Monday, 9 March 2009


Suppose three individuals had just met and could not understand each other. The first individual could only understand English, the second French, and the third German. In order for our three friends to understand each other, they have three options.

  • The first option is for two of the individuals to learn the language of the third.
  • The second option is for each individual to learn the languages of both of the other two individuals.
  • The third option is for all three to learn and communicate using a new secondary language developed specifically to allow translation of any word or phrase to and from any of the three languages. In this situation, the three could meet an additional friend who only speaks Italian. The Italian would only need to learn the new language to communicate with the other three as well.
An example of this took place in
the gold mines of South Africa.

Over the past twenty to thirty years, a language called Fanagalo was developed at the mines to allow all of the workers from many language backgrounds to communicate. The workers represented English, Afrikaans, various other European languages, and many Black tribal languages (Zulu, Xhosa, etc.). As a new worker came to the mines to work, he or she only had to learn Fanagalo to speak with the many people. It was much better than learning several different languages.

GEDCOM is like the third communication option.

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