Isaac Newton Tried to Invent New Language

Is it 'utor' enough for you?
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2013 10:27 AM CDT
Isaac Newton Tried to Invent New Language
Engraving of Isaac Newton based on a 1726 painting by John Vanderbank.   (AP Photo/NY Public Library, File)

Isaac Newton had a thing or two to say about gravity and the laws of motion, but if a lesser known creation of his took off, we'd all be speaking a different language right now. As Arika Okrent explains at the Week, Newton drew up plans for a "universal language" when he was in college. He wrote that he wanted to "let the names of the same sorte of things begin with the same letter: as of Instruments with s; Beasts with t ..." Under his system, people would know what "category" a word fell into based on its sound, and the addition of suffixes and prefixes would fine-tune the meaning.

Newton used the example of "tor," which in his language meant "temperature." He then listed no fewer than 16 variations, including utor (hot), oytor (excessive cold), and awtor (pretty hot). It's complicated stuff, and Newton probably would have had to spend his entire career working on the language to get it right, adds Okrent, who thinks the college-age Newton probably made the wise choice in moving on. Click for the full post. (More Isaac Newton stories.)

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