The best test is the one that is inexpensive and conclusive.
A priori languages are the easiest to test because it is easy to
find someone who does not know them. Euroclones can be tested by
Europeans if we use a computer to scramble the vocabulary. Grammar
is a small part of a good auxlang, so it does not matter if the
testers are familiar with the auxlang's grammar. The test must be
written in such a way that a computer program can easily scramble
its auxlang vocabulary.
The vast majority of people who use auxlangs do not have the time
to learn vast vocabulary. A perfect auxlang is the one that makes it
possible to express any idea with a small vocabulary. For example, if
you do not know the word "hospital," you improvise a new compound word:
"medical building." A realistic auxlang test mimics this improvisation.
The most popular auxlang, the Special English used by the Voice of
America has a vocabulary of 1500 words.
Here is an example of inexpensive and conclusive test of Esperanto:
- Make a primer of Esperanto that includes its grammar and a vocabulary
of about 400 words. (The optimum vocabulary size is the one that results
in the greatest score differences between the auxlangs and yet can convey
much more than baby talk.)
- Pick up two persons of average intelligence (IQ = 100) who speak the
same language, for example Mandarin, but do not speak any european
languages or euroclones. They are called testers.
- Write a test consisting of 10 Esperanto sentences. The sentences must
be much more complex than baby talk. Each sentence includes one word that
is not defined in the vocabulary. The undefined words are rather common,
and they are not proper names or names of flora or fauna.
- Record the 10 Esperanto sentences on a tape recorder or a similar device.
- One of the testers, called passive tester, has four hours to read the
primer, to listen to the Esperanto recording, to translate the recording
into Mandarin, and to write it down.
- The other tester, called active tester, has four hours to read the
primer, to read the Mandarin text, to translate it into Esperanto and to
write it down.
- The test is graded. Its score equals total number of glyphs written
by the active tester divided by the total number of sentences that were
translated without errors. (The test favors terse auxlangs.)
If the testing discredits popular auxlangs, their aficionados will
discredit the testing with the ferocity of religious fundamentalists,
for they believe that languages are not merely tools, but, like mother
tongues, they are religions that must be defended.