of ODODU is the grammar which is specified by the vowels which begin and end every word. Since words are defined as beginning and ending with vowels the simplest words possible in ODODU, other than the vowels and consonants themselves, are the 64 permutations of the eight vowels taken two at a time. These 64 two vowel words are the grammar. They specify what types of words are possible and how they can be used.
This quality of having the simplest words of a language specify the grammar of the language makes ODODU ideally self relational. It also resonates with the concept of a Universal Grammar and the Minimalist Program of Noam Chomsky in that the specification of the language is simple, unique, complete, and optimal. This continues the development of the concept that language and language creators and users are the fundamental reality and structure of the universe itself.
The four primary concept components of ODODU are actually the dimensions of a four dimensional model of the universe. This is analogous to the case of general relativity which defined a four dimensional model of the universe in which space and time became the functional components of four space-time dimensions. ODODU melds consciousness or being into the quaternion representation of the four dimensional concepts of general relativity and modifies the requirement of a metric space. This is necessary because in terms of consciousness we cannot always measure all of our experiences with real numbers.
Thus the foundational presumption, the start of the language and the philosophical paradigm it contains, is U, self relation, consciousness. The universe comprises consciousness in terms of discrete self relational entities and the other forms of relations which "relate" between and among them. This view of the universe is similar to that proposed by Liebniz in which the presumptively foundational self relational conscious entities would be similar to his monads and ODODU would represent the universal calculus he knew was there but never specifically formulated. In ODODU the self relational conscious entities are called UDO and they represent our own consciousness. Everything which exists is an UDU (UDU is the singular form of UDO, which is plural) or a relation. I am an UDU, you are an UDU. Our communication and shared understandings are relations.
Any thought which I may have will exist in my own personal four dimensional space. When I interact with anything else in the universe, some other UDU, some part of my thoughts are transformed into thoughts in the other four dimensional space, the space associated with the other UDU. Some parts of my thoughts are often changed as a result.
This is the process which is language and hence ODODU becomes the first consistent language which is a systematic representation of the universal elements of human experience. ODODU will contain a procedure to rationally generate words for all of the major ideas which any UDU might use or represent in language. However, local names and events will not be derivable or included in ODODU and so at least parts of existing local (human) languages will always be retained when ODODU is used as common language.
The process of generating an approximation of the universal language from the four primary dimensional language concepts will involve a series of choices and decisions which we must make as language creators. Theoretically I believe that it shouldn't really matter where we start in this process as long as the resulting language is usable and free to evolve through its usage. In this way errors and poor initial choices and decisions will be replaced and corrected by evolutionary forces which are inherent in the universe and in language itself.
In one sense this is an embodiment or inclusion within the ODODU language of the pragmatic method, as presented by Charles Sanders Pierce. The assumption that there is a universal language implies that we might be able to test or compare our created languages with the universal language, and hence with the universe itself. Our languages are themselves hypotheses and once we create a language we do "experiments" every time we use it. Since the language (hypothesis) will itself change through usage, somewhat in the manner described by the later Wittgenstein, its change is a reflection of the pragmatic process and how this generates evolution. To the extent that any language allows us to attain inner peace and happiness in our own lives, to approach covariance in dialogue with others, and to formulate predictive and useful understandings of our surroundings and environment, it is validated as an approximation of the universal language and as a hypothesis about the nature of reality.
The key is to keep trying to improve the language by using our experience to create new concepts and modify old concepts. These are then incorporated into the existing structure of the language which is being used. If they survive in continued use they will then be included in the ongoing pragmatic process of language evolution.
The better our understanding is, the closer our language or languages approximate the universal language. As long as we view ODODU (and language in general) in this manner, and provide a methodology and understanding that the meanings of words will change through usage, our initial choices and definitions of words are not critical. The important thing is to start and to use the language we create. It will then evolve on its own.
The initial choices have been to define ODODU as containing eight vowels and sixteen consonants. As mentioned earlier, the rationale for using eight vowels and sixteen consonants is modeled on the theory of general relativity as it is expressed in physics.
In physics a theory of relativity allows us to describe events which occur in a frame of reference which is in motion relative to (or different from) our own frame of reference. The procedure which is used entails defining a four dimensional space-time coordinate system in each frame. Then a transformation is constructed to describe how each dimensional descriptor of the coordinate system in one frame changes relative to each of the dimensional descriptors of the coordinate system in the other frame. This is a language based process in that the transformations are actually translations from one language system, that of an observer in one frame of reference, to a different language system, that of an observer in a different frame of reference.
In the general theory of relativity Einstein realized that for this to be successful the transformations also had to consider where you are relative to where everything else is located in the coordinate systems you have chosen. This is sort of like saying that your use of language in any given conversation depends on what you know at that time and who you are talking to. What this meant to Einstein was that the laws of motion had to be described mathematically in terms of tensors. Thus the transformation laws had to consider not only the dimensional coordinates of a point relative to two different reference frames but also how these coordinates were changing relative to each other at that point.
Einstein's formulation allowed the differential changes in the dimensional descriptors to act as if they were commutative, and so for a four dimensional system he ended up with only ten independent variables or relations being required to describe each point in space-time. Although this was successful in describing gravitation and inertial phenomena it proved to be overly restrictive and prevented his general theory of relativity from successfully describing all known physical phenomena.
Mendel Sachs realized that this problem could be resolved by using a quaternion formulation in which the differential changes in the dimensional descriptors of the respective coordinate systems were associated with a four fold complex algebra. The quaternion formulation makes the differential changes in the dimensional descriptors act in a way which is obviously not commutative and therefore generates 16 independent variables or relations for each point in space-time. This generates a theoretical expansion of general relativity which encompasses other physical phenomena not included in Einstein's original formulation.
In ODODU we assume that this is equivalent to formulating the geometry of space-time as a quaternion geometry. This extension of the general relativity model to ODODU results in the relational forms of the four primary concepts being interpreted as the four dimensions required for valid descriptions between two different reference frames (the two different parties in a conversation). The dimensions for each reference frame are respectively the two sets of vowels presented earlier. (U, I, E, A) is a quaternion which represents the dimensions of my reference frame where I am the observer or sender of a message. (O, Q, Y, H) is a quaternion which represents the dimensions of your reference frame where you are the observed or receiver of a message.
The sixteen consonants then represent the changes in each of the four vowel-dimension descriptors of the language system of one reference frame (the observed or participant in a dialogue, you) taken with respect to the changes in each of the four vowel-dimension descriptors of the language system of a different reference frame (the observer or the other participant in the dialogue, me).
The sixteen consonant letters thus become the sixteen independent variables or relations required to describe each point or UDU in a four dimensional consciousness-space-time continuum. Since they are always preceded and followed by vowels when they are used as words they can accurately describe laws of nature or truths which are independent of the choice of reference frame, observer, or speaker in a dialogue.
The key is that the symbols we actually choose for vowels or consonants are functionally different and distinguishable from each other, and that their usage conforms to the cognitive structure implied by a four dimensional, topological extension of Einstein's and Sachs' general relativity theory.
In this manner the 16 consonants, and the rules which govern their interaction with the eight vowels, generate a categorization of the essential elements of human experience and concomitantly the essential relational components of the universe itself. They are the letter concepts which can be used in conjunction with our experience to derivationally develop all the words in the ODODU language.
Given this as an ultimate objective it is obvious that many of the initial meanings or exemplifications of ODODU letters and words which are presented here will be "wrong" from a future perspective. These meanings are not arbitrarily assigned nor are they democratically selected. They will be deduced through interaction with the universe in much the same manner as the scientific method uses experiments to validate its language of technical hypotheses. The fact that many of our initial exemplifications will be imprecise or will be the result of hurried and erroneous reasoning will not be a problem as long as the language is usable and is free to easily change through its use.
To this end the dictionaries will be continually changed and updates will be periodically compiled and distributed. As time allows, a rational argument and derivation of the meaning and ontology of each word will be included in the dictionary. This will be viewed as an experimental or scientific process in that we believe that there is a correct meaning for each word in the cognitive structure, even though that meaning may continually change with time as the language and our understanding of it changes in response to our changing experience and the continually changing universe. Our job is to continually rederive these dynamic meanings through reason, experience, cooperation, and usage in a working language.
Similarly there will be words which can be logically formulated in ODODU which will not correspond to any existing word or idea in current human experience. This is also natural and is a basic reaffirmation that we don't know everything and probably never will. Such words will be helpful aids to making new discoveries in the ongoing evolutionary process which subsumes us all.
In some cases there are words in English and other languages which are used with multiple meanings or in conflicting or contradictory ways. ODODU will avoid this with singularity of meaning and degrees of generalization being obvious from the structure of the word. In general there will be different ODODU words for English words which are used in different conflicting ways.
Finally there is a tremendous optimism which can be derived from the ODODU language generation process which transcends the usual intellectual and practical exercise of using language. Many of us have serious concerns about the current state of human affairs and the apparent deterioration of both the environment and our present and future quality of life. The frustrating aspect of this is that we appear to be powerless to change it.
I don't believe we can force people (including ourselves) to change. But I also don't believe that the apparent human stupidity which engulfs us is due to an inherent evil in human intention. All too frequently we just can't seem to figure out what is the right thing to do, and when we do figure it out we don't do it fast enough.
Language can change this. By giving all of us tools which allow us to think in a more clear and comprehensive manner, language can help us change ourselves. Once we see the better path, and understand why it is a better path, we will follow it. Not blindly, not because someone else is telling us to do it, but because we really are responsible and will do what we believe is right.
By creating and recreating ODODU, and making it into a working usable language we can greatly enhance the natural evolutionary process which has generated ourselves and our environment. If the language is successful and benefits us in our own lives its usage will spread. In this manner it will begin to influence the rest of humanity and can thus greatly enhance and speed up the solving of those problems which now appear so overwhelming and depressing. It is something we can all do to make things better.