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Governance

Posted: August 12th, 2012, 8:03 am
by Dan
I have had my first thought of an issue that I think not just the Sidosi community, but the Solresol community in general should seriously consider. With the recent launch of a Solresol subreddit, the Solresol community (and likely the Sidosi community as well) will grow. I don't mean to sound pessimistic, but problems will arise if we continue "running" the community the way we are, but start to grow. Already we have discovered many issues with the Solresol language, but have not really come to any clear-cut solutions. I realize, of course, that in many cases, Solresol offers the freedom of multiple solutions to a problem. However, as we now start to tinker with the core grammar of Solresol, writing what neither Sudre nor Gajewski have written (to our knowledge), I am wondering if we could use more structure and governance.

Many natural and constructed languages have governing bodies (English is a notable exception). Interlingua is an auxiliary language that currently does not have a governing body, but there was a governing body during its development that defined how to expand and essentially future-proof the language, something I'm not sure we could accomplish with Solresol. These bodies naturally publish maintaining an official book of words, grammar, and the like. The main purpose of these bodies is to govern a standard version of the language, so users of the language have a point of reference. Otherwise, each user could define their own "standard", and the language would (likely) fall apart because no one could understand each other.

Anyway, with the prospect of the growth of the Solresol community, I am beginning to worry about this, because I have put a lot effort into the community myself (not counting out people like Greg Baker, Stephen Rice, and Garrison Osteen who have also made tremendous contributions). I would not want to see users of Solresol disagree, and then suddenly there's a Solresol-A and Solresol-B. I won't go into Sarus, an actual derivative of Solresol with "improvements", which seems to have had minimal success anyway. I'm sure, though, that those contributors to Solresol that I just mentioned wouldn't want their efforts to be undercut by a language split, either. Especially with the fragile state in which Solresol currently is (pretty much untouched since its prime, until recently), some structure may help define a clear purpose and some procedures to advance the language in a fair and recognized way. So, on to the paragraph of questions...

Does Solresol need a governing body at this point? Will Solresol ever need a governing body? If yes, to either of those, how is it decided who has power over decisions? Who would do what (obviously there's more to governing a language than just the actual words and grammar)? What all would be covered in the body's bylaws? Any other thoughts I didn't cover?

Re: Governance

Posted: August 17th, 2012, 2:28 pm
by Garrison
I think this is actually quite a good idea. I've been wondering myself how we're supposed to propose and enact changes to the language when they arise.
I think we should elect some sort of 'council' or something, so that when someone proposes any kind of change to Solresol, the council must take a vote on it to pass it and standardize it.
One problem with this is what to do if people disappear for a while, and things never get voted on. Perhaps it could be done via email or private messages, and separated from the public forum? If it's done this way, though, there would have to be an obvious way for a non-council member to make a proposal. Also, we might miss valuable opinions of people who can't see that a discussion is going on. Maybe it could be a locked, but public, thread? And a non-member could privately message the council members to provide input.

Then we would also have to decide who is on such a council, and how someone might apply to be on the council (what requirements are there, if any?)

Anyway, that's my idea. I really think it'd be nice to have some sort of official way of changing and standardizing the language, seeing as we are doing (trying to do?) some work on it.

Re: Governance

Posted: August 17th, 2012, 11:44 pm
by pazeex
Interesting questions.

I think that solresol could benefit from a governing body of some sort. From what I've seen so far on the forum, there are tons of great ideas, suggestions and proposals, but not much decision making. I like the idea of a council that votes on changes and maintain a dictionary and a set of grammatical rules. As a REALLY new member her, I have no suggestions of how to elect council members or conduct meetings and hold polls.

But, assuming a council of sort is formed, and given the authority to make changes to the dictionary and/or grammatical rules. A simple and official channel to suggest changes should be added to the sidosi website. One way is to create a simple but effective form (http://www.google.com/google-d-s/forms/). Where a person could suggest a missing word and/or translation (including suggest category), merging or separating of words, grammatical rules, etc. These suggestions would end up in a spreadsheet which the council then discusses and votes on.

The council could make decisions on the sisi/famire-question. Decide on creating new Solresol words for things like Internet, Television etc. or if we should use the existing words like lasirela(net) and domiremi fasidola(distant vision).

Maybe, the council could work like this:

Deliberative Assembly (DA)
A form of legislative body, with the actual power to add, change and repeal words in the Sidosi official dictionary and grammatical set of rules.

Dictionary Committee (DC)
This committee would receive, review and prepare suggested additions and changes to the dictionary and present it to the DA.

Grammatical Committee (GC)
This committee would receive, review and prepare suggested additions and changes to the set of grammatical rules and present it to the DA.

The committees could use public voting (referendums) to get the community's view on suggested additions and changes, and present the result of the votes as part of the committee's final proposals to the DA.

This structure would help to ensure a standardized Solresol, with a official dictionary and set of grammatical rules. As well as ensuring the community's influence in the decision making.

I hope I've made at least some sense..

Re: Governance

Posted: August 18th, 2012, 12:03 am
by Garrison
Wow, thanks, pazeex! I'm impressed with your thoroughness. And very insightful to label our problem - lots of great ideas, but little decision-making.
Dan, would you be interested in producing and managing something like that Google form thing?
I think we should go ahead and just do it, unless we get some votes against it.

I was thinking, for such committees, we could have some basic requirements for membership, like:
Approval of the current committee,
And membership with Sidosi for some minimum length of time (as a proof of loyalty - some members pop up and reply to everything and then disappear, never to be heard from again). (though we don't want to confuse 'Sidosi, the community' with 'Solresol, the language'... but then, it's our home base on the internet, so maybe that's not an issue at all? Reddit seems pretty informal, blogs are personal, Facebook groups don't seem to get anything done... So maybe that's fine - we do want everyone concentrated in one place anyway, I think).

And then keep members on some kind of 'probation', so that they can't wreak havoc or anything? Some sort of hierarchy to overrule 'bad' votes? (this could get complicated quickly).

Just some ideas. I suppose this thread needs a bit more input before anything so serious gets decided, but I'm anxious to see some sort of system come up :D

Re: Governance

Posted: August 18th, 2012, 12:51 am
by pazeex
Garrison & Dan,

As I've understood the current situation, Solresol has no governing body anywhere and have had little changes made to it for the last 100-150 years. Without some sort of united driving force (such as a community like Sidosi, with a governing body/council) there will be little progress made in the future as well.

I believe the question on how to form a council (and committees) should be discussed thoroughly and in great detail before any actions are taken. Questions that need to be answered are, among others:
What should the council look like? - shape, hierarchy etc.
How many will make up the council? - number of members.
Who can join the council? - requirements.
Can/will the council members take place in committees as well?
Will committees present all suggestions separately or in compilation?
Can any other body (such as a large minority of disagreeing community members) repeal the councils decisions?
etc. etc.

Regarding the potential confusion between/of Sidosi and Solresol. I believe that a governing body, such as a council on Sidosi could work in favor of unifying the language. Much like the Oxford English Dictionary, the Sidosi official dictionary and grammatical rules could work as the Solresol's primary reference point.
What I'm trying to say is that even though the Oxford dictionary is in no way a supreme governing body of the English language, general consensus regarding spelling and grammar is often set in accordance with the Oxford dictionary.

Regarding referendums and voting within the community, a minimum time and/or number of posts could(should) be required to be able to vote. Say, 1 month and 5 posts as a totally arbitrary number.

When it comes to the suggestion form, this is something that could be implemented before the council and committees are shaped and formed. This would make it easier to bring up a suggestion and insure it will be addressed (when the council and committees are formed).

Re: Governance

Posted: August 18th, 2012, 12:14 pm
by shanoxilt
I think we should learn from Akademio de Esperanto to see what does and does not work for language governance and preservation.

Re: Governance

Posted: August 18th, 2012, 3:12 pm
by Dan
shanoxilt wrote:I think we should learn from Akademio de Esperanto to see what does and does not work for language governance and preservation.
I would agree, but they seem to only have official documentation in Esperanto, which I don't understand. I've actually been looking at the Logical Language Group for ideas, but if anyone can provide information in English about the Akademio, I think more of us can take their ideas into consideration as well. I suppose we non-speakers of Esperanto could also use Google Translate, now that it handles Esperanto.

Re: Governance

Posted: August 18th, 2012, 10:12 pm
by shanoxilt
I've actually been looking at the Logical Language Group for ideas,
You should contact their Twitter, Google group, or just send me an e-mail so I can give you one of their addresses.

Re: Governance

Posted: August 19th, 2012, 5:08 am
by Dan
shanoxilt wrote:
I've actually been looking at the Logical Language Group for ideas,
You should contact their Twitter, Google group, or just send me an e-mail so I can give you one of their addresses.
Oh, well I was just looking at the links on that page. I was looking at the structure of their Board of Directors and membership, their bylaws, and the structure of their committees and projects to get ideas for our organizing effort.

Re: Governance

Posted: August 19th, 2012, 2:42 pm
by pazeex
If the Esperanto documents are available in Esperanto, then we could just run them through Google translate. (: