I've been listening to a linguistics and language podcast called the Allusionist this week and on the way to the pub where I am writing this I listened to episode 25 which is about a constructed language called Toki Pona. Originating in 2001 from a Toronto resident Sonja Lang, Toki Pona bares a resemblance to Esperanto which was made to be a universal language in the 1880s, but really took off in the aftermath of WW1 with its popularity with the Soviets. I came across Esperanto for the first time with its frequent mentions in Red Dwarf but at one point it really was seen as the language of the future, made to be logical and actually proactive in its construction rather than just accepting the weird conventions of the languages that people happened to inherit. However Toki Pona represents a minimalist approach to the same idea, reducing a language down to its bare bones.
With only 120 root words, 14 letters and a few basic syntax rules it apparently only takes about 30 hours of study to become proficient with Toki Pona. Words are used as modifiers on other words in a similar way to how German uses compound nouns. So while jan means person (or people or humanity etc), jan utala (literally person fight) could mean warrior or boxer or similar. The first noun that you put after a word specifies what sort of word it is, while the next one refers to what it is doing. So jan pona lukin (literally person good look) would mean, a friend watching. The structure for 3 nouns is (n1 n2) n3. If you wanted to mean n1 (n2 n3) you could add in the word pi which means of. So the same three words as above could be written jan pi pona lukin meaning a good looking person (in this case the good referring to the looking rather than the person).
Part of the ethos of the language is to cut back the clutter of human thought. It creates intentional limitations on what can be said, for instance there are no negatives in the language. There is an idea called the Sapir-Worf hypothesis which states that the limits of a language limit the extents to the thoughts that can be had. This forces you to be quite poetic of your phrasing. I just watched the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Darmok in which the Enterprise encounters a species which the universal translator can't translate which talks in exactly this way. Throughout the episode the other species use perhaps 25 distinct words but still manages to convey their meaning through allegory and allusion. Theoretically the lower limit on this is 2 distinct words which binary has strong links with. What we gain in speed to learn and simplicity we get in length of sentence to convey the same meaning.